We have taken up residence in a little village situated on the side of the river Aude, in a pretty little valley in the foothills of the Pyrenees. The lay of the land is such that the village is in a warm microclimate — most days are almost spring-like and sunny. The little family-run camping area where we’re staying is right on the side of the river, and just beneath the walls of a 12th century abbey, which is quietly crumbling away above us.
We arrived a month ago, and I was startled to find out the family that run the site are English! In fact, the whole place seems to be a bit of a British enclave — many of our neighbours have been here a while (including one lady who’s lived here — with her four cats — for nine years). It’s a quite pleasant oddity to be able to converse with our neighbours and many shorter-term visitors, who are predominantly also English!
There’s a very convenient little shop just around the corner, where we get fresh baguettes every day, and campsite owner Christine even sells local wine cheaply. Could it get any better than that?
The village is a charming walled affair with narrow labyrinthine alleys, all interestingly askew and weathered buildings, randomly overhanging the alleys. It’s a joy just to wander around in.
The old abbey is a huge mass of crumbling stone walls, now home to flocks of pigeons.
Right next door to the abbey is the village church, with a large graveyard, and a bell-tower that chimes out the hours (and goes nuts every morning at 7am, something we’ve learned to ignore!).
The mountains surrounding the village are pretty too — there’re plenty of walks around. There’s a path that follows the river northwards to the nearest large town, Limoux, which is quite pretty — although a bit of a challenge on an old road bike, as I discovered when attempting the route on a supermarket run.
We tend to follow the main road to reach the supermarket in Limoux — the ride is a lovely 7km up the valley, with the turquoise Aude beside us (although the ride back with 30kg of groceries strapped to my back can be a little daunting!).
Anyway, suffice to say we’re rather well chuffed with our new home, and are beginning to worry that we’ll never be able to tear ourselves away!