A uniquely accessible holiday villa with solar-heated pool in the heart of the Languedoc region in sunny southern France. Ideal for families and anyone with limited mobility. What are you waiting for? Let the good times roll!
Starting at the front door, you’ve got a normal key and a chain. Rather than lock the door all the time, if I’m going to be outside around the pool I tend to chain the door during the day, as you can be out back and unaware that someone has come in until they join you on the terrace.
The door on the left in the hall leads to the garage where you’ll find some bicycles, a blue electric pump/powerpack, some inflatables and the hot water storage tank. The lock for the garage door should be hanging on the key rack around the corner by the kitchen, but you can lock and unlock it on the inside by sliding a lever across on the door lock. The bikes do pick up punctures easily if you go off-road, so stick to tarmac and well-used tracks to minimise the risk. My record was 7 in my wheelchair tyres in one 30m short-cut! There is a puncture repair kit in the ‘useful drawer’ under the cooker, along with some batteries.
The next left is the utility room which houses the washing machine, a wash basin and the fusebox, which is behind the utility room door. The circuit for the hot water is in the centre of the panel and has three settings: - off, auto and full time, auto is French Economy 7, so please keep it on that if you can. Energy hasn’t been cheap in France for years. The ventilation fan for the wet room has three positions marked. If you are having lots of showers please move it to position ‘2’.
The washing machine is pretty straightforward. Powder in the left slot, conditioner in the centre, set the cleaning to 40 blanc/coleurs, press the 'facile' (easy) iron button, then hit 'depart/pause’ (start/pause).
Above the utility room door is the first air-con unit. There’s a larger master one on the far wall of the lounge too. The units can be set to heat or cool, as well as timer on and off, and temperature too, with the larger unit having a more sophisticated weekly timing option too. The manuals and remote controls are interchangeable, but it’s best to make sure that only one air-con unit is able to pick up the remote control signal at any one time, or they can get out of phase.
Please don’t operate them with windows and doors open as it is a very, very expensive way of cooling down France!! Far better to use the ceiling fans in the lounge.
The hall now opens out and you have two bedrooms on the right with a wet room/loo ahead of you. I can recommend the seated shower, but beware using too tall bottles of shampoo and aftershave et al in the mirrored unit as the sliding doors can sweep them off onto the tiles. If water is slow to drain away from the shower that is because the drain has become clogged up. It's easy to clear, you just need a screwdriver (in the wooden sideboard or useful drawer) to lever up the grill, then lift out the square grey retaining frame and the black inner grill can be lifted out and the debris shaken and wiped off into the bin/loo.
The twin bedroom has my wardrobe in the drawers under the left bed and house linen and towels under the right-hand one. Please use the black towels for the pool and beach. All the rooms have electric shutters operated by grey rocker switches. Please return the rocker switches to the central ‘off’ position when you have adjusted them to your liking. You will see that you can lower them all the way down and leave little slots open to allow some light through, while keeping the bulk of the sun’s heat out.
Next up is the open-plan kitchen on the right. The manuals for the appliances: microwave, induction hob and dishwasher should be within sight, or in the wooden sideboard. The induction hob is soft touch and responsive, with 0-10 power settings. If the right-hand two plates play up I have found that flicking the fuse for the hob, (there’s an icon for it on the panel in the utility room) or even the master switch under the hob, clears it up.
The microwave is worth persevering with as it has many functions. Excellent for a quick pizza and defrosting yesterday’s flute. When I buy bread I cut it in half and park one in the freezer immediately for use the following day.
The drawer under the cooker is the “useful” drawer for fuses, spare batteries, screwdrivers etc. There’s a similar top drawer in the wooden sideboard. The cupboard below the oven has shopping bags, bin liners, light bulbs, ice cube bags and toilet rolls. Please replace what loo rolls you use and let us know if you have to buy some expensive Brabantia bin liners :-) And if a bulb goes please let us know at handover to Sophie or by mail/text to me. There is a selection of replacements in the left-hand cupboard of the wooden sideboard.
The house dustbin for general waste is a small green wheelie bin. Collection days are Thursday pretty early in the morning, so it needs to go out the night before. Paper, glass, plastic, metal and general junk are all recycled as per the UK. But households are expected to take it down to the recycling bins on the corner. They are clearly marked with a skip for general junk, but impossible to use if you use a wheelchair. Corrugated cardboard seems to be left out between the bins….
The general rule with the fridge and ice box is that if it's left in there it should be in date and you are free to use it.
The dishwasher can fox you into thinking it isn't operating as the red power light has blown and there is a distinct pause between you setting it and shutting the door before it bursts into life. The dial seems to have just slipped in relation to the marked programs. Reset is now at about 6.30, not 9. if you start there, then click up three so you are pointing at ‘reset’ that is the standard program....and wait for a good 10 seconds :-) The end of the wash cycle is indicated by 2 short beeps and the drying phase light flashing. Turn the program knob counter-clockwise to reset all the settings.
There is a long electric hot plate (a plancha) stored in the utility room that is good for use at either table – though I prefer outdoors and a steam mop if you want to go at the floor. Please use distilled water in the mop as this is a very hard water area.
The left-hand glass-fronted sideboard in the lounge has tableclothes (and clips for windy days on the terrace), candles for when it's not windy, plus matches and some napkins. The right-hand sideboard has books, board games, toy cars, cards and jigsaws too.
Now the technology. There is also a 3.5mm jack extension plumbed in so you can run an ipod or mp3 player through the amp. Select “amp 2” for this. There is also a Sony ipod dock for outside use. The Wii is wired up and ready to go, use the password printed on the reverse of the router.
The house has UK Freeview satellite television (Radio too) with a hard disc for recording too. There is also a DVD player.
To operate: Switch on the TV, (on-off switch on low left side, red standby, blue active) and then the satellite box and the TV will sense each other. Manuals are to the left of the TV. The TV is connected to the amplifier (you can still use the TV volume, but if you want to adjust the volume coming through the amplifier, you'll need to use the Yamaha remote) as is the CD player. The two sources you need on the amplifier are 'cd' obviously, and 'LD' for the TV and ‘tuner’ for the 3.5mm jack lead. The amplifier has different effects like movie theatre, TV sport, jazz club etc.
The low sideboards contain dvds, and a channel listing, while the right one has numerous tourist guides bagged up for different areas like Beziers, the local district around Cessenon, Minervois etc. Please return them and if you get any up-to-date ones on your travels feel free to add them to the 'library'. There are also CDs and magazines dotted around the place
With all the technology and also the telephone, if there is a thunderstorm, please unplug everything as summer storms can be impressive with lightning strikes more common in this part of the world. The ceiling fans need to be switched on with the double switch to the right of the wooden sideboard, they are then controlled by the small curved remote controls.
The brown suede L-unit is a double sofa bed and needs a bit of strength to open it up. The bed linen for it is under the right-hand bed in the twin room with storage under the sofabed for continued use.
The patio doors lock by moving the handle fully up before turning the key. The smaller third pane allows you to get in and out without needing to unlock the main doors, but is too narrow for all but the tiniest wheelchair. Out on the patio you’ll see many light switches for wall lights, the blue led uplighters and the pool light. The pool light switch is over by the pool house porch. I hope you don’t mind swallows – depending on the time of year of course.
The pool pump runs from 8am to about 8pm each day. Make sure the door is closed properly to minimise the noise. The pool heating is via the black rubber 'solar' blankets on the garage roof, and has been known to raise the temperature to over 30 degrees in a long hot spell. Please don’t let it go over 30 degrees as once it gets to that temperature the chlorine struggles to cope and you could get an algae bloom. To shut off the heating, there is a blue valve between the two vertical pipes in the pool house. Please don't adjust any of the others. To keep debris out and preserve the heat the pool cover should go on when you are not using it and at night. The wind can get underneath the cover and turn it into a magic carpet trying to fly away, so please ensure that it is fully out and pressed down on the water with no flapping edges. There should be a wooden pole that we lay on the cover at the winch end to anchor it further. Please don't dump the pole on the long-suffering vegetation at the end of the pool. We lay it along the terrace side.
There are some maps and other tourist guides in the wooden sideboard that you are welcome to use and return please. Various manuals for everything are in the middle drawer. Please return them after use.
Lift and stairs– The platform lift is simple to operate with a grey cigarette packet-sized controller (and spare) which has the safety feature that it requires constant button pressure to make the platform rise or descend. Spare batteries should be in the cooker drawer. Please lower the rails as it is possible to catch your fingers between the shaft and the lift rail. At the top there is a gate into the bedroom and a stop microswitch and buzzer which does go on a bit at 20 seconds. However you can push the gate open during buzzer time. The lift will not descend unless the gate is closed onto the microswitch. As you descend there is a small mirror mounted on the cupboard opposite for a final visual check that you aren’t about to squash something.
The stairs are steep, so if you are a little unsteady on your feet, please take the scenic route and use the lift.
At the top of the lift you have the master bedroom, balcony and en-suite bathroom. The bath has hydro-massage jets which are wonderful, especially if you have just arrived after a long journey, but you have to make sure the water covers them well as they are fierce; the controls are on the inside of the bath. Left hand is a steady stream, centre is turbo, and the right one is pulse. Be aware that the hot water in the house is hot! Don't burn your shin on a running tap like I did! (I’m glad I can't feel it).
There is a roller shutter at the foot of the stairs that you can close for privacy and peace and quiet as noise does travel around the house. It is worth keeping closed during the day on sunny days, not only does it stop little ones clambering up the spiral staircase, but it also stops the day’s heat that comes in through the open French windows downstairs rising up the stairwell and turning the master bedroom into a hotbox. For the same reason, keep the shutters down in rooms that are exposed to the sun when you are not in there. For example, the upstairs bathroom gets baked by the afternoon and evening sun.
The umbrella pole by the left side of the bed allows you to prod open the nearest shutters from the bed so you know whether to roll over and go back to sleep, or get out there for one of the 300 sunny days the region gets each year. :-)
The house is yours to access
Interakcija s gostima
I try to be available to help with those pesky details, either by email or phone. And I don't go to bed early...
Please smoke outside and respect the space. The house isn't overlooked, but you over look the neighbours, Barry and Jenny in No 10. Behind are Bob and Barbara in 19