Early feedback for our 2023 season

How did it get to be June already? I have to say I am thrilled with the start of the season this year. During May we had more than 40 guests of 8 different nationalities staying with us with over 50 room-nights during the month. For many of our guests it was their first time staying with us, but we have also had several repeat visits from last year which is great. Of the ten reviews we received on booking.com during May, nine were 10 out of 10 and one was a 9 which are a delighted with and it puts us on an excellent overall rating of 9.9 after 47 reviews on the platform since we opened. The comments people have left on the booking platforms and in our guest book or elsewhere have been so lovely.

I can’t say it was easy getting back into our early morning routine for breakfast every day and I think I had mentally blocked out the amount of laundry and cleaning involved in running the B&B, but now we are back in full swing we are like a well-oiled machine! I enjoy my cycle ride to the boulangerie each morning before breakfast and the time spent ironing bed linen is a great excuse to watch all sorts of rubbish on Netflix etc.

The weather during May started much cooler than I was expecting with a lot of (badly needed) rain, but we have been up in the high 20s for the last week or so now and the pool is at a lovely 26C at the moment. The season’s wedding celebrations are well underway now and we have already had the house reserved for 4 wedding weekends in 2024. As well as wedding guests we have welcomed house hunters, clients in town on business, cyclists touring the region, golfers playing at Vigiers, people visiting friends or family in the area and people passing through en route to or from holidays farther afield.

It’s not been all work and no play; we have promised ourselves to take more time for us this year so during May we took the van for a few nights camping at Yelloh Village by St Emilion which is a delightful little town surrounded by glorious countryside and of course hundreds of vineyards. Highly recommended for a visit if people have the time while they are staying with us. We tasted wines and enjoyed a planche mixte at Etablissements Lauret and had a delicious lunch at Chai Pascal.

So, all in all as we move into ‘Flaming June’ we are feeling very positive about our life here in Eymet in the Dordogne and we can’t wait for the Eymet night markets and summer fêtes to get underway at the end of this month.

Planche Mixte Saint Émilion Reviews

Early feedback for our 2023 season Read More »

Step Change

We have really seen a ‘step change’ in the way of life here during April.

In the B&B we have shifted from occasional bookings by exception, to the start of the season where we have guests in the house more often than not. It didn’t take us long to get back into the swing of it and we’ve already met some lovely people and had some great feedback.

The pool is ready and warming up nicely. We changed the sand in the filter before Tom brought it back from its winter hibernation, so it already looks really inviting! The garden has sprung to life and the terrace is looking great with the summer flowers coming out and the fruit swelling on the trees. I love to see the lizards scurrying about as I am watering the pots on the terrace in the morning 🙂

The biggest change has been the weather. At the start of the month, I was lighting the wood burner in the afternoons and putting on an extra layer or putting the central heating on if we had guests. By the end of the month, I found myself moving out of the sun into the shade because it is too hot. My gloves and winter layers have been swapped for sun hat and sun cream when I am out running now.

The weather has obviously brought a lot of changes with it. As well as the tourists arriving in Eymet I’ve noticed the arrival of the summer wildlife. On my run this morning I saw/heard Cuckoos, Hoopoes, Golden Orioles, Cicadas, Swallows and Orchids to name a few. The local asparagus and strawberries arrived on the markets in abundance and of course, more tables and chairs have appeared on the terraces of the bars and restaurants. There is a great vibe in the village. We had the Fête des fleurs et des abeilles in the village at the end of the month which is a sure sign the summer season is underway.

The wood / pellet burners and heaters at the entrances of all the Bricos have been replaced by patio equipment, BBQs and pool maintenance stuff. Before long it will be air conditioning units and room fans.We also had a few nights away in the van at Sarlat and really enjoyed exploring that side of the Dordogne including Château de Beynac and Les Jardins Suspendus d Marqueyssac. One of our resolutions for this year is to take more time during the summer months to get out and explore the beautiful region we are lucky enough to live in!

Le Portanel B&B Eymet

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Summer is on its way

Wow, how did it get to be April already? It feels like yesterday that we were taking down the Christmas decorations and starting to decorate the kitchen, and suddenly here we are open for the 2023 season.

The second half of our quiet season continued much like the first half. We welcomed guests who we were able to accommodate such as the musicians from Maquizart, we made good progress on the house and garden projects, took some holidays, and continued to work on our French language and all the ‘life admin’ in the background.

I’m really pleased with the bookings we have received for this season with around 220 room nights reserved already, and I feel so much more on top of things as we start the busy season.

Weddings in the area continue to be one of the most popular reasons for guests to stay with us. There are several great wedding venues very close to Eymet, and the town is a great hub for these events with the restaurants, bars and accommodation available. Some guests stay for a couple of nights, which is easily done with Bergerac and Bordeaux airports being so well served, others decide to make a holiday of it and stay for a week. We’ve even had some wedding party bookings for 2024 already!

Another big ‘pull’ for visitors to Eymet is the summer season and the events in the Bastide and the surrounding region. July and August look like they will be very busy again with attractions such as live music events, night markets, food and drink markets and festivals like the brilliant Oyster and Wine festival which is on 15th August this year.

The thriving property market in the region is another reason people are staying with us. Eymet has 4 very active estate agents in the town centre and easy access to all the popular nearby towns and villages. One of our very first couples to stay with us last year are now living in their new house 200m along the boulevard!

There are, of course, 101 other reasons that people come to stay in the Dordogne / Lot et Garonne and we’re looking forward to welcoming plenty of new and repeat guests at Le Portanel during 2023.

At the moment, with the last of the night frosts almost behind us and the start of the hot sunny days underway, we are working to get the garden, pool and the outside of the house ready for the summer as well us updating our website and the information we keep in the guest lounge for our customers.

If you are planning a stay in the region, and you think we can help you with anything, please drop us a line or give me a call.

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Bonne Année ! 

As we’re well into our winter break, I thought I would reflect a little on our first closed season after such a busy summer. As I’ve said a few times before…we were definitively ready for the break. We are now feeling much more refreshed and relaxed as well as making good progress with our ‘to-do list’.

Highlights for me over the last couple of months have been a week in the Canaries, a 3 week road trip which included seeing family in London and Derby, some great down-time on the beautiful North Norfolk coast in the stunning Freeholders cottage, running the brilliant Marathon du Cognac, the Christmas parties and get togethers that we have hosted and been to and the warm 18 degree sunny afternoons during late December.

Less pleasant activities have been decorating our kitchen, living room, back stairs & landing and one of our non-guest bedrooms, dealing with a leaking roof, faulty hot water system and various other maintenance matters, the -7 degree mornings during November and the coughs and colds that came with change of seasons.

The jazz guest weekends have been a great success so far and we have also accepted ad-hoc requests from other guests to stay when we were able to do so. I am starting to look forward now to next season and we already have 100 guest nights booked in and are full on a few weekends in the spring and summer. Given this time last year we hadn’t even started advertising, I’m really pleased with this.

In the coming weeks before we formally reopen, our projects include decorating a few more rooms (it is great to be making progress with the non-guest accommodation decorating that we didn’t get time to do last year!), some family visits, a winter sun holiday, running the Paris marathon and refreshing the house and garden ready for the 2023 season.

So, all in all I think it’s been a pretty good balance between R&R and improvement projects so far this winter. I’ll write again as we officially open for 2023!

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The end of our first season

October marked the start of our (nearly*) closed season for the winter. Our last weekend of guests included people visiting Eymet for a wedding, for a funeral and to meet a new grandchild for the first time which I felt had a reassuring sense of balance to it and made the chatter over breakfast interesting. We finished our first year with a Booking rating of 9.8 which I’m very pleased with. I’d have loved a 9.9 overall but taking a step back now I think we should be very proud of our 9.8. We have now closed the pool for the winter, had the boiler serviced, ordered a delivery of logs for the log burner and joined the rest of France hunting for some reasonably priced wood pellets for our pellet burners. Throughout last week, afternoon temperatures were still up in the mid / high 20s but a few more weeks and the nights and mornings will be getting very cold as we found out last year.

With a ‘last day of term’ spring in our step, we gave the house a good clean then headed to Tenerife for a week of much needed R&R before starting this winter’s projects. These are mostly in our non-guest areas / rooms that we didn’t have time to decorate etc. before we opened in May. Whilst our guests have enjoyed our fabulous newly decorated rooms, we have been living in our shabby accommodation, so it’ll be great to change that!

A quick update on learning our way around the French administration (which I think will be an ongoing project for years to come…) I now have a ‘numero fiscal’ following my first tax return here in September which is very helpful, however, I can now see that I misunderstood the tax agreement between the UK and France which (long story short) means I’m currently paying tax in both countries. This I obviously need to fix ASAP! I have found the appropriate forms which are currently with the Bergerac Impots team.

* nearly-closed season – in a late development, we were approached by Maquizart, who arrange jazz concerts at the chateau in Eymet through the winter, asking if we could host the musicians on the nights of these concerts, so we’ll be full for several Saturday nights during our ‘nearly-closed’ season… I’ll be back with an update in the new year as we start to think about getting the 2023 season underway.

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