Monday, July 22, 2013

A fabulous safari tent to rent in the Haut-Languedoc




Remi did it again.

When he announced that he was going to find the perfect rental for a getaway--this on the morning of our departure for Bastille Day weekend--I admit that I was skeptical. And so I started searching on my own, desperately pouring over the many files that I have put aside for just such occasions but everything and I mean everything was booked. Of course, Remi found something even better than what we could have imagined within the hour.


Peace and quiet (the main reason for our escape was to secure sensitive Ben away from Arles' ornate fireworks display)? Check. Deep natural beauty? Check in all capital letters. Space, comfort and style? Checkity check check. Welcome to the safari tent of La Cartayrade. It is nestled in a valley surrounded by the Haut-Dourdou forest (I love that name, don't you?) and adjoins the sweeping vistas of the Grands Causses Regional Park, smack on the border between the Hérault and Averyon Regions. 


But just because the tent is literally off the map doesn't mean that it can't be fabulous now, does it? Hendrik and Dorine Brakel have put the same amount of attention in preparing this space as they have for their two small stone gîtes, that are located next to their 17th century farmhouse on a hillside above. We felt every bit as welcomed as we have in any luxury tent in Africa!


Light pours through the tent with a comforting glow. Antique and modern pieces make for a quirky mix in the decor, just as we like. The books, alas are in Dutch as the couple are from the Netherlands although they are both fluent in English as well and truly lovely. We spoke with them both at length and I found their pioneer spirit very inspiring.


The bed was supremely snooze-worthy but city folks be warned! The birds in the forests start chirping early! I had to giggle at my "What is that?" reaction the first morning upon being pulled from my slumber but oh what a fine symphony they compose. I could and did listen to it for hours.


And yes, for those of you that have little ones...


...No Ben and Kipling were NOT allowed on the bunk beds.


The facilities are in a small building just beyond the porch, all the better to get a last glimpse at the stars at night. Hendrik explained that he purposefully kept the bark on the planks to give it character... 


...A charming touch that was repeated on a shelf in the fully stocked kitchen...


...one we barely put to use as we had only one thing on our minds...


...BBQ! We brought our own gas unit as anything with a smokey flame is forbidden in this forest region. We spied helicopters passing overhead from time to time, surveying that all was well.


It was. Most certainly when I was curled up in this 1920s style beach chair reading the absolutely phenomenal book "Flight Behavior" or watching the plethora of butterflies. I have never seen so many in one place in my life. 


Steps tumble down the hill to a shady clearing crossed by a stream. It was unfortunately dry during our visit but Hendrick says that it is clean enough to drink by the handful. The view from the porch opens up on to a chapel (more about that soon)...


...and beyond? 


Well, let's just say that our eyes found the same peace that we held in our hearts.

Gites de Cartayrade
Hendrik & Dorine Brakel
Cartayrade, Rials
34260, Avène, France

hendrikbrakel@nordnet.fr
Tel.: (33) 4 67 97 01 09
Cell: (33) 6 85 36 20 74

Rates (including tax and bedding but not towel supply):
450 Euros per week in July and August
375 Euros per week in June, September and October
Special rate: 299 Euros per week in September
Contact them directly for availability and pricing on stays of less than a week.
There are excellent driving directions on the website.

This is truly an exceptional, hidden and unknown spot, perfect for anyone who loves nature. I can imagine my writer friends coming to the safari tent on retreat as well. But there are things to do and see in the area and I will follow up this post with more of our adventures during our wonderful time in this far-off corner of the Haut-Languedoc.



41 comments:

  1. The boys look great :-), the setting amazing (well done Remi) and you are always so generous in sharing these things with us, and for the proprietors. Now added to the growing list!

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    1. Isn't France amazing that there are so many completely different regions to discover? It felt like we were in the Alps!

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  2. It is so charming - especially that vintage beach chair. I wish I could escape to such a beautiful place for a weekend.

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    1. Loree, I read in a French magazine that they were used on the beaches up north so people could sit in them to stay warm even if there was wind--and chat via the windows on the side!

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  3. What a beautiful spot. The thing that makes me the MOST jealous, though, is that you can bring the dogs to many more places in France than we can here. Karina would love it there, too. It does make me dream about what we could easily do with the right plot of land in just the right location......

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    1. And for far less money than a vacation house...

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  4. Replies
    1. You would of course be amongst the "writer friends" I imagined... :)

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  5. Love this. Tents, yurts, treehouses...love them all. Thanks for sharing. xx

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    1. Jules, we got stuck in traffic around Montpellier but otherwise it is really accessible from here! Everyone goes to the Cevennes but this is a lovely alternative...

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  6. We would love something like that! It looks fabulous Heather and the puppers look happy.....hooray Ben is saved from the banging! Looks like heaven on earth to me!

    XXX
    Debra~

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    1. Debra, that made me giggle--I think that your HOME is heaven on earth! :) And yes, Ben didn't even hear ONE firecracker this year. Mighty happy about that.

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  7. Hello Heather

    How unique. I have not seen anything like this. The canvas walls give a feeling of roughing it. Your dogs must have loved it too.
    Helenxx

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    1. Exactly Helen. Roughing it, open to the outdoors and yet totally comfortable. We ALL loved it. :)

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  8. What a peaceful-looking place. Would be perfect for us, too.

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  9. Glamping is my idea of camping....I would love this! Looks like you couldn't help but have a wonderful time there. I love waking to the sounds of birds chirping...heaven.

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    1. I know for SURE that you would love this. They could have so easily filled it with plastic furniture like most rentals--so glad they didn't!

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    2. that is the single worst thing that these rentals do . I am so proud and happy that you "called this out"!!

      The plastic chair thing........it is a HUGE MISTAKE on the part of rentees! (if you renters don't complain bitterly......(and completely boycott any house with those icky, icky, icky, icky plastic chairs......) then you deserve them!


      YUCK!!!

      I will never. ever, recommend a house in Europe......which has plastic chairs.......and I am an anonymous person who researches houses for rent.....and no "houses" know who I am!

      P

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    3. Nor will I Penelope. But that is why I search and search for the good stuff. And I have to say that it is unfair as of course the extremely expensive rentals are nicely decked out (but even then often have plastic lawn chairs!!)--it is really rare to find such a reasonably priced rental that is decorated with care--but they do exist! Both of the rentals that I found in the Luberon are the same. :)

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  10. Heather what an exciting experience. I would love to be away in this paradise!!

    xoxo
    Karena
    2013 Designer Series and Giveaway!

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    1. Karena, it has been so hot and noisy here, this trip really helped us all so much.

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  11. Heavenly, heavenly facilities and surroundings. Looking forward to some more of your photos. Will we see the stone gites? Gallivanta

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    1. Alas, no! But you can "visit" them on their website--plus the gites are open all year 'round. Although, it might be a tad far to come from New Zealand...

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  12. What a find I love how you show us other aspects of the countryside rather than the obvious x

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  13. Magic is all around us! we just have to find it! and appreciate it!

    What a lovely story!

    Chirping birds......! what a lovely way to wake up!

    (instead of mowers, blowers, hedgers!!!0

    Peaceful , and natural sounds!

    Wonderful!

    LOVELY post!!

    Penelope

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    1. Merci, Penelope! We have CONSTRUCTION noise on two sides of our apartment right now. They start eeeearly and THAT is how I wake up most mornings. Booooo...it has been this way for months now! And while I am glad that folks are renovating these old houses, I am getting really tired of the noise...

      The birds were beautiful--how they would "go to town"!

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  14. I forgot to say....that wicker divine little one-person tent(my way of explaining) I saw in Charlotte Moss's "store"!!

    That store "closed"! (kind of abruptly) It was on the "Upper East Side"; and full of the most divine stuff you could imagine! (her taste!!! YIKERS!!!!)

    I think one of these divine things migrated over there for you to enjoy!!

    BRAVO!!!!

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    1. I will have to ask about the chair the next time that I go back. But if it is good enough for Charlotte Moss... :)

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  15. I admire the creative and artistic touches--and the very idea to set a safari tent in these surroundings. Sweet kitchen - it's all so inspiring to see. Off to forward your post to my mom who will love it! The September rates are tempting....

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    1. A little far from Bandol but basically a straight shot across to Montpellier then up. Hendrik says it is absolutely stunning there in autumn and I can believe it!

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  16. Heather, what a find! This is my kind of camping. Absolute heaven. So glad you got some peace and quiet (until the bird chorus started) on such a noisy weekend. Thanks for sharing your safari tent secret with us! XO

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  17. We call that "Glamping" ('glamour camping' out here in the Western United States) -- tents so fabulously appointed that you almost forget the canvas walls! This one looks like it would make for a fabulous stay!

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  18. Now that's the kind of camping I can handle! great find!

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  19. Amazing place. I like everything you have written about the place and the accompanying photos.
    Thank you.

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  20. How wonderful!! and yes, I love that name. Definitely coveting the chair...

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