Alfonso’s Wagon – near Sommières, Languedoc - Roussillon
- Roulotte for 2
Once home to Alfonso the daredevil leopard-tamer (so Nella, the owner, would have you believe!), this colourful roulotte is a hundred years old and was built in Montargis for the circus life. It's a whirl of fairy lights, vintage finds, mirrors and gorgeous Provençal quilts, postcards, prints and books, and a musical library of Gypsy jazz. A cupboard in the bedroom reveals a bright pink loo and basin closet; the gas shower is a dash outside to a hut.
Though the wagon is completely self-contained, you can easily live half inside, half out, a lifestyle perfectly suited to the south of France. There’s a light and airy outdoor kitchen a few feet away, with gas grill and a vintage zinc bar: pour some cocktails and watch the sun set over the mountain Pic St Loup in the distance. Your breakfast table, under a shady pergola, overlooks the training ring for Nella’s Lusitanien horses, and you will be really well cared for by your hosts.
This is a dreamy destination... Take it easy, or go exploring nearby: the charming town of Sommières has a great market on Saturday mornings, and the pretty medieval village of Sauve has plenty of good places to eat and little streets to wander.
We’re sorry, Alfonso’s Wagon isn’t really suitable for children or pets.
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Everything you need to know about Alfonso’s Wagon
The important stuff
- You are in the midst of things so may meet friendly dogs and horses as well as your charming hosts
Kids & PetsWe’re sorry, Alfonso’s Wagon isn’t really suitable for children or pets.
SurchargesBreakfast is €10, payable directly on arrival.
- Order a good, continental breakfast with local homemade jams, etc - €10 each
- Pre-dinner aperitifs are included!
- Kettle and cups for tea, coffee, infusions etc in winter
- Amazing outdoor kitchen with 2 gas rings, gas grill, fridge, sink, and retro zinc bar is just outside, next to your own outdoor dining area
- Flushing loo & washbasin inside roulotte
- Gas shower in cabin, 10m away from roulotte
Heating, lighting & bedding
- All linen and towels provided
- Lots of good books
- Horses training just outside
Nimes & Montpellier, TGV, are both 45 mins drive. Take the Eurostar from London and change in Paris, or take the sleeper train down south!
Nimes and Montpellier (Gatwick, Stanstead, Luton etc) both 50 mins drive. Marseille, 2 hrs drive. Car rentals available at airports.
From Nimes center to Sardan is about 40 minutes by car. From Nimes, take D999 going west, direction Le Vigan, stay on this road going out in to the countryside and passing a turnoff for Vic Le Fesq; a mile or two further on take the left turn signed Sardan. Cross bridge over river, in center of village turn right signed Carnas and Toupiargues. Continue several hundred yards and turn right at small cross roads, signed Chemin de Toupiargues. Take the second fork right which is Chemin des Vernedes. Pass several new houses on your right then you will see our gates on your right with horses in the paddocks.
Eating & drinking
A shady pergola covers your outdoor eating area - a plentiful continental breakfast can be waiting for you, if arranged in advance, for €10 per person.
La Cantine in nearby Sauve is above an avant garde gallery and serves delicious and unusual food.
You will probably need a car (or a horse!) to reach local places to eat, but there are plenty of local restaurants catering for all tastes and budgets - Nella will recommend the best!
Things to do
On the farm
You are welcome to help feed, groom, and muck out the horses. Dressage lessons can be arranged for more advanced riders. The surrounding countryside is excellent for walking, swimming, canoeing and picnicking with rivers nearby - and the beach only an hour away. Look out for the abrivados during summer: macho men on white Camargue horses, chasing black bulls through local villages...
Places to visit
You are in a fascinating area with (usually!) absolutely fantastic weather and loads of interesting places to visit.
Nimes - best preserved Roman remains in the world
Montpellier - Lively city on the Mediterranean with lots to see and do
Arles - huge photography exhibition in July/August, and a former haunt of Van Gogh - hence the Van Gogh museum...
Avignon - the famous Palais des Papes, huge fortress and former papal residence
Saturday markets at both Uzès and Sommières are excellent places to find brocantes - antiques / bric a brac
Picturesque landscapes abound: The Camargue, Aigues Mortes, Les Saintes Maries de la Mer..
Meet your hosts
Since early childhood, Nella has loved horses and been fascinated by circuses and the travelling life that accompanies them...so it was only a small step further to start breeding horses in this idyllic spot. What took a bit longer was finding the roulotte (traditional French showman's wagon), but it eventually turned up in a scrap metal dealers yard by the side of a motorway! It had languished there for 30 years buried up to its axles and fenced in by the trees that had grown up around it. Nella cajoled it off the owner and painstakingly restored these five tons of oak, ash and chestnut to their original glory using fabrics and furnishings of the era, making it a colourful and sumptuous stopover fit for a Gypsy King or Queen!
Nella runs a small stud farm breeding Lusitanien (Portuguese) horses. The nucleus of the farm is set in 7 acres on the edge of a hamlet of some 100 people, overlooking farmland in the valley (vines and cereals). Nella and Andrew have dogs, cats and ten horses including two stallions. Around the property are paddocks housing the mares and stallions, a stable block, hay barns, lunging ring and sand school where they train the horses. There are tractors and farm machinery and of course the vegetable garden (it would be madness not to use all that horse manure!) The grounds are informal with wooded areas of holme and white oak.
Wildlife & Environment
Organic vegetables are plentiful - with all that wonderful horse manure, it's to be expected! Guest are always advised to drive cautiously at night as it’s not unusual to come across a whole tribe of wild boar with babies in tow. Bird watchers will enjoy the brilliant blue of the bee-eaters, and Montagu's Harriers are regular summer visitors.