The black redstarts unceremoniously evicted by Nasty Nick from the porch have been setting up residence on one of the huge beams that criss-cross the terrace at our bed and breakfast in the south of France. Guests had to move from the porch in order that the redstarts could enter with food for their young but even so… Their nest that was perching precariously on the beam is now lying on the ground. Poor little birds, all that effort, however, Nasty Nick has promised to redeem himself and first thing will fix a ledge to the beam so the width is extended. If we put the nest back then perhaps the redstarts, that have the sweetest “bobbing habit”, will return. They are more timid than the bold Great Tits that build their nests in the stone walls of the porch and simply swoop over your head while you are enjoying your coffee and croissants.
Tag Archive for: south of france
At Chez Maison Bleue we are seeing increasing numbers of vegetarian and vegan guests. They commonly complain that outside Paris, France just does not cater for vegetarians and vegans who fare even worse. The most common meal that they are both offered is an omelette! The term vegan was coined in 1944 as a word to describe “non dairy vegetarians”. The principle is that man should live without exploiting animals. There is some debate within the vegan community as to whether products from insects are permissible, Vegan Action says that eating honey and wearing silk is a matter of individual choice and conscience.
The biggest difficulty we find here is sourcing vegan wine. Most wines are fined (the process which clarifies the wine) by using animal products. Some pragmatic vegans have decided that it is permissible to depart from strict interpretation if the culture of where you are makes it impractical and they use this to enable them to enjoy a nice glass of wine with an otherwise vegan meal. This type of pragmatic interpretation of rules is very typically French and it is no surprise that it is known as the Paris exemption!
The strange thing for me is that France has such an abundance of wonderful vegetables that it is really easy to produce fabulous vegetable dishes. Here at our B&B in the Languedoc we grow our own fruit and vegetables organically (and from next year will keep chickens) we serve vegetable dishes where there is only a matter of minutes between the vegetables being harvested and going into the pan. This means that they cook very quickly and are absolutely delicious. This area also produces large quantities of pulses from the wonderfully meaty haricot blanc, mainly used in cassoulet, to great puy lentils. Legend has it that these were introduced into France by Catherine de Medici, Comtesse de Lauragais when she was given some seeds newly brought back from America as a wedding present on her marriage to the Dauphin of France in 1533. I use them as the main ingredient in a great non-meat loaf. Other dishes on our menu include stuffed peppers. At this time of year the market in Mirepoix, the best in this part of south of France, has an amazing variety of squashes. Some of the larger ones are great for a vegetable roast. Slice off the top and take out the seeds and soft flesh from the middle then roast and fill with other roast vegetables. Pile them inside the squash when they are all cooked and serve. You have an edible oven to table serving dish!
So whether you are vegetarian, vegan or a meat eater who likes different fresh and tasty vegetables with your meat, Chez Maison Bleue, our 18th century holiday home in the south of France is a great place to veg out!
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.
A great review for Chez Maison Bleue in the south of France from guests who stayed with a young baby…”A beautiful, traditional yet modern gite in the most peaceful and idyllic setting, a real home from home! Wonderfully accommodating and hospitable, we have had a fantastic week exploring Carcassonne, Mirepoix, and venturing as far as the coastal resorts of Argeles and Collioure, definitely worth the 2 hour drive.” Photos of the Mediterranean courtesy of our guests.
“Delicious food and very warm and welcoming hospitality, amazing house – great work on the restoration and decorating.” A young couple from Canada who stayed at our B&B in the foothills of the Pyrenees at the end of April. We are just loving what we are doing here at Chez Maison Bleue in the south of France!
A group of friends staying at Chez Maison Bleue in May have expressed an interest in taking some art classes. There are a number of galleries in nearby Mirepoix so when shopping at the market yesterday, we called into one, “Association Art Mania” (determined by the sign in the window saying English spoken) and met Bob, one of the resident artists. The gallery is well established in Mirepoix and offers bespoke instruction in all painting media for all abilities. Depending on the season, classes are held in the studio or in the open air – at astonishingly beautiful locations in the vicinity. Rates are more than reasonable, individuals and groups up to about 6 can be accommodated. If this is something you are interested in then please let me know, we can liaise with the gallery and make arrangements prior to your visit.
Flights from Stanstead into Carcassonne during May, £44 return, from Liverpool, £36. Fields behind our holiday cottage filled with wild flowers, alfresco dining on the square. A perfect time to visit the south of France, avoiding the crowds – and £100 reduction on weekly rates for our holiday cottage. What are you waiting for…
Extensive programme for the Jazz and Big Band celebrations (en français) in Limoux, 26 April – 1 May. Limoux is about half an hour from our holiday cottage in Sonnac sur l’Hers, a lively, very French town deep in the land of the Cathars. Combine a trip to the Jazz with a tasting at one of the Blanquette caves, we collaborate with Antech (en français again) and lunch on the square to the sound of the water splashing into the fountain, a perfect way to assure some R&R in the spring sunshine of the south of France.
A sure sign of Spring is the proliferation of antique fêtes and vide greniers (literally empty attics) in Languedoc in the south of France. I have blogged previously about buying antiques in France at auction; the fêtes and vide greniers are a far less formal means of sourcing quirky items or genuine French antiques at often sensationally low prices. We are looking forward to a major salon antiquités (antiques fair) in nearby Limoux 14-15 April. Combined with lunch on the lovely old square, and perhaps even a visit to one of the Blanquette caves, a fabulous, and perhaps even profitable day, is guaranteed.
Another fabulous review on our Holiday Rentals listing for our holiday cottage in the south of France…”Where do I start, everything about our stay was fantastic!…” We are looking forward to our first full season here in Languedoc. We are putting the final touches to our cyclist friendly B&B and will be ready to open for Easter. Loads of opening offers for the Spring!