Tag Archive for: b&b south of france

Blowing Hot and Cold in the south of France

Now summer is here and the balmy warm evenings are allowing us to eat out on the terrace of our French holiday home, Chez Maison Bleue. The salada, lettuce are in plentiful supply and tomatoes are getting cheaper on Mirepoix market so we are serving more and more salads as a first course at dinner. Although we do some simple salade jambon, salad with the local cured ham, I like to serve warm salads. Unlike in England, here in the south of France warm salads are very common. The most common warm ingredient is lardons, small pieces of fried bacon, but other diced meats are also used. An Ariege speciality is gesier, the gizzard of a duck. Although it sounds pretty awful it is absolutely delicious! If you are not feeling quite so adventurous try this chicken salad for a great light lunch.

Warm chicken salad, provenance of the food is assured

Warm chicken salad, provenance of the food is assured

Prepare a bed of lettuce with a circle of tomato slices around the outside of the plate and maybe some peppers or red onions finely sliced – anything you fancy really but leave space for the chicken in the centre. Next take a skinned chicken breast and cut into strips. Put a little olive oil in a pan and add 2 cloves of chopped garlic (home grown here) some herbs de Provence, and a little chopped dried chilli (the amount depending on how hot and spicy your taste). Heat the pan and fry the herbs and garlic until the garlic starts to brown then add the chicken strips turning them to brown on all sides. Keep tuning until cooked through, this will only take a few minutes. Put the chicken strips onto the centre of the salad and pour over some of the oil and fried garlic as a dressing, serve immediately.

You will also find cold soups on the menu at our B&B, again not a popular thing in the UK where soup is something to warm you up. Our holiday home is close to Spain so Gazpaccio is very popular. With all the delicious and plentiful tomatoes and vegetable from the potager or from Mirepoix market, it is a beautiful entree on a hot evening. The other classic cold soup is crème vichyssoise.  This classic dish is only associated with France because of its name and the fact that it was invented by a French chef. In fact it was first served by Louis Diat the chef at the Ritz – Carlton Hotel in New York in the summer of 1917 and is now considered an American dish. It is essentially a leek and potato soup with a significant amount of cream. It should be made well in advance and chilled for at least two hours before serving. It is important to only use the white part of the leek as the soup should be pure white in colour.

So we will continue to serve have hot salads and cold soups for dinner at our B&B in the south of France. They make delicious and healthy starters or a light lunch dish.

Bugarach and apocalypse 2012

Bugarach is the highest peak in the Corbiere hills, 40km from our holiday cottage and B&B in Languedoc. There has been unprecedented interest in this tiny mountain village due to the impending date of 21 December 2012, regarded as the end-date of a 5,125-year-long cycle in the Mesoamerican Long Count Calender, now associated with the Maya civilisation (250 to 900 AD, source Wikipedia). A New Age interpretation of this date suggests Earth and its inhabitants may undergo a positive physical or spiritual transformation, others suggest 21 December 2012 marks the end of the world.

Made of limestone with galleries of caves beneath it, the peak is a geological oddity as its top layers are millions of years older than its bottom ones, making it an “upside down” mountain. In the 60s and 70s Bugarach was a popular hippie hangout followed by New Age followers who believed the mountain had mystical powers, helping to spread the belief that the village would provide a safe haven in the 2012 apocalypse. Cult followers believe aliens reside inside the mountain and will save people who decide to leave the planet with them [on 21 December]. Maya scholars refute these interpretations saying they are misrepresenting Maya history and culture.

Bugarach in the Corbiere hills, Languedoc

The number of visitors descending on the tiny village of Bugarach has caused the Mayor to call for access to the mountain to be banned during December. I am afraid our B&B in the south of France has added to the Mayor’s angst; guests from Moscow, Canada, Portugal and Holland, have all visited and reported experiencing, “the positive energy which emanates from the mountain”. Mystery indeed.

Tour de France 2013

The route for the Tour de France 2013 shows Stage 8, Castres to Ax 3 Domaines, coming close to our B&B in the south of France when it passes between Limoux and Quillan. Limoux is 26km from our French holiday home in the hills south of Carcassonne. Our holiday cottage is booked already but we have rooms available in our very French bed & breakfast on the tranquil village square near Chalabre.

Tour de France, Chalabre 2012

Biker friendly B&B

We were delighted to welcome more bikers to our biker friendly accommodation in the south of France. Angela livened things up in the foothills of the Pyrenees for a few days, she wrote in my guest book…”good girls go to heaven, bad girls go everywhere.” Ha, fabulous.

Our biker friendly B&B south of Carcassonne

Celebrations at our bed and breakfast in the south of France

We were delighted to be part of a young couple’s very special day when they become engaged at Chez Maison Bleue in the summer. The bride to be knew nothing of secret preparations arranged by her [now] fiancee and which included a special meal on arrival at our B&B and champagne and rugs and cushions on the hill at the back of the house with moonlit views of our ancient village and church. This was where the question, along with the the champagne would be popped! Our engagement present to Caitlin and Thomas was a celebration meal on their return visit, which we hope they are able to cash in soon. It was a privilege to be part of their special time and we are pleased that our B&B nestling in the foothills of the Pyrenees, deep in the south of France, will always be a special place to them.

The happy couple on the village square, Sonnac sur l'Hers

“Wild” swimming in Puivert lake

Château de Puivert provides a stunning backdrop to a day out at the lake, 8km from our holiday cottage and B&B in the south of France; borrow our mountain bikes or an easy drive along quiet roads. On a Saturday afternoon where the temperature tipped 31 degrees it was a popular spot for the kids having tremendous fun diving from the jetty. Go early to have the lake to yourself before returning to Chez Maison Bleue for a leisurely breakfast on the terrace. Puivert Château built in the 12th century is one of the Cathar castles, the open countryside more hospitable than the wild crags of many of the Cathar sites. The very lovely, typically French town, houses a small museum and of course in these parts, the ubiquitous medieval church.

Puivert Chateau, a most magnificent backdrop for swimming in the lake

 

 

 

My lovely Maçon

Recent heavy rains exposed more weaknesses in the vast roof of our B&B and holiday cottage in the south of France. Over the years it has sprouted leaks as fast as He Who Won’t Be Rushed has succeeded in sealing others. I always suspected Nick cracked as many tiles as he repaired as he shuffled across the roof … We succeeded in tempting our maçon to the house in September to prepare a devis for a complete overhaul of the roof. He then promptly retreated to the far realms of the Languedoc, I think to recover from the restoration of our holiday cottage, but finally reappeared a few days before Christmas with a very reasonable quote. We have become very fond of our maçon. We worked with him for a year during the restoration of our gite in the south of France and he is undoubtedly an artisan exceptionnel. All the advice is to get 3 quotes for any work but in my experience, this would take about 4 years, so I will stick with my maçon.