A hilltop Château overlooking a pretty little town that has a wonderful wooden open market building in the centre and one of the least modernised cafes in France. The ‘Cafe Reunion’ is not to be missed.

Villebois Lavalette is a super little town to the south east of Lage Baston. Its about 40 minutes away and the country road takes you through some typical Charente landscapes. Open, rolling cornfields and great swatches of sunflowers separated by thick woodland of oak and chestnut.

Villebois is celebrated for z reasons; first, it is overlooked by a walled hilltop Château that has been painstakingly restored with mostly local volunteer labour over the past thirty years – they are justly very proud of it.

Second; it has a wonderful medieval covered marketplace with amazing roof timbers that is a joy to see and a listed monument. They still use it and so can you.

Third; it is a picturesque town in its own right – good to paint and draw.

Fourth; and most important, it has a rare, un-modernised, gritty provincial café that feels like 1950’s France inside and out.

The ‘Café Reunion’ is indeed a wonder. If nothing has changed since last year then the ceiling is still nicotine-stained cream and the counter and cool cupboards have zinc tops and mahogany fronts. There is usually a card school of old men at the table by the window and the drinks are cheap. How they are managing now you can’t smoke inside I dread to think. It’s a must-see.