Les Sardines aux Yeux Bleus
The first thing I noticed when I came across this B&B was its name: ‘the Sardines with the blue eyes’. Funny, considering that this Hideaway is tucked away in a hamlet in the countryside and that the sea is miles away. I had to find out more about this. Once again, this Hideaway was the result of an escape to the countryside. After a hectic life in Paris, owners Anna Karin – a Swedish model – and photographer Olivier decided to move to the countryside with their two children. There, they stumbled upon a derelict house in the Gard area, a stone’s throw away from Uzès. This was back in 2000, and by now Anna Karin and Olivier are very much part of the local community and their eldest daughter has flown the nest.
Reaching my destination is half the fun; the final leg of the journey consists of a series of small country roads and quaint little villages, totally in line with the romantic image of France. All that’s missing is me driving a Citroen 2cv instead of my own car!
I have to step on the brakes so as not to drive through this ‘hameau’, this French hamlet, when ahead of me I notice the grand old beautiful house with its sturdy shutters: les Sardines aux Yeus Bleus. Once inside, I discover three spacious double rooms and three apartments, ranging from small to medium and large. Something for everyone, so to speak. The apartments are perfect for those looking for a bit more space and a kitchenette, but as breakfast is included and considering all the lovely restaurants in the area (one is even within walking distance) a room suffices for me. I’m staying in the blue room, a real ballroom that comes with a wonderful bathroom featuring a fancy roll top bath and separate rain shower. The large and comfortable bed is made up with beautiful linen and the room boasts many other authentic elements. Anna Karin is responsible for the decoration and styling and she has a real flair for it! The other rooms, apartments and the common areas are perfectly harmonious as well, with lovely fabrics and materials, fresh flowers….a real synergy between French brocante and Swedish minimalism and hushed colours….I like it! Outside is an attractive courtyard and a small raised swimming pool with deck chairs for warm sunny days. In short, an oasis in the French countryside!
Time to get to know my surroundings…..Anna Karin told me that she instantly fell in love with Uzès, only a few miles away from Les Sardines. I can see why! Wow, it’s a lovely city, a perfect mix of contemporary and old! Beautiful stores, an array of splendid restaurants and terraces, gorgeous old buildings, hidden alleys and a large market every Wednesday and Saturday (definitely go here on a Wednesday…not as crowded and a bit more pleasant). Apparently, peak season is very crowded here, but as I’m here in the early season this doesn’t bother me….
And the area has more to offer, there are some high-quality wineries to visit (and stock up on your wine:-)), the countryside calls for lovely drives and long walks, there’s canoeing and swimming in the river, cities such as Nîmes, Arles and Avignon are close by and, last but not least, the Pont du Gard is a stone’s throw away. Admittedly rather touristic, but such an impressive Roman structure…they certainly knew how to build things! So you won’t be bored! And don’t forget to have dinner at my favourite restaurant: Le Tracteur, just outside of Uzès. As you can see, time was too short for me.
This Hideaway is such a find, an elegant retreat that is located in a beautiful part of France, a region that has managed to retain its authenticity, something which for instance Provence or Luberon have not quite been able to do. For these regions can be completely deserted in the late fall, winter and early spring, with all the restaurants closed and all the tourists gone home. Oh, and as for this B&B’s name, the blue eyes are a reference to Anna Karin’s Swedish roots and the sardines…..seek and ye shall find! They are hidden away somewhere in the house!