St Ferreol

In the mountains above the village of Durfort is a gorgeous lake called Bassin de St Ferreol, now a UNESCO world heritage site.
Created in 1680  by Pierre Paul Riquet with the building of a huge dam across the mouth of the valley Ladot stream. It is 36 metres deep when full and  a masterpiece of engineering to this day.  
This dam stores a head of water which is used to fill the Canal du Midi allowing it to flow east - west from coast to coast across France.

In and around this lake you can swim , windsurf, walk, sail, canoe, cycle or just laze with a book.
There are restaurants and ice cream parlours, coffee shops and bars.
A short drive from the lake is the glider centre where you can, should you wish, take a flight over the mountains, soaring on the thermals with nothing but the sound of the wind in your ears.

My early morning treat is to walk around the lake and then swim before the days visitors arrive and while the water is fresh and still.
Then a strong coffee and croissant on the beach to dry off as the new sun warms the day.

Black Mountains

La Montagne Noir or Black Mountains are part of the Haut Languedoc Regional National Park.
They sweep through central France from the heavy mixed deciduous woodland at their northern end to lush olive groves in the south.
If you love Nature then the raw biodiversity of these mountains will lift you spirits and feed your soul.  From the shadowed pine forests to the deciduous dappled light of Oak and Beech these mountains are unspoilt and rich in flora and fauna.

If you follow the winding road up from Durfort to Les Cammaze in the Black Mountains there are stables where you can arrange to trek through the unspoilt forests and meadows of this wild and verdant place.  The horses are well trained and you will be led by an experienced local stable guide who like the horses knows the mountains well.

Revel

The town of revel is a 14cC bastide town  founded in 1342, beautifully lined with galleried houses and shops. one of my favourites is the textile or fabric shop where there is something for every taste.
Since the 19C cabinet and furniture makers, sculptors and bronzers have made Revel the capital of  'The Furniture  of Art'.

In Revel is the second oldest covered market in France.  It is said that it has remained open every Saturday for over six hundred  years.  
This market is the meeting point for the local village communities  and farmers who gather to sell their produce, to barter and trade goods of all kinds from beds to baskets.  Here you can buy a live chicken or a fresh cooked one straight from the roasting spit.  

There are fresh locally grown vegetables and herbs  including a growing Bio crop sourced directly from small agricultural co-ops which are the backbone of French rural life.
Cheese, Fish, Wine, Flowers, Olives of every shape and size and flavour .  

On the outer ring road are stalls selling clothes and baskets, ironmongery and assorted odds and ends for the house  

This market is a weekly highlight of the local area, a meeting place to chat over coffee, share the news and watch the world go by.  
A wonderful market which truly captures the intricate and ancient cultures of this part of France.


Soreze

Soreze is a village with a powerful history.
An ancient military academy has been tastefully restored and now offers  a hotel and various cultural summer activies. including book fairs,  classial music evenings , a dog fair and a horse fair.

Also the home of the wonderful Museum Dom Robert, whose tapestry works are famous worldwide and must be seen whilst in France.

The village is peaceful and only a short walk across the mountain from Durfort.
The boulangeries  in Soreze are a great place to buy bread and croissant each morning for breakfast.


Monteliou

Through the mountains towards Carcassonne is the village of Monteliou, the village of books.

Books from all over the world  gather here in their millions to be discovered and read.
Here they are sold, exchanged,  repaired,  appreciated and cared for.


A stunning and very beautiful hilltop village nestled on the edge of a steep river gorge surrounded by rich grape laden vineyards its buildings drop down the cliff face towards the cold  river below.
 

 Here you will find books galore, delicious food and a growing host of unusual artistic talents hiding amidst the rambling streets and alleyways.
If you love books and enjoy imaginative contemporary art then you will fall in love with Monteliou.


Toulouse

Toulouse was the ancient capital of the Midi when France was a tribal national and the capital of the southern OccitanIe region and of the  Visigoth kingdom in 5th century .  

Known as “la Ville rose” ( the pink city ) for its 17c buildings of red brick it offers a rich tapestry of French culture and history.  A pleasure to walk around the city is a treat for any visitor.
Sitting on the banks of the River Garrone it is the fourth largest city in France.

Museums, markets, cathedral, boutique shopping, excellent restaurants and comprehensive travel links to the rest of Europe and beyond. 

The fourth largest city in France it is also the largest base for aerospace in Europe and the hub of the French space industry. 

Toulouse is accessible by car from Durfort or by bus from Revel .

Toulouse is roughly six hours from Paris by train.

For further information in English visit the link below

https://about-france.com/cities/toulouse.htm

S a i s s a c

Saissac is a village rich in Cathar history, typical of many small villages in the Montagne Noir. It is situated at an altitude of 500 mtrs  
On a promontory of rock , looking out onto the plain of Carcassonne stands the remains of the Chateau of Saissac which is a ruined Cather castle .
Throughout the village are ancient towers and the remains of the walls which once encircled and defended it.

The village itself is situated at an altitude of 500 metres and hugs the rocks.
In places its gardens slip gently down towards the valley floor.

One curiosity is the fountain in the small Place aux Herbes. This small square was once the centre of the village with the Mairie and the market, and an important source of water for the villagers. It is now a very quiet square and the fountain, dating from 1722, is the oldest in the town.

There is a beautiful ancient church and a museum along with a small bar and restaurant.
My favourite place to eat is a small vegetarian cafe "Tresors de oc" as you come into town from the direction of Cammazes - 1 Place de la Marie,11310 Saissac. 

D  u  r  f  o  r  t

The village of Durfort is small, a hamlet which nestles quietly between heavily wooded hillsides.

It is a tranquil, comfortably restful place, many miles and even years from the bustle of 21c life.

Built in the 1360's it replaces a much older village on the hillside near the fortified Castelar.

Durfort translates as "strong-hard" and sits as the gateway to the Black Mountains.

Durfort spreads along the banks of a small river,  the Sor, whose spring rises in the mountains near the village of Arfons.

There are two narrow streets  filled with individual stone and timber frame houses each unique in their shape and layout. 

Over centuries these houses have had many uses as craftspeople and tradesmens families have lived and worked in them as they do to this day.

Down the middle of each street runs a gulley of fresh cold mountain water, a remnant of the villages 16C copper history.

During the summer there are a number of small events in the village from the Tchachason to the Fete de leau each bringing the community together in celebration and merriment.

Above the village at Malamort is the Via Ferrata where you can climb , zip wire and walk across and up sheer rock faces, all equipment supplied by the providers.

There is a small family run restaurant   "La Table de Durfort" with excellent food where  booking is always required.

At the edge of the village a small roman bridge leads across the Sor to a spring of fresh mountain water collected and enjoyed by locals each day. 









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