THE TRAVELER Amie O'Shaughnessy, founder of ciaobambino.com, a website devoted to family-friendly lodging. She travels at least twice a month to review properties that are ideal for families with infants, toddlers, tweens, and teens.
THE PLACE When O'Shaughnessy became a mom in 2002, she quickly realized that her old criteria for planning trips were irrelevant. No matter how charming a hotel was, staying there with her infant son would be awful if the walls were paper-thin or the place was cluttered with easily-knocked-over antiques.
Last summer, in her quest to find accommodations that fit the new facts of her life, O'Shaughnessy spent a week with her husband and 7-year-old son in the Périgord Noir, a sunny, hilly section of southwestern France that's less famous—and less expensive—than, say, Provence. What it does have is fantastic food and wine, more than 1,500 castles, and some of the continent's most picturesque, understated, and friendliest villages.
She moved her family into a farmhouse just outside the sleepy town of Trémolat (population 600) on a horseshoe-shaped bend in the Dordogne River. "It's an ideal little French village with one store, one pizzeria, two wonderful restaurants, a bakery, a church, and a hotel," says O'Shaughnessy. "In other words, all you need."
Trémolat's fortresslike Romanesque church dates back to the 11th century, but the surrounding region boasts an even longer history. The valleys are dotted with prehistoric rock dwellings, Stonehenge-like megaliths, and caves painted with haunting images of bison, horses, and traced human hands estimated to be an astounding 17,000 years old. O'Shaughnessy and her brood explored the area by bike, car, and on foot.
But the experience that she can't stop raving about was dining repeatedly at Les Truffières. Yanick Le Goff oversees a classic ferme auberge—a working farm that serves the food it grows. Plates like barbecued duck, garlic-and-goose-fat soup, and house made foie gras are paired with local wines like a lavender-tinged aperitif or a rosé. Everyone eats outside at picnic tables, and there always seems to be a handful of kids, dogs, and kittens on the scene.
"My son had an absolute blast," says O'Shaughnessy. "There were kids from all over the world there every night, and by dessert, they would all be playing in the yard together communicating in the universal kids' language—running, screaming, jumping, and laughing."
THE DETAILS Farmhouse rentals available through myfrenchfarmhouse.com (Les Volets Bleus, from $1,596 per week) or through vrbo.com; Les Truffières, 011-33/5-53-27-30-44, six-course family-style meal with wine from $34, reservations required.
Your turn! Have you discovered a place like these while traveling? Share your stories by posting a comment at the bottom of page 1: Binn, Switzerland.