Spring has Sprung in The Tarn

 

The weather is warming up already and the countryside is bursting to life once again with spring flowers appearing and wild life getting active.  As La Durantie is in an environmentally protected area called Natura 2000 it means our area, in particular, benefits from many wild and rare fauna and flora. Coming to life now are wild, bee and pyramid orchids, which we get in abundance in May, and rare green frogs (Pelodytes ponctatus).

 

Further afield the area is home to a dramatic and varied landscape including expansive vineyards, rolling sunflower fields (which come alive in the summer), beautiful hilltop villages, the winding Tarn River and the Aveyron gorges.

 

Visitors can enjoy the region on foot using the 800km of hiking trails, or take to two wheels on the many traffic free cycle paths, making it easy for families or less confident riders to safely explore the area.  The ‘Droits de l’Homme’ greenway spans for 48km across gentle terrain, taking cyclists on a leisurely ride through some of the Tarn’s best countryside.

 

Cyclists can ride through the town of Castres, also known as ‘Little Venice’, a reference to its pastel coloured houses sitting on the banks of the Argout River. Other places of interest en route include Lautrec, listed as one of the most beautiful villages in France featuring a charming 17th century windmill, and the city of Albi (a UNESCO World Heritage Site).

 

If cycling is not for you, north of the Montagne Noire in the Haut Languedoc Regional Park lies a mysterious forested area called Sidobre. The area is home to strange rock formations caused by a stream of molten magma three hundred years ago. The area is a natural playground with miles of clearly signposted trails, making it easy to walk amid the trees and fascinating stones. Visitors can take photos hanging off the ‘Peyro Clabado’, a 780 ton rock of massive granite perfectly balanced on a rock of only 1 m² , or cool off from the spring sun at the ‘Blackbird Lake’ (Le Lac du Merle).

 

For more information see www.tourism-tarn.com


Autumn Delights Year After Year

 

With average October temperatures reaching 20°C and an array of outdoor activities in the nearby area, La Durantie is perfect for those looking to reconnect with nature year after year. Autumn sees the Tarn’s beautiful landscape come alive with colour as both the vines and leaves transform into brilliant shades of orange, red and yellow.

 

The end of September signals the start of the grape harvest, also commonly known as ‘la vendange’, and brings with it a range of exciting opportunities for wine lovers. Homeowners can take part in local wine harvest celebrations including one hosted by the town of Cestyarols on the 10th October, just 20 minutes from La Durantie, which includes an apéro concert and an evening meal accompanied by delicious local wine.

 

Riding through the vines at La Durantie

 

The vineyard at La Durantie is managed by Alain Gayrel and son, members of the development team.  With vines situated on-site, homeowners at La Durantie can look forward to drinking their own Gaillac wine whilst sitting on the terrace of their holiday home. Owners will even be given a bottle of La Durantie wine upon purchase.

 

Vineyard at La Durantie (©Stephen Foote – Stephenfootephotography.co.uk)

 

La Durantie’s own sauvignon wine (©Stephen Foote – Stephenfootephotography.co.uk)

 

Home to a diverse and dramatic landscape, the nearby area offers a wealth of outdoor autumn activities, designed to help you recharge your batteries whilst exploring nature along the way. Traffic-free cycle paths for example make it easy to safely explore the area by bike. The ‘Droits de l’Homme’ greenway spans for 48km across gentle terrain, taking cyclists on a leisurely ride through some of the Tarn’s best unspoilt countryside. The route passes through the town of Castres, also known as ‘little Venice’, a reference to its pastel coloured houses sitting on the banks of the Argout River. Other places of interest en route include Lautrec, listed as one of the most beautiful villages in France featuring a charming 17th century windmill, and the city of Albi (a UNESCO World Heritage Site).

 

The town of Castres, sitting on the banks of the Argout River (© CDT C. Riviere – tourisme-tarn.com)

 

The forested area of Sidobre, situated two hours from La Durantie in the Haut Languedoc Regional Park, is the ideal day trip for nature lovers. It is home to strange rock formations caused by a stream of molten magma three hundred years ago. The area offers miles of clearly signposted trails, making it easy to walk amid the autumn coloured trees and fascinating stones. Take photos hanging off the ‘Peyro Clabado’, a 780 ton rock of massive granite perfectly balanced on a rock of only 1 m² or cool off from the Autumn sun at the ‘blackbird lake’ (Le Lac du Merle).

 

Peyro Clabado, Sidobre (© CDT C. Riviere – tourisme-tarn.com)

 

Other popular outdoor pursuits include horse riding through the Grésigne forest which sits adjacent to La Durantie, or taking in the bird’s eye view of the Tarn on a hot air balloon ride. Keep checking our blog for news on The Tarn and exciting developments at La Durantie or follow us on Twitter @ChateauDurantie and like our Facebook page La Durantie.


Homes in one of the sunniest regions in France

Sunflowers along the road to La Durantie

 

La Durantie is situated in the Midi-Pyrénées, one of the sunniest regions in France and has numerous natural lakes right on its doorstep. The region enjoys an average of 2,000 hours of sunshine a year, with the average maximum temperatures ranging from 16 to 24°C during spring, and from 26°C to 28°C during the summer months. Autumn is also often blessed with a gentle Indian summer, with maximum temperatures reaching between 21°C to 25°C. From mid to late summer the rolling hills of the Tarn will be covered in a blanket of sunflowers for all residents and visitors to enjoy.

 

With La Durantie located just 600 metres away from La base de Loisirs Vère-Grésigne, a natural waterpark, residents at La Durantie can access a variety of water-based activities with ease. It features three natural lakes – a swimming lake with a large waterslide and life guard ideal for families with young children, a boating lake with pedalos and canoes, and a fishing lake. It also features a sandy beach perfect for some much needed relaxation in the sunshine.

 

The nearby area offers an array of outdoor activities for every generation, from gentle pursuits such as fishing in the many rivers and lakes in the area, to rambling or cycling through the wonderful gorges and valleys whilst taking in views of the surrounding medieval bastide towns. Water sports in the area include kayaking, canyoning, sailing, windsurfing and even stand up paddle boarding, now one of the fastest growing water sports in the world! Canoes can be rented from Variation, just outside the village of Penne, located 18km from La Durantie, with prices starting from €30 for a half day for two adults and one child. Here, residents can canoe down the dramatic Aveyron gorges, featuring sheer white cliffs and exuberant vegetation.

 

© Le Tarn Tourisme | tourisme-tarn.com

 

La Durantie sits adjacent to the Grésigne forest, one of the largest oak forests in Europe boasting 3600 hectares of outstanding natural beauty. Home to its own stables, riders at la Durantie will be able to delve deep amongst this unspoilt, hilly woodland. Situated 500 metres from La Durantie’s chateau, there will be 18 boxes for horses, one riding court and one lunging ring, laid out on a 30 hectare site comprising fields and woodland. Alternatively, there are a number of stables located within the forest offering horse riding.

 

© Le Tarn Tourisme | tourisme-tarn.com

 

Hiking is also one of the best ways to explore this beautiful area of South-West France. Miles of marked hiking paths by the ‘Fédération Française de Randonnée Pédestre’ make it easy to navigate through The Tarn’s unspoilt landscape and lush greenery. Popular trails include the vineyards of Gaillac, the hilltop bastide villages, the Vère Valley and the Aveyron Gorges.

 

© Le Tarn Tourisme | tourisme-tarn.com

 

As you can see The Tarn offers a wealth of pursuits during the summer time. Keep checking our blog for news on The Tarn and exciting developments at La Durantie or follow us on Twitter @ChateauDurantie and like our Facebook page La Durantie.


Vineyard homes in the largest wine producing region in the world

 

Following the announcement of the new Languedoc-Roussillon-Midi-Pyrénées region, La Durantie is situated in the largest wine producing region in the world, in terms of surface area. Made up of 273,000 hectares, the area produces around 15 million hectolitres per year, under the wine labels Appelation d’Origine Protégée (AOP) and Indication Géographique Protégée (IGP).  Promoted under the umbrella brands Sud de France and Vins du Sud-Ouest, exports of these regional wines are growing rapidly, enjoyed in countries as far as China and The United States of America. See link to infographic here

 

This bodes well for home owners at La Durantie wishing to rent out their home for part of the year as the Midi-Pyrénées continues to grow in popularity among Britons seeking a holiday home overseas. Rightmove Overseas Search Trends illustrate that the Midi-Pyrénées has experienced a year-on-year increase from November 2015 – February 2016, in November (15.6%), December (29.8%), January (19.2%) and February (31.2%).  Similarly, the beautiful bastide village of Cordes sur Ciel , sitting on a rocky outcrop overlooking vineyards and rolling hills, was among the top ten most searched locations in France on aplaceinthesun.com (in Spring 2016).

 

 

La Durantie sits on a wine domain, overlooking undulating vineyards and miles of oak forest, boasting its own wine label and discounts for home owners. Gaillac, just 10km away, is one of France’s première wine regions, covering around 2,000 hectares, with the first vine plantations dating back to Roman times. In 1983 the vineyards were among the first to be accorded the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée, a French certification granted to certain French geographical indications for wines, cheeses and other agricultural products. The geographical area of Gaillac is so varied, resulting in two very distinct vine-growing areas.  The left bank of The Tarn River tends to be planted with red varietals, whilst the right bank contains a higher proportion of limestone and granite, making it more favourable to white varietals.

 

The area offers an array of possibilities for wine enthusiasts, including tastings at Chateau de Mayragues or cycling through the expansive vineyards. One way to get around as many vignerons as possible is to drive or cycle the Route des Vins, with 112 vignerons producing Gaillac wine (AOC), including the Gaillac Fraîcheur Perlée, a semi-sparkling dry white wine, or the Gaillac Primeur red, known for its distinctive fruity taste.

 

As you can see The Tarn is an attractive region for wine lovers. Keep checking our blog for news on The Tarn and exciting developments at La Durantie or follow us on Twitter @ChateauDurantie and like our Facebook page La Durantie.


Top Tips For Brits Moving To France

Jeanne Boden, Sales Director at La Durantie offers some tips and advice from her 19 years living in The Tarn in South West France with her family of four.  Her experience as Sales Director at La Durantie – a historic chateau development with 57 new build homes on the estate, means she has personally spoken to many British second home seekers.  She has a good knowledge of their concerns and frequently asked questions.

 

Here are Jeanne’s latest top tips for anyone moving to France:

 

1. The paperwork – be prepared to be patient as the administrative system is a lot slower in France than in England.  Original copies are required for all documentation whether for a mobile phone or insurance and it is often quite difficult to get things done over the phone or online.

 

If you are renting a house you need to ensure you have a contract in French even if you are renting from British owners.  Also, some utility bills in your own name will be required to show proof of residency for car insurance etc.

 

2. Getting connected to TV and WIFI - nowadays the first essential requirement is WIFI and internet.  Check whether your property has “haut debit” or high speed broadband (at Durantie this is all handled for you).

 

Firstly you need a France Telecom line installed in your own name.  If you are buying a house that is not part of a managed resort, your previous owners must close down all their contracts with utilities before you are able to install your own.  This is still done by letter, so there can be delays.

 

There are four main service providers with different packaged deals and can include your French mobile phone should you opt for this, when choosing your live box.  The average price is 30€ per month for unlimited broadband with free calls to Europe and some TV included.

 

It is necessary to call the service providers by phone to purchase order your live box and set up a contract.  You will need to speak good French or find someone who can do this for you.

For British Satellite TV contact your local electrician.  He will be able to advise the correct installation for your satellites in order to pick up the essential UK channels.

 

If you are renting a house you need to ensure you have a contract in French even if you are renting from British owners.  Also, some utility bills in your own name will be required to show proof of residency for car insurance etc.

 

3. Rural banking – if you are moving to a rural area it is advisable to open a bank account in your nearest town.  It is much more straightforward for signing documents etc. if your branch is nearby.

 

4. Car insurance – if you are bringing your right hand drive UK car with you to France, you will need to get the car registered for France.  You have six months where you can still drive on UK licence plates and your UK insurance will cover you. Thereafter you are required to have a French vehicle registration document (“carte grise”) from your local administrative office (“prefecture”) in order to get French insurance.  This can be obtained in person or online.

 

5. Pets – If your dog or cat is moving with you, they will need to be micro – chipped and have up to date vaccinations.  Many rural places do not have fenced gardens so if your dog is likely to wander then it might be worth considering an underground electric perimeter fence line.  This is a harmless system that creates invisible boundaries for your pet through either a perimeter wire or wireless through radio or WiFi signals to their collar.

 

6. Income tax – seek advice from your UK accountant to ascertain whether you need a French accountant for your affairs when you become a resident in France.

 

7. Registering to vote – Once you are settled in your new home in France do not forget to pay a visit to the local Mairie (Mayor’s office) and let them know who you are. You are eligible to vote in local and European elections if you have EU nationality.

The mairie is the mayor of your village, town or city. They are an elected representative with a ‘direct line’ of communication to the decisions made locally, and are usually based in the town hall, which is likely to be one of the most impressive buildings in the town.

The role of the mairie in France is especially key in rural areas.  It is best to know what your local mairie will expect from you or be able to help you with. They will be able to advise on all administrative matters in your commune and if not can direct you to find the information you need.

 

8. FINALLY do learn French!!


Museums in the Tarn – a region steeped in history and culture

 

The Tarn is a region of France that is rich in both history and culture, demonstrated by the large variety of museums it has to offer. One of the most famous museums in the area, as mentioned in our blog post in April, is the Musée Toulouse-Lautrec in Albi (35 minutes from La Durantie), home to the largest collection of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s work.  The museum has a new exhibition running up until the 3rd January, exhibiting some of the best photographs of Marilyn Monroe by the famous photographer Bert Stern.

 

Albi has also recently opened a fashion museum, Musée de la Mode, home to a private collection of clothes and accessories covering the period from the 18th century through to the 1970s. Each annual exhibition is selected to highlight a particular historical or creative theme, this year’s theme being black and white, ‘Noir sur Blanc’. The museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday from the 1st April to December 28th: 9.30am-12am and 2pm-6pm. The museum is set in a beautiful historical building with many architectural elements dating back to the 12th century such as a spiral staircase and splendid vault.

 

The region’s interesting history dates back to The Albigensian Crusade or Cathar Crusade (1209-1229), a 20 year long military campaign led by Pope Innocent III to eliminate Catharism. During this crusade, the Cathars conquered many of the splendid fortifications and castles that are a major attraction in the area today, such as the beautiful fortified towns of Puycelsi(12 minutes from La Durantie).

 

 

The Musée du Catharisme in Mazamet (about an hour from La Durantie), in the heart of the Montagne Noir and the Cathar region, provides an in-depth portrayal of the Cathar tragedy. The museum is located on the second floor of the Office du Tourisme in a beautiful 19th century mansion, on Rue des casernes. The museum is open from 10:00 am-05:00 pm Tuesdays to Saturdays throughout October, and closed for two hours over lunch between 12 and 2. Whilst you’re there make sure to visit the nearby village of Hautpoul, and see the remains of the castle that was besieged by Simon de Montfort during the Cathar crusade.

 

Château de Mauriac (25 minutes from La Durantie) is a breathtaking Templar castle, classed as one of the 50most beautiful buildings in France for art and decor and with a 1 Michelin star rating. Located in Senouillac, between Albi and Cordes-sur-ciel, the castle is a very short distance from la Durantie. Take a stroll around the beautiful grounds and marvel at the stunning art work inside. The château is open every day for visitors over the summer period (unless stated otherwise), from 3:00 pm-6:00 pm. An adult ticket costs 7 euros, and a child ticket costs 4 Euros.

 

 

The town of Gaillac, only 15 minutes from la Durantie, has 3 different museums to offer, Musée de l’Abbaye, Musée des Beaux-Arts and Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle. On the first three Thursdays of each month the museums offer a pause café, pause musée system from 12.45pm to 2pm for €2.50. It is a quick and cheap option with a guided tour of the museum of your choice followed by a cup of coffee. Musée de l’Abbaye focuses on the history of wine growing and production in the area, whilst Musée des Beaux-Arts portrays the works of some famous painters from the area, including Jules Cavalliès and Raymond Tournon.

 

 

As you can see, the Tarn certainly has a lot to offer when it comes to museums. Make sure to follow us on twitter @ChateauDurantie and on pinterest for more suggestions of interesting things to do in the area.


The Tarn – What the Visitors Say

The Tarn is a beautiful place famous for its quaint villages, acres of rolling hills, unspoiled countryside and peaceful lakes. La Durantie itself is situated between two of the most beautiful villages in France, or officially “Les plus beaux villages de France” – two of just 150 villages in the country which hold this official label. Puycelsci is 6km from La Durantie and Castelnau de Montmiral is just 2km away.

 

Despite its beauty and tranquility, there is plenty to do and see in the region. The Tarn boasts some of France’s most interesting and popular tourist attractions.

 

But don’t take our word for it! Here’s what people are saying on TripAdvisor about the attractions:

 

 Jardins des Martels, Girousseus

 

 

“Simply beautiful”

★★★★★
By Peter, France – Reviewed 17th September 2014

These beautifully laid out gardens offer interest and colour from April to October. Try and go when the lotuses are out (June-August), they are simply beautiful. We have visited most months now and are never disappointed. 

Our top tip: Make sure not to miss the Japanese pagoda and stepping stones across the pond!

 

Hautpoul, Mazamet

 

 

“What an incredible location”

★★★★★
By Christina, Cardiff – Reviewed 6th February 2015

The tiny village of Hautpoul, thought to have been built in 413 by the Wisigoths is perched high above the town of Mazamet. It has been beautifully preserved and is now pedestrianized. There is a statue to the Virgin Mary overlooking the valley and the remains of a small medieval chateau. There is also a reconstruction of a medieval garden and a museum. The views are superb of the valleys.

Our top tip: Best explored by foot! A lovely ramble up to the top of the village will reward you with some amazing views.

 

Musée Toulouse-Lautrec, Albi

 

 

“The Palais de la Berbie and its gardens, great collection”

★★★★★
By Anonymous, Croatia – Reviewed 4th November 2014

Thanks to the parents of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, the museum possesses the largest collection of the artist’s work in the world. Over 1000 works, pictures, lithographs, drawings and preparatory studies including all 31 posters provide a complete documented approach of the artist and illustrate each facet of his innovative talent. The museum is located in a lovely setting.

Our top tip: The art of the great Toulouse de Lautrec is alluring enough to make the visit worthwhile, but the setting and the lovely gardens are not to be missed! Spring and summer visits are recommended. The museum reopened in 2012 after refurbishment; the sleek renovation has given a modern touch to the interiors of this impressive historic building.

 

Cathedrale Ste-Cecile, Albi

 

 

“The paintings are remarkable”

★★★★★
By Michael, Australia – Reviewed 22nd February 2015

Big! It is one of the biggest churches we have seen. It’s quite beautiful; the paintings are as remarkable as are the statues. Albi is a nice town to visit actually. We loved it – do yourself a favor and check it out.

Our top tip: Try one of the audio tours (available in several languages) to find out about the cathedral’s fascinating history.

 

Musée de la Mode, Albi

 

 

“A jewel of a museum”

★★★★★
By Hatty, UK – Reviewed 29th June 2014

I’ve visited this museum twice now and been stunned by the quality of the display and the wonderful venue. This is a private museum created by an inspired collector of costumes. They are beautifully displayed, the building is fascinating and in the oldest part of Albi. The catalogues are beautifully printed and there is even a shop where you can buy some vintage items if you have a penchant for collecting or the old and loved, as I do.

Our top tip: It’s not a huge museum, but make sure you leave enough time for your trip as the 5 rooms are packed with information and exhibits that are well worth taking your time to enjoy.

 

Le Sidobre

 

 

“Great scenery and walks”

★★★★★
By Mary, UK – Reviewed 7th July 2014

A brilliant part of the Tarn for walking and spectacular scenery – the granite formations provide excellent points of interest and photographic opportunities.

Our top tip: Sidobre is an absolutely great place for exploring by bike. There are plenty of cycle-hire shops in nearby Castres. 

 

Château de Penne

 

 

“A fantastic Medieval village”

★★★★★
By Denise, UK – Reviewed 14th August 2014

This castle is not a ‘French château’ it’s a proper fortified castle on the top of a huge approximately 200 foot rock outcrop. As spectacular as you would see anywhere in the world! A fantastic place to visit. The village is genuinely medieval and absolutely lovely.

Our top tip: Make sure you leave enough time to explore the picturesque medieval village as well as the castle itself.

 

Jardin des Paradis, Cordes-sur-Ciel

 

 

“Go There!”

★★★★★
By John, UK – Reviewed 11th September 2014

Well-advertised and worth following the signs if you are looking for somewhere a little different, away from the shops and tourists. A hidden gem with so much to see and appreciate in relaxing and peaceful surroundings. Different styles of garden in such a small area and good to see there is a small shop/cafe to stop for refreshments.

Our top tip: It’s a great place to visit during the summer months; an oasis from the heat with water features and a lovely pond….cooling and calming.

 

Musée Laperouse, Albi

 

 

“Australian connection to Albi”

★★★★☆
By Shanthini, Australia -  Reviewed 4 November 2012

The French explorer La Perouse was born in Albi. This museum is dedicated to his amazing voyage of discovery throughout the pacific and Asia rim. It contains relics from his ship which sank on his way back to France as well as maps and documents. Interesting link to Australia in this small town in South of France.

Our top tip: The staff are very friendly and knowledgeable. So if you have any questions, let them know.

 

Musée Goya, Castres

 

 

“Small but well organised.”

★★★★☆
By Ben, Australia – Reviewed 31 May 2013

Delightful city council run art gallery that has permanent and temporary exhibitions. Free entry and helpful staff make this a worthwhile visit.

Our top tip: The museum shows much more than just Goya; there is usually a very varied selection on display. During sunnier months make sure to spend time in the lovely surrounding gardens.

 

Musée Charles Portal, Cordes-sur-Ciel

 

 

★★★★☆
By Jane, UK – “Beautiful”  Reviewed 1 August 2013

This is a magical place and getting the little train up to almost the top, saves your energy for walking the cobbled streets to the vantage point at the top. Steeped in history this is a picturesque place and one of France’s many treasures.

Our top tip: Not far from the ‘Jardin des Paradis’- try to incorporate both in one trip and spend some time taking in the breathtaking views of the tarn from this picturesque hill-top town.

 

Office de Tourisme de Castres

 

 

“Excellent – worth a visit!”

★★★★★
By Shanthini, Australia – Reviewed 10th October 2014

There are the usual brochures, of course, but the people themselves are what make it special. They really like their jobs and take time to talk and really answer questions. Very helpful.

Our top tip: Located next to the Goya Museum, the tourism office is really easy to find and great for finding out anything from simple directions to in-depth information about the local attractions.


Toulouse – The Ultimate Rugby Destination

 

… And currently great value for money as UK holidaymakers to the euro zone will have just over 15% more spending power than a year ago.

 

The heart of French rugby is in the South West of France. Stade Toulousain, or Toulouse as they are most commonly referred to, is traditionally one of the strongest sides in French rugby, having won 19 French Championships and made six Heineken Cup finals appearances, winning a record of four. The Heineken Cup, for those who might not know, sees six different European countries bearing representatives and is considered to be one of rugby’s top prizes.

 

Stade Toulousain’s home ground, the Stade Ernest-Wallon, is located on the northwest side out towards the Toulouse Blagnac Airport. The stadium can accommodate up to 19,500 people and on match days the streets of Toulouse become buzzing with rugby goers wearing the team’s red, black and white kit.

 

 

With Toulouse only 50 minutes away from La Durantie, residents can enjoy a great day out at the rugby.  Pre-match, we recommend oysters and a glass of chilled wine in the market bar of Victor Hugo, followed by a feast of barbequed Toulouse sausage in the grounds.

It hasn’t been so cheap to visit the 19 countries that make up the eurozone since 2007. On 10th March 2015, the pound reached a more-than seven year high against the euro, assterling rose 1% to hit €1.40 for the first time since December 2007.

 

Upcoming ‘home’ match dates for your diary include:

– Toulouse vs. Montpellier (Saturday 14th March)

– Toulouse vs. Toulon (Saturday 28thMarch)

– Toulouse vs. Bayonne (Saturday 11th April)

 

Toulouse’s current squad features a number of notable players, none more so than inspirational national team skipper Thierry Dusautoir, one of the best players in world rugby at the moment. Dusautoir is joined by former All Black Luke McAllister, Australian scrum-half Luke Burgess and fellow French representative Vincent Clerc.

 

 

Stade Touloussain dates back as far as 1907, prior to which rugby was only ever played in schools or universities. Stade Touloussain played its first final in 1909, claiming its first title in 1912. Throughout the 70s and 80s Toulouse established themselves as the dominant force in French rugby.


Skis At The Ready…

 

Winter is here and ski enthusiasts are beginning to flock to the slopes. Lucky owners at La Durantie can take pleasure in being only an hour and half’s drive away from the Pyrénées, a fantastic destination for skiing with an abundance of ski resorts offering great value for money compared with the Alps.

 

The Pyrénées Mountains stretch for 420 kilometres on the border of France, Spain and Andorra (where you can combine your ski trip with tax free shopping). Skiers can choose from French or Spanish resorts, each side offering many contrasting views and their own regional delights.

 

Ax Les Thermes (90 minute drive), is a well recommended ski destination. The resort has three ski areas and is centred around the ancient thermal spa town of Ax, near Andorra, so it is possible to check on the weather in the morning and decide whether it is worth the trip on the day from La Durantie!

 

Peyragudes, one of the largest resorts of the Pyrenees, is another ski resort within easy access (just over 2 hours by car). The French Ski Resort of Peyragudes has direct access to 42km of downhill skiing, with 37 individual pistes, and is served by 17 ski lifts.

 

The Pyrénées are famed for their hot springs and is the best place for relaxation as well as skiing. There is an abundance of natural thermal springs in the Pyrénées where heated water seeps up from fault lines deep in the mountain ready to soothe aching and weary limbs. Many of these springs have been channelled into excellent spa facilities that skiers can relax in, such as: Ax-les-Thermes, Luchon, Vallée du Louron, Cauterets and also Saint-Lary.

 

 

After a long day on the slopes, guests can head back home to La Durantie to rest their tired skiing legs at the state of the art spa. The spa is set to become one of the most luxurious  in south west  France and will include swimming pools – indoor and outdoor, saunas, a mud house, hydrotherapy pool, treatment rooms and  relaxation room projected for 2016.

 

Remember, the concierge team is on call to make life as hassle-free as possible and help homeowners plan the perfect skiing trip; be it finding the right accommodation or booking ski passes and ski gear.


Autumn-time pleasures in the Tarn

 

The grape harvest in France, commonly known as the ‘vendange’ is shortly coming to an end with just grapes for the desert wines remaining to be picked. The vendange in France traditionally takes place in September and ends late October, early November timeandduring these autumn months, the vines turn from green to red, transforming the landscape into a patchwork of brilliant colour.

 

The vast colourful landscapes of the south west region typically draw a lot of hikers and this autumn visitors have been enjoying a dip in the pool after a day’s walking as temperatures have reached into the mid-twenties Celsius.

 

Gaillac in The Tarn, just 10km away from La Durantie, is one of France’s première wine regions, offering an endless array of wine tasting opportunities.The development at La Durantie overlooks undulating vineyards and miles of dense oak forest, and has recently launched its own wine which proudly bears the label of its own name along with La Durantie’s identifiable flying blue duck; symbolising an escape to tranquility.

 

The newly reintroduced vines at La Durantie will allow homeowners the delight ofclosely following the process as it develops from vine to glass.There are several different cepages that are unique to the ancient wine region of Gaillac and La Durantie has selected a white Mauzac Sauvignon blend and red Cabernet Duras for their wine.There are also plansto plant a new vine to produce sweet wine.

 

 

La Durantie’s history with wine dates back as far as the 13th century and there is record of 600 casks of wine being sent from the domain to England via the fast flowing river Tarn. Over the years however, the vines were left to suffer underthe hands of different ownership and so the reintroduction of the vines todaywill mean that some of Durantie’s lost heritage will be returned.

 

For the real wine enthusiast homeowners and guests, La Durantie will organise guided tours of the surrounding domains, with the opportunity to try the regions famous wines.

 

Autumn in the Tarn also brings seasonal gastronomic delights, including chestnuts, cepes (mushrooms) and wild boar. Homeowners at La Durantie can choose to take part in a hunting trip, organised through the concierge team. Although it will involve an early morning start!

 

 

Chestnuts were once a staple of life in hard times in parts of France. Today however, they are an end-of-year treat, fire-roasted or candied, or transformed into creamy sauces or scrumptious jams — some even drinkable like liqueur or beer. Many take to the forests in search of these mahogany-coloured jewels hidden in prickly shells that fall from the treetops. A trip to a Chestnut Fair is highly recommended too during the autumn months, such as the nearby Chestnut fair in Laguepie.

 

On dewy misty mornings you canalso see mushroom pickers seek out the finest wild-growing cèpes morels, and rare truffles. The highly prized black truffles are added to omelettes and pâtés and well-worth a try!