Every month, we introduce you to an interesting woman living in Languedoc. Curious as we are, we like to find out why she lives in this beautiful region, what she does for a living and some of her Languedoc favourites. This month we would like you to meet Honor Marks, owner of the charming holiday accommodation Maison de la Roche as Ramoneta of the Month.
Originally from the South East coast of England, I lived in London for 20 years, where I worked mostly as an IT recruitment consultant. My (now) ex-husband wanted to shake up our small family, leave the big city and go and live elsewhere, anywhere but France! However, we came to the compromise that the South of France was the best choice. It has easy access to the UK (I had an elderly mum I wanted to be able to see whenever I could) and has a fantastic 300 days of sunshine!
Settling in Languedoc
We were immediately drawn to the undiscovered region of the Languedoc. Having sold up my lovely but small Victorian terraced house in London, we initially rented a house in the Pyrénées-Orientales to be the furthest south possible.
For four months, we hunted relentlessly daily for the ideal property broadening our search into the Aude. Finally, we stumbled upon an abandoned old farmhouse in a quiet wine making village called Ferrals-les-Corbières. With its forgotten barns, peeling wallpaper (70s posters of Kylie Minogue still clinging on to the walls), and untamed garden, it was clear that it needed a lot of love and care. We could see the house had great potential and ticked most of the boxes on our wish list. In June 2007, we made the move with our then 4-year-old daughter.
Creating several gîtes (self-contained holiday lets) was our priority as that was going to be our livelihood. The house, albeit dirty and dated, was liveable, thank goodness. It took us 18 months to renovate the barns into three holiday homes. A pool is mandatory in the South of France, so that was the first thing we put in. We were so proud when the first guests arrived in 2009! We had literally finished their holiday home 15 minutes before they showed up!
Maison de la Roche
If you look for paradise, look no further. Maison de la Roche (1 + 2) offers three beautiful and sympathetically decorated holiday homes in a rural village with all amenities. The Aude has plenty of surprises in store for you. And I’m more than happy to help you plan your stay. Whether you want to join a cooking class, go on a wine tasting tour, or on a house hunt. I’m here to offer you everything you need. I will let you know when all the fêtes and important events are happening, so you can immerse yourself in the French village way of life. My guests keep coming back, and many of them have even become close friends. If you read the reviews they say it all!
Honestly with Honor
Besides being a holiday magician, I also work as an Instagram Coach and teach women how to have fun with Instagram. I have always used social media to promote my gîtes. So when the Pandemic happened and my gîte bookings started rolling forward to the following year, I knew that I had to show up even more so I wouldn’t be forgotten. That’s when people encouraged me to show them how to use social media to market their businesses. It has evolved into the Honestly with Honor IG account and is now more about showing women how to have the confidence to have fun with it. I now also do a series of live interviews with amazing, inspiring women. As a single mum, it was also important for me to be a role model to my daughter and show her that we can always be resourceful.
Living the French Dream
The grass definitely isn’t greener on the other side (you still get the same dog shit on the other side!!) However, life is too short, and I have learnt that you always have a choice to do what makes you happier. Don’t be afraid to take risks. Be more afraid if you don’t!
Best Languedoc wine
There is such a fabulous variety of high-quality wines around. It’s difficult to choose a favourite one, so I support a lot of local winemakers (4).
Many friends who visit me ask if we can go to ‘Chez Bembe’ the minute they arrive. It’s a fantastic restaurant here in Ferrals-lès-Corbières, serving larger than life steaks slapped on a wooden board and accompanied with delicious pichets of local wine.
Perfect day out in Languedoc
It is a real treat to spend a day at one of our lovely beaches and eat freshly caught fish (5) at one of the beach restaurants with your toes in the sand. I also love a good picnic and you can often find me lazing and swimming in the nearby Orbieu river in Ribaute. And I can never turn down a shopping trip to Narbonne or Montpellier! Both towns are must-sees when you visit here.