Tag Archive for: holiday cottage south of france

Bird watching in the Aude

The region around our holiday cottage and B&B in the south of France is fabulous for birdwatchers. The Aude has a wide range of habitats, home to around 200 nesting species. From our terrace buzzards are a common sight, soaring high on the warm thermals. Watch the delightful “bobbing” habit of the black redstarts and at dusk, see the barn owl heading off on its nightly patrol. In summer watch the amazing spectacle of swifts racing round the square hurling themselves into the eaves, often colliding with the zinc guttering with a resounding clunk whilst the house martins look on bemused. Surrounded by such goings-on, it’s easy to feel close to nature.

 

Last minute Christmas break

Try our Gourmet winter treats in our holiday cottage and bed and breakfast in the south of France this Christmas and New Year. Think bracing country walks followed by hot chocolate and home made cakes in front of the roaring log fire. A day’s skiing in the beautiful Pyrenean resorts of Ax les Thermes or Les Monts d’Olmes, it won’t break the bank, no queues either. Wine tastings and lavish dinners of local produce, and visits to Cathar chateaux – Montsegur and the stunning medieval citadel of Carcassonne are close. For more information visit Gourmet Winter Treats

Christmas & New Year in our holiday home in the south of France

Christmas magic in Carcassonne

A month of Christmas celebrations in medieval Carcassonne lasts until schools go back on 6 Jan. Christmas markets every Saturday, handmade crafts, fairgrounds, skating, sledging, and free concerts in the beautiful Basilique Saint-Nazaire among the ancient ramparts. About an hour from our cosy 18th century bed and breakfast and holiday cottage in the south of France – think homemade cakes and hot chocolate by the roaring log fire. Watch out for cheap flights into Carcassonne and Toulouse. The full Christmas programme is here (en francaise only).

A winter wonderland, Sonnac sur l’Hers in the hills south of Carcassonne

Cycling in the hills south of Carcassonne

A sixty km round trip from our holiday cottage in the south of France covered some beautiful terrain. It’s a marvellous time to be in the south of France, fields stuffed with sunflowers, grapes ripening on the vine, the sun mellowing the ancient stone of ruined chateaux that stand on rocky outcrops, testament to past conflicts of Languedoc.

We had an early start from Sonnac sur l’Hers following the old railway line through Camon, a plus beaux village de France, onto Mirepoix and Fanjeaux, all key strategic towns during medieval times and the crusade against the Cathars. Quiet roads, twisty cols (if you want them in this heat) and wide valley floors that sweep through vineyards and ancient towns and villages, make cycling Languedoc joyous. I was grateful for the old French law decreeing its people should always have free access to drinking water as I replenished my water bottle (and dunked my face and arms) in the centuries old lavage (communal washing facilities in a bygone age) in a tiny village by the roadside.

Tour de France in Languedoc

A busy, exciting month in Languedoc when the Tour de France passed through Chalabre, only 3km from our B&B and holiday cottage in the south of France. This meant we and our guests from Wisconsin could avoid the traffic congestion and simply walk to take up our positions by the roadside. We offer cyclist friendly accommodation and so often welcome those who wish to sample the cycling terrain of Languedoc for themselves, including a family from Thunder Bay, Ontario who according to comments in our guest book, “…had a wonderful time, Everything has been beyond anything we could imagine. The gite was beautifully renovated, everything was perfect, beds, breakfast, wine, herbs, champagne, scooter, toys and books for the girls, it was just lovely.” And from Brooke, aged 8, “..I love the Bedrooms! The Scooter and Love the Restaurant next door!! Oh and the crossaint!!” How lovely, though please be assured we did give her more than 1 crossaint during her holidays.

Tour de France, Chalabre, July 2012

“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

 

 

 

Wildflowers southern France

Surrounded by wildflower meadows, our holiday rental in southern France, what a treat…

A few steps from the back door

A few steps from the back door

A joyous time of year for exploring the natural beauty of Languedoc and the Midi, nature in all her glory as the warm spring rushes towards the baking heat of summer.

Surrounded by wildflower meadows

Surrounded by wildflower meadows

From the back door of our holiday cottage, a short, steep climb along the GR7 is rewarded with striking views of the snow-capped Pyrenees. We take this path as often as we can, through woods and wildflower meadows, stupendous at this time of year, sounds of the cuckoo and woodpecker keeping us company. Returning along the Voie Verte, from Chalabre, a tiny red squirrel darted from under our feet and up the nearest tree. We have seen red squirrels before in this exact spot.

A few steps from our holiday rental

A few steps from our holiday rental

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.