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April 2013 newsletter


In this newsletter, we share with you details of our visit to Carcassonne during our recent trip;
have new places for sale and rent in France; tell you about an upcoming French play and film;
and, provide recipes from Carcassonne/south-west as well as facts about ANZACs in France.

A la prochaine
Sharon et David

PS:  If you like to explore new parts of France or want to have a French place of your own,
then join David on our property purchasing tour to the west of France 23-27 Sept 2013 

Carcassonne: two cities, castle, canal, cassoulet

Ever since going past Carcassonne by train ten years ago, we have wanted to return to see the city. The fortified castle in the Languedoc-Roussillon region, not to far from the Pyrenees, is spectacular. The city is divided into the elevated, ancient Cité de Carcassonne and the more expansive lower city, the ville basse.

The hilltop has been fortified since 100BC when the Romans first occupied the spot. Today's fortifications consist of a double ring of ramparts with over 50 towers. The castle itself, which you can visit, possesses its own drawbridge and ditch leading to a central keep. With all this history, Carcassonne is a popular spot - Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves scenes were shot in and around it. While its population is only small (50,000), Carcassonne receives 3M visitors a year to its cite and for boating on the Canal du Midi.
We arrived at the gare de Carcassonne, seeing to the left the canal and ahead great old lower town rues. The square to the right was filled with Christmas markets and a kids' fun fair. We came from our place in Provence - from Avignon via Narbonne the trip only took 2 hours by train. Unfortunately staying one night, we left from there again the next day for Toulouse/ Lourdes/Pau. Trains to/from these places go regularly.

We stayed in the heart of the medieval citadel, in the grand Hotel de la Cite - in the 1920s, this hotel became 'the' stop-over for the rich and famous travelling between Nice and Biarritz, as they did regularly! The sign-in registers display many notable guests (from Colette to Johnny Depp) and the breakfast room has photos of past VIP's. We felt special too as we were upgraded to a terrace room with views over the lower town and fortress; plus, the library bar, so old world!
Walking around the medieval cobblestone streets and shops/cafes within the ramparts was wonderful, as was our dinner of local cassoulet and magret de canard. See our facebook photos: hotel, terracerues.

If this has inspired you to visit Carcassonne, you could stay to see the surrounds at either of the two places our owners have nearby: 600 yo house at Caunes Minervois or at Castel Grand Rue Olonzac.

18th C granite barn conversion to rent in Normandy

This French home is located in Basse Normandy. It is set in a small countryside commune so is peacefully quiet yet close to large towns and tourist attractions of Mont St Michel, St Malo, Honfleur, Caen and landing beaches. The barn is an 18th century granite stone farm building that has been recently totally renovated with a high level of French craftsmanship and furnished with modern appliances. Over its two levels, there are 2 queen bedrooms plus ensuites, large living, dining and kitchen areas (with a wood burning stove) as well as phone and wireless internet access. A large garden surrounds the house and with two patio areas at the front and back, you can enjoy the morning or evening sunshine while viewing the surrounding fields which include a cider apple orchard just next door. Rent from $400 a week:

Luxury Provence villa+annex+pool+views for sale

In Alpilles, close to St Remy, this beautiful, light contemporary villa has 8 bedrooms, 6 bathrooms, a large living room, fully equipped kitchen, heated pool with spa, landscaped gardens, south facing terraces with panoramic views, a fireplace and private parking. The property consists of a main house and a guest annex, with a 2 bedroom residence and studio, which could be rented out separately. It is situated on 4,000m2+ of land. Price 699,900 E includes furniture


Upcoming new French movie and play production

Haute Cuisine is based on the true story of President Francois Mitterand’s private chef Hortense Laborie, a renowned chef from the Perigord. Everyone at the Elysee Palace is taken aback when the head of France's Republic appoints her and it takes her a while to win everyone over. This movie opened the French film festival and is in national release from 25 April.

The Melbourne French theatre company's next production (with English subtitles) is Double the Risk in Love, a modern adaptation of an old masterpiece of love, intrigue and masks, on 7-11 May in Collingwood:


Recipes from Carcassonne/France's south-west

Cassoulet is a traditional dish of the south-west region
as is one of our favourites magret de canard avec miel:

Facts about the ANZACs and their day in France

In the lead up to ANZAC Day, read about France's western front battlefields; how Somme bakers are making digger shapped ANZAC biscuits for a memorial tomb a NZer is sculpting; our visit in 2011 to the  ANZAC dawn service at the Somme war memorial; and/or, facts about Australians at war in France. To commemorate ANZAC Day, you might like to go to the lost diggers in France photo exhibition in Canberra.



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