Tag Archive for: holiday home

Wild Swimming in southern France

If you feel like something more adventurous than a chlorine soaked pool next summer, then “wild” swimming close to our holiday home in southern France may appeal.

Wild and beautiful Lac Montbel

Wild and beautiful Lac Montbel

Lac Montbel (5kms) is a huge expanse of shimmering, emerald green waters, busy only in July and August, even then it’s possible to find secret places along its shores off the [beaten] track.

Lac Montbel, lots of wild, secret places for a private dip

Lac Montbel, lots of wild, secret places for a private dip

We have walked the perimeter (16kms) in just a few hours. There are a couple of cafes and picnic areas, however, better to find a bit of sandy shore all to yourself for a lunch (or supper?) of local bread, cheese and wine purchased that morning at Mirepoix market.

Puivert Chateau, listen to jazz by the lake in summer

Puivert Chateau, listen to jazz by the lake in summer

Lac Puivert is 11kms from our holiday home and is much smaller, the medieval Cathar chateau provides a magnificent backdrop. A gently sloping shore and calm waters make for safe swimming. Early or late in the day outside July and August you may have it to yourself. Night markets each Wednesday in summer sell food that you can enjoy on the trestle tables set out by the lake, or bring food for a barbeque. The Fete du Lac in July ends with spectacular fireworks, exploding across the lake.

Carcassonne Plage, combine with a visit to La Cité

Carcassonne Plage, combine with a visit to La Cité

Carcassone Plage is a bit further, perfect when combined with a day out to the medieval Cité. Only a few minutes from Carcassonne, the lake, its sandy beaches and palm trees are a great alternative to the coast. There is an adventure park in the forest, bits of rope were hanging scarily across the lake and lots of things seemed to be going on very high up (age 4+, March – October).

At the foot of wooded slopes, spend all day

At the foot of wooded slopes, spend all day

The mighty Hers flows past the village. 3kms drive or cycle along the road brings you to a rough track through the woods leading to a great spot by the river. A tiny pebble beach, shady meadows, a deep pool for a decent swim, and flat rocks where the kids love to scramble to catch those pesky crayfish, a perfect summer’s day.

 

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.

 

Great reviews for our holiday home

June has been a very busy month for us in our holiday cottage and bed and breakfast in the south of France. And it is soooo satisfying to get some great reviews for what we are doing here at Chez Maison Bleue. All from our guest book in June…”5* hospitality, accommodation and food” – Roy & Elaine, UK, “Great service and friendliness, fabulous place for hiking and bicycle rides” – Robert & Catharine, Germany, “What a welcome to this part of France, nothing was too much trouble and no effort spared, the best gite we have stayed in” – Terry & Elaine, France, “A wonderful place to stay, great company, we have loved it” – Deane & Ella, Utah.

This is our first year running our business in this beautiful part of Languedoc / Midi Pyrenees. It is interesting to see what our guests are choosing to do – walking the GR7, cycling,  the towns and cities, especially Mirepoix and Carcassonne, wine tours including Blanquette de Limoux, the ruined chateaux of the Cathars, and now that the weather is baking, swimming in the river and in the lakes at Puivert and Montbel. So you could do something different every day, or you could simply put on a CD, pick up a book from our library, and lounge on your terrace ’till the cows come home (literally) it’s up to you.

Puivert Chateau, a magnificent backdrop for swimming in the lake

Another great review for Chez Maison Bleue

Our guests from the UK who stayed in our bed and breakfast in the south of France this week, “Wonderfully relaxing visit, we were made to feel very welcome. Thoroughly enjoyable time here, can’t wait to come back, you have a fantastic place. We had great food, great wine and great company.” Shopping at Mirepoix market with lunch in one of the pavement cafes, a day out to Carcassonne less than an hour away, and rambling in the hills behind the house and through meadows of wild flowers, were all enjoyed by this group of friends. Something for everyone in our holiday home, nestling in the foothills of the Pyrenees.

Rambling for softies

The myriad of walking paths within easy reach of our holiday home in the south of France cater for all abilities. The GR7 leads from our back door in Sonnac sur l’Hers; today we drove to a neighbouring town, la Bastide sur l’Hers (10mins) to walk another variation of the GR7, a day’s walk this time. Gently uphill to Chappelle St. Roch, a tiny church perched on the hillside then steady backdown to Laroque-d’Olmes, a large town for these parts. The route is a bit complicated through the town as the GR7 signs disappear but head for the river, don’t cross the bridge which is what you really want to do, follow the road to pick up the GR Pays d’Olmes which leads you along the river bank to Dreuilhe, the loveliest part of the walk in my view. Through forests and a small but crucial detour via Camp Redon will keep you close to the river and deliver you back to la Bastide. A longer excursion is possible at Camp Redon to Lesparrou and Gorges de la Frau (Gorges of Fear) near the source of the river Hers – an intriguing, much bigger walk for another day.