Stunning self catering cottage set in a hamlet situated a 30 minute drive north of the medieval town of Carcassonne, with its quaint narrow cobbled streets, open air market and magnificent walled citadel. Carcassonne has two UNESCO world heritage sites, La Cite and the Canal du Midi. They are both must see tourist attractions. The cottage is romantically named La Boheme and comfortably sleeps up to six people. It has three bedrooms, two doubles and one twin, fully equipped kitchen, dishwasher, washing machine and tumble dryer, and full bath/shower room. The spacious lounge/dining area has a high beamed ceiling and fireplace with a wood burning stove. The shaded terrace area with table and seating for six people gives fantastic views down the valley towards the Pyrenees. The extensive gardens are planted with local plant species for you to enjoy. The cottage is an hour and a half drive from the Mediterranean and you will find nearby mountain lakes available for safe swimming.
Take the perfect English country cottage and put it down in one of the most beautiful spots in France profonde and there you have La Boheme.
The winding lane through the beech forest, to the hamlet of Lacoste brings you into the parking place which belongs to La Boheme. Walk around the house, along to the terrace where you can admire the lawned garden with its trees and shrubs and the view to the south over field, forest and plain to Canigou, the highest peak in the Pyrenees, which always has a smudge of snow on its peak. The sunny terrace is big enough to take a large table seating eight plus people. In summer, spring and early autumn this is where most of the meals are served.
Step up three well worn stone steps to the sturdy front door and enter the homely L shaped kitchen which has the original stone sink. The floor is tiled and there are kitchen units, a table and a large cast-iron wood burning stove. In winter this is fuelled by wood gathered from the three parcels of forest belonging to the house. The turn of the L houses a dresser, and at the bottom of the stairs is one of the fascinating original features of La Boheme, a stone bowl, for all the world like a baptismal font. Off the kitchen is a double bedroom which enjoys the same south view as the terrace. The bathroom is also on this floor.
Upstairs is the large beamed living room with a big wood burning stove set neatly into a stone chimney. The floor is pale gold parquet and there are cunningly arranged alcoves in the stone walls. The two windows overlook the view. One of the unusual features of this room is the gleaming steel chimney pipe which comes from downstairs, crosses the ceiling and enters the chimneypiece above the living room stove, which adds a touch of modernism to the otherwise traditional room. It also acts as central heating and keep the house toasty warm in winter.
Two double bedrooms lead out of the living room, one with views to the south and the other with a window looking into the beech forest at the back of the house.
The back door leads to a spacious porch which houses La Boheme's original bread oven. Although there are sheltered wood stores around the exterior of the house, the porch also has ample room for a supply of logs.
There isn't a thing out of place in this enchanting house in its magical setting.
Whatever the season and whichever route you take to Lacoste - where La Boheme is one of just seven houses, of which five are holiday homes, forming this tiny hamlet - the 25 kilometre drive from Carcassonne is a delight.
Springtime fills the Gorge d'Orbiel with wild flowers. Stop and gather a bouquet of cowslips and, like me, you may be able to time travel back to the days when you picked great bunches of cowslips for your grandmother's cowslip wine. Summer brings great heat and walks in the dappled shade of the beech forest encircling the hamlet, and meals on the terrace.
In autumn the climb from Carcassonne, criss-crossing the bridges over the busy river Orbiel, travels between groves of orange leafed sweet chestnut trees, silver green olives and dark green chene verts, but as one climbs higher the beech trees take over, with their stateley grey trunks and and leaves like golden coins.
In winter we get occasional snow but Lacoste is close to the main Carcassonne - Mazamet route, which is always cleared to make way for school buses. It is in this season that the amazing rock formations in the Gorge d'Orbiel come into spectacular view. Winter sculpts daggers of ice, and in the sunshine the forest glitters.
The whole of the Montagne Noire is scribbled with footpaths, used by the conquering Romans, later by farmers for the transhumance, when huge flocks of sheep were taken to lower ground for the winter, and in more recent history by the Resistants of the Second World War, who were highly active in this region.
Equipped with guide books, available from the local tourist offices, there are walks which start from the very door step of La Boheme.
How to get to La Boheme:
Ryanair flies from Liverpool, Stansted, Luton, East Midlands and Dublin to Carcassonne. During summer they also fly from other UK airports. Those living in Scotland can take Easy Jet to Stansted and Ryanair from Stansted during the winter months. There are also flights from Edinburgh and Manchester to Toulouse. The shuttle bus from Toulouse, Blagnac Airport, stops at Matabiau, the main station in Toulouse from which there are regular daily trains to Carcassonne.