Traditional French town house - Olonzac home swap
Ours is a 120 year old town house in the friendly, bustling village of Olonzac which is right in the middle of the wine producing area of the Minervois in Languedoc Roussillon. (Now renamed Occitanie).
(There are many opportunities to visit the surrounding local chateaux for tastings. We can recommend our favourites!)
We have renovated the house, which has been rewired, replumbed and decorated in sympathy with its original style. We have retained the old shutters, doors, tiles and other features as far as possible, as well as adding a few of our own. We are an artist and a designer, so we have had fun planning and furnishing the house. Visitors always describe it as characterful and quirky - in a good way! I hope you agree. The house is full of our artwork - my photos and illustrations and, paintings and drawings by my husband, who holds reguler Summer exhibitions in nearby chateaux and galleries.
Our comfortable sitting room has a TV, wifi hub, sofas and a log burner. There is a small area with the original, colourful tiles, a writing desk and our wine stocks. You will notice a large bifold window leading onto the street. The house used to belong to the village hatmaker who would sit at this window, take orders, make and repair the hats, then pass them out to his customers.
There is a small but fully equipped kitchen leading on to a dining room with an open brick fireplace. This room has traditional French windows leading out to the courtyard.
There is a downstairs toilet in the house.
On the first floor we have a master bedroom with ensuite loo and a bath.
There are 2 further double bedrooms, a dressing room and a showroom with a third toilet.
On the top floor is a large loft with artist`s studio which, if you are a fellow artist you are welcome to use. Up there you will also find a very private roof terrace with a day bed, hot outdoor shower and views over the Black Mountains and Pyrenees.
We have a small, gravelled courtyard planted with figs, grapes, lemons, olives, bougainvillea, oleander, hibiscus and lavender, as well as herbs and tomatoes, where you can dine al fresco. We have our own well. We also have both a BBQ and a gas plancha. There are stone steps leading up to a raised terrace with sun loungers and a parasol.
About the location
Olonzac is the capital of the Minervois. There is a lively market each Tuesday morning where you can buy local seasonal produce - cheese, charcuterie, olives, organic vegetables, meat and fish for your lunch or evening meal. There are also huge vats of paella and chicken in wine, ready rotisseried chicken and potatoes and freshly sizzled crepes and waffles. A choice of bars and restaurants, shops, services, a tourist office and a supermarket are all within walking distance.
Homps is another picturesque village 10 minutes bike ride away, with canal side restaurant terraces from where to watch barges glide by on the Canal du Midi.
You can ride our bikes or take a walk across the vineyards to a swimming lake - Lac de Jouarres - which has its own bistro, a great spot to watch the sun go down.
In Olonzac we have tennis courts and a boules pitch in the pretty park. (We also have plenty of friends who would be keen to give you a game!)
Everyone gathers at Cafe de la Poste for aperitifs, coffee and complementary tapas on Friday nights, when there is a buzzing atmosphere. Alternatively you can order from one of the pizzerias in the village and wait at the bar with a carafe of their local rose. Or, why not pick up your morning croissant from the boulangerie opposite and nibble, whilst enjoying a frothy cafe creme or chocolate chaud from Cafe de la Poste? There are a two restaurants and an artisan ice cream parlour in the square plus several others a few moments stroll away. We can provide details of them all.
You`ll hear a mixture of accents and languages in addition to the predominant French, from all over Europe to American, Canadian and Australian. There is a friendly, local working community as well as ex-pats, who have travelled the world but decided to stay in Olonzac having fallen for its charm. This means that there is always someone to ask if you need directions, advice or just a chat if your French isn`t fluent.
It is popular cycling country with routes across the vineyards, along the nearby Canal du Midi and through the rolling countryside with its rivers, woods and the picturesque Black Mountains. The Tour de France often passes nearby.
There are many river swimming opportunities, with fishing, kayaking and picnicking spots. Go for a swim in the cool waters of the River Cesse and call in to one of the village bars on the way home for an aperitif and some freshly shucked oysters.
The Summer months are extremely lively with festivals, fetes, vide greniers and fairs every weekend. There is the Fete of the Olive, the Fete of the Melon, the Fete of the Garlic, Bastille Day events, wine tastings - all involving huge BBQs groaning with snails, moules, Merguez sausage or crackling duck breasts. There is often dancing to be had and of course, lots of our Minervois wine.
The seaside is within a 40 minute drive. There are beautiful beaches all along the coast as well as salt lakes with wildlife including flamingoes. A day at the beach with a lunch of the freshest oysters and a glass of Picpoul de Pinet is a must. The cities of Narbonne, Montpellier and Perpignan make for an interesting visit as well as the Mediaeval walled city of Carcassonne as described in Kate Mosse`s "Labyrinth" trilogy. You can catch a train to arles or Avignon in Provence, or indeed anywhere within the Languedoc Roussillon for One euro!
We have made some fantastic discoveries for both day trips and short breaks away and would be happy to recommend all our favourites.
There’s an airport at Carcassonne, which is the nearest at 28 Km, but flights also also to Beziers, Perpignan and Montpelier. The closest International hub is Toulouse, about 2 hours drive away. A train station at nearby Lezignan-Corbieres connects with Paris and Barcelona. Barcelona is a 2-3 hour drive.
The house is perfectly positioned for everything you could want from a holiday in the South of France. We love it and are very happy to share it with you. As this is our second home, the swap does not have to be simultaneous and we may even be able to be there to greet you, show you around the house and take you for a welcome aperitif at the bar.
It’s an inspirational area - so much so that this is my book which might answer your questions and gIve you more of a taste of French village life in Occitanie, if you are interested.
Chez Mwah: Judith Dowden. Amazon Books.
Otherwise please don’t hesitate to ask us anything directly.
Type of home swap
- Home Exchange
- Non Simultaneous Exchange
- Open to Offers
- Housesitting Offered
- Bed and Breakfast Offered
- Rental Offered
Conditions of home exchange
- Non smokers only
- No pets allowed
- No small children
- Washer / Drier
- Use of bike
- Shopping facilities
- Local restaurants
- Horse Riding
- Car recommended
Closest airport: Carcassonne
Nearest city: Narbonne
Property type: House
Location type: Rural