3 bedroom beautifully restored holiday home between Chalabre and Mirepoix
- English, French
About Carolyn Curr
We love our house in the foothills of the Pyrenees in this beautiful, unspoilt region of the Languedoc, even though it is almost the polar opposite of what we set out to find. It’s not small, it’s not manageable and it was partly derelict, all the things we said we would avoid during the planning stages, many of which took place in the pub in my home town of Workington, Mmmm, maybe that was it. Nick had put in an offer for another house on a recent visit that he had made alone, and so confident was everyone that it would be what I wanted, the vendor had set off from Holland to sign the necessary paperwork. So despite the consternation of the agent having made assumptions about what I would and wouldn’t like despite never having met me (not sure what Nick’s excuse was) we continued our search. Which led us to the house in Sonnac Sur L’Hers, really 2 houses that the previous occupants had begun to knock together, i.e. bash 2 holes in the wall between the ground and first floors. The main house had 6 bedrooms, all in various states of repair, and with potential for at least 4 more in the attics, a brown bathroom suite in a bathroom “big enough to hold a tea dance” according to the agent, and a huge sunny terrace with views across the churchyard, fields and hills. Oh, but what a lovely feel there was. The huge blue shuttered house standing on the ancient village square with its church and beautifully restored stone walls of the Marie - our taxes obviously stretch to proper, authentic, lime render. The church bells chime right outside the bedroom window that Matthew and George shared on one of their many snowboarding trips to the Pyrenees. So no sleeping past 8am although thankfully they don’t ring through the night. We have stayed in some of the most remote, picturesque villages in the south of France and returned home shattered, each night’s sleep ruined by the incessant tolling of church bells.
Carolyn Curr purchased this Cottage in 2006
Why Carolyn Curr chose Sonnac-sur-l'Hers
The purchase was fairly smooth and the house was ours within 3 months, although where the log burning stove was that would keep us warm during the cold winter nights of the Aude, was a black hole. There was a cat in the secret garden, which didn’t concern me at all, and a bat in the corner of the mezzanine room which concerned me a great deal. (We left the door open taking a chance that it would fly out rather than all its mates fly in). Our first few days in the house were spent in a daze, wondering what on earth had possessed us. The house we discovered had been 3 houses in the more pragmatic days of the 1700s. There was evidence of 3 front doors and 2 staircases remain, lovely winding oak stairs from the main sitting room all the way into the attic (derelict) and a spiral staircase tucked away in the back of the kitchen. The third probably crumbled away sometime in the 19th century. So, completely overwhelmed, we spent the week drinking wine then set off to catch our flight home.
What makes this Cottage unique
It's a beautiful region in southern France, fields stuffed with sunflowers, grapes ripening on the vine, the sun mellowing the ancient stone of ruined chateaux that stand on rocky outcrops, testament to past conflicts of Languedoc. We had an early start from Sonnac sur l'Hers following the old railway line through Camon, a plus beaux village de France, onto Mirepoix and Fanjeaux, all key strategic towns during medieval times and the crusade against the Cathars. Quiet roads, twisty cols (if you want them in this heat) and wide valley floors that sweep through vineyards and ancient towns and villages, make cycling Languedoc joyous. I was grateful for the old French law decreeing its people should always have free access to drinking water as I replenished my water bottle (and dunked my face and arms) in the centuries old lavage (communal washing facilities in a bygone age) in a tiny village by the roadside.
30% deposit payable on booking, balance payable 1 month in advance, thank you
100% refund for cancellations more than 60 days before check-in date.
A quiet village setting
The house was perfectly located to visit many different sites. We enjoyed a peaceful week in this rural village, where the locals were all very friendly. The house contained all the facilities we needed, the beds were very comfortable and there was plenty of space for our family of five. A car is essential to enable you to visit the picturesque neighboring villages, and of course the fabulous Carcassone.
Dear Christine, thank you for taking the time to review the cottage, I'm delighted you had such a lovely time. Kind regards Carolyn
Country gite is great
You definitely need a car as it’s a small, lovely village of very friendly people.
Hi Kathy, I'm delighted you had such a lovely time in our little corner of France.
Wonderful holiday in a beautiful place
We had a lovely holiday in this area which is a little bit off the beaten track in southern France. The cottage is beautifully done, it's pretty old yet the modern fittings make it very comfortable while still retaining all the gorgeous old French character. The square is a lovely place to sit, we spent a lot of time just relaxing, reading and drinking wine, it was so nice being around the house we really had to force ourselves to do anything. We managed to hire bikes for a few days, it's a great way to explore the countryside and the neighbouring towns and villages. You can avoid the roads by using the old railway lines that crisscross the region. Mirepoix market is highly recommended and the choice of restaurants there is superb around the medieval centre. We loved everything about our holiday here.
A wonderful place
We stayed here for a week at the end of September and had a truly wonderful time. The house sits on the pretty little village square and has been beautifully transformed from the piggery it once was into a comfortable, stylish home from home. We enjoyed everything about our stay, the warm welcome, the complimentary wine and home made jam, delicious dinners at the B&B next door - even though we were self catering it's nice not to cook every night on holiday. We walked and cycled from the door, you can step out into wild flower meadows, forests and hills; we biked around the lake - mountain bikes are required, they can be hired locally at very reasonable rates, and one of the many highlights was a trip to the prehistoric cave paintings at Niaux, about an hour away, the only place left in Europe according to our guide, where you can look at the original paintings rather than replicas. A day out in the ancient walled city of Carcassonne is also a must, after a bit of boutique shopping, we enjoyed a long, lazy lunch in a lovely cobbled square.
I would not hesitate to recommend Chez Maison Bleue to anyone looking to experience the "real" France who enjoys the countryside, culture, history, and something just a bit different. We have already booked to go again.
Thank you, we are so glad you enjoyed your stay and especially the lovely evenings on the square and dinner by candlelight. We look forward to seeing you in May! Carolyn & Nick
I knew I wanted to return to this area in southern France and couldn't have picked a better "home away from home". I rented the Gite for 3 weeks and ended up staying a month. Cozy and comfortable with a nice blend of antiques and Ikea and my own personal fig tree! The bathtub was divine with a few of the village square. The pictures are very accurate on the website.
I loved the ambience and charm of the small village, with the tinkle of cow bells and you are within a short distance of castles and wineries by car and bike. Just watch those French drivers on country roads! The open market on Mondays in Mirepoix is the best way to shop and only 20 minutes away. Carolyn and Nick were the kindest and very respectful hosts, very responsive by email and always willing to help me bumble through a French translation or share a glass of wine on the terrace! Just a totally joyous experience and I shall return! You won't be disappointed by your visit.
Tammie, thank you for your kind words, we are glad you were able to spend 4 weeks exploring Cathar country and the medieval towns & villages that surround Chez Maison Bleue. And very glad your journey from Canada was an easy one because of our close proximity to Toulouse airport. Until the next time!
A relaxing holiday in a wonderful setting
We stayed for a week in the holiday cottage at the beginning of September. Carolyn and Nick are wonderful hosts with nothing being too much trouble from providing directions from Toulouse airport to 'lending' us a bottle of wine when we had ran out. The cottage is beautiful and could comfortably accomodate up to six people, it is tastefully decorated in a seamless style of country style French and English. We dined at the B&B on three occasions during our stay and thoroughly enjoyed the hospitality as well as Nick's cooking. I would not hesitate to recommend this to others and wiil certainly be returning in the near future
Hi Julie, thank you for your review, we are delighted you enjoyed your stay in this still undiscovered region of the south of France. Look forward to seeing you again, perhaps for one of our Winter Gourmet Treats? Carolyn & Nick
18th century holiday cottage on the village square south of Carcassonne. A few minutes drive from beautiful medieval Mirepoix. Easy access Carcassonne and Toulouse airports, Perpignan, Montpellier, Beziers & Barcelona just a bit further.
Get closer to nature in unspoilt region of Languedoc; walking, cycling, mountain biking, bird watching, river and lake swimming, horse riding and fishing. We are cyclist friendly, bike hire is available locally. Explore the nearby Cathar towns of Mirepoix, Puivert, Montsegur and Fanjeaux. Our nearest town is Chalabre at 3kms for a fabulous bakery and chocolatier, bars and restaurants. There is lot more information about the house and the area on my website, Chez Maison Bleue.
Other Activities: canoeing, white water rafting, wine domaines, Cathar history and legends, horse riding and karting.
Ski: The French Pyrenees are a stunningly beautiful range of mountains and completely underrated for winter sports. Whilst you don’t have the range and sophistication of the Alps, neither do you have the prices or the queues. An adult daily pass at Les Monts d’Olmes (45km) is around 30 euros and for a family, 80 euros.
Les Monts D’Olmes (1500-2000 metres) offers family orientated skiing in the stunning Massif de Tabe region of the Pyrenees and has 23 runs, a snowboard park and ski school. Ax Les Thermes (1400 – 2300 metres) is about an hour away and is the largest ski resort in the Pyrenees. This lively resort offers 29 runs covering 80kms and includes some beautiful forest lined slopes. Daily adult pass is around 30 euros.
Cross-country skiing 40kms.