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A Special Place to Stay

from caravans to class

Thursday 20 January 2005, by Tracie Savage

Whether swinging lazily in my hammock or lounging at the beach, whether busking at Pezenas market or decorating a renovated convent in the mountains, I often wonder how the ’other half live’. Almost two years ago, I moved to the Languedoc with no money and no real plans. Since then, I have lived well by my standards, dipping toes in both the high and low lives of the region.

One of the high points of the summer season is the slow but steady stream of visitors I have from the UK. My last visitor, Mike, brought with him a girlfriend known to all as Madam. Madam is not the easiest of people to please even when she has all the luxuries of her home city, Brighton, at her fingertips so a spell in my tiny, antiquated caravans with no electricity, running water or toilet facilities is certainly not her idea of a holiday.

Before they arrived, I had received a somewhat apologetic email from Mike asking if I knew of a good hotel/chambres d’hote. As a busker/caravan-dweller such a request was a little outside my frame of reference so I asked around some of my acquaintances that are more accustomed to this aspect of L’Herault living.

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Imposing Facade

"They could try the swanky new B&B in Pezenas -opposite the Mairie. We’ve heard it’s excellent."
I forwarded this reference plus one or two other positive comments I’d picked up regarding the place, alongside the telephone number of the chambres d’hote and a few words regarding the charming regency town of Pezenas and voila! A reservation for a room for two at the Hotel de Vigniamont promptly followed.

I accompanied Mike and Madam to check in at the Hotel de Vigniamont, situated opposite Pezenas’ Mairie, in case of any language problems. We were very warmly greeted by Tracy McVeigh, who comprises one half of the British husband and wife team that have renovated this fascinating building.
Tracy is a superb host. My friends found her to be both friendly and unobtrusive at once. Tracy is also an accomplished cook and although, as chambres d’hote they do not offer meals, guests are invited to ’raid the pantry’ at aperitif time. This may take place on the sun-drenched terrace or in the elegantly restored dining room. You will find the table full of items to amuse bouche, expertly prepared by Tracy from local and seasonal produce. Rob, the other half of the team, is on hand with a selection of local quality wines from their original cave, which he has personally sourced by making contact with the local vignerons.

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The Internal Courtyard

The couple have very sympathetically restored their three sections of this extensive property. The renaissance staircase winds around a beautiful inner courtyard with water feature, impressive arches and romantic ambience. It was originally comprised of seven sections and was inhabited by the Count Vigniamont. Rob researched the period and property before commencing the renovation and redecoration. He is, consequently, both interesting and informative on the subject. If, like my friends and I, you are the type to be interested in the history of the places you visit he will surely inspire you to further research. His enthusiasm is surely communicable when he tells you about the keystone found dated 1589 but that the property is believed to be 17th Century and that he has carried out a net search of the family de Vigniamont that reveals some involvement in the Beziers Uprising of 1852. He has transcripts of documents pertaining to the building and the family all of which, he says, he will translate one day. Pezenas is full of history; if this appeals to you, it all positively contributes to the holiday. In addition to historical local knowledge, Rob and Tracy will recommend tourist attractions, day trips, restaurants etc.

Returning to very recent history, Rob and Tracy moved here, after checking out various regions of France, in June 2003. They began work on the renovations in October of that year and finished the following June. During that time they removed 40 tons of rubble, laid 10 tons of concrete and refloored everywhere. Luckily, the walls were sound so they were able to expose the original stonework and, with a minimum of treatment, the ceiling beams.

The decoration is tasteful and delightful, each room has it’s own very individual theme so it is agreeably possible to sleep in a room that appropriates your own taste. Tracy has added the final additions by way of soft furnishings, not all of it in the style of the period but corresponding well nonetheless. As Rob put it, "I like to think that if Louis XIVth walked in here today he would feel at home." In spite of or because of various modern additions and comforts I’m sure His Royal Highness and retinue would feel entirely at home. As did Madam and Mike, who plan to return this summer.

With Pezenas an increasingly popular tourist trail and the Hotel de Vigniamont taking more guests by the day, I hope they book in good time or it’ll be caravans for Madam.

Hotel de Vigniamont 5 rue Massillon 34120 PEZENAS France
+33 (0)467 35 14 88

Forum posts

  • Lovely place, about time they gave us a link back from their site! :)

    • Hello Rob

      You seem to have alot to say about most things!

      By saying that I am being complimentary !! Actually I have found this site fascinating especially since I love the Roujan and Languedoc area generally. Have been coming to the area now for some 6 years and long to move permanently there. Unfortunately a messy divorce has dwindled our (my new man John) finances somewhat so my house hasnt much equity. Both love a challenge though and John and I have worked together on building who knows!

      Anyway since you are in the property market perhaps I shall look up your properties.

      Do you perchance happen to know whether Chiropody or Podiatry is favoured much in France?? I am about to embark on a Degree course in September and hope to utilise my skills once in France. Reflexology exam is in June so I have other strings to my bow (so to speak).

      Anyway, enough woffle...hope to hear from you Rob and good luck with your selling and keep on writing!!

      Linda and John in Kent England

    • Hi Linda and John

      Chiropody is indeed favoured if France (my aging aunt is a big fan). Much is offered on the French health system already. This is not neccessarily good news as I know many people, particularly health practioners, who find it very difficult to get their qualifactions recognised. I would be researching that side of things before embarking on the dream. Strings to your bow are excellent and I know of more than one alternative health centre in the area, 2 of which are run by Brits so that could be interesting for you.

      In any event good luck with it all.

      Tracy Savage

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