Tuesday, 27 December 2011

New Rabies Regulations for Pet Travel to the UK from 1st January 2012

The basic requirements for rabies regulations in the UK from the 1st January 2012:

  • the animal must be electronically chipped before being vaccinated
  • the animal needs a properly completed and verified rabies passport to travel
  • the animal no longer needs to be treated against ticks.
  • dogs still need tapeworm treatment. The treatment must be administered by a vet no less than 24 hours and no more than 120 hours before its scheduled arrival time in the UK.
  • the blood test for cats and dogs is no longer required but the vaccination against rabies must have been administered at least 21 days before travelling back to the UK

What to check is present in the pet passport before travelling:

  • date of birth/age of the animal
  • the microchip number, date of insertion and its location in the animal
  • the date of vaccination
  • the vaccine manufacturer, product name and batch number
  • the date by which the booster vaccination must be given (i.e. the “Valid until” date). This date is calculated by reference to the validity period of the vaccine given in the vaccine manufacturer’s data sheet.
  • the entry for tapeworm treatment has now been detailed as above, so ensure the vet signs and dates the relevant page with the time of administration.
  • These rules only apply for certain European countries, so for the official government advice on the Pet Travel Scheme use the link below and ensure you have the very latest information available and understand the difference between an EU country and a non EU country.
Remember as the owner of the pet you are responsible for ensuring that you have all the necessary requirements in place with supporting documentation available. If you are unsure, then visit the official DEFRA site for full details.

See the DEFRA Pet Travel Scheme for full and complete details.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

5 Must-See Travel Spots in Aude

This is a guest post from Cindy McDonald a travel enthusiast and writer. More details at the end of the article.

A department of France forming part of the Languedoc-Roussillon region of the southern portion of the country, Aude attracts visitors flocking from all over the world to bask in its magnificent scenery, post-card worthy villages, and expansive history centered on the legends of the medieval crusades. If you are planning a trip to experience all that Aude has to offer, be sure to check out the following picks for the top five travel destinations in this particular department that are nothing short of must-see:

Cathar Castles of Aude.The lasting mark of the turbulent Cathar period (1165—1271) can be found today in the form of the magnificent Cathar Castles in Carcassonne. Some restored and some ruins, these castles are situated in an area of France defined by its panoramic views of mountains, valleys, vineyards and rocky peaks. The most impressive castles of Cathar are known to be Queribus, Peyrepertuse, Villerouge-Termenes, Lastours, Aguilar, Saissac and Arques. You can visit a few of these castles easily as they lie in villages…however, keep in mind that because of their remote location, several of the fortresses require a rough walk up tricky terrain.

Bize-Minervois.If you are venturing to Aude during the hot months of summer, don’t pass up a chance to stop by the small village of Bize. Located between the Narbonne and the Black Mountains with the river Cesse flowing through, Bize makes for the perfect spot to share a family day alongside the pebbled banks that meet the crystal clear river waters. With the romantic feel of old stone houses and quaint restaurants and shops littering cobbled paths, you may never want to leave!

Sigean Nature Reserve.For all of you nature lovers traveling to Aude, be sure to take a trip to visit the Sigean Nature Reserve in the town of Sigean. Spread over an expansive 300 hectares, you can journey the main route through the park via bus or car to gaze at the thousands of wild animals that claim home to the reserve.  Not only is the reserve fun for families that come to take in the wonder of animals such as lions, zebras, flamingos and rhinoceros, but it is also utilized as a research facility and conservation for these threatened creatures.

Port-la-Nouvelle.Known for its stunning Mediterranean coastline, you can’t travel to Aude without heading to this region in southern France where you will find the resort town of Port-la-Nouvelle. Each year, the fifteen kilometer long beach along the Mediterranean Sea draws mass crowds to its sandy shores where you will enjoy an array of activities amongst a town full of cafes, hotels and restaurants. While you can find plenty to do in Port-la-Nouvelle, stray away from the beach and relish in a hike on one of the marked trails to take in the natural environment composed of waterways, woods and countryside. Don’t forget to see the ‘La Baleine’ on your trip…this is the skeleton of a 20 meter long whale washed up in the port over 25 years ago!

Gorges de l’Aude.Nestled in the town of Quillan, the dramatic Gorges de l’Aude are a great place for those with a passion for exploration and an appreciation for breathtaking landscapes. Thanks to the River Aude and its tributaries, massive ravines and gorges have been carved in the earth, and over time have produced the limestone cliffs marking the scenery today. Enjoy the wondrous beauty of the gorges by car or if you are more adventures, travel by way of biking or hiking.

Cindy McDonald is a travel enthusiast who shares with us this guest post on the Aude department. In addition to her adventures across the world and her passion for writing, Cindy also offers her dating advice on Christian singles dating sites.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

The Weather in an Autumn France

I am sure that I am not the first to blog about this amazing weather we have been having here in the South of France. September kicked it all off as I mentioned in my last post, but it has just kept going and going. Daytimes are typically between 26C to 28C and once the sun has gone down temperatures have been dropping to around 14C to 16C. You can see from the chart below that even for the South of France that is about 6 or 7 degrees above the average for the year in October.

Annual Average Climate Chart for the South of France
Region Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun
Languedoc- Rousillon 12(54) 12(52) 13(55) 18(64) 20(68) 27(80)
Aquitaine 10(50) 9(49) 12(54) 20(67) 18(64) 24(75)
Limousin 6(43) 6(43) 10(49) 16(61) 15(59) 22(72)
Midi-Pyrenees 10(50) 9(48) 12(54) 18(65) 19(66) 26(80)
Provence 12(54) 12(53) 14(58) 19(65) 21(69) 27(80)
Cote d'Azur 12(54) 12(53) 14(58) 19(65) 21(70) 27(80)
Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Languedoc- Rousillon 28(83) 28(83) 26(79) 21(70) 16(60) 14(56)
Aquitaine 27(81) 26(78) 24(76) 20(67) 15(49) 11(52)
Limousin 25(77) 24(75) 21(70) 16(61) 13(55) 9(47)
Midi-Pyrenees 28(82) 27(81) 25(78) 19(67) 16(60) 10(50)
Provence 28(83) 28(83) 25(77) 22(72) 17(62) 14(57)
Cote d'Azur 28(83) 28(83) 25(77) 22(72) 17(62) 14(57)
Average Air Temp °C(°F) by month
It's a bit of a shame for the fish in our little stream because it has all but dried up along most of its length anywhere near where we are. There is still a bit of a trickle about 1/2 mile up the hill towards Labecede, but certainly from Le Moulin down the valley it is more of a sandy path. I suspect the fishermen will be having lean pickings next year if they turn up with their rods as usual.

Still one man's poison is another man's meat, and we did have some lucky holiday makers during September who absolutely made the most of the weather. To be honest, we can't remember a bad September since we moved here or October for that matter, but perhaps not quite as good as this year.

Autumn is moving in steadily however and you can see from the changing colours of the leaves on the trees that the winter months are approaching as we go through the Autumn.

Nature has been fooled to an extent though, for example many of the spilled sunflower seeds from the harvest have started to sprout into new plants, and flowers are budding in the garden that would normally lie dormant at this time of year until the coming spring.

Not that this is going to get them anywhere because that cooler climate will come eventually and long before the plants can go their full cycle. We are not complaining however, its quite nice to have a mix of our favourite seasons, Spring and Autumn, both happening at the same time. Bit of a photographers dream really, it always surprises me that we aren't inundated with eager photographers that would like to take up the photography courses on offer in the Autumn. There is after all probably more colour and changing skies at this time of the year than any other.

Anyway, that's enough from me. I just thought I would let you know that it's not just the UK that has been having a glorious Indian Summer in the Autumn time.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Holiday in September in the South of France

What a cracking start we have had to September, the temperature has dropped a tad and it 's now around 27C. For me personally that is a much nicer temperature than the mid 30's we had been seeing in July and August. Perhaps that's because I have to work, I do honestly, and I can't just sit around in the shade relaxing as you can when you are on holiday. I am not totally convinced that is the reason though, I think I just prefer it a little cooler.

So just as many are considering the holiday season over, kids have gone back to school, the French have all gone north again and things are starting to become a little quieter, the weather doesn't seem quite ready to retire into the autumn. The swimming pool is certainly being well used this week and we have been out exploring the local area with a trip to the Lac de la Cavayere, on the outskirts of Carcassonne, so that we could enjoy the sunshine.

The Lac de la Cavayere is considered to be Carcassonne's very own plage (beach). Trouble is, it can be quite tricky to find the first time you go, being hidden behind 'La Cite' on the other side of the hill. We had a little bit of a tour around, trying to pick up on the location, but in the end we found it following the signs to Montlegun and the Australian Park which is nearby. I really think in truth I am going to have to update my sat nav so that it actually has some newer roads in it, you know, ones that weren't  built by the Romans :-)

Anyway it was worth the effort and with a little help from a good old fashioned map we did eventually find it OK and went off for a little wander to have a look at what it had to offer. Remembering this is a weekday in September we are talking about, there were a reasonable amount of  facilities available. There was a guy hiring out bikes, another one had a group of school kids doing archery and there was also the water sports facility on the lakeside for boat and canoe hire. Not too bad for a Tuesday. 
There was also evidence of some little cafe huts there, not open the day we went, but might well be on a weekend. So it would probably be a good idea to take a picnic for lunch if you were thinking of food on the beach and wanted to be sure. It would be lovely place to have one incidentally and is what most people there seemed to be doing. The beaches were really nice and it is possible to walk around the complete perimeter of the lake if one so desired, although it is quite large which probably explains the bike hire option.

We didn't get as far as the mini golf, so not sure if that was open or not, but we did make it to one or two of the beaches and a couple of nice viewpoints. There were also plenty of benches around the perimeter just to sit and relax and take in the views, plus the scenery there certainly makes it worth spending a little time doing just that.
You can click on the map above to get a larger image so that you can see the text and to give you a fighting chance of reading it.

We were well overdue this trip, because sometimes you can go much further afield, forgetting what is actually available almost on the doorstep in French terms. This was no more than 45 minutes away once you know where you are going and is a great option for anyone wanting a holiday in September at Le Moulin

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

The Languedoc-Rousillon Region for the Wine Drinker

This is a guest post by Dee Mason, who is discussing some of the delights the Languedoc Roussillon region has to offer. Of course I am bias with respect to the accommodation aspect and believe there is nowhere better to visit than our very own Le Moulin de l'Argentouire. But it doesn't hurt to have another opinion occasionally; so here you go:

There are more than 740,000 acres of vineyards in the Languedoc-Rousillon region of France, which is nearly 3,000 square kilometres. It’s the busiest wine producing region in the world, producing more than a third of France’s entire annual output. Until 2001 it produced more wine than the whole of the United States of America put together and it’s responsible for most of the “wine lake”, Europe’s production glut. Dating back to the fifth century BC when the Greeks decided to plant vines in the area, the Languedoc-Rousillon part of France has a rich cultural heritage as one of the oldest wine producing areas in the country and indeed the continent. Rousillon was part of Spain until the seventeenth century and remains part of Catalonia.

One of the most famous beverages to come from Langedoc is not a wine but a vermouth. Noilly Prat has been crafted in the region for two centuries using traditional methods. A blend of picpoul and clairette grapes, Noilly Prat must be aged in oak barrels both inside and outside to ensure depth of flavour. Originally, Noilly Prat was transported on large, open, slow-sailing ships – this is the best way to simulate exposure to weather and the open waves. The end result is the rich, sherry-like vermouth we know and love. If you’re interested in the creation process, visit the Noilly Prat headquarters at 1 rue Noilly, Marseillan, where guided tours take place from May to September. The building itself has some significance architecturally – a young Gustave Eiffel (whose more famous work you may be familiar with) designed the main staircase.

Toulouse, now in Midi-Pyrénées, used to be the capital of Languedoc. If you’re in the area you should take the time to visit this settlement with its distinctive pink brick architecture and general air of grace and fortitude. Interestingly, this is the main hub of Europe’s aerospace industry. Another must-see town is Carcassonne, which is the walled city you’ll have seen photos of. Now in the Aude region technically, it’s one of those cities which looks lovely in the day but spectacular when lit up at night. Away from the towns, places like Cévennes and Lozere have some of the lowest population densities in Europe – 7.4 people per square kilometre, or 19 inhabitants per square mile.

If you’re visiting the area, one of the best ways to experience the culture is to stay in a vineyard. The whole area is dominated by vintners, vineyards, cooperatives and the wine industry in general. With such historical significance as well, it’s no surprise that staying in ancient chateaux or in the grounds of a wine producing estate will present you with a crash course in the region’s past. Most areas will have guided tours and information points to guide you around, while others might have scheduled talks and introductions into winemaking. An example of a great all-round hostelry is the Château l’Hospitalet, an ancient building about two kilometres from the coast. Its location means that the area has a heady sea breeze and because it is nestled in the protected Clape hills, the smells of orchids and herbs infuse the air and the vineyards around it.

As the name suggests, the Château l’Hospitalet used to be a hospital. Originally run my monks it now boasts restaurant and accommodation services which would be beyond the wildest dreams of the medieval inhabitants. Bicycle hire is available and Friday night is jazz night, and the sheer scale of the wine list is more awesome than any of the ski deals France has to offer.

The Domaine de Verchant is another brilliant place to stay in Languedoc. Near Montpellier, this sumptuous hotel offers more glamour than its rustic counterparts but is still right on the edge of the wine producing regions. The vineyards are a stone’s throw away, but the on-site facilities include Jacuzzis, tennis courts and an infinity pool so it might not even matter where you are.

There are probably dozens of other beautiful, well-equipped hotels for you to choose from. The Languedoc-Rousillon region is large and covers a vast range of attractions, landscapes and indeed appellations. It’s up to you where you make your base, but it’s worth hiring a car for at least one day in order to cover the whole of the area. Some hotels and chateaux offer a quaint but effective service – use of a Citroen 2CV for the day. The car will normally include a fully-packed picnic hamper, a map of the Languedoc-Rousillon region and enough room on the back seat for several cases of something tasty.

Sunday, 14 August 2011

Holiday in August - South of France

Now on special offer the last week of August 2011 starting the 27th is available at the reduced rate of £900 for the week. With the normal price being £1,100 this represents a great saving of £200 on the week, might just pay for a flight or perhaps the cost of a hire car. Also with the weather back to its glorious best with lots of sunshine and temperatures between 25 to 30 degrees C this could be a great holiday for anyone that has been suffering from a rainy summer, especially up there in the northern part of Europe.

Lastours, Aude in France
We have been having a fabulous summer so far with guests from Belgium, Holland and England. Take a look at the visitors guest book to see what they thought of their holiday at Le Moulin.  Pretty complimentary even though I say it myself and that is despite a few days here and there of weather you would not normally associate with July and August in the South of France. Just goes to show a holiday isn't always just about the weather, there are a few ways to have a nice time even when it isn't quite as sunny as you might have expected. Not that we are anticipating any further problems in that direction, not for the foreseeable future anyway, a quick look at the weather forecast will tell you that.

Just a reminder that we do offer photographic courses and painting holidays here from Le Moulin and you can check out the details for these using the links provided. I don't claim any particular expertise in either of these artistic avenues. That's why we draft in a couple of highly qualified and competent instructors in the their respective subjects to give you expert tuition and advice. 

The photograph is of the chateau at Lastours near to Carcassonne, taken on a day out to see the underground caves at Limousis when we realised just how close the two are to one another.  Just one of many nice days out we have had since living here in Le Moulin. Not that we have finished, there are plenty more places of interest that we have not yet had a chance to visit.

Monday, 25 July 2011

Gite in Languedoc Roussillon for a Holiday in France

Well I have been playing with videos again, this time using Window's Movie Maker. Those files get really big when you add lots of special effects. I think I actually got a few extras that I didn't want but after waiting all afternoon for it to upload then I am afraid it is what it is. Or more accurately 'was', I am pleased to say that I have tried a different file format now which is much better. Hardly any crackles now. So you shouldn't be worried that your computer is playing up as you may have been with the previous version.

They also say that they will continue to improve the video quality over time. But I have to say it took 4 hours to upload initially and it was only about 3 minutes long, so I didn't hold out much hope out for that one. Changing the format and uploading again definitely improved the quality, but it is not quite as good as the Facebook version which you can see here Living in France

I am sure I will get better at this the more I do it, but for now all I can say is it is a good job I have plenty of storage space, because any more videos like the first one and I will need to buy an external hard drive. And don't even suggest I use the cloud to store my files, I am already on the wrong side of middle age and life isn't long enough to upload any more files like that, even if it is just to a storage directory.

Well I hope you enjoy it, and as I have your attention I would just like to point out that the purpose of the exercise was to advertise our gite on the 2nd biggest search engine in the world. Especially as we still have a free week at the end of August, in the school holidays and I am prepared to negotiate. Happy viewing.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

La Cite Ablaze - Carcassonne 2011 on Bastille Day

OK I know the next post was supposed to be of the Tour De France arriving in Lavaur, so what happened? It rained that is what happened, July in the South of France and it rained. Couldn't believe it and to be honest standing on the side of the road in the rain in July, even for the Tour De France, when we normally have gorgeous sunshine just didn't seem like a good idea.

So instead we waited 24 hours, out came the sun again, and off we went to Carcassonne for the Bastille Day celebrations and a look at the amazing fireworks display where 'La Cite Ablaze' is reenacted as the centre piece of the Bastille fireworks celebration. Fortunately I remembered to take my video camera with me so I could record proceedings but unfortunately I forgot to check if it was fully charged.

Still I got pretty much all I needed to, the exception being about the last 10 seconds. The display starts a little sedately and then builds to this huge crescendo of pyrotechnics which only a video recording can even attempt to capture. So stick with it and even with the last 10 seconds or so missing, I am pretty sure you will not be disappointed. Look out for the people standing in the middle of the River Aude about half way through. Or actually you can have a look at the blurry photograph below, the camera didn't really like the dark, but it at least shows the lengths some people will go to for a great view of proceedings.

These are a few tips for the night. If you can, avoid the town centre as a parking place, otherwise you might find yourself waiting a couple of hours to get out of the city and on your way home. The best option is to look for a parking space on the route into the city and turn your car around so you are pointing in the direction you want to go. A 20 minute walk can potentially save you hours of sitting in a traffic jam trying to get home.

Try and get to your viewpoint about an hour before the display starts otherwise you may spend the whole display looking at the back of someones head, a large white van or perhaps the side of a bridge. Of course you could stand in the river like the young ones in the photograph, but that does play havoc with your suede shoes.

Lots of people head into the city centre after the fireworks and you will find some form of entertainment going on in all the main squares, either a disco or a band and the bars and restaurants will be offering lots of tasty food and drinks. The party only really starts once the fireworks have finished, well unless you are getting a bit long in the tooth, when a swift beer and the way home are the order of the day.

The battery did recover sufficiently enough for me to add a few seconds of the mass exodus from the river bank and a little bit of the celebrations starting up in the Place Carnot, but after that it really was a case of being as dead as a dodo. Ah well, maybe next year, all I need is about another 30 seconds worth to tack onto this years effort and I will be done. It's not easy this blogging lark you know, hope you appreciate it :-)

Saturday, 9 July 2011

The Tour De France is Coming, Blaye-les-Mines to Lavaur

It's that time of year again and the Tour De France is well under way.

We are not as fortunate this year as we were last year because the Tour is not coming right past our front door. That said it is not going to be so far away and from what I can see our nearest finishing point is at Lavaur.

That is after the Blaye-les-Mines > Lavaur stage which takes place on Wednesday the 13th July 2011 - and is otherwise known as stage 11.

So about 48 kilometers or an hour away in time, close enough, I would think, to be tempted into taking a look. I was really fancying a mountain stage this year, preferably with them going up, because when we observed last years event between Revel and Castelnaudary, it was downhill and all we really saw was a blur of colour as they sped past at a rate of knots. You live and learn I guess.

But Lavaur is a reasonable compromise because it is a finishing point and it really isn't that far in French terms. Plus I will be able to get the trusty video recorder out this year, and film it instead of just photographing. I sense your excitement at the prospect of seeing even more of my dodgy video editing. But you are just going to have to wait until next Wednesday and in the meantime the attached photograph can wet your appetites.

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Holiday in the South of France

Grotte De Limousis
Holiday in the South of France

This is my latest lens which I have recently published on Squidoo. The lens discusses various options and places to visit in the South of France and, for relatively obvious reasons, focuses primarily on the Languedoc Roussillon region :-). There is nothing like a bit of self promotion.

One of the many places of interest to visit is, one recently visited by myself and some family that came to stay for a few days, the Grotte De Limousis.

You can visit the grotte by dropping in to their visitors center and signing up to the guided tour. The cost was about 8 euros a head, but for that you are taken into the caves and told all about how the caves were formed, you will see amazing stalagmite and stalactite column barriers, the underground lakes and some pretty fabulous rock formations. The tour information is given in French, but there are a few sheets of A4 provided explaining everything in English for those that are a little challenged by the French language. I put my hand up for that one.

Chandelier De Aragonite
The centre piece and highlight of the tour is a chandelier of aragonite which is subjected to a pretty cool light display that really shows off its amazing crystalline  structure, all done to a background of music, mostly by Queen from what I remember.

There are a few other caves in the area if you would like to see more than one series, for example 10 minutes further on from Limousis and you will find the Gouffre geant de Cabrespine or the giant Cabrespine Cave. The first chamber in this series is as tall as the Eiffel Tower and is more than 1,600,000 m3.

We didn't visit because we preferred to go off to Latours, which is a lovely little village close by to the Grotte de Limousis, again, only about 10 to15 minutes away and plays host to a fairly impressive Cathare fortress.

That could well be the subject of another post, so I won't elaborate too much here, other than to say. If you are in the area it's well worth a look.

Monday, 30 May 2011

Holidays in June Courtesy of Le Moulin

Just thought I would draw your attention to the special offer at Le Moulin for a holiday in June. Prices have been reduced from £900 per week to £750 per week.

There are 2 weeks still available starting the 20th and the 27th of June 2011, so still time to make some last minute arrangements. If you prefer to start your vacation mid week, for example Wednesday to Wednesday, then we have dates available from the 15th June, or we are open to suggestion.

It doesn't hurt to ask.

Don't forget that you can find cheap flights and car hire on the travel advice page, to make sure you are not only saving money on your holiday, but on the other aspects of your holiday as well.

For a brief excursion into a Painting Day or perhaps you would like to take a short Photographic Course well you are here, then you can use these links to check out your options.

To make the necessary arrangements just drop us a line at lemoulin@french-holidays-aude.com and we will get straight back to you.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Gorge Walking Moulin Style

Well I say gorge walking, but actually it was more of a paddle in a stream. Gorge walking just sounds better and grabs the attention a little more.

I know you want to know why we were 'gorge walking', stick with me on this, it's good copy writing. The reason is that there has been a major clean up of our little river. These French guys turned up with great big trucks, huge chainsaws and matching mechanical arms that were capable of picking up a fully grown oak tree. Then they set about clearing the river for as far as the eye could see.

Now we had been warned about this, when I received a letter stating that they were going to do the job and asking if we wanted the wood disposed of or did we want to keep it. Now naturally I said we would like to keep it. Buying a few stairs of wood over here can be a pretty expensive pastime, so there was no way I was going to look this gift horse in the mouth. This was despite the small print that said all the wood had to be cleared away within a couple of weeks following the completion of the work. I mean after all how much wood could there be clearing a few branches and a bit of brush.

Needless to say there followed a period of complete panic as we witnessed the felling of several fully grown oak trees; and a few other varieties as well. I was eying my arsenal of two wheelbarrows and the phrase 'we are going to need a bigger boat' from that famous film 'Jaws' sprang to mind. Only in my case it was a tractor and trailer that was the necessary specification.

You can imagine my relief when a couple of the guys came over to see me and asked me where I would like to store my wood. Phew!! I rather naively suggested that near the river might be a good place, not realizing that they meant anywhere on the property would not be unreasonable. So after a bit of pigeon French, where they told me that my suggestion was too close to the river. And I said to them 'you can put it there?' or 'vous pouvez le mettre là-bas?', not thinking for a second they could, it was agreed that the wood would be placed in a very convenient location not a million miles from the house. Big smiles all around.

So following all that panic and relief it was felt an exploratory 'gorge walk', see it does work, was the order of the day. Off we set, dog in tow, to explore the countryside and examine the fruits of their labour. It has to be said they did a pretty good job all in all and the river was exactly what they said it would be; clear of wood. And you can lay testament to that by watching the video I have carefully crafted together to share the event.

I haven't got away scot-free however, there was still a little bit of brush to deal with, in fact enough to warrant the purchase of a nice new trailer to go behind my mower, and in a matching red colour to boot. You have the keep the wife happy, she is into colour coordination after all.

So there you have it, another adventure from living in the France lane,pretty exciting I have to say. Might have to go and lie down now, oh no I can't, I've got wood to cut :-)

Sunday, 1 May 2011

What's On In And Around Carcassonne 2012

So what's going on in the South of France this year? Quite a bit actually and I have made a start with listing some of the main events and will add more as the information becomes available. So don't forget to bookmark this post as I will be updating it as more events and details come to light.

Listed by date

May 2012 - there is a big day approaching for our little village of Issel, the Fete Medievale Des Potiers Et De L'Artisanat is due to take place on the 27 May. The streets will be dressed in medieval style and the festival will be going all day. There will be a 13th century hangman, knights, fencing demonstrations and ancient crafts. Artisans will be displaying their glass, pottery, embroidery and more. Should be a good day out for the locals.

June 2012, three days of feasts and music in the streets of Gruissan. All ages come together in this festive environment known as 'Les Festejades Gruissan'. More detail available via the link, but in French I am afraid.

22nd June - 5th August 2012, the festival of Carcassone offers a variety of entertainment and cultural events that take place both in the medieval walled city and the 'Ville Basse' throughout the summer months. These include 80 free modern music, jazz, circus, theatre and classical music shows. For a full program of musical and other events, the paid variety, which includes Texas, Bryan Ferry, Tom Jones, The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and many more you can use this link to the Festival of Carcassonne Program. They describe the events much more eloquently than I can and it is in English.

13th July 2012, Fireworks display in the 'Grande Bassin' Castelnaudary, a precursor to Bastille Day and La Cite ablaze in Carcassonne. As far as I can tell the fireworks start after the parade at 10.30p.m. in honour of National Day, but probably worth getting there at 10.00p.m. just to make sure, or earlier if you want to see the parade. It is followed by the Spotlight Orchestra playing in the main square at around 10.45.pm. Go to Castelnaudary Tourist Office for further details.

July 2012, Festival of the Bastide in Carcassonne, this revolves around Bastille day the 14th July. A fabulous experience for anyone interested in French culture. The festival of the Bastide runs alongside the Festival of Carcassonne well known to the arts scene for its combination of opera, dance, theater and music events that take place throughout the summer months.

14th July 2012, La Cite Ablaze in Carcassonne is the big event of the Festival of the Bastide where you can see one of the best firework displays France has to offer and it commemorates the original burning of La Cite back in 1898. The banks of the river Aude will be awash with spectators and every viewpoint available will be taken by the time the display starts at 10.30p.m. It's best to park on the outskirts of the town and walk in to facilitate a reasonable exit time when the show is over.

21st August -26th August 2011, the 12th fete du Cassoulet will take place around this last week of August with 7 days of celebration and eating of cassoulet a haricot bean based casserole with Toulouse sausage, duck and pork as the usual ingredients. Everyone will be getting out their blue and white striped shirts for the festivities. This is the official website for the Fete du Cassoulet

Tourist Offices

Carcassonne: 04 68 10 24 30 email:accueil@carcassonne-tourisme.com web:www.carcassonne-tourisme.com

Soreze St Ferreol: 05 63 74 16 28 email: tourisme@ville-soreze.fr web:www.ville-soreze.fr

Revel St Ferreol: 05 34 66 67 68 email: contact@tourisme-revel.com web:www.tourisme-revel.com

Castlenaudary: 04 68 23 05 73 email: ot@ville-castelnaudary.fr web:www.ville-castelnaudary.fr

Vide Greniers

You can find all the planned Vide Greniers for Aude and any other department in France using this link. Also you can visit our other page on this blog for information on all the local French food markets that operate throughout the year.

Boat Trips

For a nice easy boat trip down the Canal du Midi you can hop on a 'bateau' down at the quay in Castelnaudary, the boat leaves daily at 2.30p.m. for a quiet chug along the canal and back that takes about 2 hours, but there are a number of other options available which you can find out about at Bateau Promenade "Le Saint-Roch" or by phoning +33 (0)4 68 23 49 40

Incidentally right next to the boat there is now a snack bar operating that hires out bicycles as a sideline, you have to put down a deposit on the bikes, which you get back as long as you don't run off with them, and the hire rates are very reasonable. So if you fancy a morning or afternoon cycling along the Canal Du Midi, you know where to go.

If you prefer to hire your own boat for a short trip then boats can be hired from Castel Nautique for 2 to 8 people on an hourly basis or for 1/2 days. Visit the website for more details or call on +33 (0)4 68 76 73 34. they are located near to Bram which is about 30 minutes drive from Le Moulin.

Saturday, 30 April 2011

Happy Hooker

Not as bad as it sounds, its the story of a retired rugby star and hooker, Serge Dubois and his adventures running the 'Bar Des Chasseurs' in the ancient walled town of Castelverdun located in the South West of France.

He is constantly bemused by the comings and goings of his local and foreign customers. The tales told are those typical of life nowadays in many of the small French towns in this region.

The author Jonathan Veale lives, funnily enough,in a small medieval village in the Aude department of Languedoc Roussillon called Verdun, hmmmm, and has very kindly given me a copy of his book; which I am currently enjoying reading.

You can find out more about Jonathan and what he is up to via his website detailing how to write and publish a book. Something he does very well and this book is proof that he not only can write a book but knows how to get it published.

We get up to all sorts down here in the South of France to make sure we can remain here and continue to enjoy our life in France.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Cascades De L'Argentouire

OK it's going to look a little like I am obsessed with cascades and waterfalls, but I have got a new video camera and I am determined to use it. Especially now that I have found a way of cutting the videos together and adding in extra slides and captions where I want to. Clever or what; I think I can actually hear you saying 'what'!! Particularly if you have spotted the last slide that shows www.french-holidays-aude.com rather badly clipped. Oh well you can't win them all and it takes way too long to upload the whole video again.

The point of this video is, however, to provide a sort of guided tour for a woodland walk up past the cascades to Labecede and then back through the woods to the starting point of the walk. The starting point for us of course is Le Moulin and a swift march up the hill towards Labecede to the Sanglier woods, which adds about 10 minutes either end to the route shown on the video. So basically anyone staying at our gite can enjoy this walk without even thinking about burning up any of that expensive fuel for the car.

The cascades are best of course during the spring or autumn, when there is a good chance of a reasonable amount of water flow together with some sunny days to enjoy a stroll when the temperatures are at a reasonable level for walking.

We walk this route fairly regularly with the dog in tow. But we did find it a little bit tricky the first time trying to establish a circular route back down the hill; rather than going straight up and down. Once you know the way it is pretty simple and what I would like to know is whether the video actually conveys sufficient information to make the first pass as easy as the rest.

We don't always go into the village because the scamper up the hill from the woodland walk is quite steep and we have been a few times now. But if you have never walked around Labecede, it is definitely worth the effort. The photograph is a little sample of the shabby chic architecture, but the views from up there across the Carcassonne plains are pretty impressive as well.

Anyway I hope you enjoy the video, it is my last one on cascades for a while I promise, and if you find yourself out this way then please let me know if the video helped you find your way around the route.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Cascades - Lac De St Ferreol And Revel

One of the favourite places guests at our gite have enjoyed over the years is the cascades at Lac de St Ferreol, especially the kids. Located just below the lake, the cascades can be a pretty impressive sight when the sluice gates are fully open and the water is in full flow. The cascades were created as part of the feed to the Canal Du Midi and are accompanied by a high pressure water fountain at the base of the falls. This uses simple water pressure, created by feeding the flow of water via ever decreasing diameters of pipe, to shoot the water jet what must be a good 10m into the air.

The lake is a great place to spend a day, you can relax on the beach, go swimming or make use of the many activities on offer such as canoeing, crazy golf or even horse riding. Then when you are ready for a change of scenery you can take a walk around the perimeter, explore the arboretum that is there, visit the museum dedicated to Pierre-Paul Riquet and then finish the day off admiring the cascades.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Gorge De Galamus & Ermitage St Antoine-de-Galamus

Taking a drive through the Gorge de Galamus will test the skills of any driver and it is relatively unlikely to be possible in anything much bigger than a Renault Megane.

The entry to the gorge is controlled with traffic lights during the more busy holiday periods in the summer which does give you a better chance in something bigger. But when we went, just recently at the beginning of April, you just had to take your chance versus what was coming the other way. So, as you will see from the video, it can involve a little bit of backing up and squeezing through tight spots here and there.

Ermitage St Antoine-de-Galamus
It is well worth the effort however, as this is a very scenic route that takes you off the D117 at Saint Paul De Fenouillet through the gorge, but stopping at Ermitage St Antoine-de-Galamus on the way. St Antoine de Galamus is a small chapel on the south side of the gorge which can be accessed via a rugged pathway from a very convenient car park.

It was closed when we were there, so we had to settle for taking a few photographs from the car park (you can see the chapel a little easier if you click on the photograph for a larger view). But it is open in the summer season and takes about 20 minutes on foot to get to it. Literally built into the rock face, below the road through the gorge, the buildings must have been a feat of engineering at the time it was built. Hard to imagine how it could be done with only the narrow rocky path for access.

We found ourselves on this route whilst heading for Bugarach, a mountain we can see from our village location in Issel, a good hour and a quarter from the gorge. This was a trip we have been wanting to make for a while so that we would be able to see the 'Magic Mountain' from a little closer up. After passing through the gorge you will come to a junction where a turn to the right will take you off to the Chateau's Peyrepertuse and Queribus. We opted to turn left and drive through Bugarach, our intended destination, and then on to Rennes Le Chateau.

Rennes Le Chateau
All in all we were a bit spoilt for choice for places to visit when we got there and still had plans to call into Limoux on the way back. We did do that by the way and bought some very nice cakes from the patisserie there for a little treat after dinner.

There is something very pleasant about driving through mountain passes in the sunshine, and I think we would highly recommend this route to anyone visiting the area. It actually would be relatively easy to include the chateau's in the itinerary as well with a slightly earlier start than we made.

Bugarach the Magic Mountain

Friday, 25 March 2011

Painting Days in France

Nicola Blakemore of Painting Holidays in France would like to offer guests at Le Moulin the chance of a 'Painting Day in France'. Take a look at what she has to say:

Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up. ~Pablo Picasso

Fancy a change from site seeing? How about a painting day

Will I be any good at painting?

I can offer you a 'Taster Day' which could open the door to a whole new hobby. My gentle and patient tuition will soon have you taking your first tentative steps.

I can provide you with everything you will need and show you how to get started. I could come to you or vice versa, or we could meet at a suitable and convenient location and get creative. Either bring a picnic or we can grab an inexpensive lunch somewhere.

I don't seem to be getting any better!

Have your gear with you but could do with some help? Then contact me and I'll suggest suitable locations, depending where you are and what you like to paint be it landscape, seascape or buildings. As above you can either bring your own lunch or we can pop into a bar.

What will it cost

The cost for a day starting at about 10.00 am until 5.00 pm approx, is €75 per person plus 50 cents per kilometre expenses (depending on locations), including use of deck chairs, drawing boards and other materials and equipment. All you need do is turn up with an open mind and enthusiasm.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Come With Me On A Spring Road-Trip To The Mediterranean

This is a guest post from Joanne Mathews of Escape2France. We have collaborated with Joanne and David her business partner and professional photographer to offer photography courses from our gite here in Languedoc Roussillon.

Trip to the Mediterranean

This beautiful area, from where Escape2France conducts its French-based photographic tours, sits alongside the Mediterranean coastline between the port of Marseille and the Spanish border. Having been subjected to a recent name change, we are now to be known, rather surprisingly, as Sud de France rather than Languedoc-Roussillon - a simplification that will not be popular locally. Ah, the universal dislike of change! They've already renamed the airport in Carcassonne - much to the chagrin of the local populace! Sud de France, saturated as it is in history and awash with chateaux and vineyards, also incorporates the foothills of the Pyrenees. Through it all ambles deep gushing river gorges, colourful market towns, birds of prey, hovering over the newly tilled vineyards, slinky Pyrenean lynx hunting the wild boar and alongside it all, isolated and beautiful villages, each one built on a rising, almost nipple-like rock, topped with a chateau and a church, bells clanging regularly across the red tuille roofs - not to call the faithful but to tell vineyard workers it's time to eat! Because of this stunning scenery, the region makes an excellent base for photographic tours, breaks and holidays with its undulating scenery and the dreadful history of the Cathars to absorb. Briefly, in the 13th century the church of Rome ruthlessly put down heretics and sects such as the Cathars who threatened their authority and financial stability. The church, with the strong support of the Kings of France, disbanded and persecuted the Templars and they outright murdered the Cathars, who had sought refuge in a series of chateaux and towers along the edge of the Pyrenees Mountain range. However, today, the Cathar and Templar crosses are proudly displayed on the flags of the region. The local people, who don't consider themselves to be French at all, but d'Oc (Occitan), typically Mediterranean - each small, dark, round, friendly, chaotic and noisy - and, of course, everywhere, the superb quality wines produced in this, the largest vineyard in the world.

It's the start of springtime here in the Sud de France. Searching for inspiration, I decide to take the short road-trip to the coast. On the drive down to the favoured wine chateau - Château Rouquette sur Mer on the Massif de la Clape - a wine-growing area sited on a small cliff-faced mountain separating Narbonne from the Mediterranean Sea - I have my "plastique" (a 5 litre wine container) in one hand - and in the other, my camera. All around, the mimosa is flowering - clear splashes of yellow against the wintery sunlight but most exhilarating of all, when I approach the Mediterranean Sea, are the colours of the sky. I have only ever seen such blues in the work of artists, who flock to this coast for the intensity of the light. The deepest blues are high above me, the palest near the horizon, with every brilliantly reflected variation pulled in different directions across the water by the breezes and the currents. Such light can mesmerise - you feel pulled towards the sea, clutching your camera and feeling slightly breathless about these, the first truly possible outdoor shots of the year. Pink almond blossom illuminates the vineyards which are otherwise empty of colour and which appear slightly drab against the beautiful, newly emerging hedgerow greens. I'm in a hurry - I'm afraid the scene will vanish if I don't catch it soon. But then one change in the wind direction, one cloud - everything will be altered, will have disappeared before the shot is in the bag!

As I drive over la Clape, I realise the windscreen is spattering - the rain is falling. This is one of the driest parts of France - less than 50 cms of rain each year - and virtually all of it in November and March. Recent descriptions of our weather in springtime include "you know the Mediterranean weather in the spring - up and down, like the mood of the people ……" I look out over the vineyards to my left - their sheltered situation meaning that even so early in spring, there is the merest hint of a green wash to the vines. The sun has encouraged a few buds to burst forth, whilst the edges of the fields are carpeted in deep-purple and pale lemon - hundreds of heavy headed Iris flowers peering at the sun, planted throughout the generations by vineyard owners, who consider the Iris their symbol, always giving a pictorial feeling that Easter has arrived early. Looking watery, the combination of sun and rain has produced a rainbow of course. More Mediterranean magic!

I take my photographs, fill my "plastique" and I drift away to the étangs, a string of lakes which sit along the Mediterranean shoreline and which, in the springtime, attract large quantities of migrating birds - pale, watery colours wash over this inland sea combined with pink flamingos, standing one-legged in the water - and I consider a summer full of light and sunshine. Always a hot summer, filled with photographers, summer food and wine, tours around the castles, chateaux and vineyards - and conclude that such idyllic times are there to be shared.
Come and join us! Follow the Escape2France link for further details of our summer tours.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Skiing in Font Romeu France

We recently took a little time out to go skiing in Font Romeu, reported to be one, if not the sunniest ski resort in France.

We were a little bit worried because we had pre-booked the hotel and committed ourselves to this break in Font Romeu knowing that the Pyrenees had not exactly been inundated with snow. Now I know you can always go walking or do a bit of sightseeing but once you have set your mind on skiing that is exactly what you want to do. That said, the snow report for Font Romeu was saying 100% open which was better than most of the resorts in the Pyrenees that week.

When we arrived it looked a little bit like there wasn't any snow around, certainly not in the town anyway. But then we did eventually find our way up to the first ski station and hey presto everyone was skiing and the car park was very full. So things were looking quite optimistic.

Only problem was we didn't realise that for ski hire we needed to go back to town, so by the time we did that and found all the facilities it was a bit late to get any skiing in that day. Probably a blessing in disguise really with hindsight and the loss of feeling in our legs by the end of day 3 of actual skiing.

Anyway we decided to explore the town, check out the best ski hire deals and find our hotel so we could chill out and get ready for a nice meal out in the evening. Then that old saying kicked in 'what a difference a day makes' because as you will see from the photograph, it started to snow and to snow and to snow. In fact the next morning on the way to the slopes, it was still snowing. Then around lunchtime, it stopped snowing and the famous Font Romeu sun came out. The rest as they say is history and we had 3 days of fresh snow and glorious sunshine, what we would call a happy ending. Sorry about all the cliché's.

For more details, photographs and information on Skiing in Font Romeu you can have a look at my lens on the trip via this link. Lots of information on the resort, the restaurants and the skiing which hopefully will be helpful to anyone planning a similar trip.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Carcassonne's La Cite in Languedoc Roussillon

Author: BrianRS
Sitting on the banks of the River Aude overlooking 'La Bastide Saint-Louis' otherwise known as the 'ville basse of Carcassonne', is the world heritage site of 'La Cite' a vibrant walled city that dates back beyond medieval times and to this day operates as a living, working and thriving community.

La Cite caters primarily for the tourist industry these days having evolved into a major tourist attraction. Consequently within its walls you will find hotels, restaurants, cafes and shops to help serve the 3 million plus visitors that Carcassonne receives each year. There are also plenty of cultural events taking place covering art, music and the history of wine in the region, naming but a few.

The services that the businesses within the walled city offer are supplemented with regular displays of medieval activities such as jousting and dueling with exhibitions taking place during the summer months. The highlight of the year is the magnificent fireworks display that is held on the 14th July for Bastille Day when there is a re-enactment of 'La Cite Ablaze'. The display starts around 10.30p.m ensuring that night has well and truly fallen, providing the best possible back drop for this amazing show of pyrotechnics.

The castle has had it's critics, some will say that the restoration of the castle that took place around the mid 1800's has left the castle looking more like the work of Walt Disney than of the original craftsmen who first worked on the structure.

That opinion is all a matter of perspective however and there is no getting away from the fact that it is a magnificent structure that is likely to last for centuries to come. Had the restoration not taken place then there is a good chance it could already have fallen into irrecoverable ruin.

Beyond the city itself, there are numerous places of interest to visit, many of which relate to the 13th century and the persecution of the Cathars at that time. There are also inland lakes, rivers and mountains; not forgetting the wine regions of Corbieres and Minervoise which are both right on the doorstep of Carcassonne.

Many people base themselves in the centre of Aude so that they can access the Pyrenees Mountains, visit the Mediterranean coastline, follow the Canal du Midi or visit some of the other beautiful cities of the region such as Narbonne and Toulouse. With so much history, architecture and natural beauty in the region it really is a hard place to resist visiting.

Self Catering Holidays in Carcassonne are very popular either in the city itself or in the surrounding area. However to secure accommodation for the very popular months of July and August generally requires that bookings are made early.

Article Source: http://www.a1articles.com/article_1432087_29.html

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Painting Holidays in France

We have recently been able to arrange a very agreeable collaboration with a local professional artist and tutor 'Nicola Blakemore' that allows us to offer art courses here at Le Moulin. Hopefully you will agree that as a former water mill, being over 300 years old and in a beautiful French countryside setting with views of the Pyrenees, not to mention the woodland walks, streams, medieval village and Cathar fortresses just around the corner, Le Moulin is the ideal spot for a relaxing and chilled out painting holiday in France.

Now with the addition of Nicola's talent and experience in running art courses as an established local business, we think we have the perfect combination for a perfect painting holiday.

You can find out more about Nicola on her own website Painting Holidays in France and if you would then like to find out more about the details and cost of the course you can visit our page which is also called Painting Holidays France

In the mean time here are a few more water colour paintings done by some of Nicola's students for you to enjoy, the painting at the top is called 'La Boulangerie' and was painted by Nicola herself.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011


Please note this additional update to the FCO bulletin.

In addition to the chartered plane scheduled to leave Cairo on Thursday 3 February to assist British nationals wishing to leave Egypt, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has decided to charter a second plane scheduled to leave Cairo on Saturday 5 February.
The charter flight leaving Cairo on Thursday evening is now full. British nationals who wish to use the second charter service on Saturday should register with the FCO. Please note that there will be a charge for this service - seats on this flight will cost £300 each. Those already booked on other commercial flights should not cancel their bookings.
To register for a seat on this flight and further instructions please call: +44 (0)207 008 8765 / +20 227 916 000 in Egypt

In light of the ongoing unrest in Egypt the British Government has chartered a plane to supplement commercial capacity.
The plane will depart from Cairo International Airport on Thursday 03 February and there will be a charge of approximately £300 per person.
To register for a seat on this flight and further instructions please call: +44 (0)207 008 8765 / +20 227 916 000 in Egypt

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Photographic Tour - Activity Holidays in France

This is a guest post by Joanne Mathews about photography courses and activity holidays in Languedoc Roussillon. Joanne works closely with David Lloyd a respected professional photographer who in addition to publishing his own work operates under a commission to the Royal Horticultural Society.

Courses can be arranged for guests staying or who would like to stay at Le Moulin on request.

Photography Courses in France

Activity holidays have become something of a 'cause célèbre' in the world of tourism. The increased interest in this specialist form of tourism has resulted in the formation of many new companies - some of them without any relevant experience or particular abilities. As an example, when on a photographic tour, are you to be taught how to take better photographs by a professional photographer or an amateur who may be talented, but who is an untested quantity? A professional photographer, especially one with good tutoring experience, is a God-send in these circumstances.

Escape2France provide photographic tours around the Aude and the UK, some specialising in exploring this, the largest vineyard in the world and taking in different sizes and types of wine producers and chateaux. Another tour takes you around the castles and historic sites of the area - the search for the Holy Grail, if you like, comprising an organised tour around the Da Vinci Code sites, as provided by Dan Brown or the Kate Mosse book, Labrynth. Another day-tour encompasses Carcassonne and Mirepoix, both of which are medieval and stunningly beautiful - and both frequently used as sets for TV series and movies. Famously, they were used extensively in Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves starring Kevin Costner. Carcassonne was also used in The Marvels of Joan of Arc and The Lion in Winter. Any of our tours would show a group of gifted amateur or interested photographers the best "shot" opportunities whilst advising on such subjects as lighting and the best use of your digital camera.

Do, however, establish the level of fitness required for your tour. For some photographic tours, you need to be fit enough to, say, walk over rough terrain whilst carrying all your photographic gear - it has been likened to marine-yomping in the Pyrenees! It takes a certain level of fitness to achieve this - so do establish the needs on each of the tours - we have adapted some to ensure people with less mobility can take part without problem.

David Lloyd, our professional photographer and tutor, has been developing these tours specifically with the Activity Holiday market in mind. David has been a professional photographer for more years than he cares to remember! His experience encompasses beautiful flower photography, commissioned especially by the Royal Horticultural Society, which commission has taken him all over the world. He has published books of his photographs, in Spirit of the Rose (much admired by Alan Titchmarsh, who said never had he seen roses so beautifully photographed); in Spirit of the Forest, which is a series of photographs taken over 25 years living in the Royal Forest of Dean in Gloucestershire. A slightly more gritty series of photographs, Spirit of the Forest includes David's most widely sold and successful photograph, The Beech Tree; and now, David is embarking on Spirit of the Languedoc - a book of photographs displaying the stunning beauty of this region. David has also been responsible for the book covers of many books - please take a look at the following site if you want more information about David's professional career and his photography. David Lloyd Photography

Lastly, do check out our web site Escape2France for further information about workshops and tours in this region plus workshops and weekend breaks in the UK.

As experienced tour providers, Escape2France ensure enough information is provided in advance, confirming fitness levels and equipment required, neither of which can be ignored. For both the South of France and UK tours, we always speak to every participant to ensure they are able to cope BEFORE we take the booking, especially if the tour is likely to be strenuous. Do specify which day tour would interest you.
Escape2France have been providing tours, especially in the UK, for over 10 years. We have loads of experience and David Lloyd is a really good, professional photographic tutor with lecturing experience at an English university and a flair for communicating his subject to the tour members. We are well-organised and ensure good value for money.

We want everyone who comes on our tours to become another of our 3,000 existing, satisfied customers and we will do everything we can to ensure our customer base remains satisfied with our levels of service and abilities.

If you would like to be kept in touch with our tours, both in the South of France and the UK, please go onto our web site and register. It will only take a moment and you will receive a monthly newsletter, details of special offers and lots more.
The price is £455.00 per group of up to 10 people including tutoring, transport and lunch.

Monday, 17 January 2011

A Boulangerie for Issel

When we first moved to Issel back in 2008 we noticed a lot of renovation work going on in the old Boulangerie next to the Mairie's office. Of course with our plans to open a gite we hoped above hopes that this work was going to result in the opening of a proper Boulangerie offering real French bread freshly baked on a daily basis.

We did actually receive a questionnaire at one point asking what products we would like to see on sale in the soon to be opened Boulangerie come general store. We filled in the questionnaire and as requested returned it to the Mairie's office, thinking it can't be too long now before the shop would be open.

That I believe was around the middle of 2009. Well I am sure you have probably anticipated my next statement, it ain't going to happen, as our American friends would put it. We haven't been informed officially but Angela on a recent trip to the hair dressers in the village decided to broach the subject to find out what was happening and whether the long awaited Boulangerie was going to materialise. The answer of course was 'Non', it is now apparently going to be a private house.

Still all is not lost, in the absence of a permanent shop we are going to get not one but three mobile stores. They will park at various locations in the village offering a range of different products. The most exciting one being the provision of different types of bread on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 9.15 onwards and ironically they will be parking in front of the old Boulangerie in the place de la mairie.

There will of course be more than bread on offer from our 3 times a week mobile store, there is also going to be all sorts of pastries which will of course include croissants. This is fantastic for visitors to our gite, they can tick that continental breakfast box now for at least 3 mornings a week without going further than the local village.

On a Tuesday there is also going to be a local epicerie (grocers) available from 9.00 to 9.30a.m. in the same place. It's only a half an hour window but, hey, beggars can't be choosers and I for one would love to see these guys getting enough business to keep them coming back.

The third mobile store is a 'jardin des halles' supplying fruit, vegetables, general groceries and other fresh products. Being slightly larger they can be found at the 'Salle Polyvalente' or village hall as we would call it, every Friday from 8.00 to 9.30a.m.

Of course there is always the fall back options of Daniel's fruit, vegetable and pizza place in Peyrens which is only 5 minutes in the car. He also sells fresh bread and croissants with a selection of wines available which he chooses himself, being quite knowledgeable on the subject and he is open Wednesday to Sunday.

The other fall back option is the Boulangerie in St Papoul which is open Tuesday to Sunday and is also only about 5 minutes in the car. Bottom line if you want fresh bread on a Monday is I am afraid a 10 minute trip into Castelnaudary.

Not that bad really all things considered and with the new mobile services. It would have been so nice to have that local village Boulangerie but I guess, as in the UK, times are a little tough. Progress is progress however and this news is definitely progress.

Friday, 14 January 2011

Join the Fishfight

OK I know this is not really about 'Life in France' but I have long been exasperated by the current fishing policy that sees so many fish caught in the nets that have to be returned to the sea even when they are already dead. It is high time that this ridiculous policy was changed and I am very glad to see a high profile campaign has been started that will hopefully put the required pressure on the relevant governments to provide some common sense solutions to this long standing problem.

If you agree and would like to add your voice to the campaign, now you can using the widget below. There is also a facebook page supporting the cause which is growing at a rate of knots, excuse the pun, which you can also access from the website.

French Theme Zazzle

View more personalized gifts from Zazzle.

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