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Unique eco-converted barn: a stunning, spacious and peaceful retreat for couples



Updated: 23-Sep-2016
In the foothills of the Pyrénées, here is heaven for walkers, bird watchers and nature lovers. Peace and wild beauty, for couples.

L'Atelier d'Artiste is a huge, light and airy country house gîte for 2, created from a former barn at one end of a long stone-built farmhouse, and surrounded by lush organic gardens and woodland. The overall design of the house means that the barn and its gardens are very private; our living accommodation and garden are right at the opposite end so you’re not overlooked, and nor are we. It’s a secret place … no other visible houses, no passing traffic, no street lights, nothing to disturb the deep peace but birdsong, the chant of crickets, and occasional cow bells in the valley below … it’s all rather magical.

The barn has been beautifully restored using natural methods and eco-friendly materials - it's fantastically well equipped and majors in comfort as well as slightly quirky charm and character: think real home, not holiday cottage. You'll always book directly with us, the owners, and we guarantee that you'll never pay commission or booking fees. Click on 'MORE DETAILS' in blue just below this line for - um - more details, or just jump straight to our website at www.grillou.com.


Downstairs, double French doors from your terrace and garden lead you into a big space perfect for sociable cooking, living and eating. In one corner, a sitting area with a comfortably squashy sofa, two armchairs and colourful kelim rugs on the floor; in another, a modern oak kitchen: spacious, fantastically well-equipped and designed for cooks. Opposite is the dining area with an old farmhouse pine table and an antique dresser. Metre thick stone walls keep you cool in the heat of the day; radiators and a cast iron flame effect stove warm you on the odd chilly evening. The walls are plastered and painted with natural clay paint.

Upstairs is an extraordinary cathedral ceilinged space with original roof trusses and huge sliding windows to three sides: this is where you'll sleep – you’ll watch the sun come up from your bed. People love to spend time up here so there's a second sitting area here too, with sofa, TV and combined hi-fi/DVD player/iPod dock, and a table with a couple of chairs. The sleeping area has a king size bed, made up with soft cotton bedding, and the usual storage for clothes and incidentals. Up a couple of steps, in what was the old grain store, is a lovely bathroom with an XXL sized shower, lots of fluffy towels, lotions and potions, and plenty of lounging space.

All the modern comforts are here too: a TV and DVD player, plus 2 hifi systems (one on each floor), each with iPod dock and USB connections; WiFi is freely available throughout, and there’s a Chromebook stuffed with information about the house, the area and local walking and birding. There’s even an astronomical telescope so that you can take advantage of the amazingly clear night skies.


You’ll have your own large garden with sun loungers and parasols, 3 (yes, 3!) private terraces with tables and chairs, plus a covered dining space in another barn adjoining your garden. A barbecue is available too. The gardens run off into woodland and are listed as an official LPO bird refuge (our bird list includes no less than 85 species); we manage them on loose permaculture principles, growing our vegetables and fruits with respect for the environment, without chemicals and following lunar cycles. We've created and continue to create a garden that is as natural as possible, one that reflects and blends in to the woodland environment surrounding it - no manicured lawns, but natural grassland; some areas have been left wild in order to attract and shelter the copious wildlife with which we share this place. And no swimming pool, because we don't want to disturb the peace, natural beauty and unique ecosystems of the surroundings.


Simple and inclusive pricing, the same all year: 600 euros for 7 nights, 1160 euros for 14 nights. Please note that although the software on this site has converted prices into British pounds, this is nothing to do with us! We don't price or take payments in pounds or in any other currency than euros.


Lots of people (including us!) find the calendars on this site very confusing and sometimes plain wrong – it’s probably easier to check availability on the clear and simple calendar on our own website, www.grillou.com.


200 year old authentic stone farmhouse set in 2 acres of natural, organic gardens; a registered bird reserve with bird list of 85 species.

In the heart of the Parc Naturel des Pyrénées Ariégeoises.

Totally flexible arrival days; minimum stay 7 nights.

Open mid April to mid October.

Adults only.

Sleeps 2 (one couple) in 110 square metres of space and comfort.

Big (50 M2) open plan sitting and dining space on ground floor.

Exceptionally well equipped kitchen … for cooks!

Dinner on your arrival night can be pre-booked - eat in your gîte when you want to.

Larder of store cupboard staples and all cleaning materials provided.

King size bedroom / sitting room (50 M2) upstairs with high cathedral ceiling and sliding glass windows.

All linen and towels provided.

TV, DVD player, iPod dock, WiFi, Chromebook.

Large private garden, three terraces, and dining barn.

Discreet on site owners with excellent knowledge of local area.

Support for independent walking and birding holidays.

Access to large library (books, DVDs) in main house.

Local walking maps, books and guides available to borrow.

English language birdwatching guide to the Ariège – written by us and not available elsewhere!

Binoculars, backpacks, walking poles, walking kit available to borrow.

Car essential; 3 kilometres from nearest village (baker, general store, bars, charcuterie).

Just 90 minutes from Toulouse airport with daily connections to London, Bristol and other airports, and the same from Carcassonne.

One sociable and well trained dog welcome.

Two centre holidays available - details on our website.


The barn is fully managed by resident owners with 20 years’ experience of welcoming guests (and still loving it!). We offer our own 'Book With Confidence' guarantee, which you'll find here: http://www.grillou.com/book-with-confidence.html. We also guarantee that by booking directly (and 100% safely) with us, you'll never pay a service fee, booking fee or any other form of commission.

You'll find masses of info and photos on the Maison Grillou website: www.grillou.com.


We’re real people and are always delighted to hear from you, so if you have any questions, if there’s anything you’d like made a bit clearer, anything you think we might be able to help with or even if you’d just like to say hello … just get in touch, by email at stay@grillou.com or by phone. We'll be delighted to hear from you.

More Details

Details for holiday barn L'Atelier d'Artiste: a stunning converted barn, for couples, 1 Bedroom, Sleeps 2, 1 Bathroom

Just for two, a stunning converted barn, part of a rambling Pyrenean farmhouse in an utterly peaceful, secret woodland setting. Soaring cathedral ceiling, huge sliding windows that bathe you in light, colour, space (so much space!), a real cooks’ kitchen, your own garden and terraces. An oasis of calm in the glorious unsung Ariège.

L'Atelier is a holiday home with a difference, lost in the woods in the foothills of the Pyrenees. It's set in beautiful natural gardens and gorgeous scenery with nothing to disturb you but birdsong and cowbells from the valley below; it's comfortable, stylish, fantastically equipped (so much so that you could come with just hand luggage and not feel deprived), green and environment friendly. Come and listen to the sound of silence and breathe the purest air in France ...

  • Sleeps 2
  • 1 Bedroom
  • 1 Bathroom
  • Parking
  • Garden
  • Barbecue
  • Pets considered
  • Internet
  • Dish washer
  • Washing machine
  • Towels provided
  • Linens provided

About the Owner

We're Kalba Meadows and John Curtis; we're English, but have our feet, and our souls, firmly planted here in France. We moved here in 2007, when we bounced up the track with an unsuspecting estate agent and promptly fell in love. (With the house, not the agent).

People often ask us where we're from and what we did in our past lives. The answers aren't simple ones as between us we've been settled in one place for a long time / been a bit nomadic; lived a fairly conventional life / done rather more counter-cultural things; lived in the city / lived in the middle of nowhere. We've both spent most of our lives in 'people-work' - psychotherapy and social work; we've both travelled a lot, though to different places. We both love hosting guests and have been doing it in one form or another for a staggering 20 years now! We came here to take life down a notch; to live a bit more simply, with more time to work in the garden, go walking, watch birds and do some of the many other things we're interested in.

Call Owner
Speaks English, French

Guestbook comments from the owner

We just loved the Ariege and the variety of wonderful Pyrenees scenery and much enjoyed our walks. It is difficult to think of any constructive feedback for Grillou and L'Atelier d'Artiste - it was all so perfect. We did very much appreciate all the thought that you had both clearly put in to the way it is furnished. We used it all upstairs and downstairs ! and very much enjoyed the airy space. The Internet was important to us to keep in touch with ancient relatives in UK, and our son and daughter-in-law and family in USA. We used both iPod docking stations. The kitchen area is particularly good and well equipped. Being able to borrow the walking poles was a bonus and you have a splendid library of books and guides on birds, plants, walks etc which we got stuck in to, but there is so much more to do. We really would love to come back and we spent some time talking about it on the way home - the various ways of doing it, from flight and hire car to leisurely drive through France which we enjoy so much. Many thanks for helping us to have such an enjoyable holiday, and we hope to return !
Jul 2013
  • 1 of 5

0 Reviews


From the Owner

We chose the almost unknown department of Ariège because of its stunning scenery and greenness, its open, welcoming and slightly radical nature, and because we both love the mountains here. This was the first house we looked at, and it chose us. It's a great place to live and to holiday: spectacularly beautiful, yet peaceful and not at all over-run with visitors, even in August; the walking, bird life, flowers and other wildlife are a constant delight, and it's full of history, from prehistory to the Cathars to the Résistance. It's a very authentic region, and that's important. Plus ... when craving city culture we can be in Toulouse in an hour and a half! Spain is also just an hour and a half away, and being midway between the Atlantic and the Med we can reach either within 2 and a half hours. Maison Grillou is a traditional Ariège ‘corps de ferme’, at least 200 years old. Built of stone in authentic style, it’s an important part of the local heritage. We’ve restored it sensitively, using natural methods and ecological materials such as hemp and lime render, lime plaster, reclaimed wood and natural paints.

Activity and Interests

Nearest Airport : Toulouse at 90 Kilometres Nearest Barpub : Rimont at 3 Kilometres Nearest Golf : La Bastide de Sérou at 14 Kilometres Nearest Train : Foix at 24 Kilometres Nearest Restaurant : Castelnau-Durban at 5 Kilometres Car: necessary


The Ariège is a dream destination for walkers of all levels from Sunday strollers to serious scramblers; it's also a remarkable, yet unknown, area for birdwatching. We're passionate about both activities ourselves and offer independent walking and birding holidays here. We've created comprehensive guides to help you make the best use of your time; if you’d like us to, we'll work alongside you to plan your walking or birding holiday either before you get here or when you arrive.


Lots of people believe that walking in the Pyrenees is the province only of serious hikers or peak-baggers ... but that's absolutely not so: there are endless walks that are within the grasp of pretty much anyone. Our 'French Foothills' holidays specialise in slow walking, or as some people call it, walking for softies: we've put together specific portfolios of fantastic walks that all start less than an hour from the house (most much closer), don't involve huge climbs or scary scrambles, and can be done in less than 3 or 4 hours.

We have rucksacks, poles, walking kits (compass, whistle, head torch, emergency blanket) and binoculars for (free) loan.


If you're looking for a beach resort the Ariège is definitely not for you! We choose not to have a pool at Maison Grillou, because we don’t want to spoil the complete tranquillity and naturalness of the grounds and woodland. However ... just 25 minutes drive away, in wild and beautiful surroundings, you'll find the lovely Lac de Mondély with sandy beach and a bar-buvette in summer - great for swimming with water temperatures reaching 28 degrees most years. There are several other swimming lakes within an hour, plus lots of rivers nearby where you can swim if you don’t mind the more refreshing temperatures! And if you absolutely have to see the sea, you'll reach both the Med and the Atlantic within two and a half hours.


Toulouse airport, 90 minutes, is the most convenient with at least 4 flights every day from Gatwick (Easyjet) and Heathrow (BA) plus flights from various other parts of the UK; Carcassonne and Lourdes are served by Ryanair. There are daily TGV and intercity trains from Paris to Toulouse and on to Foix, including sleeper trains which give you the option of a day in Paris en route! By car the drive from the Channel ports will take 10-12 hours, Bilbao 5 hours and Santander 6 hours. A car is essential for your holiday.


We're just 3 kilometres from the village of Rimont (shops, farm shops, bars); 14 km from St Girons and 22 km from Foix. We’re in the heart of the Parc Naturel des Pyrénées Ariégeoises and our central location is perfect for exploring: by car you can reach the high peaks in 30 minutes (though as the crow flies they’re only a few kilometres away!), and most of the department in less than an hour. Walkers have access to over 5000km of marked paths, with all the trailheads easily accessible by car.


Ariège-Pyrénées is still a hidden gem - the 'other' south of France, a rural department with just six main towns, many small villages and hamlets and some of the most amazing scenery in France. Our own ‘pays’, the Séronais, is a mixture of lush green, rolling pastureland and higher altitude forest. The whole area is exceptional for walking, for wild flowers, butterflies and birdwatching – we’ve recorded 85 bird species, including black woodpecker and several large raptors, in the garden, which is a listed LPO bird refuge. Just 15 minutes away is a Natura 2000 reserve where over 30 varieties of orchid flower between April and June. There are lots of prehistoric sites, including some of the most extensive caves in Europe and the remarkable cave paintings at Niaux; the nearest are at Le Mas d'Azil, 15 minutes away. The Ariège is a perfect place for photography and painting; for exploring local markets and food producers; or just for chilling with a picnic by a river or at one of the mountain cols with fantastic views right into Spain and Andorra.

The Saturday market in our local town of St Girons (15 minutes) is unmissable - the entire town is filled with artisan producers, craftspeople and musicians from all the 18 local valleys of the Couserans and the atmosphere is extraordinary. Yet it's not all done for tourists - you'll be very welcome, of course, but what you'll experience is a glimpse of the day to day life of Ariège, which will go on in the same way either with or without you!

If you want a taste of a different culture you can be in the Val d'Aran in Spain in less than an hour and a half, or in Carcassonne or the lovely city of Toulouse in the same time.

To find out more about this extraordinary area and all it offers, have a look at our website where you'll find many pages devoted to just that: www.grillou.com.


Rental rates

Convert Currency
Rental Period Minimum Price Additional Nights Weekend Night Weekly Monthly Event Price
15 April to 15 October
15 Apr 2017 - 15 Oct 2017
7 night minimum stay
for 7 nights
My Standard Rate
7 night minimum stay
for 7 nights

Additional pricing information

Pet Fee £0
Stay tax €1 per night, per person. This amount will be due to the owner upon arrival. Does not apply to children under 12 years.

To find out more about staying with us, we suggest that you contact us directly via email at stay@grillou.com, or via our own website at www.grillou.com . You can of course use the contact form here, but our experience is that messages sent that way take much longer to reach us. We'll reply within a couple of hours, often within minutes. We keep the booking process as simple as possible: an online booking form plus a deposit of 40% will secure your dates, with the balance payable either on arrival or electronically to arrive 14 days before you do.

Any! We offer complete flexibility: arrive and depart on whichever day you choose to suit your travel arrangements. Check in is after 4.30pm, and checkout is before 10.30am.

Prices for 2 week stays are slightly lower on a pro-rata basis(1160 euros for 14 nights), to reflect the fact that our costs are a little less than for two separate 7 night stays - and we feel it's important to pass that onto you, our guests.

All our prices are fully inclusive: the only additional cost is for tourist tax, which we’re required to collect separately and will be added to your final invoice.

Our rates remain the same throughout the year - there are no high season hikes, and no last minute discounts either as we think it’s unfair that people who confirm bookings well in advance should effectively be penalized by paying more than those who book late.

If you want to come on holiday with friends, you might like our XXL version of L’Atelier d’Artiste, Le Grand Atelier, which adds an extra bedroom, shower room and sitting room and gives you a space of 180 square metres in all – perfect for two couples who want to spend time together whilst retaining some privacy. Le Grand Atelier is 900 euros a week; full details are on our website at www.grillou.com.

Once a booking has been agreed, we ask for a deposit of 40% of the total cost, with the balance being due either in cash on arrival or electronically to reach us 14 days before you do. If you're booking within 8 weeks of your arrival we ask for full payment at the time of booking. We'll give you full details of the various ways you can make your payment to us once we've received your booking form.

Owner's Cancellation Policy

Please ask the owner or check their rental agreement when booking the property.
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Updated: 23-Sep-2016
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From the Owner

Maison Grillou is a special place, and is our much-loved home; if you're staying here we hope it will feel like yours too. L’Atelier d’Artiste is furnished and equipped as a real home from home, not just as a holiday cottage. And we do things rather differently. When we moved here our vision was slowly to restore the house and gardens in a sustainable and ethical way, creating accommodation for guests as a part of that process ... guests like you, who by choosing our barn for your holiday would help us continue the journey of making this traditional Pyrenean house ever more lovely, and of managing the land around it, so neglected in recent times, a little better each year. And so it works like this: we're professional, fully registered and all that - but we're not an impersonal business, and we’re not here to make financial profit out of you. When you book a holiday in L'Atelier d'Artiste, you're effectively entering into a partnership with us to help maintain this house, barns and land in a sustainable way and to help improve them respectfully over the years to come. We take a maximum of 16 weeks bookings each year, and what you pay us to come here on holiday gets ploughed right back into the stewardship of the house and grounds. You can, if you like, read more about our unique partnership approach on our website, here: http://www.grillou.com/our-green-policy.html.

Property Type

  • barn


  • Away From It All
  • Sports & Activities


  • Hair Dryer
  • Heating ...
  • Internet ...
  • Iron & Board
  • Linens Provided ...
  • Living Room ...
  • Parking ...
  • Towels Provided ...
  • Washing Machine ...


  • Coffee Maker ...
  • Dishes & Utensils ...
  • Dishwasher
  • Kitchen ...
  • Microwave ...
  • Oven ...
  • Pantry Items ...
  • Refrigerator ...
  • Hob ...
  • Toaster


  • Dining ...
  • Dining Area


  • Books ...
  • DVD Player
  • Games ...
  • Music Library
  • Stereo ...
  • Television ...
  • Video Library ...


  • non smoking only ...
  • not suitable for children ...
  • pets considered ...
  • wheelchair inaccessible ...

Location Type

  • mountain
  • rural


  • autumn foliage
  • caves
  • forests

Leisure Activities

  • bird watching
  • eco tourism
  • horse riding
  • scenic drives
  • walking

Local Services & Businesses

  • groceries

Sports & Adventure Activities

  • cycling
  • golf
  • hiking
  • mountain biking
  • mountain climbing
  • rafting

Floor Area

  • 110 m²


  • Shower room 1 - Shower Enclosure
  • An original stone step leads up from the bedroom to the adjacent bathroom in the former grenier (grain store). There's a tile and stone 180cm x 120cm shower big enough for two, a glass bowl sink on an acacia slab, a discreet wall hung WC, and enough space to lounge around and relax. The room is finished in a mixture of hemp and lime render, plaster, tadelakt and reclaimed chestnut.


  • 1 Bedroom, Sleeps 2
  • Bedroom 1 - 1 Extra Lg. Double Bed, King size bed 160 x 200
  • Your bedroom, on the first floor, is an extraordinary cathedral ceilinged space with original roof trusses and huge sliding windows to three sides that overlook the gardens and the woods and hills all around. You're up at treetop height here and in early summer the dawn chorus is amazing. There's another sitting area up here too to take advantage of the light and the views; there's an astronomical telescope too, as with no light pollution the night skies here are exceptional.


  • Terrace ...
  • Golf ...
  • Kayak / Canoe ...
  • Garden ...
  • Barbecue ...


  • Self-catering

Learn more about this holiday rental at the owner's website


  • Our website at www.grillou.com has a huge amount of information not just about the house and barn, but about the area: where to eat, buy local produce, explore, walk, find wild flowers and birds, what to do on a rainy day or in a heatwave ... L'Atelier d'Artiste is just for two people - that's not negotiable! - but if you fancy coming on holiday with friends it can be transformed, with the click of a connecting door, into fantastic accommodation for two couples. Le Grand Atelier, as we call it, has everything that L'Atelier d'Artiste has, plus an extra bedroom, an extra bathroom, and an extra sitting room ... 180 square metres in all. You'll have all the fun of sharing, yet plenty of space for privacy so that you can spend time on your own whenever you want to - the best of both worlds.

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