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This 300-year-old house contains two apartments, one upstairs and one downstairs, sleeping 5 in each; both are quite private, and have a terrace/garden to sit in and eat out; but it works also as a complete house suitable for large families, or for two families on holiday together, with 8 rooms in total and a large games room in the basement. It is situated in St Laurent le Minier (Gard), Languedoc Roussillon, France - approx. 30 miles from Montpellier.
The USP for this house is the marvellous swimming to be had 800 yards below the village, in the river Vis. The Vis is a swift running trout river which, having no towns upstream, and running underground for many miles, is one of the cleanest in France; the pools below its waterfalls are perfect for bathing, with gently sloping shingle beaches.
Flat 1, on the floor above street level (the 'cave' below opens onto the street). Sleeps five normally.
Kitchen: large fridge, four ring gas cooker with grill and oven, electric coffee maker and food processor, and microwave. It gives, through french doors, into the courtyard garden at the rear, with garden chairs, table, parasol and barbecue.
Sitting room (6m X 3.2m) with french doors onto the courtyard.
Utility With an ironing board, iron, automatic washing machine.
Shower room with loo, washbasin, shaving point, shower and convector heater.
Bedroom 1 ( 6m X 3.3m) with 4'6 brass double bed, and washbasin with electric hot water heater.
Bedroom 2 (6.9m X 3m), with three single beds.
Flat 2, second floor. Sleeps 5 normally.
Kitchen with large fridge, four ring gas cooker with oven and grill, electric coffee maker and food processor, automatic washing machine, iron and ironing board.
Bathroom, with shower, loo, washbasin, shaving point and electric heater.
Sitting (6.2m X 3.4m), with two windows overlooking the courtyard.
Bedroom 1 (5.9m X 3.2m), with three single beds.
Bedroom 2 (4.5m X 2.9m), with 4'6 double bed.
Roof Terrace With wisteria-covered pergola. Access by spiral staircase (drinks fridge at the top) from the sitting room. Equipped with table, parasol, garden chairs and barbecue. 1m. high solid balcony surrounding. Not overlooked. Great views! Small children should not be left unattended on the terrace
About the Languedoc region
A good site for discovering the region is: www.languedoc-france.info/index.htm
The Languedoc is the largest wine producer in France.
Sheep and goats are reared in the mountainous areas, mainly for cheese production.
The coastal lagoon of Lake Thau produces large quantities of shellfish, particularly oysters and mussels. Fishing, both inshore and further afield, is a significant industry along the coast. The largest centre is Sete.
Getting to St-Laurent-le-Minier:
Ryanair flies from: Liverpool, East Midlands, London and Luton
To: Nimes (about 1.25 hours away) and Carcassonne (about 2.5 hours away)
And from: Stansted
To: Montpellier (about 1.25 hours away) and Perpignan (about 2.5 hours away)
The super-fast TGV goes to Montpellier, about an hour away.
Car Hire; in a recent Which report, customers reported fewest problems with Auto Reisen, Enterprise, Firefly and Alamo.
Activities in and around St-Laurent-le-Minier
The following activities, facilities, or sports are within reach:
The hills around St Laurent have a network of paths which provide good walking; the terrain is unspoiled rough scrub covered with holm oak, pine, and chestnut trees, and many varieties of herbs and wild flowers. Cevennapied, J-M.Bestetti, 04 67 81 17 68:
Lessons or courses can be taken at Filhol Tennis, Cazilhac (3 miles), 04 67 73 82 26; other courts at Tennis Club Ganges-Laroque, 04 67 73 87 92, and at St Bauzille de Putois, 04 67 73 70 12
The closest is just down the road in the pools below the waterfall in the Vis; there are other pools both up and downstream, and shingle beaches with good access on many stretches of the river.
There are also many good spots for swimming in the Herault, particularly at St Jean de Fos, and at the Lac du Salagou, which is just under an hour away.
The nearest beach is just over an hour away (Palavas), and there is a long stretch of sand between Sete and Cap d'Agde, where there is also a naturist beach. Another good beach to the east of Montpellier is L’Estinguette.
Canoe Tonic Loisirs, Rue des Megissiers, Ganges, 04 67 73 54 03. Canoe la Vallee des Moulins, route de Montpellier, Grabels. 04 67 73 12 45, firstname.lastname@example.org, canoes and kayaks for hire for the Gorges de l'Herault. Canoe d’Aubanal at Brissac, 04 67 73 39 58, email@example.com, Canoe Montana at St-Bauzille-de-Putois, 04 67 73 36 76, www.canoe-cevennes.com. Also www.canoe-france.com, and www.aupalya.com.
Deep sea, at Cap d'Agde; trips arranged from the Hotel du Golf for Blue Shark, Swordfish, Tunnyfish, Requin Renard and Thon Germon. There are Trout in the Vis, the Bueges, and the Foux. There are also Pike, Perch, Carp, Roach, Gudgeon and Eels in the Herault. More information from La Fino Cannello Gangeolo at Ganges, 04 67 73 86 33, Les Fins Pecheurs at Saint Laurent, 04 67 73 30 47.
L’Etrier des Cevennes at Cazilhac (about 3 miles), 04 67 73 98 91. Tricastel, Pegairolles-de-Bueges, (about 12 miles), 04 67 73 11 25. Tashunka, Route de Montoulieu, St Bauzille de Putois, 04 67 73 76 67, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.tashunka.fr. Ser’Ane Donkeys: St Jean de Bueges, 04 67 73 13 26 - donkey trekking, like R.L.Stephenson.
Mas de Bombequiols, St-Andre-de-Bueges, (about 7 miles), 04 67 73 72 04 67. Nine holes, restaurant at the club.
Le Sentier de la Garrigue. Off the road between Ganges and Sumene, (about 6 miles), a natural reserve in which can be seen more than 70 botanical species of birds including Kestrels, small Vultures, the rare 'Blue' Blackbird, and two types of Eagle. Further information on 04 67 73 51 52. Centre Pleine Nature Les Lutins, St Bauzille de Putois, 04 67 73 70 30 / 19 74
The well-known reserves of the Camargues are within easy reach by road.
At St-Guilhaume-le-Desert, which has an 18th century organ by J.P.Cavaille, from mid June to the end of September. Information on 04 67 73 14 99. Concerts are also organised at La Ferme des Moreaux, run by an architect/sculptor, where there is also a swimming-pool and a restaurant run by his wife. Causse de la Selle, about 11 miles, 04 67 73 12 11.
Some of the most remarkable caves in France are on the doorstep. The Grottes des Demoiselles is a three star site near St-Bauzille-de-Putois, about 5 miles, 04 67 73 70 02. Otherwise there is the Grotte de Clamouse, Grotte de Baume Cellier, Grotte du Sergent, and numerous other caverns, abysms and just plain potholes. Groupe Speleolologique Gangeois, 06 22 06 53 49.
The Cirque de Navacelles, the Cirque du Bout du Monde, and the Cirque de Moureze, are also remarkable local sights; Navacelles being further upstream on the river Vis, also has pools and a waterfall which is good for bathing. The roads there are precipitous and not for sufferers from vertigo. The Musee Cevenol, Le Vigan, 04 67 81 06 86, www.museecevenol.com. Musee de la Soie, St Hippolyte du Fort, 04 66 77 66 47.
L'Association Francaise Regionale d'Astronomie organises weekend introductions to astronomy with observations by telescope, at Aniane, about 18 miles. Information from the Central Tourist Office at Montpellier, 04 67 54 20 66.
Caves Cooperatives; the two nearest are Les Coteaux Gangeois, Route de Montpellier, just outside Ganges, 04 67 73 81 44, and Domaine les Caizergues, between Kartix and Brissac. A further Cooperative, which has a well-deserved and excellent reputation for the quality of its wine, is St Saturnin, about 18 miles, near St Jean de Fos, 04 67 96 61 52.
Windsurfing and sailing
Lac du Salagou, about 25 miles; I think boards can be hired by the hour. Wind is sometimes quite good, particularly in the middle of the lake away from the hills. The beach between Sete and Cap d'Agde is also used.
Boats can also be hired by the hour - but this should be checked with the Syndicat d'Initiative at Clermont l'Herault.
Hang-gliding & para-gliding
L’Envol, ecole de Parapente, Le Mas de Bruyere, Montoulieu, about 7 miles, 04 67 73 36 96, email@example.com, http://envol34.free.fr Centre de Vol a Voile du Pic Saint-Loup, Mas de Londres, about 15 miles, 04 67 55 01 42.
Kartix Parc, on the road between Ganges and Brissac. 04 67 73 75 00, www.kartix-parc.com
Les Archers du Val d’Herault, 04 67 73 82 62
There is an excellent market every Friday morning from 8am in Ganges, selling local and regional produce, and a flea market early on Sunday mornings.
For other information, enquire at the Office de Tourisme Cevennes Mediterranee, Plan de l’Ormeau, Ganges, 04 67 73 00 56, Mon-Sat 9-12, 1-6pm.