French Villages

My previous post in this series was Cathar Strongholds.

There are four more villages in this Languedoc-Roussillon region of France that we particularly enjoyed.

Collioure, with its castle, mediaeval streets, and beautiful setting on the Mediterranean, has attracted artists and poets – in the early 1900’s it was a centre for fauvism and such artists as Picasso and Matisse.
The Château Royal de Collioure has a mixed history as a castle, fortress and more recently, a prison during WWII – photo credit to my brother-in-law.

             Next is Continue reading “French Villages”

Cathar Strongholds

My previous post in this series is The Little Yellow Train.

When I posted about Carcassonne I mentioned the Cathars.The term ‘cathars’ stems from the Greek catharos, which means the purified ones.

Wikipedia says: “Cathars, in general, formed an anti-sacerdotal party in opposition to the Catholic Church, protesting against what they perceived to be the moral, spiritual and political corruption of the Church.”

Pope Innocent III called a Crusade against the Cathars of the Languedoc that lasted for two generations. In the Languedoc-Roussillon region there are a number of strongholds where the Cathars fled to escape persecution.

Quéribus is high and isolated on top of the highest peak for miles around. Continue reading “Cathar Strongholds”

The Little Yellow Train

My previous post in this series was Canal du Midi.

Another gem we unearthed during the fun planning and researching phase was The Little Yellow Train.  The rail line was constructed 100 years ago to link remote villages that are stuck in the nooks and crannies of the Pyrenees. It still performs this function today in addition to being a tourist draw for a unique jaunt into these mountains in the south of France. Continue reading “The Little Yellow Train”

The Canal du Midi

My previous post in this series is a photo essay on Carcassonne.

In our planning process we  discovered  photos of the Canal du Midi – so appealing it made our wannasee list.  A drive north along the Mediterranean coast from St-André brought us to Beziers and a ticket office.

The Canal was carved out across the breadth of France, from the Atlantic coast to the Mediterranean Sea.  Its original worth was as a trade link but today you will find pleasure boats leisurely putzing along.

Continue reading “The Canal du Midi”

Carcassonne: A Photo Essay

Last post in this series was Driving the coast road

Carcassonne lies about 120 kms northeast of our home base of St-Andre, south of Perpignan.  Consisting today of La Cité, the oldest part, and the Ville Basse or Lower Town, the history of the site rolls back over two thousand years.

Carcassonne was first identified as being strategically important in 100 BC and was fortified by the Romans. In the 13th century, the Cité was a major Cathar stronghold. Continue reading “Carcassonne: A Photo Essay”

Central France – St. Enemie and other Gems

Previous post – Renting in Europe

So our French home-away-from-home was in the Languedoc-Roussillon region of southern France, snuggled up to the Mediterranean and the Spanish border.  Poor us.  To get there we would have to drive down through central France.

Due to full flights we flew into Charles De Gaulle  on September 28, three days early and recouped in a hotel near the airport in the village of Le Mesnil-Amelot, at the Comfort Inn specifically.  I see today that it is listed as a 2-star … I think it was a 3-star when we booked it.  As I’ve said, we are simple folk and mostly we’ve found that the differences between a 5-star and a 3-star are some smelly lotions in the bathroom, a chocolate on the pillow and, well, location – and that one you want to pay some attention to.

Seeking a one night lay-over hotel in Frankfurt on one of our trips our cabbie asked why we had selected the hotel we did.  Price.  He informed Continue reading “Central France – St. Enemie and other Gems”

Renting in Europe

St-Andre accommodations view from terrace to the Pyrenees

The essence of my previous post is – if you want to have twice the vacation for half the cost, travel with friends.  We have shared six rentals in Europe and there were no surprises – our lodgings were exactly as pictured and described.

I know many are leery of doing business on-line and you only do what you feel comfortable with but we had no problems or hiccups working with either site I mentioned in my last post. These sites offer a wealth of choices in all locations, in all price ranges but your enquiries go directly to the individual hosts and all arrangements and discussions are directly with them.

Some hosts accepted international bank drafts, others preferred pay pal; most requested a 30% deposit on booking.  Check on their refund policy – usually if you give enough notice the deposit will be refunded in case of cancellation.  We did have to cancel one of our bookings and because we only gave less than two weeks notice he was unable to refund.   However, he did provide a letter to submit to our travel insurance, which did reimburse us.

The sites don’t usually give specific addresses so you need to check things out with the host – on one trip we were undecided whether to rent a car or not but in speaking with our host found out that our village was somewhat remote and a car was a necessity.  At another, there was only parking for a mid-sized car, nothing larger.  There was good reason for this as it turned out:   Continue reading “Renting in Europe”

Southern France – 50% Off

“Where are we going this time?”  “We” is my sister and her husband, and me and my husband. “We” all agreed we had made such a great foursome on our first venture together that henceforth it was all for one and one for all. I spoke up and offered an item from my bucket list: in big, black, bold letters at the top – Villa in Southern France.

Southern France – land of breathtaking views, fast cars on the Grand Corniche, palm trees lining the Promenade des Anglais, mediaeval villages atop rocky outcrops, and seaside resort towns backed by the grandeur of the Pyrenees; steeped in Van Gogh and Cezanne, rich with Roman ruins, a patisserie or boulangerie on every corner and free-flowing, palatable French wines.  We agreed on southern France.  Now to find a villa. Continue reading “Southern France – 50% Off”