2022 has been quite a year for my family and me! It all started in early January, waking up with a feeling that we should shake things up a bit. For ages, I have been dreaming of setting up a new project in the region. But staying where we were and not doing anything wouldn’t bring me closer to my dream of building tiny houses. So, when discussing this with Chéri, he completely understood as he felt the same. We quickly came to the conclusion that the first step would be to put our house in Cazouls-lès-Béziers on the market.
No sooner said than done, we told the kids that it probably would take a year before the house would be sold. Well, that moment came a bit quicker than we thought, and we signed the pre-contract for sale in May. That meant we had to look for a house to live in asap! While Chéri was on a wine trip with his friends, I visited a place in Béziers. It was perfect and ticked almost every box we wanted (excluding a pool and exterior space, oh and bad heating…). And just as Chéri was unpacking his luggage for a fun weekend away, I harassed him with enthusiastic calls, saying I made a bid on the house. Even the real estate agent thought I was losing my mind and waited to share the offer with his client until after Chéri came home and saw the house as well. But then it was a done deal, and we signed all the necessary papers.
So, after a summer holiday of clearing out stuff (a lot!) and packing boxes, we sold the house in Cazouls in September to buy the new one in Béziers one day after. And now I can proudly say that I’m a ‘Biterroise’ for a couple of months! It has been quite stressful altogether, and we’re slowly settling down. But we did start looking at new houses for the tiny house project. It’s not going to be easy, and maybe not feasible at all (finding a house with at least 5,000 m2 of land that is partially constructible, lol). In that case, we will adapt our plans and find something else. But at least we have taken the leap!
Between all the moving around, I did have time to add new finds to my blog. We have spent some holidays in the South of France, like Toulouse and Saint-Quentin-la-Poterie. But also, a weekend skiing with Oldest in Font-Romeu and visiting the antique and brocante fair in Barjac. And living in Béziers has opened a whole new world to me. There will be plenty to write about in the new year! But first, I’ll take a break to focus on my new projects. You’ll be hearing back from me, though!
For now, I wish you a very happy and joyful new year with lots of new adventures.
1. Favourite winter trip: Font-Romeu Pyrénées 2000
At the beginning of the year, I took Oldest on a little ski trip to Font-Romeu in the French Pyrenees. This ski resort, officially called Font-Romeu Pyrénées 2000, is at 1,800 meters altitude. It has 23 lifts to take you to 41 slopes in a beautiful forest setting. Of course, this ski resort can’t be compared with the slopes of the Alps. However, at only 2.5 hours from home, we spent a great day in a real winter wonderland! And another plus of going to the Pyrenees is that you can end your stay in one of the nearby hot springs. We went to the Bains de Saint-Thomas in Fontpédrouse, relaxing our muscles after a hard day of skiing, before going home.
2. Favourite hike: Chemin des Légendes
This hike has been on my wish list for a long time, and this year I finally convinced the family to walk it. The legendary Chemin des Légendes et le Sentier des Mille Marches hike brings you to the ‘Saut de Vésoles’ along a steep climb of 1,000 steps (‘mille marches’) and past numerous waterfalls and impressive canyons. According to legend, the devil himself created this gorge around the Bureau stream. More likely, the erosion of the gentle Bureau stream formed this rocky passageway.It was quite a climb, but the many extraordinary vistas on the way up definitely made up for the sweat spilt.
3. Favourite cultural spot: Spi-k-tri Street Art Universe
I think I found out about the Spi-k-tri Street Art Universe via a shared post on Facebook. The images of the museum slash giant gallery looked highly intriguing. When visiting, I felt like I didn’t have enough eyes when stepping into the world of street art artist Spi-k-tri and his Gangsea team. In the former cave coopérative of Ferrals-les-Corbières, no less than 14,000 m2 has been covered from top to bottom with multiple art disciplines. Over the course of 2.5 km and 18 planets, you will become part of a parallel dimension sprouted from Spi-k-tri’s creative mind. In a couple of hours, I completely immersed myself in Spi-k-tri’s extravagant and unique universes. This is something you have to experience for yourself!
4. Favourite village: Goudargues
Sometimes you have to look further than your nose to discover beautiful places. I tend to visit the officially labelled ‘Most Beautiful Villages of France’ when I’m in a department that I don’t know well. However, although Goudargues in the north Gard department isn’t classified as a ‘Plus Beau Village’, it pleasantly surprised me. It’s a charismatic little village and lovely for a visit for a couple of hours and a stroll along the centuries-old plane tree-lined canal. When visiting on a hot summer day, the cold water of the former washing place is a welcoming break to put your feet into. You can prolong your visit with a lovely lunch or dinner at one of the restaurants overlooking the water.
5. Favourite restaurant: Fleurs d’Olargues
One of the most romantic and best dinners Chéri and I had this year was at Fleurs d’Olargues. First of all, there is the picture-perfect vista of Olargues and its Pont du Diable. But the food is amazing too! Joan and Anders Abrahamsson settled in Olargues in 2002 and worked hard to transform a garage into a beautiful restaurant. In 2019, one of their sons- Kasper- took over the chef’s hat to run the restaurant with his wife, Fe. They continued the family tradition of cooking with high-quality local or even homegrown ingredients. Chéri and I loved every bite of the interesting menu with a dash of Nordic flavours.
6. Favourite festival: Foire des Grenouilles
One of my favourite street theatre festivals in the region is the Foire des Grenouilles in Saint-Geniès-de-Fontedit. Although the village is small, they know how to throw a party! Every year on Whitsunday, the streets of Saint-Geniès-de-Fontedit are turned upside down. During ‘La Foire des Grenouilles’ festival, the centre of this lovely circular village becomes the stage of street theatre, concerts, art and much more. And all the performances are free. What I love about this festival is that all the shows include interactions with the audience. Some shows combined circus with slapstick; others played music and asked to sing along. During the day, most performances focus on children, while the festival’s final concert is more for grown-ups. Every year, the party goes on until late into the night.
7. Favourite activity: Tubing on the Lergue river
Like every summer, I set myself the goal of discovering new activities around the area. Therefore, I had planned a day trip with the twins at the start of their holidays. The weather has been consistently great, so I figured an activity involving water would be the best. We headed to Ceyras, a small village only 10 minutes from the Lac du Salagou and a short half-hour drive from Montpellier. Here, Obouées rents out inflatable tubes to anyone over 9 years old. Floating along the river with an inflatable tube (a ‘bouée’ in French) felt different than a kayak. The pace is slower, and the movements are more flexible. Especially over the rapids that we came across and that made us whirl around! Nothing too scary though, most of the time we lazily paddled through the relaxing and stunning landscape.
8. Favourite market: Antique and brocante fair in Barjac
As a second-hand market fan- or vide grenier or brocante as they call it here- I had wanted to go to the Foire aux Antiquités et à la Brocante in Barjac for a long time. Chéri and the kids are not really into this kind of market, so I abandoned them and booked myself a night away. The Barjac antique and brocante fair takes place twice a year for four days, around the 15th of August and the Easter weekend. It’s the ultimate flea market, with over 400 exhibitors displaying their treasures to visitors from far and wide. It was wonderful to have a roam around at my own pace, looking at every stall, and I brought back some unique finds for a reasonable price (after bargaining).
9. Favourite town: Limoux
On a quest to find the best blanquette de Limoux, I realised I had never paid a decent visit to Limoux itself. The dynamic heart of Limoux is the Place de la République. On Friday mornings, the famous square transforms into a colourful market area. Any other day of the week, the numerous restaurants under the arcades use the square to set up their cosy terraces. Even in winter, the best seats are outside with heaters to keep the temperature comfortable. And the Place de la République is also the place where the Limouxins celebrate their three months (!) long carnival. After this visit, I finally felt like I had met Limoux properly.
10. Favourite family trip: Halle de la Machine
Finding a family outing that pleases our teenagers can be challenging. However, when we visited the Halle de la Machine on holiday in Toulouse, the attention of our brood was drawn. It is no ordinary museum but more like a street art experience that honours stagecraft. My family and I happened to visit the Halle de la Machine when the mythic horse-dragon Long Ma was there. I also booked us tickets for a ride on the Minotaur’s back. When we climbed the stairs to hop on board, we all went a little quiet, as we were so impressed. It was the perfect immersion into this wondrous world of mechanics, where every machine has its own identity and tells its story.