Having dropped Sabrina and Domingo at Montpellier airport, we headed to our hotel at Gignac. We use the Logis hotel book regularly, as did both sets of our parents when they were travelling through France many years ago. It’s a federation of hotels, set up in the 1940s, where the criteria for belonging combine a requirement for the establishment to be family-run and one for there to be good home-cooked food as well as decent, clean accommodation. The quality of the accommodation is graded by a little chimney icon and the quality of the food is graded by a little casserole icon. We like to travel simply but we like our food, so most of our Logis hotels are chosen from the “two chimneys three casseroles” category. We have found many, many wonderful hotels in this way, and one or two duds.
The hotel at Gignac was two chimneys but only one casserole, and we had planned to eat in Gignac itself, so I can’t comment on the hotel’s cooking. On the Logis Hotels site, the establishment is called a “hotel”; on other sites it is called a “motel”. Are you feeling a sense of unease at this point?
We found the hotel with some difficulty, partly because of the description on the Logis site which mentions the hotel as being “at the heart of a mosaic of vineyards and olive groves”. For “vineyards and olive groves” read “housing estates and waste ground”. However, the main building itself was probably the old mill. The rooms were all on the ground floor and built round a courtyard, all facing each other, with paths to each door, some lavender bushes in the middle. The room was not large but it was spotlessly clean, with a large modern bathroom and functioning air conditioning. Like all the rooms, it had large double glass doors. Did I mention that the rooms were facing each other? And did I mention that the only curtains were of light gauze?
I thought I must have missed some shutters as we entered the room, so I went outside to check but there were none to be seen. The world is full of many different kinds of people, and there must be people who enjoy lying in bed watching their neighbours sleep (or whatever else they do in bed) (read, play Scrabble, eat celery etc), but I have to confess that I’m not one of them. I took emergency measures.
Then we explored the bathroom. Gosh, what a treasure trove. What a sheltered and limited life I must have led. Why did it never occur to me to insert a porthole in my loo seat?
How useful, for all those occasions that you trip and fall down the loo and need to see your way out. And to make it more attractive, of course you would paint flowers over it – not to obscure the view, of course, but artistic temperament will out my dears.
As indeed it did (out, that is) on the bedroom wall; we have noticed that decorative transfers (or in this case, stickers) are popular in some hotels. You can walk in to a French country hotel as into a time machine and wonder if you are on the set of Changing Rooms circa 1996 – I remember a particular 13th century castle in the Pyrenees that had had its beautiful interior walls all covered in white plasterboard, then stickers of stones with the word ZEN underneath them stuck on strategically. Here at the Vieux Moulin, flowers are our thing, with a little message, helpfully in English.
Now let’s talk about Logis branding. In recent years Logis has adopted acid green and, er, mud brown as its colours. A marketing guru will have been paid a lot of money to come up with this winning combination. Beside the hotel’s name, framed by oleander and hibiscus or next to a wonderful menu, it can work well. However, who had the bright idea at Logis that entire rooms within their hotels would be decorated using these colours – everything from bathroom tiles to shower curtains?
As it turned out, we slept reasonably well, having had a delicious meal in the main square of Gignac – see following post. But as we drove away through the housing estates the next morning (Hercules the Hatchback Skoda patiently having waited for us in the car park whose gate is never closed) €72 lighter, we found we both agreed that although we would like to return to Gignac, we would like to try a different hotel next time. Maybe one with less brown and green.