Explore historic villages from our B&B in Languedoc

Minerve village, the jewel in the crown of Cathar History is just 15 minutes from La Souqueto B&B in the Languedoc! The road from our village winds slowly up the valley following the river Cesse through Bize, Argel and Aigues-Vives. The rivers gentle edges become sharp and defined by gorges as one reaches the stunning village of La Caunette. In the summer the river disappears underground and provides a perfect place for a walk up valley to Minerve.

Minerve was built in the 10th Century and is strategically well placed. It is perched over two gorges where the rivers Bryan and Cesse meet.  It’s historical significance is reflected by the fact that the Minervois wine region took its name from the village. It was well protected with double surrounding walls and overhanging ledges but this was not enough to protect the inhabitants of the village from a massacre inflicted by Simon de Montfort during the crusades against the Cathars in France in 1210. Viscount Guilhem of Minerve knew that the 200 men in his garrison could not resist the onslaught. Simon de Montfort laid siege…Four catapults were set up around the village, -three towards the city gates and the fourth – the largest named “Malevoisine” to destroy a well called St Rustique, the villages main waters source. As the walls caved in the Viscount negotiated the town’s surrender. He saved the villagers and his self, but 140 Parfaits who had taken refuge, were burnt at the stake, because they refused to deny their faith. The burning of parfaits was the first in the crusade, a terrible act that was to be repeated for another 34 years until the fall of Montsegur.

Minerve, with its cobblestone lanes and flowery window boxes, is charming.Visitors are welcome to climb the narrow winding streets that lead past shops with pottery, antiques, and wines. This is the place to taste the excellent Minervois wines.  These Languedoc wines, mostly reds, are well-structured, becoming silky with age.  The white wines, also appealing, are dry, and the rosés fruity.

You can walk from the village down a path to the bottom of the gorge and, when the riverbed is dry, explore the huge tunnels, caverns and natural bridges that the Cesse has carved through limestone. There’s a tourist office that carries maps, guidebooks, cards, and information; a paleontology museum with spearpoints, potshards and 600 million-year-old fossils; and an intriguing museum that shows the history of the area. Its little figurines are set in historic scenes, including the Cathars’ struggle. A good bookstore, Paroli, sells new and used books, has an art gallery, and serves coffee, as well.

One of the finest restaurants in the Languedoc is based in Minerve. It’s called Relais Chantovent. It has a dynamic canter leaver terrace over the gorge. It is a Michelin 1star restaurant but it’s stunning three course menu starts at just €23. A must!

Our B&B accommodation south of france loves the Relais Chantovent.

The incredible stone church is a must see. It remains locked but one must go to the paleontology museum around the corner to open it. There is nothing grand or ornate in this simple 11th-century church, but in it stand two Roman altars, one claimed to be the oldest in Europe.  It’s a marble rectangle with Latin markings. Near the church is a memorial to the Cathars, a dove carved into a standing stone. Another reminder of old battles is the single slim tower at the top of the town. It is all that’s left of early defences. This and many wonderful villages and towns are within a short distance away from La Souqueto B&B in the Languedoc.

A new name for the Languedoc region.

 

Languedoc has a new name! Use La Souqueto b&b Occitanie to explore it!

The regions of Languedoc-Roussillon and the Midi-Pyrenees have merged to form the larger administrative region of OCCITANIE. The new name was selected after a public poll, being the popular choice of almost a quarter of the voters.

The region of Occitania which dates back to the Middle Ages  covers the lower third of France, where Occitan, a Romance language derived from Latin, is spoken (hence Languedoc). The new Occitanie correspondents with that historical territory of Occitania. La Souqueto b&b in occitanie is the perfect place to explore this wonderful region.

Toulouse, the 4th largest city in France, is now the regions new capital. – and has much to be proud of – a fabulous Mediterranean coastline, the Pyrenees mountain range, vineyards (three times the size of Burgundy) with a reputation to match, the first ‘Bio’ (organic) region, an enviable aerospace industry, 35 universities and tertiary colleges, 8 UNESCO world heritage classified sites, a buoyant tourist industry including La Souqueto b&b Occitanie and of course, world class Rugby.

Toulouse International airport is just over an hour from La Souqueto b&b occitanie but there is 4 other Airports serving the region, Carcassonne (40 mins from La Souqueto B&B), Beziers (30 mins) Montpeliers (1 hour) & Perpignan (1 hour).

Increased interest in this region has brought considerable investment. Narbonne, relatively unknown in relation to other cities near The Med now looks stunning. A promenade along the Canal du Midi (which runs directly through the City) with underground car parking was completed a few years ago and Sir Norman Foster, Architect has been commissioned to design a prestigious Roman Museum along the banks of the Canal.

All aboard for a Canal du Midi cruise!

Combine your stay at La Souqueto B&B with a Canal du Midi cruise!

Over the last year we have responded to our guests requests by extending the services of our boat Bella Mia from short day trips to piloted ‘stay overs’. Combining a stay at La Souqueto B&B with an extended two or three day canal du midi cruise is a unique service that has been really well received. We also offer trips to various restaurants along the canal du midi for lunch and return or evening meal and stay over-return the following day.

In April our son Josh and I took a cruise to Agde on The Med for the boats annual maintenance and hull painting. We used this seven day return trip as a reccee for future canal du midi cruises that we could offer our guests. I thought that it would be interesting to show a selection of pics taken in sequence as we toured the southern stretches of the canal.

We left Porte La Robine where Bella Mia is moored on a beautiful early April morning and headed towards Beziers. This would take up to 6 hours passing through Argeliers, Capestang, Poiles and Colombiers. Our plan was to reach the impressive six locks called Ecluses Fonseranes by early evening where we would moor up for the night. We encountered stunning scenery, impressive landmarks and very pretty villages during our first day. We saw only one boat in the first three hours but we were not alone: Kingfishers escorted us throughout the day!

We were intrigued by the barges moored along the canal where hardcore boaties lived throughout the year. Some were beautifully restored others waiting for a lick of paint. Communities made up of artists,sculptors and writers, retired couples and young families…fascinating.

Early the following morning we took the famous Fonserannes staircase locks. They consist of 8 chambers now operated by a lock keeper. It’s hard to believe that these locks were originally built in the 1700′s and they are the third most popular tourist destination in Languedoc. We were at the front of the queue and shared the lock with three other boats all enjoying a canal du midi cruise. It took us half an hour to descend the staircase. Great fun!

We traveled in convoy with our new found friends for a few hours before heading off into the sunset along the stretch of canal with a stunning nature reserve surrounding us. We reached the round lock at Argde just as it was closing, so we moored up there for the night. The following morning we left the canal to join the Herault river and head down to the Allemand boat yard. What an adventure!!

Year round house rental in Languedoc

Guests staying at La Souqueto during the spring bought this beautiful house in neighbouring village, Bize Minervois. They kindly asked Mel and I to manage the rental of their house rental in Languedoc.

Belle Bize is a large 18th century classic French town house situated in a prominent position within this beautiful village in the Languedoc, South of France.

It has been completely restored including a new kitchen and bathrooms during 2016 and now offers a beautifully appointed three bedroomed house rental in Languedoc for up to 6 people.

Belle Bize looks directly over the river Cesse and its lake where locals swim in the crystal clear waters and sunbathe on the shingle beaches.

The terrace in front of the house with table and chairs provides a unique view over the river and the village. Doors from the terrace lead directly into the kitchen and lounge offering a very useful space for enjoying the warm summer evenings.

The house is within a minutes walk of the local shop, bar and three restaurants! Fresh bread and croissants can also be bought from the local bakery a five minute walk away.

There is parking for two cars to the side of the property as well as a barn for safe storage of bikes/ motorbikes and sports equipment.

Ground floor:

Dining room, kitchen, living room and entrance hall. The dining room with a table and 6, has 2 windows and lets the morning sun come in. The new kitchen is superbly fitted. The living room has a very well working fireplace, comfortable seating and flat screen TV.

First floor:

Three bedrooms (one with en-suite bathroom with a large shower, washbasin, bidet, WC), one further separate bathroom (shower, washbasin), separate WC, corridor with reading corner. Each room has a built in wardrobe, vanity, comfortable seating and bedside tables.

Washing machine and tumble dryer are available as well as ironing board and iron.

The owner of the house sometimes uses the self-contained apartment on the second floor for holidays. Sometimes this apartment is also for rent. There is a common entrance and stairway.

Prices: €500 to €990 per week (excluding cleaning/laundry)

 

A year to remember at our b&b in the Languedoc

It’s hard to believe that our third season at La Souqueto, our b&b in the Languedoc, is coming to an end. It’s mid November and we are still receiving guests but will close for December through to March so we can start preparing for the 2017 season.

Last Winter Melanie and I spent 8 weeks in the Alpes running separate Chalets in Courcheval. Apart from needing to top up funds through the Winter period we wanted to hone our skills in 5 star guest management. We had no idea that we would be running Chalets that cost guests €200,000+ a week! It was an incredible experience and we learnt a lot but we prefer the profile of guests that we receive in our b&b in the languedoc.

Thanks to the Worldwide Web our b&b in the languedoc, tucked away on the ramparts of a sleepy Medieval village has attracted many nationalities. We love the conversations that are formed by our collective guests at breakfast time.

And, we have made genuine friends who like to return each year to continue to explore this wonderful region. There is nothing better than to prepare an evening meal together and chat over a bottle of ‘Petit Piere’!

 

Here’s just a sample of the faces of 2016. Wonderful memories!!

Most of our guests arrive by car rented from one of the 4 airports that serve this region. Our villages FREE car park is very handy and adjacent to the little alleyway leading to our B&B. We have also received many cyclists who tour the Canal du Midi. The oldest couple who were cycling the whole length of the Midi were in their late 80′s! Respect!!

As an extension to the services we provide at our b&b in the languedoc we rent our boat Bella Mia as a mini gites (moored to the bank) on the Canal du Midi. It can accommodate a family of four but it’s perfect for a couple who are looking to experience Canal life. We offer bespoke boat trips too. One of our favourite cruises is taking guests by boat to restaurants along the Canal. Very romantic!

 

Walking from La Souqueto B&B in Languedoc

La Souqueto B&B in Languedoc makes a great base to explore the numerous trails and walks in this beautiful region of France.

Mel and I spend a lot of time exploring and continue to find great places to walk. We started travelling far up into the hills until we realised that actually we had numerous walks all around us. This walk starts a mile or so above Minerve and leads down hill to the most stunning river that passes eventually through Minerve itself. The views from the start of the walk stretch far across the plain to the Pyrenees, Carcassonne and even to the coast. We highly recommend that guests make a picnic in our kitchen before heading off. We eat ours on the flat rocks alongside the “gin clear” waters of the river Bryan.

The wild flowers are so beautiful and yet strangely they look as though someone has spent a considerable amount time and effort planning their landscaping! It takes about half an hour to reach the river but we found ourselves stopping every few yards to explore the plants and flowers. Once down at river one has a choice to head either up stream to a stunning bridge and natural pool with waterfall or down stream to Minerve itself. In April we were swimming in the river and sunbathing on the rocks and before we knew it the day had gone.

Feel free to contact us to help you organise a ‘walking tour’ from our B&B in Languedoc. We welcome groups and our B&B in Languedoc can accommodate up to 10 people. We will be happy to share the routes we have found and enjoyed and to make your stay as enjoyable and stress free as possible we can arrange transport, wine tasting, boat trips and bookings for restaurants.

La Souqueto B&B Languedoc. Explore the wines of La Clape

La Souqueto B&B is ideally situated for lovers of wine to explore the many and varied vineyards of the Minervois region.

 

In May the Grand Narbonne Tourist Information, in association with a variety of tourist based organisations and vineyards arrange the most fantastic vineyard walk in La Clape, an important wine growing area near Gruissan, Languedoc.

Each year the walk is changed within the La Clape area to incorporate new vineyards. The walk itself is fantastic but when you include various culinary delights and truly fantastic wines, it makes the perfect day out.

For €60 per head walkers and wine buffs can take the whole day to wander through various connected vineyards in this coastal area near Gruissan. Every hour or so along the way walkers can stop and taste a variety of wines with food prepared to show the wines off to their full  potential. During the course of the day you can eat up to 6 Courses and taste many varieties of local wines, Red, White and Rose.

 

From Oysters to Frois Grois, moules and pigeon, cheese, desert and coffee and at the end of the day the chance to buy the wines that you selected along the way!

La Souqueto B&B Languedoc can accommodate up to 10 people. Why not organise a long weekend in this beautiful region of France with friends and family. We can organise tickets and transport for you. Book early as tickets go very quickly!

 

 

Explore beaches from our B&B South of France

Leucate beach

Leucate beach

Beaches in Languedoc are sandier than in pebbly Provence and loved by swimmers, watersports enthusiasts and families. La Souqueto B&B South of France is the perfect place from where to explore a vast range of beaches.

Currently, 94 of Languedoc’s beaches have been awarded the international eco-label, ‘The Blue Flag’, for water quality, safety and cleanliness, so you can just relax and the only thing you need to worry about is putting on the suntan lotion.

You will be spoilt for choice here as Languedoc-Roussillon takes up half of France’s Mediterranean coast with 177km (110 miles) of coastline and acres of beaches to choose from -including some of the most beautiful beaches in the south of France.

The charming seaside town of Leucate has two beaches and some great restaurants. La Franqui beach has the sea on one side and the etang (inland lake) on the other.

Collioure is a charming coastal town full of bars, restaurants and boutiques. Around it there are three beaches with spectacular views of the Mediterranean and the Pyrennees.

If you are looking for a beach that is a little less crowded in the height of the season, then Gruissan Plage with its wide, flat beach will offer plenty of space for you to stretch out. You can also hire wind surfing equipment from the port.

At Port Vendres you will find a lovely beach with dunes and nature all around. There are no crowds here and it is a great place to swim with a lifeguard watching over you (in July and August). There are also lovely little coves between the rocks and places to eat or hire equipment close by.

Last but not least, another beach worth mentioning is Argelès-sur-Mer; a 7km sandy beach about 20 minutes from Perpignan which has become one of the major Mediterranean beach resorts, and boasts a large harbour area. The north end is beautiful with views of the Pyrénées and bordered by pine trees, at the other end it is more commercial with plenty of facilities for the children.

 

Combine Canal du Midi accommodation with touring on electric bikes

Vince from Mellow Velos, Paraza

Vince from Mellow Velos, Paraza

 

La Souqueto B&B, canal du midi accommodation, is perfectly placed for guests who want to explore the southern stretches of the Canal du Midi. What better way is there to view the wonderful villages (and restaurants) situated along the Canal than by cycling along its tow path?

We have been recommending a bike hire company in Paraza to our guests for sometime. Mellow Velos is based a few minutes from La Souqueto B&B in a village called Paraza.

Vince mentioned in passing that he had taken delivery of the latest electric bikes…the notion of having a little help whilst cycling appealed to Melanie and Me. On Wednesday morning we arrived early at Mellow Velos HQ to test drive the bikes. After a couple of minutes instruction in the yard we headed off down the hill to meet the tow path.

The bikes are incredibly easy to ride and require very little peddling effort to maintain good speed. There are three speeds Eco, Sport & Power and the electric motor responds to shifting gears too. All one has to do is gently peddle and depending on your gear and setting the motor makes light work of your touring. When fully charged the bike will give you over 100 kilometers.

Within a few minutes we were ‘cruising’ down the tow path passing Roubia, and various lock keepers houses and fast approaching Argens Minervois where we knew that there was a restaurant!

We were both very impressed with the electric bikes provided by Mellow Velos.

We are sure that Electric bikes are going to transform the ‘cycling experience’ and will open up silent, no hassle touring for a wide range of age groups. http://mellowvelos.com/hire/en/

A B&B in the Languedoc for all seasons of the year!

The Languedoc boasts over 300 days of sunshine a year. Spring and summer months are stunning but this October and November has been so wonderful here in our part of the Aude. The Autumn colours have been just so vivid and with temperatures reaching the high 20′s our guests have taken advantage of the clement weather to walk and cycle and witness first hand the vibrant winter colours! We have even been able to continue to run day cruises on our boat Bella Mia on the Canal du Midi!

We  continue to explore the wonderful black mountains and the foot hills that surround us and have found some of the most beautiful walks and bridal paths within close proximity to our B&B in the Languedoc.