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Trip Report Our stay in a storybook village in the Aveyron – Belcastel, France. Trip Report to the Aveyron, Lot and Tarn. September 2007

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Having just returned from this area Tuesday night, I want to thank Stu and others for all the valuable information on this isolated area of France. It's so beautiful, but filled with tiny, winding roads, which we drove each day. It's an area and village which we'll never forget.

Hours and hours I spent looking for a French gite for our trip to the Aveyron. I wasn’t sure if we should stay in B&B’s moving around every couple of nights, or find a central village with a gite and make day trips from that location. This area is huge and we had quite a varied list of sites we wished to visit. We spent one week in a gite in the Basque area of France last May and loved the experience, and the price so decided to try and find a gite on gites-de-france.com. I had no idea when we booked our gite, what a treat this small village was, or how wonderful our gite would be. There was only a picture of the outside of the gite on the site, so it was with a leap of faith that we booked it. No one on the Fodor’s site had seemed to have visited this small “Most Beautiful Village of France”, but the photos I found of the village looked promising. Once we go through our photos, I’ll post them of the village and our gite, “les Buis”, which is owned by the Marie of Belcastel, and in middle season was €400 for the week, for the 3 bedroom, 84m2 stone home.

Belcastel has only about 250 residents. It’s a small stone village 24 km west of Rodez, France. It’s at the bottom of a valley, strung along the Aveyron river, which a very old stone bridge crosses. Most of the town is on one side of the river, including an excellent 1* Michelin restaurant du Vieux Pont http://www.hotelbelcastel.com/ At the top of the village is a chateau, owned by an American couple who only live there a few months of the year. The chateau is filled with original drawings of Charles Schulz. On the opposite bank of the small river the Eglise Sainte Marie-Madeleine is located, which our covered stone terrace viewed. There is also a small “camping” area, just a grass plot under the trees, with a small shop for food, bread and wine as well as the few hotel rooms owned by du Vieux Pont.

We flew into Barcelona, rented a car through AutoEurope and easily drove north into France. Our flight arrived around 11:30 a.m. so we knew we couldn’t travel to far the first day. The Canal du Midi was high on my list to visit so we decided to stay near by in Redorte, France. http://perso.orange.fr/lamarelle/index.htm “La Marelle” in La Redorte 19, avenue de Minervois 11700 Tel 04 68 91 59 (east of Carcassone, by Homps) 58€ for the room and 24€ each for dinner 8 p.m.

The route we drove from Barcelona was the AP7 autoroute exiting at exit 41 and taking D117 west passing the Chateau de Queribus which can be seen from the road. The D117 is beautiful. We originally hoped to stop at Chateau de Peyrepertuse or Queribus, but there was no time. At Quillan we drove north up the D118 and stopped at Rennes le Chateau. This was a good break and we enjoyed seeing the church which had free entry. Continuing along to Limoux, where the delicious Blanquette sparkling wine is produced, we shopped at the big wine co-op Sieur d’Argues after tasting a few of their wines. They were about to close for the day, so we didn’t have much time here but did buy a bottle, which I loved!

Passing close to Carcassonne, we turned onto D610 towards La Redorte. Right were the D610 and N113 met, there is a very picturesome bridge over the Canal du Midi where several of the barges parked along the canal that evening (Friday) and were having quite a good time.

La Redorte isn’t special, but the new owner of La Marelle B&B was wonderful. This B&B is across the road from an Intermarche, but is behind large green gates, and was very private. Our room was huge, and after changing a resting and bit, we joined the other guests for an excellent dinner of duck confit.


We just returned late Tuesday night, so haven’t even had a chance to view our photos yet, but once we do, I’ll try and learn how to post some of them here with a link.

Saturday we’ll be traveling to Homps, Minerve, Pezenas market, St.Guilhem le Desert, La Couvertoirade, and driving over the Millau bridge, on the way to Belcastel.

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