Les Lavandes is an attractively renovated modern villa, well situated at the top of a small residential development on the edge of the pretty Minervois wine village of Cesseras, yet within walking distance of the village shop and bar. The layout of the house, with two separate bedroom areas, makes it perfect for two families wishing to holiday together.
Enter the property via the cypress lined drive, where cars can be parked in the shade. To one side of the villa is the 9 x 4.5 metre swimming pool, surrounded by a tiled area, with views extending across the Aude plain to the distant Pyrénées. Sun loungers and umbrellas are provided. The mature garden at the front of the house offers plenty of shady spots for relaxing on a warm afternoon. Les Lavandes backs on to vineyards and fields on two sides.
Steps lead up to the covered porch which overlooks the garden and runs the length of the front of the house; it is perfect for a siesta in the shade. The terrace wraps round the side of the house and widens into a patio overlooking a vineyard. There is a built-in barbecue and an outdoor dining table seating up to ten people.
From the porch the front door opens into the spacious open-plan living, dining, and kitchen area. The well equipped modern kitchen includes a stove, dishwasher, washing machine and two fridges, as well as small appliances such as a kettle and toaster. The dining table seats up to ten.
Comfortable sofas are grouped around the log burning fireplace, which makes the house suitable for off-season stays. The living area has air conditioning, and the house is equipped with full central heating for the winter months.
From the kitchen area a corridor gives access to the two bedrooms and the bathroom on this side of the house. This bathroom has a bath tub and overhead shower, a toilet and a basin. The first bedroom has a king sized bed; the second bedroom has a view of the pool area and has two single beds. Both bedrooms have fitted wardrobes for plenty of storage and hanging space.
At the end of the corridor, a small room is ideal for changing in before taking a swim. From it, a door connects to a room that opens directly onto the pool, which has a sink, a fridge, and storage for pool towels and toys.
Behind the living area, a separate television room is equipped with a flat screen TV with satellite channels, a DVD player and a CD player. Wireless internet access is available throughout the house.
The third and fourth bedrooms and the second bathroom open off the TV room. This bathroom has a stand-up shower, a toilet and a basin. Overlooking the terrace at the side of the house, the third bedroom has a king size bed under a high ceiling lined with wooden beams. The fourth bedroom, suitable for older children, has two single beds, one on the ground and the second on a mezzanine above. Both bedrooms have walk in closets for storage and hanging.
Cesseras is a beautifully situated mediaeval village at the foot of the Montagne Noire, ideal for walking and for visiting the surrounding area. It has a popular bar and a village shop, which delivers fresh bread and croissants each morning. The bar and shop are just three minutes' walk from the house. The local tennis court, two minutes' walk from the house, is available for the use of guests free of charge.
One of only five villages allowed to boast the Minervois La Livinère sub-appelation, the local wine is of very good quality and offers excellent value for money. The local market town of Olonzac is a five minute drive and has a good range of shops and facilities. Olonzac's market on a Tuesday morning is one of the best in the area.
A variety of walking routes provide a way to wander around the local Minervois villages. The trails are detailed in a booklet produced by the local tourist office, available at the house.
The local area is also excellent for cycling. Bicycles can be hired locally and delivered to the house in advance of your arrival. Below the house is the relatively flat terrain of the Aude plain, and a few kilometres away a shady cycle path winds along the banks of the the Canal du Midi, which stretches all the way from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic.
Behind the house is hilly countryside with quiet country roads and tracks. Vineyards and fruit trees grow on the lower slopes, and wilder vegetation of the garrigue scrubland grows further up the hill. The scenery is stunning, especially towards Minerve, the Gorge de Cesse and the Pyrénées.
Nine kilometres away, Lac de Jouarres is a large lake with a beach, where visitors can swim and windsurf. It is a short drive to Carcassonne, the great medieval citadel, now a World Heritage site. Inside its ramparts is a great variety of shops selling crafts and regional specialties. Also within an hour's drive is the city of Narbonne, established by the Romans and the site of a great medieval cathedral, and Béziers, equally ancient and a stronghold of the Cathar sect during the 13th century.