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The Big Six: Chic French rentals

Domaine de Nerige, Languedoc-Roussillon

This hilltop villa is surrounded by the fields of the Languedoc. It boasts a large cobbled terrace, pool and six bedrooms. Some are modern and dominated by oak beams; others feature a soothing pastel palette. Cook meals in one of two lavish kitchens, or visit Limoux to sample the local sparkling wine. Nearby, explore the fortified city of Carcassonne.

Domaine de Nerige, St Martin de Villerglan, Languedoc-Roussillon (Rental through purefrance.com; 020-3514 2359). Weekly rental starts at €2,195. Sleeps 12.

La Petite Maison du Gers, Midi-Pyrénées

This rustic farmhouse sits amid unspoilt countryside in Armagnac. The ivy-clad façade conceals a shabby-chic interior with metal bedframes, French antique furniture, exposed stone walls and wooden beams. Guests can visit the butcher and boulangerie in nearby St-Puy to stock the fridge, then dine under the stars on the terrace at night.

La Petite Maison du Gers, St-Orens-Pouy-Petit, near Condom, Gers, Midi-Pyrénées (00 33 6 34 02 44 82; lapetitemaisondugers.com). Weekly rental starts at €790. Sleeps five.

La Maison de Beauport, Brittany

This idyllic retreat overlooks Lake Beauport: a waterway that was dammed in the 13th century by monks and remains a protected nature reserve today, with swans and kingfishers among the resident wildlife. Inside, four bedrooms and a large loft conversion provide room for 12, while the interior is dressed with paintings, religious artefacts and ornate mirrors gathered by the antiques-dealer owner. Guests can delve into the wine cellar in return for an €8 donation per bottle, which helps protect the local habitat.

La Maison de Beauport, Cotes-d'Armor, Brittany (00 33 296 22 03 85; maisondebeauport.com). Weekly rental starts at £900. Sleeps 12.

Le Castel, Normandy

Le Castel, an imposing Napoleonic château, also offers two self-catering gîtes within its grounds. The 18th-century "Voici" has a rustic feel, while the newer conversion "Votre" boasts a more contemporary finish. Both share a picnic table and barbecue area, while all guests can venture into the château for tea, coffee and soft drinks. The estate is primed for family holidays with bikes and a "play marquee" filled with bats, balls, rackets and frisbees.

Le Castel, Montpinchon, Manche, Normandy (00 33 2 33 17 00 45; le-castel-normandy.com). Weekly rental starts at €400. Each sleeps four.

La Maison Moderne, Côte d'Azur

Proof that the best things come in small packages. La Maison Moderne offers three stark-white bedrooms on the Cap d'Antibes peninsula. Two balconies overlook the pool and Mediterranean gardens below, making it an ideal summer retreat for bons vivants wanting to relish the Riviera sunshine.

La Maison Moderne, Cap d'Antibes, Côte d'Azur (bookings via i-escape.com). Weekly rental starts at £1,295. Sleeps eight.

La Maison d'un Cypres, Languedoc-Roussillon

This quirky retreat near Uzès has bags of character in each of its cavernous rooms. Sparsely decorated with cream sofas, wingback arm chairs and white walls, it has three bedrooms, combining a mixture of dormitory-style singles and a four-poster in the feature suite. The cobbled terrace is bedecked with foliage.

La Maison d'un Cypres, Le Puget, Languedoc-Roussillon (00 27 21 790 0972; perfecthideaways.co.za). Weekly rental starts at €2,471. Sleeps nine.