A typical « gardois mas »
An idyllic combination
Our gem began as a typical « gardois mas », the traditional farmhouse of the western Rhone valley. The carefully-restored house combines old and new and comprises a small group of buildings nestled in nature with extensive gardens, pool and wonderful views over the tree-covered hills of the Cévennes.
Environmental conservation is very important to us : our electricity is provided entirely by solaire energy. We are not connected to the national grid. Our central heating boiler is fueled by wood pellets which come from sustainable forests in the Cevenne Mountains. The 17 acres of land surrounding the house are maintained organically, as are the olive grove and vegetable garden.
The house stands on an old network of cellars on a beautiful slope and is built around a sheltered courtyard with trees and an old well. From here you look out and tranquilly enjoy a marvellous view over the luxuriant landscape, spectacular sunsets and clear starlit nights with no light pollution. The extensive gardens, which offer many shady spots, also include terraced flower beds and vegetable gardens with fresh produce, from which we create magical culinary dishes for you.
Pinewoods, lavender fields, vineyards, fruit orchards and olive groves as well as overgrown and once built-on plots form the backdrop for these incomparable surroundings. Bernas is the only village to be seen in this wild landscape; its authentic character is unspoilt by contemporary buildings. Although only around 20 kilometres away from the busy Rhone Valley and thus from France’s main economic artery, no destructive modernisation has happened here in the last 35 years.
We, Florence Ponthieu and Florian Besset, want to create a timeless ambience for you at la Pourcaresse, with a family atmosphere. We are also very happy to care for your physical well-being and will advise you in English, French or German before and during your stay on travel routes or excursions to places of interest.
Whilst Florence works her culinary magic and spoils you with delicious meals on request, often using home-grown produce from the garden, Florian prepares your tasty breakfasts. When we’re not busy with our other fields of activity – Florence still works in a medical laboratory and Florian works as a gallerist (www.laquincaillerie.info), artist, graphic designer and translator – we’ll be happy to advise you about the numerous possibilities for excursions and experiences/events in the local area.
To cut a long story short
Around 1880, a farming family of 10 lived at la Pourcaresse; amongst other things, they were occupied with rearing silkworms. «Magnanerie», from the local word «magnan» for silkworm, was the familiar name and also described our gem. Traces of those times are still seen here and there as the mulberry trees reveal their lush leaves and berries.
The name Pourcaresse has nothing to do with silk worms however, but is linked to a traditional local term. Thus we find the hamlet of Pourcharesse as well as a village with a lovely, typical church called Saint-Jean-de-Pourcharesse, tradition-steeped «twin-naming» in the Ardèche. As with our Pourcaresse, both these place names are based on «pourceau», an old word for pig. Indeed, wild boars live quite close by even now.
The oldest part of our house is about 250 years old. Since then, it was extended and renovated again and again, but stood more or less empty from 1910. In 1971 we bought the small property as a crumbling ruin and gradually renovated it to the current house and holiday accommodation. We have had our permanent home here since 2004.