The website for this location looks very professional and the photos look very inviting - http://www.chambres-d-hotes-la-mandarinette.com/en
However, it didn't take long for us to realise that a great amount of cleaning up of the property and cropping of photos had been done to make the setting look as slick and professional as it does on the website. The reality is quite different. We unfortunately neglected to take photos of the property to show it how it really is - we were so unimpressed and wanting to leave as soon as we got there that we didn't take any photos to remember the place by.
So, to our story.
We attempted to book via email, and thought we had a confirmed booking. Upon arrival, the lady running the B&B and living in the house to which the rooms are attached was in the pool, but came out to speak to us in her bikini and towel. Through a very difficult exchange involving those from our party who could speak a very small amount of French as the hostess spoke exactly zero English, we discovered that the hostess thought we hadn't confirmed and had therefore cancelled our booking - but that we could come in anyway. She seemed very nice and was always polite throughout our stay, but this was hardly the professional or friendly welcome we would have liked, and received everywhere else we stayed in B&Bs in Provence and the South of France.
We soon discovered that entrance for B&B guests was through a back gate which was where garbage was stored to be put out for collection. Not exactly the greatest of entrances. The gate itself was operated by an automated remote-control - sort of a garage door opener jury-rigged onto a pedestrian gate. The down side of this was that the hostess only had one spare, and we were a group of 2 couples. Luckily we were planning on always being together - if we hadn't, then we wouldn't have been able to get in and out. As it was, it was annoying enough to have to pass the key back and forth as well as keep an eye on the hostess' dogs so that they wouldn't get out of the yard.
The B&B rooms themselves are in a wing attached to the side of the main house in which the hostess and her family live, and reaching them from the back garbage gate involves crossing the back lawn, which we soon discovered was the local toilet for the hostess' two dogs. We were to rediscover this later in the night when we came back after dinner, unable to see where to step from the back garbage gate to the B&B wing as there was insufficient lighting along the path, and promptly trod in the land mines. Naturally, then, the smell of the place is best described as fragrant ... in a bad way. Additionally, some of our party are allergic to dogs, and at least in the afternoon and evening the dogs were quite keen to get to know us as new people, something we couldn't really entertain, and which the hostess didn't try and stop.
The back yard itself was very messy - children's toys all over the place, with the garden and grass generally not looked after. The large palm tree had been dropping dates/fruit on the grass which had been left to rot ... and for us to step on, together with other "land mines" which shall be mentioned later. We at first thought this wasn't a big deal because the hostess had for some reason not been expecting us, but no attempt was made whatsoever to clean up even once we had arrived.
The entrance next to one of the bedrooms was right next to a dumping area the family seemed to be using for unwanted furniture and bric-a-brac left outside - shelves, old lawnmowers, etc.
The rooms themselves are quite recently built and are quite nice - and also have split system air conditioners inside - but haven't been finished off in certain ways. Some exposed plumbing, some damaged curtain rails so privacy over certain windows is difficult to obtain.
The outdoor seating featured on the website is however starting to look old and dirty - the cloth seats are left outside in the hot sticky weather and as such are getting stained and worn looking, and are gradually rotting.
The pool seems nice but we didn't get to use it - the hostess had a party planned for that night and they sat by the pool and had a BBQ. We sat around the corner, on some of the chairs, next to the dumped furniture. The hostess didn't come to check on us even once, nor did she offer any advice. Granted, communication was difficult, but no attempt was even made.
Interestingly, the hostess has a list of rules on her website concerning use of the pool not being allowed between 6pm and 10am - clearly, the rules don't apply to her family or her guests though, who were still playing in the pool after midnight, making quite a bit of noise.
Parking was available more through good luck than good management, on a spare bit of land next to the house. Interestingly, this area was also used by locals as a garbage dump, with lots of litter everywhere. After you park your car in it, you have to walk on it to get in and out of there.
The location of the house itself was also not the greatest - it looks like a good location when you do some research using mapping websites, but in reality the entire area is a bit run down, and you'd be better off finding a much nicer location. The steel in the walled entrance to the property is rusting and twisted, and generally neglected. While the property looks close to a beach, it's not a good one. The hostess directed us to it - the only directions she gave us - but the beach itself was very unappealing and we didn't stay long at all. It was a tiny strip of black and white sand 500 metres walk away, which appeared to also be a bit of a dump for the locals and their dogs judging by the smell, right next to a busy main road.
Breakfast the next morning was fine - some baguettes and jams/marmalades, nothing special - and some tea or coffee. Adequate, but nothing to write home about. We had breakfast at the table where the party had been the night before, and although the table had been cleaned from the party the surrounding area hadn't.
We paid the required price of €105 per room and left. All in all, an experience that left us feeling distinctly a money-earning sideshow for the family. Investment has been made into the rooms themselves, but nothing outside of that - no service, no ambience, let alone a happy experience.
La Mandarinette is therefore terrible value, in an unwelcoming, run-down location.