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  • Writer's pictureDiAnn

Chateau de Gudanes, the villages that surround it and more.....Part 3

I had a few days to explore the small village of Les Cabannes, just a short walk down the hill from the Chateau. The village square is where you will find supply stores, restaurants, and la patisseries (French for pastries) for residents & the people passing through and where the local market is held each week. The people of the village were very welcoming and I had a great time practicing my French and they their English. I do regret not paying more attention in my high school French class. I am determined to speak and understand more when I return to visit.

travel, adventure, chateau, France, local village, open market, mid Pyrenees, vacation, experiences
Sunday market at the square just down the hill from the Chateau.

Colorful baskets, fresh fruit and vegetables, handmade gift items and friendly vendors made for a fun morning at the square. I could smell the aroma of curry as I moved about the market and was delighted to find a gentleman cooking chicken curry served over rice, There were a few other vendors cooking meals for purchase to eat now or later in the day.

Mobile truck vendors at the market selling locally grown meats & chicken. They were both sold out before the end of the market.


A few of the local venues in the village:

We had a fun time ordering pizza from Le Cabanna. By the end of our meal I had promised to show them how to make my special pizzas when we return next year. Stay tuned....

Another great little shop in the village center that sells locally made products.

The local boucherie (butcher shop). The boucher does a great job of trimming the fat off the meat once you place the order.

Deciding what to have for dinner


Something about the way a village is put together that makes me feel so at home. Everywhere I turn I see something that draws me in and there are whispers in the air of times gone by. Perhaps it is the slower pace of the village or the way the surroundings play with my imagination. Whatever it is I find it most alluring and I am sad that I have only a few days to explore the area.

Les Cabannes, France, French village, springtime, historic, travel, adventures, off the beaten path
Village Street

The road just outside the Chateau gates is one of the climbs on the Tour de France bike race. Yep...its pretty steep.

Les Cabannes is such a cute little village. The train stops right in town and its too bad it is too small a town to rent a car. I rented a car in Toulouse and drove from there so I could get around to the different areas nearby.

Behind the stillness of the village streets inside these homes life goes on. When a day is cold and rainy the shutters are closed. When the sun is shining they open to the outside world. I love the differences of the buildings and wonder how they have withstood so many years with little change. I would love to see inside them all!

historic, village, houses, cobblestone, off the beaten path, France, travel, adventure
Behind the doors and windows

Although it seems quiet for a village so small there was so much going on. I could get use to least during the summer months.


Chateau-Verdun and Aston

Just around the corner lies the villages of Chateau-Verdun and Aston. It difficult to tell where one leaves off and the other begins. They seem to meld together. They lie just the other side (back side) of the Chateau de Gudanes. The Aston river runs along the only road that reaches these villages. The weather wasn't perfect. As a matter of fact, I hardly packed enough clothes to keep me warm and I won't even go into the inadequate shoes I had brought with me. Having never been to France, I hardly knew how to pack for a four month trip. I did the best I could but definitely will need another pair of shoes to replace the ones I wore here.

Chateau, Chateau de Gudanes, France, Village,  historic, magical, fairytale
Chateau de Gudanes from the back. The road in & out of Aston and Chateau-Verdun runs along the Aston river.

In the summer months there is so much to do in this area. Hiking, kayaking, cycling, and camping are just a few of the fun things to do. In the winter there are ski areas near here & the snow is said to be superb.

One final picture of what I saw as I walked the river road. I thought it might be a memorial arch for something or someone. When I asked Karina about this, she said they believe it to be one of several underground tunnels that run from the Chateau to areas away from the property and was a means of escape for anyone needing a quick exit from the Chateau. Or maybe a shortcut to the river & beyond? One can only use their imagination. Pretty cool, right?

escape, tunnel, chateau, village, hidden, historic, France,
Sealed shut this underground escape tunnel that starts under the Chateau floor ends here.


Mirepoix & More

Of course I love flea markets, garage sales & thrift shops so part of this journey is trying to find good deals to bring back home to help decorate the new 'guest' room that will be completed in September. Karina gave me some good tips of places to go where she often finds treasures at (mostly) good prices.

Anine is one of the ladies staying at the Chateau and is helping out while she is on a sabbatical from her job in Australia. We decided to take a day to check out a few of the places nearby to see what we could find. It was a fun adventure. We ended up getting lost but had a fun time doing it.

As we drove along the route directions that Karina had written for us we came to a small village called Nalzen that had all kinds of stuff set out along the road. My first thought was...Yes!!!! Cars were pulling over and people walking everywhere. STOP THE CAR!!! We had to see if there was anything that we just had to have.

Sewing, old machine, Nazlen, France, flea markets,
Oh how I wish I could take this home. Forty euro was a super price and these machines sew wonderfully. I hope whoever bought it appreciates it as much as I did.

It was fun to see all the people enjoying the day. People selling this and that & everything in-between. I wish I had taken more pictures of the interesting items being sold. I think I was having too much fun to remember to take them.

People would bring their lunch and set up next to their tables where they were selling. We passed a small building that had set up for the day to cook food to sell during the flea market. Everyone was having a good time on this day.

Our next stop was in Lavelanet where we stopped in at Le Chiffonnier. A huge place with all sorts of goodies and mostly good prices. We were looking mainly for anything that could be used at the Chateau. Came up empty handed on this day, but Karina has found quite a few things when she's been.

Mirepoix, France, village, town center, shopkeepers, market day
A working carousel in the town center. My grandkids would love this.

What a fun place. We arrived late in the afternoon and decided we had had a long enough day so briefly checked out a couple of the antique shops and other local shops. There was no market this day and we were a bit sad that we missed it.

France, Mirepoix, village, weekly marketplace, shopping, vendors, local shopkeepers, carousel, merry go round
A working carousel in the village center. My grandkids would love it.

Who couldn't resist good prices on Italian leather at la Malle A Malalices? I picked up a few things as did Anine & Robert at a variety of shops. I had a great time chatting with the local people during the day. They were curious about the story of my travels and how I was liking the different places I have been. Short-term rental properties are nothing new in most area's of Europe and once they knew that I hosted people in the US they had all sorts of questions and opinions. I was happy to share what I thought and they responded in like.

Finally, it was nearing time to leave Mirepoix and what could be better after a few hours of shopping than a cappuccino. These were served in tall glasses rather than a cup. I found a nice candelabra that would be perfect at the Chateau so decided to get it for Karina. It sat on the table while we had our coffee.

We decided to return the following day for the market and so glad we did. What a difference a day makes! The village square was full of vendors from all over the area bringing all sorts of things to sell. We had a great time wandering the stalls and found a few good things to take back.

Of course we couldn't let the day end without having a wonderful lunch at the Bar Restaurant in Mirepoix. We chose the fix menu, each of us making a different choice for our entree. I had fun trying to communicate in French that I wanted to substitute the fix menu entree with fresh trout. Good thing we had a good translator on our phones. We had a few laughs with the waitress on this one.

The appetizer was delicious. It was a soft cheese with cartelized onion wrapped in a paper thin dough. The salad was just as good.

Entree's ....what can I say but SUPBERB!!!!

And last but not least....the best dessert. What I like about the Europeans is that they have just the right amount of food on a plate.

food, dessert, French, Mirepoix, village

Pour l'instant au revoir.

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