Saturday, June 23, 2007

Holiday in France

So, we spent the last 2 weeks in Montséret, in the Aude département, in the Corbières region. It's a small village really, in the middle of vineyards and hills. It's really what I imagined rural France to be like - big houses with shutters, farmers on their little tractors going to their fields, coopératives, little shops where you can buy your baguette in the morning, ...

What I had not expected is that it would be so quiet. There was hardly any car going through the town, at any time of the day. And there were lots of swallows flying around, diving and swirling through the sky. And not too many holiday homes. It felt quite authentic, not overrun by the British, like other parts of France.

We flew to Carcassonne with Ryanair, an easy 2-hour flight. Everything ran like clockworks. The only drawback is that our outbound flight was at 6:20 am, not the greatest way to start the day, but, on the other hand, after our short drive from Carcassonne to Montséret, our room in the Relais de Montséret was ready, so we were able to settle down straight away. And what better way to settle down than to have lunch? We had our first meal there - we chose the €24 menu - I had a starter of cassolette de sèches - a dish with something like squid (I can't remember the translation for sèche) in a rich bisque sauce, then I think I went for a veal main course, just perfectly cooked. Then we were presented with a cheese plate. I'm not normally a big cheese fan at the end of my meal, but these were 3 lovely small portions of the most delicious cheeses. And then, there was dessert! I can't remember what I had with that particular meal, but one of the days, I had a peach sorbet that was to die for - two different types of peaches, infused with delicate flavours (one of the flavours was lavender - so sweet!). The food was definitely a big highlight for me, who is normally quite happy with the plainest of foods.

After that, we relaxed by the pool and on our terrace, which had a nice view of the countryside behind the hotel. Our hotel room was lovely, at the top of a little tower, and we had great views of the surrounding town and countryside, like this view of the castle on top of the hill.

The following day, we moved to the house we had rented for the week, Jasmin house, part of Les Cigalous, a small development of 4 houses just a few minutes away from the hotel, on the road to Saint André de Roquelongue (isn't that a great name for a town?).

The house was excellent, bigger than we expected, with 3 bedrooms, a large kitchen/dining room/sitting room, swimming pool, outdoor kitchen with barbecue, and a generous private garden.

The house had everything you would need, and a good shower with plenty of hot water, excellent cooking facilities, TV (if, like me, you want to watch the météo every day) & DVD player (we had brought a few DVDs, which we watched in the evenings - there isn't much else to do in this town!).

The location was perfect, less than 20 minutes away from a large town (Lézignan-les-Corbières), with an Inter-Marché where you can buy all your food, 10 minutes from the Abbaye de Fontfroide, 20 minutes from Narbonne and the sea, and yet, it felt like you are in the middle of nowhere - it's not a through road like a lot of the other villages in the area, so it's just so quiet.

And we were lucky with the weather - while the rest of France was struggling with thunderstorms and floodings, we had sunshine most days. I think we had just 3 grey days in total. And the temperatures were lovely - up to 31 degrees in the first week (a bit too hot, even) and about 25 most days.

I must prepare a few pictures to show you in my next post.

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