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Situated in the Languedoc/Hérault region of southern France, St Chinian is a delightful small village with a truly authentic local atmosphere. It is surrounded by hills and mountains with vineyards as far as the eye can see which produce some of France's finest wines. St Chinian is the center of the wine cooperative which includes local vineyard farms from 20 towns. In fact, the wine tasting salon is located next door to this apartment!
Also in the town are several bakeries, butcher shops and two super markets. From the window of the apartment one can view the large town square where open food and flea markets are held on Thursday's and Sunday's. There are also several restaurants and bars/cafes but we were there off season so not all were open. We did enjoy The Villages restaurant and would recommend it for their food and service.
The area also offers abundant opportunity for hiking and bicycling at every level of expertise. The tourist information office was very helpful with maps and guidance to local attractions. There are several very interesting towns and villages, historical as well as scenic, within short drives from St Chinian. The apartment owners, Fredérique and Graham, were very gracious hosts.
The apartment is spacious, clean and unique in rustic style. The private rooftop terrace provided spectacular views and a great location for sunning. The apartment was equipped with basic amenities. More cookware and utensils in the kitchen would be helpful for taking advantage of the market offerings and cooking in.
We do recommend this property and would return for another visit, with any luck perhaps a longer stay.
I fell in love with the photos of le Moulin de Tredos, but assumed the reality wouldn't quite match up. WRONG - it was better! The valley in which the gite nestles is remote and private; about half a mile off a very quiet road down a stony track. The three residential buildings (the owner's house and two gites) are far enough apart to allow privacy for all whilst occupants can still enjoy all the joys of the valley. These include:
- bubbling, shallow river - great for paddling and cooling down hot dogs
- natural "swimming pool" - more of a plunge pool really but very refreshing after a few hours in the sun
- walking/cycling tracks through the woods
- numerous picnic spots
The owner, Thierry, was in residence during the first week of our visit with his two children, and was totally charming and very helpful. He treated us like old friends, rather than the irritating middle-aged English couple with two noisy and disobedient dogs we actually are! Thierry encouraged us to use all the outside spaces around the valley, even those which appeared to be his private garden areas. He introduced us to his friends and recommended places to visit; gave us a contact number for an excellent vet and provided everything we asked for with enthusiasm. Thierry speaks good English and, being Belgian, his French is easier to understand than many of the locals!
The gite itself is quite small and basic, but has everything you need. It is a very steep climb so not really suitable for people who aren't able bodied. The bed is a torture rack, but Thierry promises a new one for 2013...! The outside areas are great for soaking up the sun, scenery and sounds of the peaceful and beautiful valley, and totally private. Wood is provided for the magnificent BBQ.
The surrounding area has far more to do than we could fit into a year, let alone two weeks. The Languedoc region is vineyard city, with nearly all chateaux and domaines offering tastings on demand. There are dozens of farms offering natural produce, restaurants and cafes at every turn, all kinds of exhibitions and museums from pre-historic man to Airbus. The Cathar Trail is on the doorstep, beaches less than an hour away and you can see the Pyrenees in the distance. The elephant in the room is the scenery - everywhere you go are breathtaking views of magnificent mountains, gorges with crystal clear rivers, picturesque ancient villages, clear lakes teaming with fish. And vineyards of course.