Rivel, Languedoc-Roussillon, France
This ancient stone house offers a warm, spacious, and contemplative sabbatical retreat. It presents an ideal location for relaxing, hiking, exploring, and generally mulling things over. It's a great place to kick back, read, or write a book (we have done all three). The house and village are adorable, quiet, quirky, yet close enough to restaurants and shops. If walking/hiking inspires you, start by marching right out the front door. We are tucked away in the foothills of the Pyrenees. The church up the street is nearly a thousand years old. When the Cathar inquisition sacked the village in 1210, the church was spared but the village and castle were abandoned and moved to the present site, about a half mile away. In fact, the medieval village walls stood literally outside the front door (now your parking spot). You can still walk up to the old castle too, a 10-15 minute scramble away (but watch out for the thorn bushes.) We offer three large double bedrooms on the second floor, each with an armoire, area rug, and chest of drawers. The master also has a Juliette balcony. The third floor consists of one rustic bedroom (suitable for an adventurous kid or a cranky uncle). The house has two and half bathrooms (main floor with shower, toilet, bidet, and sink; second floor with tub/shower, sink, and toilet; and the half bathroom is a Turkish toilet situated off the inner courtyard). On the main floor there’s a typical French kitchen (including gas range and a full-sized fridge), separate dining room with pellet stove, living room with large leather sofa, chairs, DVD, i-Dock music player, wifi, board games, etc. A washer and dryer sit in the attached single car garage. In addition to the pellet stove, the house is warmed with wall-mounted electric heaters. The home includes flights of 18 stairs each to reach the second floor and third floors. Parking is at the front door. Outdoor sitting area and bench rest in front of the house. The externally lit (glass ceiling) large interior courtyard reaches upward three full stories for those outdoor/indoor moments that allow one to escape the vagaries of winter weather. The area boasts terrific restaurants (it’s the home of foie gras), outstanding wines (the Maury region has recently been "discovered" and Limoux is where sparkling wine was first created), numerous castles, hiking paths, bike trails, medieval villages, and early Christian historical sites. The coast is about 75 minutes by car, Carcassonne 45 minutes, Toulouse 90 minutes, Andorra 60 minutes, and Spain 90 minutes (toward Barcelona). Food and drink are as close as three minutes by car. Chalabre is four km away and offers two taverns, a bakery, a butcher shop, pharmacy, ATM, choice restaurant (Hotel de France) and excellent small grocery store (Huit a 8). It’s an easy walk along a pathway built upon an old rail bed, since removed. Foothills accurately imply that we are located in rolling hills, great for walks/hikes/picnics, subject to sudden storms, and brilliant nights with starry skies. For sun lovers and kids, nearby beaches at Lac Montbel and Puivert Lake are only a few minutes away. Meanwhile, less than an hour away the stunning cave art at Niaux dates back 20,000 years. Guided tours will take you a trip deep into a mountain grotto that you will never forget. There’s also an 18-hole golf course in Caracassonne. Twenty minutes away you will find an awesome go-cart track with an international reputation (to elicit and reward your twelve-year self). Skiing in the Pyrenees is also superb. A number of resorts are as close as an hour by car. For a real work out, join cyclists on some of the Tour de France routes in the area. We are two academics who love this house but are unable to live in it full time (some day!) so we offer it in the spirit that you too have the chance to fall in love with Cathar country in the same way it has smitten us. How to find Rivel: Rivel is 40 minutes from Carcassonne (airport served by Ryan Air), 90 minutes from Toulouse and Perpignan airports, and three hours from Barcelona. To fully enjoy the area, you really need a car. Please note that summer rates are higher but that we open to negotiation, especially for longer stays. Plus, during the warmer months you will find a cozy one-bedroom apartment (sleeps two), with full bathroom, above the garage.
1 Week | Dates are flexible for this listing
University of Toulouse
Comments: Village; Cathar country; Pyrenees foothills; quiet; close to shops and restaurants; hiking; beaches
Comments: October-April long-term rate negotiable; summer rates available
High Speed Internet
Comments: pellet stove; expansive interior courtyard