Land of the Crusades walking holiday
My husband and myself had a knowledge of the area (we are French) as we both had stopped shortly there while children and travelling with our respective parents. We remembered it as beautiful and had almost booked this holiday last year before deciding to go to the Pays Basque. When we learnt about 10 days before being able to travel that we actually could be on holiday at the same time, we tried to contact Inntravel without great hopes. Our first contact on the phone provided that hope and Inntravel was able to help us to have this lovely holiday with a slight modification as one of the accommodations was not available. The holiday provided what we wished: a good walk, not too difficult, the discovery of small towns/villages from the middle ages and very good food.
We loved all the accommodation provided and thought they all gave different and to some extent complementary experiences. We stayed 4 nights at "Chez Delphine" and experienced the life of the village in a lovely house full of character, well looked after by our delightful hostess, and a comfortable bedroom top floor with a balcony and a view over the valley. The garden provided some shade and/or sun and a plunge pool that was welcome at the end of a day under the sun. The meals were provided in the village, 2 meals at the Roc Cafe, traditional food from the area, excellent, served with wine from Gaillac. Fred, the owner, treated us like near royalties and we had the additional benefit of eating these welcomed dinners (after days spent walking in the surrounding area, very often under the shade of the woods for which Puycelsi is famous, la foret de Gresigne) from a terrace with a lovely view on a place that is a prime location for sunset admirers. We had 2 additional meals in Puycelsi at "Au cabanon" as the usual accommodation in Bruniquel could not be provided. Au Cabanon provided a totally complementary experience with what I would call traditionnal French with a twist. The twist was this year from Japanese inspiration (a success) the products were local and excellent, the wine was equally good, the service was friendly and efficient. This second restaurant is located just opposite Le Roc Cafe so the sunset could be equally enjoyed.
Les Vents Bleus gave us the opportunity to stay in a beautifully restored and modernised large village farmhouse. The rooms are in what was in the past the working part of the farm and the owners live in the house. We were welcome on a shaded patio comfortably furnished (where the evening meal was also served) and taken to our room which was beautiful and comfortable. The swimming pool is slightly larger and again markedly appreciated to be a bit lazy and refreshed at the same time after the longest walk of the holiday (with not much shade along the way). The evening meal was excellent (table d'hote provided by our hostess) and inventive, there were only 3 couples dining that evening all speaking French so we chose to share a large table and the conversation was very entertaining. I can't praise enough the breakfast provided the following day which was a feast. Breakfast is my favourite meal and everything was homemade fresh and extremely good and inventive. We stayed on the 14th July, fete nationale and a Sunday. We had croissants, brioche, bread, French crepes, home made jams, fruits, freshly pressed orange juice, home made vanilla yoghurts (I should have asked for the recipe!) and I am sure I am forgetting something. Of course, similar to Chez Delphine, we felt extremely well welcomed.
The final chambre d'hotes again gave us another experience. Maison Bakea is just on the outside of the Cite medievale de Cordes, has a courtyard and wooden inside balconies from the middle ages and is furnished almost exclusively in antiques. It is like stepping back in time. You can totally imagine yourself in the past (with all what modern comfort gives us). Again we were very well welcomed, given plenty of explanations about the house, shown to our room which was ready when we arrived. Our hostess had the delicacy to book for us a table for dinner otherwise it would have been very difficult to find a restaurant as given the day the little town was extremely busy. Our good breakfast was served on the terrace in the morning (terrace overlooking the valley), and the guests have all day (and night) access should you wish a bit of rest.
All our bodily needs were extremely satisfied with our holiday but another equally enjoyable aspect were the beautiful towns we visited. Inntravel provided detailled explanations about all the towns we visited, either as a halt or as a visit en route. The historical background was also very well explained. I can't recommend this holiday highly enough for anyone who loves ancient history, beautiful towns and enjoys French food and wines.
Mr Flais, London, 6 July 2019