This new page is for contributions from uses of the website and residents in the area. We welcome contributions from everyone who has something to say about our village.
Contribution from Vivienne Carter.
Autumn in Mas Cabardes 2015 by Jane Weir
village is looking lovely as usual but very quiet under the October sun with
temperatures generally around 20 * but 26 * today!
flags on the Bouledrome are still up following all the summer festivities and
meetings have been taking place in the hall next to us on Rue Basse , no doubt
to discuss future activities.
famous line from Keats’ poem, “To Autumn”, “Season of mist and mellow
fruitfulness” has repeatedly been in my mind since our recent arrival, but so
far no mist! Just lots of fruitfulness.
sweet chestnut trees, Chataignier or Castanea Sativa are groaning with fruits. The
roads, forest paths and gardens are covered in them. With any slight breeze they
fall on your head while gathering them. It feels literally like Manna from
long as one is careful not to take from a spot which is “Prive” or “Interdit”,
of which there are many, much can be gathered in a short space of time.
neighbour has shown us how to prepare and eat them but then, realising we don’t
have the correct equipment in which to cook them, she has offered to prepare them
for us. We just need to gather them, clean them and make a small nick in the
nut. She even reckons we’ll be able to take them home to use at Christmas. We
equipment used by the locals is apparently an old cooking pot into which holes
are bored in the bottom. They then roast the chestnuts over heat, often an open
I write this David is cooking some chestnuts in the oven and we are eating them
hot. We’re considering all options as we are bringing them home daily without
even trying very hard. This is one day’s haul. In fact this probably took us
about half an hour to gather.
look so inviting just lying on the ground.
people in this area have been gathering and eating chataignes for a very long
time. They used them in all sorts of ways, often as a flour to make bread.
texture is very crumbly and one can see why this was a success. They are used
in sweet and savoury dishes.
are also a staple diet for the wild boar. The Chasse season started last week
so we were a bit more careful where we wandered on Sunday! Brian also mentioned
other days, Wednesdays I think, so care will be needed tomorrow.
while I’ve been writing this David has produced our evening meal. Using the
remains of a sanglier roast we had last night, he has added those chestnuts he
cooked in the oven. He has created a risotto with a tomato sauce and added
sweetcorn. It’s very nice! I don’t think we’d had sanglier meat before, except
as a pate but it’s good. Quite gamey and worth trying. After all that’s what
coming to France is all about - experiencing a different culture to our own
with all that that entails, including food. Our staple here for some time has
been chestnut yoghurt- we love it!
Christmas at home in Scotland I made a dish with venison, Guinness, port and
chestnuts. I adapted a Delia recipe which suggested walnuts but we didn’t have
those and I did have a tin of whole chestnuts…… It was really good.
later used beef instead of the venison and think that was even better.
we’ll continue to work out the best way to get chestnuts, in whatever format,
back to Scotland and have fun doing it! David has just mentioned maybe bottling
them in alcohol but before I’ve even searched the internet to check out the feasibility
he’s decided the alcohol might be just too precious…..
We came across Mas Cabardes completely by accident. What a happy accident. This tiny village, nestling on the sunny side of the Montagne Noir, is a hidden gem. 15k to the north of Carcassonne, far enough away to escape the Cers, the chilly wind which periodically rattles through the city but not so far up the mountain that the temperatures drop in relation to the height you climb.
So what is so special about Mas Cabardes? Let’s start with the mediaeval church, at the head and heart of the village. Used less often as a place of worship these days, the building is regularly opened so that visitors can appreciate its’ architecture and beauty.
At the foot of the slope leading up to the church is the Tisserand Cross – simple, not astoundingly beautiful but amazing to think it has stood here, as a symbol of Christianity, for over 500 years.
On the edge of the village is the “lavoir”, not such an attractive a building as many in surrounding villages but still used – it accommodates items which are too large to go into the washing machine – and most of the villagers drink the springwater that feeds it – it tastes infinitely better than the stuff that comes out of the taps!
The village lacks a café or a bar but we do have an incredibly well stocked epicerie which is open in the mornings and most evenings. Who needs a bar when you can take a picnic and wander into the hills on one of the many walks surrounding the village.. Just try the short stroll up to the chateau where the views over the village are magnificent. More enthusiastic walkers could follow the route taken by many of the villagers who worked in the goldmine near Salsigne.
Simply wander around the village itself and wonder at the variety of houses – splendid half-timbered dwellings dating back to the 17th century, houses where once, well-to-do families lived and houses which are simply one room stacked upon another one. Many of the properties in the centre of the village are about 150years old.
All this built around the river which, itself, attracts a variety of wildlife – various fish, ducks, swifts, swallows, dragonflies, butterflies and surveying it all, the falcon who flies over and checks on the village regularly.
There is so much more to describe in this tiny village but perhaps its’ greatest asset is 200 of the friendliest people you could meet anywhere!
Contribution from Steve Rowe who spent his holiday in Mas Cabardes.
Summer Holidays in Mas Cabardes
Kindness and generosity were the most notable features of our recent holiday in the Midi.
We arrived June 19th, tired and emotional, after sustained work and family events, and so Mas Cabardes was, (and still is) the perfect retreat.
The first kindness and generosity was, of course, Joyce and Mike’s fantastic offer of their house and car for our fortnight. I had recently finished a building contract, and we had held two parties for our youngest daughter’s 21st, and so we slept, and read, and drank wine, and explored the village, for the first few days and gradually re-charged ourselves.
The second kindness and generosity was with the local shopkeeper, who waited patiently while I fished and dredged various bits of school boy French, (from some serious depths), and he hid his pain well as I served up my best efforts, albeit feet first. He manfully resisted the urge to either, go out and shoot me, for insulting his language, or indeed shoot himself in a fit of depression, at the low level of achievement by fellow Europeans. It certainly helped that France was in the euro, and even though he rattled off a long line of swassantneouf euro and quartros sis cents, once he showed me the printout I could give it to him. Many a laugh we had, and what a great social service he provides for the village. It was very obvious to me that here was the social hub of daily life in the village.
The third kindness and generosity arrived in the form of Brian, who, having allowed us time to rest, invited us to Aperitifs, in his, and Celia’s fine house in the village. I can only thank God that we had not been invited to a dinner, as the aperos and food courses were more than a feast.
We started to do all the tourist things, visiting Roquefere, and having a lovely meal in the local Auberge, Las Tours, Cacassonne market, St Vincent’s bell tower, canal trips on the Midi, Narbonne, The Abbey at Fontfriere, and under Brian and Celia’s relaxed but experienced guidance, avoided hurting ourselves too much. We also met Vivien and Michael (who also have bought a house in the village), and are in the process of rebuilding various parts of it. They took a day off from that, and joined Brian, Celia, Libby, Billy, and ourselves on a tour of some very fine local vineyards.
Ah yes -France in dappled sunlight, heat of 27 degrees, and strolling around a 400 year old vineyard, gently enjoying very acceptable wine, at unbelievable prices, at 10 o’clock on a Thursday morning. This, I imagine, must be very close to Heaven, and is why I think the French say nothing to attract tourists, - why would they? They have no need.
Mas Cabardes was always there, when we tired, and the late leisurely breakfasts, and wine filled evenings of reading, and un-winding, made for a wonderful experience.
Brian, true to form, kindly dropped us back to the airport, where, without his care, we almost got put on a flight to Liverpool.