Set in a 30-acre natural paradise of wildflower meadows, mature woodland, streams, islands and waterfalls, this ancient stone watermill has been sensitively restored to make a beautifully equipped family home and secluded holiday hideaway. Bright, inviting and comfortable at all seasons, the Moulin de Parrot is surrounded by romantic gardens, with a profusion of fragrant roses, honeysuckles, jasmines and wisterias cascading down to the trout stream. Sunny terraces offer entrancing views of the millpond and the river, a barbecue is set in the old bread oven, and old stone steps and a rustic bridge tempt you over the stream and along the riverbank to the swimming pool, set among roses, lavenders and fruit trees. In the words of a visitor: 'The mill is idyllic. It will be hard to find such a lovely place again: amazing location, scenery and atmosphere, and beautiful (and very civilised) inside. A fantastic find.'
A unique building in a unique setting: The mill is a fascinating and unique place, steeped in history and with its own very special atmosphere and delightful setting. Standing in a sunny, open valley at the end of a 1km lane, it commands glorious views of streams, wildflower meadows and ancient woodland from every window, with no other sign of human habitation. For nature-lovers and walkers it is an unspoilt paradise, with a wealth of wildlife. Water is a constant and gentle presence, and many people have remarked on the soothing, healing and refreshing atmosphere. Numerous artists and writers have found inspiration here.
The building itself is ancient and full of character. A dependency of the Franciscan priory at Ambialet, on a spectacular meander of the Tarn on the way to Albi (well worth a visit), it erupted into history again as a Resistance refuge in World War II. Sensitive restoration has retained all its original features, including the mill workings, which we hope one day to restore to working order.
An authentic French flavour: This area remains unselfconsciously traditional in character, so here you can really experience rural France at its authentic best. Local markets and restaurants are a delight, and in summer every village has its charming fete. Requista's Fete de la Brebis celebrates Roquefort, the staple of the local economy. Natural glories nearby include the spectacular Tarn gorges, the wild and enigmatic Causses, the unspoilt beauties of the Auvergne and the glorious valleys of the Aveyron and Dourbie. Picturesque and historic villages are too numerous to mention; Romanesque architecture flowered here in magnificent abbeys, cathedrals, chapels and cloisters; and the Knights Templar and Cathars built awe-inspiring citadels and fortresses. Elegant Albi, a World Heritage site, boasts the famous Toulouse-Lautrec museum, a tremendous fortified cathedral and a beautiful historic centre, now home to chic shops and cafés, where (among other treats) you can taste the award-winning wines of nearby Gaillac.
And if all that's not enough ...: There are plenty of activities to be had locally, from fishing in the mill's trout stream or the Tarn (buy a licence from a tabac) to mountain biking (bikes for hire in Requista). Walkers can enjoy waymarked tracks all round the mill and along the Tarn, and the Office de Tourisme has details of wildflower walks in summer. Requista has tennis courts, a swimming pool and a sports centre, and Albi has a water theme park, race track and airstrip (try your first flight!). Kayaking on the Tarn at Trebas is terrific, and the Lac de Pareloup offers a full range of water sports. Rodez offers horseriding, archery, volleyball, tennis and bowling at Le Domaine de Combelles (05 65 77 30 00), and is also home to the prestigious national stud (Haras National), open to visitors.
The Office de Tourisme has full details of a wealth of activities for children locally, from wildlife parks to art classes, and is well worth a visit for information and leaflets on a huge range of attractions and events.