Vacation rentals in France (farms, cottages, gites, apartments)
Review 2100: Mode d'Artiste, Apartment
1bed/1bath apartment, in Couiza, Languedoc-Roussillon
Late March 2005, 5 nights
An apartment in the center of the small town of Couiza in the Languedoc. Although Couiza has no major attractions and not a whole lot of charm, it is very well located for day trips by car to such attractions as Carcassonne, the Pyrenees, the Cathar castles, and Collioure on the Mediterranean.
Good patisserie and small grocery just up the street. I donít think there are any really good restaurants in Couiza, but nearby Limoux has quite a few. We would usually eat a good lunch on day trips, and then just have something light at home, or pick up a pizza (very yummy!) from the patisserie. There is a tourist office and pharmacy across the street, and a medical center a couple of blocks away. (We used all of them and were glad they were there!) There are also larger discount-type stores (Intermarchť) not far away on either side of Couiza.
We stayed in the ground floor apartment of the gite, which has one apartment on each of three floors. It is on the main street of Couiza, which is a fairly small town, so even though the main road runs right in front, the traffic wasnít bad, and the bedroom is in the back, so we were not bothered by noise. The owners are a young British couple, who were very pleasant and accommodating. It was a bit chilly in March, and the heat (from individually controlled radiators) worked fine when we needed it.
No garden, but the living room opens onto a nice terrace by the river. The terrace is supposed to be shared among all three apartments, but even though there was a couple on the floor above us (the top floor was vacant), we never saw them and had the terrace to ourselves.
The apartment is not luxurious, but it is very comfortable, and we felt it was quite a good value. The photos on the web site (which is excellent, and very informative) are accurate representations of the rooms, although the outdoor shots perhaps convey a more rustic feeling than the actuality. I found it perfectly clean, and well supplied.
There is no TV (not a problem for me, since I rarely watch it) but there is a high speed Internet connection, and a computer for use of the guests. We did not use their computer, since we had our own laptop and were able to plug in to the Ethernet connection. No telephone, but with the Internet connection we were able to use Skype for staying in touch.
The bed was comfortable, the bedroom was dark, which was okay since we only used it for sleeping, and there was plenty of light in the living room. Not much in the way of closets but the bedroom was big enough that it wasnít a problem just to live out of our suitcases. The toilet was in one room, and the shower/bath/sink in another. Everything worked fine, and we liked having a stand-up shower with a curtain (not always the case in French rentals).
I guess the sofa in the living room could also be used for sleeping, but I don't think I'd recommend it.
The living room opened to the kitchen area; no dining table, but a breakfast bar dividing the two areas. There is a washing machine (no dryer) and a 4-burner stove with oven (no microwave). There were plenty of dishes and cooking utensils for the small amount of cooking we did.
Problems or Bonuses
The only problem we had was that the prior guests had broken the latch to the door on the washing machine, but the top floor apartment was vacant, so the owners gave us the key to that apartment as well, so that we could go up there to use the machine. We did eventually figure out how to finagle the door on our machine though. Otherwise, everything was pretty much as it had been described.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
Martin and Allie, who own the gite, were quite helpful and pleasant and very responsive via email. They provided excellent information and maps for accessing the gite. They asked for the full rental fee up front, but accepted PayPal payment, which made it pretty easy online. We felt the off-season rate of 30 euro a night (we stayed 5 nights) was very reasonable. There was an extra 10-euro fee for towels (total fee, not per night), of which there were plenty. I should note that the gite is for sale, as the owners want to pursue other interests, so there may be some other representatives to deal with in the future, if it remains a rental property. We only saw them the day we arrived, as they live in a nearby town, but they are accessible by phone or email if necessary.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
I donít think it would work well for a family, as itís right on a main street without any good outdoor space for kids. For us as a couple it was a very good base for day trips throughout the southern Languedoc region, being quite centrally located and in a town with all the necessary amenities nearby. We especially liked the computer access. So I would recommend it for a couple who wants reasonably priced accommodations in this area and don't mind being located on a main street.
Things to do in this area
The most fun thing for us was the Fecos carnival in Limoux, the next town up the road (see Limoux). That only happens from January to Easter, though. I donít think there are many attractions right in Couiza, but the town of Rennes le Chateau just up the hill is part of the whole Da Vinci Code mystique, and there are lots of good day trips in the nearby areas. The giteís web site lists many possibilities, so just look there to get an idea.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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