Cathar Country

Jan Leeming

Shoreham 2007

Shoreham Airshow 2007
Me looking brave before taking to the air (and the wing) of the plane. Wow, it was cold !! But the whole experience was totally exhilarating.



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Jan's Blog

Computers and the internet are amazing things. One of my concerns with putting together this site was that it could remain current, yet with all my travelling I've often much to say, but little time to say it. Years ago when reading the news it would take me days on end to reply to the kind letters people sent. Now, with the magic of the modern age, I can keep you up to date with what I'm doing and other events in my life.


Date: 19th July 2013


We set off on a two day trip to Cathar country. Finding a lovely spot for a picnic by the side of a very attractive canal, we indulged in a superb repast.

There is so much to see and so much distance to cover we could only choose a couple of highlights. Minerve was a very popular choice - steeped in much tragic history and clinging to the side of a small cliff, it offered a small but comprehensive museum, an interesting church built on the site of the original, and ample photographic opportunities.

(I will add more about the history when I get home and can touch type rather than use the laborious one finger)

Our Chambre d'Hote for the night was Côté Jardins,  an old Convent run by two delightful sisters,  which was attached to a ruined X11th century Cistercian Abbey at Villelongue .  The rooms were magnificently large with huge beds and lovely furnishings. By July, the owners have had enough of offering dinner to their guests, so we dined at a restaurant nearby on the side of another canal. It is rare to have a bad meal in France so I will be charitable and not divulge the name.

How I wish our hosts had still been offering dinner because the breakfast was superb - a true continental repast with fresh fruit, cold meats, cheese, croissants, brioche, home made confiture, etc all laid out on a central table where the guests dine ensemble which I think is a tradition more of Southern France than in the North.

The Abbaye next door also offers rooms but considerably more expensive and I hardly think they could have bettered our wonderful hostelrie next door.   However, for a small fee one could visit the ruins and the gardens - both superb. To my surprise and delight I found some Green Men on a few of the pillars. Only the South side of the cloister is extant but beautiful and offering many interesting carvings.

The gardens were delightfully laid out with many jokes and 'plays on words' incorporated into the floral offerings. I particularly liked the children's discarded shoes used as plant pots.

On the road again for a long stretch heading for Lastours and four ruined fortifications. Imagine our initial shock on viewing the precipitous path to the ruins. None of us had the appropriate footwear and in a temperature of 38 degrees we were not keen to attempt the 'climb'. We sat for a drink and to hide our disappointment when we were told of a look out point a short car journey away.

In the words of the Avignon show - WOW.

Having drunk of the atmosphere it was back on the road and a stay near Albi in a very different kind of hostelry.

(There is a saying that 'two can live as cheaply as one' but I can testify that travelling as a singleton is very expensive. At both our Chambre d'Hotes I was paying nearly as much for a single room as my friends were paying for a double.)

In fact, this stay resulted in great merriment at my expense. I remember my early trips to France 40 years ago when they didn't have pillows as we know them as well as other peculiarities. So, when I retired to my twin bedded room and discovered no sheet and only a bolster and no soap, I thought it was a peculiarity of that part of the Languedoc/Rousillion region. Great hilarity at breakfast when my friends pointed out that I had slept in the wrong bed. I had not heard the proprietor explain that only one bed was made up!
I thought there might have been a reduction in the charge as they did not have to launder any linen!!

À bientôt,  Jan

Lastours - deep into Cathar Country


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