... Be sure to read about the La Cascade !!
La Cascade is the name of a renovated 17th century house in the South of France, in the medieval village of Durfort. The name La Cascade suits the house well because it sits on the bank of a mountain stream whose waterfall fills the house with its music. There's a terrace overlooking the stream where we eat by candlelight under the stars. It is a large three-story house that sleeps twelve people, has a large living room with a fireplace, a dining room with French doors onto the terrace and a large art studio on the top floor complete with ancient beams and skylights. The house has modern bathrooms and a spacious gourmet kitchen and every room is decorated with paintings by Suzanne L’Hoste, Carole Watanabe and other artists, not to mention treasures found in local antique shops and flea markets.
Durfort is an artisan village located at the foot of a mountain gorge where a plentiful supply of fresh water from the Sor River has assisted craftsmen in the shaping and tempering of copper vessels for centuries. In fact, many of the streets in the village have a channel of fresh water running down the center. La Cascade is located on such a street, at 27 rue des Martineurs, “street of the Copper Beaters.”
There are several shops in town that sell everything from bed warmers to cookware made of copper. Les Montagnes Noir which rise dramatically above Durfort, offer miles of hiking trails. One can start from the front door of La Cascade and hike for days. Golden fields of sunflowers take over where the forested slopes end, a pastoral contrast to the rugged beauty of the gorge.
There are many nearby points of interest. Soreze, with its art scene, is just a 25 minute walk over the hill. There are many more beautiful villages within easy driving distance, some of which are listed by the French government as Les Plus Beaux Villages de France. Carcassonne is only 45 minutes away and Albi, with its great cathedral and the Toulouse-Lautrec Museum, a little over an hour's drive.
There's a large swimming lake, Bassin de Saint-Ferréol, about 15 minutes drive up the mountain and, if you continue through the mountains on the road to Carcassonne, you will pass through ancient stone villages that were Cathar strongholds in the 12th century. One such town, Montolieu, has revitalized its economy by becoming the “book village,” a paradise for people who collect old images, antique books or materials for collage, and just outside of the village there's a studio for making fine hand crafted paper and books that also has a collection of art books for sale.
The graceful old city of Toulouse, an hour and a quarter away, has much to offer - from fine domestic and civic architecture to wonderful restaurants and a good art supply store. There you can also take a boat trip down the Garonne River or through the Canal du Midi.
La Cascade is in the region of France known as Languedoc, which in an ancient French dialect means "The Land of Yes." Follow the ongoing story of La Cascade through our blog and photo log and some day soon you may be able to say yes to participation in one of our wonderful classes, to manifest your dream to come to France on a creative adventure, to say yes to fraternity through individual artistry.