The Bodgers’ Yurt – Dordogne
- Yurt for 2
Chez Devalon yurts sit in a beautiful spot overlooking countryside that epitomises southern France from its red tiled rooftops to its dusty country lanes. In their pastoral paradise Wendy and Matt have created three fabulous yurt camps, using local wood and Matt’s long experience of willow working.
The Bodgers’ Yurt profits from its own pole lathe - an intriguing old wood-turning tool with which you can make your own wooden mushroom and enter it into this season's competition. The gorgeous cob kitchen is festooned with fairy lights, and its outdoor terrace is a great place to relax while the sun sets.
- Pets welcome
Kids cannot be accommodated at Chez Devalon except as part of a booking for the whole site. Pets will be considered but at the owners discretion because of their own menagerie of rather varied animals.
Not what you're looking for? Try...
Special Offer: Free pole lathe lesson when you book 3 nights - Stay in the Bodger's Yurt and learn the secrets of green woodworking on the yurt's very own pole lathe - then enter the "best turned mushroom" competition!
Valid from 28/02/2013 till 31/05/2013
Price discounts have been automatically applied unless otherwise stated
Everything you need to know about The Bodgers’ Yurt
The important stuff
- Check in any time after 4pm, if you think you might arrive after 7pm, please ring ahead
- Check out time is 11am, please try to leave your yurt tidy
- Children cannot be accommodated at Chez Devalon
- Well behaved Pets will be considered but at Wendy and Matt's discretion because of their own resident menagerie
- Please bring eco washing products
- There is no mains power on site, but phones can be charged at the house and broadband is also available
Sleeping arrangements1 double
Kids & PetsKids cannot be accommodated at Chez Devalon except as part of a booking for the whole site. Pets will be considered but at the owners discretion because of their own menagerie of rather varied animals.
- Gas cooker with oven and hob
- Gas bbq and outdoor seating space, with lanterns, deckchairs, an umbrella and fairy lights
- Worktops and plenty of storage space
- Ceramic sink with hot and cold running water
- Cool box with ice blocks which can be changed whenever you need them by going to the freezer up at the barn
- All crockery, cutlery, glasses, mugs & utensils
- Dishcloths, tea towels & scrubbing stuff
- Tea, coffee, salt & pepper etc.
- Please bring eco washing products
- The solar shower provides privacy but you still have a great view. There is a gas powered back up.
- Each kitchen also has a handbasin.
- As well as the shower there is a hand basin mounted on an old treadle sewing machine stand!
- DO NOT be afraid of the compost loo. It’s fine. Really.
- Laundry can be done at the house by arrangement.
Heating, lighting & bedding
- All bed linen is provided. Towels can be hired at 5 euros per person
- You may find you need some of the following when you’re relaxing in your hammocks, or on the deckchairs, or the sofa in your yurt....
- Board games
- A small selection of books (more are available at the house)
- Wind up radio
Chez Devalon, 24320, Nanteuil, Auriac de Bourzac, Dordogne, France
The nearest TGV is Angouleme, from which you can get a local train to Montmoreau. Pick ups from Montmoreau are free, but there is a charge if you need to get picked up at Angouleme.
By car & ferry
The nearest ferry ports are Caen (Ouistreham) and St Malo (both about a 6 hour drive) and Dieppe and Le Havre 6hr 30mins. Calais and Boulogne are a little further (8 hours) but often the ferry crossing is cheaper. There are extensive directions available, which we will send on booking.
Eating & drinking
At Chez Devalon
Each yurt has its own small vegetable and herb garden, which comes complete with packets of seeds so that you can keep the place topped up for the next guests. There may be also be a little more to buy up at the house, along with freshly laid eggs.
Hampers of breakfast goodies can be arranged for 5 euros a person and will feature a lovely load of local produce. Just ask Matt and Wendy on arrival or mention it when booking.
A package including champagne, chocolates, flowers and a surprise or two is available for £40.
There are many local producers within easy cycling distance. Fruit, vegetables and eggs are available from Chez Devalon, and depending on availability, lamb and pork from the freezer. There are local dairy farmers for milk, fantastic ice-cream and occasionally beef. A goat farmer for milk, cheese and occasionally meat (they make excellent sausages – not too goaty!!) The local mayor is a trout farmer and you can go and choose a fish right out of one of his many vast tanks, and an excellent duck and goose farmer is very nearby. The local small town of Verteillac has a boulangerie, butchers and incredibly diverse convenience store, Merlaud's (known, to some, as the Harrods of the Dordogne). There's also a newsagents, post office, bank, bars, and restaurants and the local GP.
There is also local wine (red white and an excellent sparkling white wine) and pineau (a fortified drink a bit like sherry but nicer!!) available from a producer just outside the nearby village of Champagne (not THAT Champagne).
The Perigord region is renowned for its quality food and wines and there are numerous good yet affordable restaurants locally. Typically a four or five course lunch costs between around 12 euros, often with wine included. Dinner is usually more expensive but still good value for money and there is a lot of choice both locally and further afield.
For the serious wine lover, Bergerac is just over an hours’ drive away or you could take a day trip to St Emilion (1hr45mins) or Bordeaux (2hrs). Cognac is another interesting day out where you can take a tour around one of several brandy houses and then take a wander around the shops or along the river..
Chez Didi, Champagne Fontaine – the best bar in mainland europe!! The bar lady (Didi) is 84 but she has spirit and runs the place on her own with a bit of help from whoever is on hand to carry the barrels across the road! Its open all day and everyday (she’s confesses she had to close for a few hours when her mother died) but there’s an unspoken agreement that you don’t stay on much beyond 9pm as she likes to go to bed early!
L’Ecole – Vendoire – the nearest bar and restaurant – just changed hands. Reports of the new offering are not yet in.
La Calice – Verteillac – good for a drink, a great burger and chips and a game of pool. You can sit out on a terrace and read the newspaper (probably an English one). Renowned for its fish and chips on Fridays – thank cod it’s friday!! (I’m sure you’ve guessed by now that its British owned!!)
Le Petit Rossignol, Gouts Rossignol – see restaurant section below. Big screen for watching main sport events.
Cocolicot, St Paul Lizonne - see section below. Occasional bands on Friday or Saturday nights.
Le Licorne, Lusignac - see restaurant section below. Occasional bands. Good bar-type food at lunch time. Pool table and occasional bands playing. Nice terrace.
Things to do
At Chez Devalon
It can add an extra dimension to your holiday if you want to get involved with work on the farm – in the past people have helped with haymaking, straw baling, cleaning out the chickens, bottle-feeding the orphan lambs, fencing, green woodworking, pole lathe turning, feeding animals, moving sheep.
You will be ideally placed for access to all the beautiful sites in the Dordogne and Charente. There are chateaux to visit, prehistoric caves to explore or pretty market towns to meander around. Not to be missed is market day in Riberac on Friday or you could go to Villebois Lavalette for their modest market on a Saturday morning under an incredible old oak structure, where you can join in with the locals eating oysters with beer, it also has a beautiful chateau up on the hill.
Within easy reach (biking distance) is Brantome, a delightful riverside town with prehistoric caves, a magnificent Benedictine abbey & canoeing along the river, whilst Aubeterre, a beautiful hillside village with its Monolithic church (not to be missed), arty shops & river beach lies SW into the Charente.
The cities of Angouleme & Perigueaux are both within an hours’ drive, offering an abundance of both sightseeing & shopping opportunities. Further afield take a day out to explore Cognac(70km), Bergerac (75km), the vineyards of St Emilion(80km), or visit the city of Bordeaux(120km)
To help you get the most out of the area Matt and Wendy have made a comprehensive guide with leaflets & lists of local events (eg. village festivals, night markets & brocantes).
Outdoor & Active
For the more energetic there are plenty of outdoor activities. Try canoeing along the river from Brantome, the little Venice of the Dordogne, to Bordeilles with its fortified chateau, or explore the quiet but well signed lanes by bike or on foot. Several river beaches are within easy reach – you could cycle to Lake Jemaye situated within a nature reserve, where there’s a beach with a couple of bars & restaurants overlooking the waterfront and lovely wooded walks.
There are two nearby outdoor swimming pools / lidos – one in Verteillac, the nearest small town and one in the middle of the nowhere with a big park and bar/café – it’s perfect for a picnic and swim and has diving boards so you can perfect your high-diving!
Tennis courts are scattered around in many of the villages. Details are available when you arrive but it's not expensive to get a court for an hour or two.
For walkers and cyclists there are plenty of local maps and routes – there are bikes and a tandem that you can hire out. The area really is exceptional for both road cycling and mountain biking.
There is also river and lake fishing locally as well as horse-riding.
Festivals & events
Take part in the leaf-surfing contest.
Courses & classes
Learn to weave willow!
There are one day willow weaving courses each spring on which you can learn how to make a living willow bower or a traditional salmon trap, plant support or a small hurdle. Please enquire for dates if you are interested in arranging a yurt stay that coincides with a course. There may also be green wood working and yurt building courses so if you would be interested please get in touch.
Meet your hosts
Matt & Wendy's story!
Wendy and Matt met in Australia in 1989 after finishing their studies, Wendy in business and Matt in agriculture. On arrival back in England after their adventures, Matt worked as a farm manager on a sixty acre fruit and veg PYO farm just outside Oxford and Wendy in sales and marketing for Royal Mail. After three years they left the farm and its’ tied cottage and Matt started his own business growing willow and making woven willow fences and garden products, all whilst renovating a pair of grade two listed cottages in the Cotswolds and having their first baby – a busy time! Luckily Wendy stayed at the Royal Mail doing a proper job (well earning money anyway)!
Brushes with royalty...
The willow business became very successful and Matt undertook many exciting and challenging projects including exhibiting each year at RHS Hampton Court Flower Show, constructed the centre piece (large willow bower) for Prince Charles’ Healing Garden in memory of his grandmother at Chelsea Flower show, ran regular courses at RHS Wisley, and fell out with Tommy Walsh whilst constructing a willow castle on a Ground Force episode!!
The family grows...
Having made a lovely home, had another couple of children and established a viable business some said they were mad to give it all up and start a much bigger and scarier project in France, however having fallen upon their dream farmhouse and smallholding in the north-west Dordogne and never ones to shy away from a challenge, Wendy, Matt, and their three boys moved to France in 2002. They saw the move as a chance to jump off the merry-go-round of their hectic lives, and lead a more fulfilling and relaxed life style ……… little did they know!
Chez Devalon begins...
What followed was a mammoth task of renovating buildings and barns to create their own home and a holiday gite, setting up the gardens and kitchen garden with a polytunnel, orchard and rainwater recuperation irrigation system, land management to include fencing in preparation for the arrival of the chickens, sheep and pigs, and planting 25000 willow cuttings of varying varieties and managing the growing plantation. Alongside all of this Matt still occasionally manages to do willow commissions in peoples’ gardens, teaches willow weaving, does other fencing and landscaping work whilst Wendy runs the holiday gite and does a bit of catering.
The yurts appear...
And now after eight years of hard work they are offering luxury eco holidays in yurts built by themselves from willow grown on their own land. The yurt building all started because they were invited to exhibit their willow business at a French eco festival. At the time they had a lot of willow suitable for yurt building so Matt decided to have a go at building one. It was a big success and they then realised that there was an opportunity to create something really special utilising all of their resources – Matt’s willow and green woodworking skills, Wendy’s seamstress skills from when she was younger, the willow plantation, and their desire to run an ecologically sustainable business and share the beautiful countryside in which Chez Devalon sits.
Matt & Wendy's philosophy
Wendy and Matt believe that many (not all) of the environmental problems that we face have practical hands on solutions within easy reach of most people if the will is there to make a difference. They know only too well that it’s not always practical or easy or financially viable to live the way they aspire to, but hope that by setting up the yurts in the way that they have, they are making things much easier for you to have a low impact holiday.
Their hope is that when people leave they will take with them simple, practical solutions that they can apply to their own lives at home (not necessarily buying pigs or building compost toilets, although that would be great!)
The wildlife at Chez Devalon
Chez Devalon is an old dairy farm lying just outside a small hamlet of La Feynie in the commune of Nanteuil Auriac de Bourzac. Although there are no longer dairy cows Wendy and Matt have a small flock of sheep, chickens and a couple of pigs (Smokey and the Bandit).
The surrounding area of rolling limestone hills produces mainly cereals, maize and sunflowers although there are a scattering of dairy and beef farms, along with goats, ducks and geese and our local mayor is a trout farmer! This is very much an agricultural community.
Chez Devalon is a very tranquil place with no light pollution (the night skies are amazing) and the only traffic noise comes from distant tractors in the fields. There is an abundance of wildlife in the area with buzzards and kestrels hovering overhead and the sound of golden oriels and hoopoes in the woods, it is a treat for bird watchers. At night time, occasionally you will hear the calls of foxes and barn owls. On the ground you are likely to see rabbits, deer, brightly coloured lizards and frogs and the occasional badger, fox and maybe even a wild boar.
Strong Eco Credentials for the yurts and the farm
Wendy and Matt have always been interested in environmental issues and passionate about sustainability, so wherever possible materials for the yurts and buildings are sourced locally. Matt is restoring a derelict chestnut coppice for a friend, the benefit of which are two-fold: he utilises fallen timber for building the kitchens and bathrooms that would otherwise rot on the ground; the clearing of the dead wood and brash revitalizes the woodland and re-establishes the coppicing cycle.
Much of the furniture and equipment for the yurts and kitchens have been acquired second hand, revamped and re-cycled, even the human waste is made use of! The compost toilet system has been a revelation and all of
the guests deposits are carefully composted to remove any pathogens and then used down at the willow plantation to produce more willow to make more yurts. We have a policy to sell off our oldest yurt in use each year as this ensures that our yurts are always in pristine condition for our guests.
The hot water system is a very basic solar system using black water pipes laid on a black background. On a hot day the water can get very hot, but it is subject to the weather.
Waste water: guests are encouraged to use bio-degradable products in the shower and the kitchen. When washing greasy pots and pans we ask you to use kitchen towel to remove the worst of the grease before contaminating the water. All waste water is used for irrigation in your own garden.
Food waste: most of the food waste can be either fed to the pigs or chickens – anything not suitable should be composted and bins are provided for this purpose.
Transport: cycling is definitely encouraged. It is beautiful here and the roads are very quiet (French drivers actually like cyclists!) Bikes and a tandem are available for hire. If you arrive by bike (and look sweaty enough to convince us that you really have cycled from England or the nearest train station ) then we’ll give you 5% off the price of the yurt!!
Lighting: candles are supplied (but more can be bought at the Harrods of the Dordogne if you need them) but they must be kept contained within a lantern (also supplied). The kitchen is lit by solar powered lights and there are also decorative (but subtle) fairly lights!! Wind-up solar powered torches are also provided for you in the yurts.