France has no single South but many Souths. We often hear about the Lubéron, the seaside resorts of the Hérault or the Basque Country but much less about a more secret, less known department : The Aude. A little bit of geography : simply put, the Aude extends between the Southwest and the Mediterranean coast.
Come along with me to discover this green department, less than 2 hours from Montpellier, an ideal place to spend the weekend.
Where to go to slow down, breathe, and spend the night ?
To Camellas Lloret, a village house with 18th century charm and 5 guest rooms, tucked in the heart of Montreal, a village situated in Cathar country, a starting point for beautiful discoveries.
What I liked : first of all the warm welcome : Annie and Colin pleasantly received us, in their white lounge with two glasses of regional wine, also white. Annie is an interior designer from New York, Colin, her husband is chiropractor and hypnotherapist, native of South Africa and specializing in “change work”. They ave given a new life to their home after many years of renovations on what they sweetly call their “love project”.
My very comfortable and spacious room (the lovely room N° 3) was on the second floor. It overlooks a charming garden in a classical style decorated with pieces of contemporary furniture.
What immediately drew my attention was the care Annie has put into the beautiful details – from the choice of soft linen sheets, the gentle lighting, the thick Moroccan carpets, the 70’s iconic “Tam Tam” pop stools, the barthroom products by Aesop, the vintage wallpaper, or the depth of the wall colours by Farrow & Ball. Everywhere you look, you sense an undefinable charm brought about by the mix of local vintage finds and decorative pieces from the 60’s and 70’s, which emphasizes the beauty of the classic architecture.
My indulgent breakfast was accompanied by a dreamy playlist. Fresh products were served on beautiful vintage dishes. On the table which Annie prepared just for the two of us : fresh bread, pastries, yoghurt with a compote of homemade rhubarb, fresh strawberries, homemade jam, pink grapefruit juice and a delicious overnight oatmeal which Annie gave me the recipe for** (OK, I’ll give it to you at the bottom of the page).
Over this late March weekend seeming to mark the end of the winter, sitting in front of the fireplace, Annie mentionned to me “we really feel like chilling outside in the garden now…”
Whatever is the season, Camellas Lloret is the ideal place for slowwwwwing down, with its garden and its terrace outside to enjoy from the first mild days of the year or its peaceful and pleasant rooms inside for more chilly months. The personnalities of Annie and Colin, just like their house, speak of simplicity and sophistication. Happiness !
More than a chic place to stay, Camellas Lloret is an experience !
The sweet + : besides the comfort and refinement of the place, the fireplace and the honesty bar in the white lounge, the terrace, the greenhouse and the beautiful outer spaces.
Where to eat ?
La Cantine de Robert in Carcassonne. This cozy restaurant looks charmingly retro and proposes a bistrot cuisine with fresh products, organic and farm-to-table.
Chef Robert Rodriguez proposes a seasonal menu. As a starter I chose the asparagus served with rustic, home-made bread rolls baked with organic natural seeds.
For my main course, I chose a vegetarian dish with a pancake of quinoa and seeds of spelt, linen, sunflower, hemp, chia, sesame and poppy, perfumed by flowers of elder and hibiscuses, stinging nettles and wild garlic and gomasio topped with lovely new season vegetables. A real pleasure for the eyes and for the palate !
As a lover of chocolate, I chose the organic chocolate mousse by Manufacture Cluizel, a Premier Cru farm in Mokaya (Mexico), churned butter, bourbon vanilla and organic eggs.
The sweet + : the 100% French “vintage” play list from the 50-60’s (Brassens, Aznavour, Gainsbourg…) associated with the authentic cooking and with the refined restaurant service a very particular atmosphere to this so charmingly retro place.
When I went into the kitchen to congratulate the chef he humbly replied “it is easy, I have the gardens of my favorite producers close by !”
Simplicity and originality in the tradition, everything that I like !
Where to get some culture ?
In Carcassonne, a must-see of the region, take a trip back in time to the middle-ages while walking down the narrow streets of the citadel.
Driving a little westward you willl discover Montolieu, village of books and arts. Here you will find an enormous choice of old books, rare books, new books, first editions and illustrated books in one of its 17 bookshops !
Every year, at the end of March/beginning of April, the city organizes a vast old and second-hand book fair in which several booksellers of the region participate.
To get there, you take an attractive road lined with fields of wheat and vineyards. Maybe you will even see some beautiful old cars on the road.
- Annie’s recipe for the overnight oatmeal
- 1 pot of Greek yoghurt
- 4 tablespoons organic oat flakes
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 banana
- The recipe
- 1. In a jar, add the yoghurt and the honey and mix
- 2 Add oat flakes and chia seeds and mix, please.
- 3. Add the chopped banana.
- 4. Close the jar and store overnight in the refrigerator
- 5. The oat flakes and chia seeds absorb the remaining liquid.