Vacation rentals in France (farms, cottages, gites, apartments)
Review 4735: House la France, The Terrace Apartment and The River and Ramparts Apartment
apartments in Lagrasse, Languedoc-Roussillon
June 2010 and June 2009, one week each June
Our rental, House la France, offers two apartments in the beautiful medieval village of Lagrasse, about 40 minutes from Carcassonne. The Benedictine abbey in Lagrasse was founded in 799 and sits across the river.
My husband and I, along with our two teen-aged daughters, stayed in the large three-bedroom upstairs apartment for a week in June 2009. I returned with a friend the following June and stayed in the ground floor, one-bedroom apartment.
We have stayed in quite a few rentals in France, some of them Slow Travel recommendations, and this is our favorite (and the only one to which I have returned). Both apartments overlook a beautiful 11th-century hump-backed bridge over the Orbieu river. The view is stunning. The rentals combine the advantages of being in a village with the peacefulness and beauty of a place alone in the country. There are many wonderful walks that one can take just around Lagrasse, with Cathar castles and other sights not far away.
The village has a few restaurants, a boulangerie, and a small grocery store for basic items. Large grocery stores are about a 15-minute drive away. We liked to cook at the apartment, but we did have an excellent salad/quiche lunch at the stylish La Petite Maison on Lagrasse's main street.
Both apartments are so lovely! You can see photos at the website. The building is very old, but has been restored with care by the owners, Michael and Nicole. Nicole, previously a photo stylist in London, has a great eye for design and the apartments look ready for a photo spread. (The upstairs apartment was, in fact, featured in a British home magazine.) There are three apartments in the building, which features a shared interior courtyard.
The owners live in the apartment that faces the village and the other two apartments are on the other side of the courtyard facing the river. The upstairs apartment is larger, with three bedrooms and baths and a huge rooftop terrace. The lower apartment has one bedroom and a large living room. Both are so peaceful and quiet. The sound of croaking frogs in the evening is the only noise you will hear. The owners will give you complete privacy, but we were so happy to get to know owners Michael and Nicole and welcomed their company for a shared meal or bottle of wine.
Both apartments have outdoor seating areas, and both offer the same unbeatable view of the river and the humpback bridge. The downstairs, one-bedroom apartment has a small seating area with a table and chairs that is perfect for two. The huge rooftop terrace on the upstairs apartment is incredible. Half is covered, half is exposed to the sun and starry nights. There are comfortable lounge chairs and a large dining table. We spent most of our time there.
I have only the highest praise for the apartments at House la France. It is beautifully decorated and spotlessly clean.
Most of the bedrooms contained an antique armoire and a comfortable chair. The beds were great. The bathrooms all had nice fixtures and were good looking.
My husband loves to cook, and he made many delicious meals in the well-outfitted kitchen.
Problems or Bonuses
The photos on the owners' website are extensive. We knew that the apartment would be gorgeous, and it is. Seeing it in person, though, was still a thrill.
Agency and Representatives (and price)
Michael and Nicole, the owners, are British. They are warm and helpful. When we left after our week stay, we felt like we were leaving old friends. The apartments are reasonably priced and are a downright bargain compared to what a comparable rental would be in Provence, for example.
Do you recommend this vacation rental to others?
When we first saw the upstairs apartment and terrace we could not stop gushing about how lovely it was inside and out. I knew that I would return, and I did the very next summer. I have been reading reviews on Slow Travel for several years now, and I've always intended to share my recommendations with those who have helped me so much on past trips. This is my first review, and I am writing it because I loved this rental so much. I think others will, too!
Things to do in this area
Our first stay at House la France was also our first visit to the Languedoc-Roussillon region of France. I was a little worried that we would not have enough to do because it seems to be an area that fewer tourists visit, and there are not as many guidebooks to the area. We found that a week was easily filled with hikes to Cathar castle ruins atop rocky mountains (such as Peyrepertuse), a boat ride on the Canal du Midi, a day trip to Collioure on the coast, and visits to nearby villages. We loved Lagrasse so much that we ended up abandoning other plans so that we could spend more time enjoying the village and the beautiful walks along the river by the abbey, vineyards, and local gardens and on the trails in the surrounding hills.
This review is the opinion of a Slow Travel member and not of slowtrav.com.
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