News from Montlaur Gites
We have now had our website for three years and have been surprised and pleased that so many people have visited it and enjoyed reading about our life here in Montlaur. We have a steady stream of visitors each summer ( their reviews can be found on Trip Advisor and Homeaway) mainly from France, England, Spain and Germany but also from much further afield. We have continued to make improvements to our houses and have welcomed suggestions from our guests. We are currently developing even more comprehensive information books for each house full of suggestions of interesting places to visit, local events and great places to eat ! People still surprise us with hidden gems they have discovered .
We have now added calendars to our website which will make it easier to see availability .
This summer will see the end of internet and telephone mobile roaming charges within Europe and next year we will have fibre optic internet in the village, although our current internet speed is pretty good and noone has had a problem with it!
If you understand some written French we can email you on request the latest PDF newsletter of the local area with lots of news about activities and events in Montlaur as well as interesting articles about local flora and fauna
Long lets in winter
Montlaur Village One of our visitors cycling through the village in October 2016
Since we launched our website we have started to take longer bookings for stays out of season. Both our gites have been fully booked for the last two winters . We already have a booking for three months next winter at the Sellerie (October - December) and six months at the Ecurie (Nocvember to mid April 2017 )
In case you are thinking about a few months in rural France out of high season we thought the experience of some of our our renters might be of interest.
Our first long let renter was Sue who came on her own in November 2015 for three months to the Sellerie as part of a plan to consider options preretirement . She immersed herself in village life, started French lessons , borrowed a bike from us, joined the village walking group and often caught the only bus of the day ( doubling as a school bus and leaving at 7 am!) to Carcassonne for a day exploring and shopping. In her published review she wrote:
Attractive house, I was the only occupant for three months, but felt quite at home living there. My hosts Felicity & Peter were very thoughtful and introduced me to all and sundry whenever they got the opportunity, It is a very lively friendly village, even in the Winter there were lots of social events, I joined the local walking group, and went to yoga on Tuesday mornings. I had a first rate French teacher, arranged by Felicity who apart from lessons gave me lots of helpful advice when I travelled. I made friends and would love to visit in the Summer to see the village in all its glory, and do a little wine tasting.
We have also had three couples who have each stayed for one to three months because of their affinity with France or wish to explore a new area. One couple hardly used their car and arrived with their bikes and walking boots and had a fantastic holiday for a month - they are coming back this year. Their review of the Sellerie says :
Situated in the main street of Montlaur the tall immaculate village house stands out bedecked with colourful hanging baskets on each level.Inside ,it is spacious, comfortable and thoughtfully fitted out to a high standard for guests.
….The area is rich and diverse and there are many activities for travellers to enjoy- quiet scenic walks, thrilling cycle rides and beautiful rivers to swim in - just to mention a few! Lagrasse ,nearby,is one of the most beautiful towns in France and is worth visiting and of course the magic of Carcassone endures-it is spectacular.
Road into Montlaur from Capendu and Requi
This winter we have had two sisters from the USA stayed in the Sellerie from October until December - they loved the house and the very mellow autumn we had and they had a succession of friends and relatives coming over for short holidays with them ! They were still enjoying the sun on the roof terrace in early December! They also used the house as a base and explored Paris, Barcelona and Monte Carlo as well as enjoying eating at many local restaurants .
La Cite Caracssonne - "enduring magic" even on a winter night
Helping with the grape harvest in Montlaur
They wrote :The house was in the heart of the village of Montlaur. There were three levels with four bedrooms and three baths. It was large and roomy and had an abundance of old world charm. I would have loved to have known more of its history. It had all of the modern conveniences, including terrific wifi. The wifi never once went out over our three months stay. The location of the village was perfect for day trips and, the occasional overnighter.
The Sellerie is now occupied until Easter by an Australian family with four young children all of whom are going to local schools and having a total French immersion experience . It is half term at the moment and they have been skiing , visited London and are now in Scandinavia. We are very well served by airport here)
Before we started longer lets our daughter and family did the same as the Australians and we were thrilled to have our grandchildren, then 6 and 7, at. Montlaur village school for a whole term. After two weeks they had begun to speak French and they are now completely fluent , The Maire and school staff are very welcoming and see the advantages for local children, as well as for the temporary visitors, in learning about other countries. A class of six year olds is now studying Australia! We have a French friend who was an infant teacher who has given all the children extra lessons and guided them through their homework
And finally we should mention Lin and Ron who are in the Écurie now and who are leaving two months early as they have bought a house to renovate in the next village! Our respective dogs are good friends. They have also written a review :
We came to Montlaur in September 2016 with our border collie, to stay at L'Ecurie for 8 months. We wanted to 'immerse' in the village activities and hopefully improve our very basic French . We have found the gite extremely comfortable, spacious and homely and the garden has been an added bonus. With the help of Peter and Felicity we have joined the Montlaurian society for their many 'repas' and dancing events and the Abribus society for rambling and Occitan singing ! We have found the locals to be very friendly and helpful with our struggling french and we were even invited to join in ' hand picking ' the grapes at harvest time which was brilliant fun and included a very french picnic with lashings of local wine ! The garigue , which is the local countryside, is amazing and full of tracks between the vines and perfect for walking and cycling . The flowers will be amazing in the spring. We are loving being here in a very special place and would wholeheartedly recommend L'Ecurie for a perfect French holiday …...
If you are considering whether to try a longer let we are happy to give you more information. Currently the Écurie is available for a month this May before our weekly summer lets start, and then from September until mid March. and the Sellerie is available from January to April 2018.
After the shock of Brexit we decided to apply for French nationality ( it is possible to retain our British nationality too) and were relieved that our dossiers were accepted for processing in December after three months of collecting the huge amount of required documentation! We now await our gendarme and prefecture appointments - the process will take about 18 mths .
Meanwhile we are swatting up on French history and the constitution for our interviews. I have a French language test next month. We do feel increasingly integrated in village life and belong to a number of local associations which are at the heart of our community. We are the only English members of the Club Canin at Trebes local dog club and both our dogs compete in agilty competitions. Peter is a keen member of the local historic car club and we have had some wonderful "ballades" in our old Triumph though the countryside with the group.
Our decision to apply for nationality is not only to secure our position here in France but also because we are committed to our life here, cannot envisage leaving and would like a real stake here in our village and in country of choice. With the French presidential election looming and so much uncertainty about the outcome we would like in the future to be able to put our votes in the ballot box too!
November by the river in Lagrasse Montlaur church in February Skating in Place Carnot, Carcassonne in December