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Overlooking the stunning Célé Valley in Lot, La Ferme du Cayla seems every inch a charming South West France village, right down to the traditional square, time-stood-still country cottages, pretty fountain, and even the gentle click of boules on warm, summer evenings.
Take a closer look and you may be surprised to find that this dream village is actually a luxury resort at heart. But it’s so skilfully blended, it’s impossible to spot the difference between old and new: apart from the fact that most authentic hamlets don’t make such unforgettable family holidays.
It’s amazing how much La Ferme du Cayla have managed to fit into one village and still hold on to the charm, but creativity is clearly a great talent here: you only have to look at the inventive kids clubs, beautifully designed play zones, and weekly programme of family activities for proof. Even the delightful organic farm is an innovation: supplying fresh ingredients for the kitchen and doubling up as an exciting learning environment for kids, where they can get hands on with harvests or just come visit the animals, if they’re not too busy with all Cayla’s other distractions.
Spending time together is one of the greatest luxuries on any family holiday, and La Ferme du Cayla don’t lose sight of that for a minute.
Although they obviously understand you might want some for yourself too, judging by their indulgent and strictly grown-ups-only Spa & Wellness Centre. Apart from luxe treatments and an indoor pool, its hammam is wonderfully soothing, and the jacuzzi has long, lingering views over the Célé Valley: in case you weren’t feeling quite cossetted enough.
The resort’s Concierge Service is great for arranging family activities. But comes in just as handy if you want to organise some fun for you alone, whether that’s a round of golf at one of the local courses, exploring the lovely Lot villages which have less kid-appeal than La Ferme du Cayla or a drive along the Cahors wine route.
Although you don’t have to travel to try the region’s finest vintages, Cayla’s restaurant has a superb cellar all of its own, and regularly hosts wine tasting evenings with local producers.
It’s easy to identify Cayla’s original heritage, you only have to look at the village square with its charming fountain and pretty cottages, restaurant, bar, traditional boules court, and old-fashioned bread oven. But nothing here is just for show: the bread oven bakes fresh bread every day, pétanque parties and family-style dinners are regular events, and the warm, convivial atmosphere couldn’t be more authentically South West France: a particular plus for kids if making new friends is high on their holiday wish list.
Authenticity isn’t in short supply on the home front here either. Original features have been retained in all the restored cottages and apartments, and a generous amount of space is another nice tradition, thoughtfully upheld. Carefully planned kitchens, along with outdoor terraces and private barbecues, are a good excuse to shop local morning markets.
Home comforts like satellite TV and high-speed WIFI come as standard. And if you need a reminder that you’re on holiday, the daily housekeeping service should do the trick. You can even choose the type of view you prefer, from village square to open countryside, and if you need baby or toddler equipment, simply ask and it’s supplied.
If you can tear yourself away from La Ferme du Cayla, the surrounding area is almost as magical as the village itself. The historic town of Figeac is just 10 minutes away, and you can be in the heart of Dordogne in under an hour: a wonderful area for summer festivals, heritage sites, and sublime food.
The famous Cahors wine route is nearby too. And there’s even a stretch of the ancient Saint Jean de Compostelle pilgrims’ way within half-an-hour of Cayla: you might not want to make the entire pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, but a short walk is good fun with kids.
A seven night holiday from 09 June 2018 to 08 September 2018, for a family of four, staying in Rose Cottage, overlooking the village square, includes:
Seven nights for a family of four in three bedroom Rose Cottage from £3408.
La Ferme du Cayla is open year-round, and offers short breaks and longer holidays for families at low-season prices between mid-September and early June.
Direct UK flights to Brive-Souillac Airport take one hour, 40 minutes. La Ferme du Cayla is one hour, 24 minutes drive south of Brive.