PLACES TO VISIT

A bit about our house in the Cantal, France

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cantal_mapEvery summer, we spend a few weeks in our family house in the Cantal, in France. The Cantal is an agrarian region located in the Auvergne, in the south-centre of France, with mountains, meandering rivers and the most picturesque little villages imaginable. It’s such a beautiful part of the world, and I thought it would be nice to give you a little tour of the neighbourhood! ; )

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house1Our house was built as a farm in 1789.  Inside, there was only one room with an enormous fireplace, where people used to cook and to keep warm in the harsh winters. The walls are super thick to protect against the heat in summer and the freezing cold in winter. Underneath the house, half in the rocks, were cellars that housed some smaller animals. Later, other buildings were built on the premises, enclosing the back of the house and forming a sweet little courtyard. My parents have lovingly restored and renovated the house, adding rooms in the attic and a modern bathroom. It’s such a unique and special place, with many memories for many people. (My mum passed away here 6 years ago, I wrote about it here, here and here.)

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cantal_spiderThe Sécadou is a little annex which used to have an open gable, allowing the wind to pass through and drying the chestnuts inside. Now, it is converted in a darling guesthouse. The horses and cows pass right by! Inside, those big beauties can sometimes be found. (They freak me out!!!)

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And this is the little playhouse that my dad made from an old cigar crate when Sara was little. All the kids love it! Plus, all the hostas in old copper pots (so the snails can’t get to them!).

cantal_tadpolesCatching tadpoles from the trough…

cantal_letterboxThe letter box. No joke!

cantal_atelierMy dad would get terribly bored if he wasn’t building something. So he’s converting the old bread oven into a new guesthouse/atelier.

cantal_chateauThis is the local chateau. It was built in the 12th century, and was inhabited until a few years ago. Sadly the roof of one of the big barns has recently collapsed… I’ve heard the community will start raising money to restore the buildings (which will be a huge effort given the fact that the village population counts only 194)!

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cantal)madeleinesA trip to the local bakery is mandatory every morning. Don’t you love the tiles, and the paper bag? (And children with a madeleine in their hands in the morning, are happy children!)

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cantal_treasuresGoing to ‘Vide Greniers’ (a kind of car-boot, or garage sales) are one of our favourite pass times over the weekends. Sometimes they are in stunning locations! And of course, I have ‘scored’ some treasures (amongst which a solid brass bed for Pim!). The children were getting into it as well, especially with the money they made selling loom bands, and the crochet purses I made for them — Ava bought a sweet doll, Pim bought Asterix and Obelix figurines and Sara bought more loom bands (smart girl).

cantal_cheeses

market_avaThe Cantal is known for its fabulous cheeses. There’s the famous Cantal, of course, the Salers, Fourme d’Ambert, Blue d’Auvergne, and (my favourite!) Saint-Nectaire. There are wonderful sausages and other local delicacies as well. We surely gain a few kilos each summer! (I’ll post more about the local market soon.)

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riverwalk4The nature around the house is stunning, and one of the activities we love undertaking is going for adventurous ‘river walks’. We descend to the brook in the vally, and walk upstream through the water — climbing waterfalls and all!

cantal_canoeWe took Sara and Pim for an 11 kilometer canoe trip on the river Lot and it was amazing.

cantal_colombierWe made a little trip to Château du Colombier, over 900 years old and in the same family for over 30 generations. There’s a park with a few wild animals like wolves, lions and brown bears. Pretty!

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cantal_conquesBeautiful towns and sights in the area include Aurillac, Rodez and Conques. But really, every little village is worth visiting, and just driving around the countryside is a spectacle by itself. (I also like going to Laguiole for knives, and the Potterie du Don for their beautiful plain oven dishes.)



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cantal_house8That’s it! I do hope you liked my little tour. If you’re ever thinking about visiting this part of France (it’s SO worth it!) and would like some tips, just let me know. I’m happy to help!

xxx Esther


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Comments (27)

Tasha
September 4, 2014

Oh my goodness, I love every bit of this! Thank you for sharing, Esther 🙂 Just beautiful!


September 4, 2014

I’m absolutely enchanted! Tank you for sharing!


Nicola
September 4, 2014

Your post is completely gorgeous! We spent our summer holidays in the Aveyron this year & last, so not too far away. We visited Rodez, pedalloed along the Lot, ate way too much cheese (& drank far too much wine!) & frequented some vide greniers. Unfortunately the weather wasn’t so great this year, but it certainly won’t stop us going back. Brilliant memories!


Helen
September 4, 2014

Wow, what a gorgeous post Esther! Idyllic! x


Emilie in Paris
September 4, 2014

Amazing photos of an amazing place! Love it


Esther in Amsterdam
September 5, 2014

We missed you there this summer!! xxx


SHOW ALL COMMENTS
September 4, 2014

Hi Esther! This is amazing, we just have an old house at about 8 Km from Aurillac, it’s my grandfathers old farm and looks very similar to yours as well. I have been spending all my summers, Easter breaks and Christmas there since I was 5 years old, it is my “second place” and I think you are right, the Cantal is so magical, the country side, the little villages, the forest, the people, the cheese (I love Saint Nectaire as well than Salers). Well, I have been following your site and this is just a wonderful coincidence, I am really excited about it. Congrats for the post!!


Esther in Amsterdam
September 5, 2014

A great coincidence!! I saw your comment on IG and looked at your feed — next year we should meet up for a coffee in Aurillac!! 🙂 xxx


September 4, 2014

What an enviable life you have! The pictures certainly seem to match your description of this beautiful place. I am a city mouse through and through and even seeing your pictures of enormous bugs did not put me off the dream to have a little country house one day like yours. Thank you for sharing.


September 4, 2014

Just magical… so old and built on love and filled with memories… beautiful in every way.


Natasha
September 5, 2014

Oh my gosh what a beautiful home and country. I love France and look forward to visiting it soon. My husband’s Dad lives there and we must go and visit him soon. thank you for sharing such a beautiful place and home xxxxx


Courtney in London
September 5, 2014

Oh my gosh, I can’t believe in all these years we still haven’t come with you on one of your trips there! It looks so, so beautiful! Let’s make a plan to go this coming year!!!


Esther in Amsterdam
September 5, 2014

Yes! Let’s!!


Maria Stamati
September 5, 2014

Great post!!!!


Stacy Ragueneau
September 5, 2014

We LOVE SAINT NECTAIRE! We buy them whole, and they do not last long in our house. I think that my oldest daughter who is studying in the states misses St. Nectaire almost as much as she misses all of us….


Meredith
September 5, 2014

Beautiful! Thank you for sharing!


Jen
September 6, 2014

Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous, thank you so much for sharing!


Jola in Warsaw
September 6, 2014

Perfect! Just love it! We spend every second summer in France, thinking of a place like this for ourselves in our beloved Bretagne.


September 7, 2014

Wow, what a magical place to spend your summers with family. Absolutely beautiful — and I’m not familiar with this region of France at all, so thank you for sharing it, Esther!


Berlin Kangaroo
September 10, 2014

Magical.
Loved all the little details captured in your photos….colour, contrast, dollies, letterboxes etc etc


September 12, 2014

[…] a gorgeous house (and it reminds me of my parents’ […]


July 7, 2015

[…] fun week of camping with Emilie and her girls, and afterwards we’ll continue our trip to the Cantal as usual. So not a bad time to pen down some tips to make long car journeys with children as […]


Jamie McMullan
July 22, 2015

Hello,
I came across your blog whilst looking at pictures of Cantal on Google. Your blog, house and family are beautiful!
We have a house in the Cantal, Rouffiac. It’s absolutely beautiful there, your blog and pictures capture the peacefulness well. I was wondering if you could tell me where to find the Vide Greniers?
Thank you so much
Jamie


August 17, 2015

I’d love to live there for awhile!!! We live on the west coast of Canada. Want to trade homes sometime?


Erin
November 18, 2016

excellent and beautiful! as an american immigrant to france via marriage to a french cantalian, we bought our farm house (1808) about 10 years ago after spending all our vacations with my inlaws in the same village. thank you for great recap!


terra ogawa
May 26, 2017

do you recommend a place to stay in that area for a family of 4? we are based out of avignon for a week but the cantal area looks beautiful. Thank you!!!


Esther in Amsterdam
May 29, 2017

Hi Terra, I would have a look at https://www.gites-de-france.com — there are plenty of choices to be found! x


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