A Christmas Castle

Christmas is already turning into a distant memory but before we race too far into 2017 we thought we’d share a few snaps of our French festivities. We spent Christmas week with Amy’s family in a lovely maison in the village of Villeneuve Minervois, perched on the edge of the Black Mountains, North of Carcassonne.

 

 

On Christmas Eve we visited the fairytale citadel of Carcassonne and walked about the ramparts which are studded with Rapunzel-like towers.

 

Taking the easy route down

Although the citadel is definitely the crown of Carcassonne, the “new” town (it was founded in C13th) is where the life of the town is today. We were lucky enough to visit on a market day when the main square was filled with local producers selling organic vegetables, honey, cheese and wine – perfect for a few last-minute Christmas goodies!

 

 

As it seems much of France is, the landscape around Villeneuve Minervois is dominated by vineyards which, naked from their leaves at this time of year, form contorted shapes rising from the earth like gnarly monsters. Christmas day was spent exploring some of the trails which wind through the vineyards and up into the Black Mountains beyond.

 

 

More castles were in store for Boxing Day when we visited nearby Lastours, where the crumbling remains of four Cathar Castles cling to a steep mountain ridge.

 

 

The day turned into more of an adventure than planned when we took the “short cut” back along the dried out river bed (thanks for that suggestion Mum!).

 

Amy descends the waterfall!
The boys can’t see what all the fuss is about

Making the most of the Mediterranean December sunshine we headed to the coast for a walk on the windswept cap Leucate and the obligatory Christmas swim in the sea – which felt a little like cheating after last year’s dip off Cornwall!

 

Post-swim beach cricket – serious stuff!