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Review 208: Owner, St Laurent de Cabrierese - Medieval Suite (#3044)


Review by Shelley from WA

apartments in St Laurent de Cabrierese, Languedoc-Roussillon


September 2001


This is an apartment in the south of France. It is located in the village of St Laurent de la Cabrierese, between Narbonne and Carcassonne. The village is small, but it has a tiny grocery store, a bread store, a post office, bank, bar and since it is in the wine country, a cooperative where wine is pressed and sold. The village itself is not particularly picturesque or charming. However, the surrounding countryside is lovely, with vineyards everywhere. There are some very nice walks from the village through the vineyards and up into the surrounding hills.

We really loved the location, even though the village itself was nothing special. We were within driving range for daytrips to a host of sites, and always through spectacular countryside. As mentioned, Narbonne and Carcassone are nearby, as well as the Mediterranean and many beaches. From this location, you are also within a couple of hours of Spain, and even if you donít choose to drive that far, there are some spectacular drives near the Pyrennees. Donít miss the Midi Canal, which dates back hundreds of years and joins two rivers, one flowing into the Atlantic, the other into the Mediteranean. It is filled with live-aboard boats and relaxed-looking vacationers, village hopping along its route. Get the Michelin map book for France for navigating the small backroads.

There are markets in the surrounding villages on different days of the week, and a big one in Narbonne once a week. There is a good-sized grocery store in Lezignan which is just a few minutes from St Laurent. There are two of "the most beautiful villages in France" not far away, one just a few minutes away. This one is called LaGrasse, and it is charming, and has several very nice restaurants. (One of the restaurants is named after a squash of some sort and has a potato dish that is wonderful!) The other is Minerve, and it is in a gorge, carved into the hills, and is very picturesque.

Linda and Gordon are charming hosts and went out of their way to make sure we were comfortable, and had whatever information we needed to get around and see the sites. Linda has put together a book of local sights, restaurants and things to do that is very helpful. An added bonus for english-speakers, they are from Great Britain.

The apartment we were in was the smallest in the building, which is a very, very old house (the original building dates to the 1500ís) that they purchased around 2 years ago, and which they have renovated. They live in the two upper floors some months each year, and rent out the two lower floors, as well as the whole house in different configurations according to the needs of their guests and the timing. They also own an apartment on the Mediteranean in nearby Gruisan.

The apartment we were in is on the ground floor. There is a modern bathroom with shower, a modest kitchen with a tiny table and chairs, and a bed/sitting room with a double bed and a futon sofa. Furnishings are modern, and adequate. The kitchen is usable for preparing simple meals, but I wouldnít attempt anything more in it. However, we were invited to use the upper kitchen if we wanted to do anything more ambitious. The apartment is comfortable for two people, but as a base of operations, not someplace to spend full days.

On our first evening, we were invited up to the terrace on the roof for a glass of wine and to meet the other guests. The view from the roof is wonderful. It overlooks the village and the surrounding vineyards and hills. We were offered access to the roof whenever we wanted to use it, but we did feel a bit shy about taking advantage of this. There is also a washing machine in Linda and Gordonís part of the house which we were welcome to use.

The second floor apartment is larger, has an additional bedroom, a sitting room, bigger bathroom and kitchen, as well as a balcony in the front and a small terrace in the back. While we were there, there was a couple there with a small child, but two couples could stay there comfortably as well.

We were there two weeks, mid-September, and the weather was warm throughout, though it did rain one night. This part of France gets hot during the summer months, but you are very close to Mediterranean beaches. We were here during the grape harvest, and the tractors were hauling grapes in from the fields from early morning until dark. This can get pretty noisy if you are a late sleeper, but the wonderful smell of the grape pressing was the other side of that coin.

All in all, we loved this part of France, and if you are feeling shell-shocked about landing in a foreign country and trying to get your bearings, this was a comfortable way to get oriented. Linda and Gordon are extremely accommodating and a lot of fun. I think the second floor apartment would be more comfortable if you plan to spend time at home, but we found so much to see that that was never a temptation.

This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.

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