And yet they still harbour the ghosts of former days. This is particularly true of old coaching inns, where stables and coach houses have frequently been converted to bedrooms and charming flower gardens enliven what were once busy coach yards. And every so often, you stumble on something that casts a particular light on how they managed things in the past.
We recently stayed at the Hotel de la Croix d’Or in Avranches, Normandy, a former coaching inn or relais de poste dating from the seventeenth century. To get to our room we had to go down a narrow corridor, out into the yard and up a wooden staircase to a door over the original entrance to the coach yard. Once here, we crossed a small passage to a door that apparently led us into the inn proper as we had to go down a step. Our room overlooked the street and behind it what might have been at some time a corridor leading to other rooms had been converted to a comfortable shower room with a separate wc. Beyond that was a private sitting area. From here we could look down into the garden (above)