LISTED IN THE SUNDAY TIMES BEST 20 GITES IN FRANCE 2018
Maison des Fleurs.'..sits at the heart of village life serving up southern France in all its glorious, sunlit simplicity. Antique bedsteads, window box geraniums and baguettes from round the corner are all part of the scene here. So, too, is a magnificent array of beaches & ancient monuments....'
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Thezan des Corbieres
Stone age man found the area around Thezan des Corbieres very much to his liking, wonderful climate, rivers, fertile soil plus caves for shelter all combined to make it a very good place to live. Prehistoric sites abound. The Romans liked it too, they named the village Titus (this was corrupted to Thezan over the centuries) - grapes and olives were grown here for export to Rome, you can still see the terraces on the hillsides to this day, some of them are still used.
By the end of the middle ages Thezan was a typical fortified bastide and a very rural village, the main occupation was farming - mostly arable - together with keeping sheep and goats and working vineyards. By 1882, and the coming of the railway, however, the village had considerably enlarged its vineyards and thoroughly embraced the growing of grapes, nearly to the exclusion of all else.
Sadly phylloxera ravaged the older grapevines in France and by 1907 there were riots when the grape harvests failed again. Thezan's boom time was over. Nowadays the Thezan vines come under the Boutenac region appelation,one of the best in the Corbieres. The vineyards flourish here again and are still one of the main occupations of the inhabitants.
Everywhere in the village are signs of Thezan's history. If you follow the Rue de la Source you will come to the ancient covered well and next to it is the Lavoir where the women of the village joined together to wash their clothes and linen. They hung the wet linen over lavender bushes to dry and bleach in the sun. In the Rue de la Four is the building that housed the communal oven and down the Rue de la Ancienne Eglise is the old cemetery of the village - you will see that many of the names in the cemetery are Spanish, they fled here during the Spanish Civil War and never returned. Above the doors of many houses are dates and, sometimes, monogrammes combining the family names of the owners of the property when it was first built. History is all around you in Thezan.
Pizzeria/Bar - Pizzeria du Village
Bar/Cafe - La Ptit Motard
Pizzeria/Bar - Pizzeria du Village
Thezan is a vibrant little village. You will hear and see the children of the local Infant/Primary School at lunch times - they light up the village and the little streets as they walk home to lunch with their families. The residents all use the local shops, and the streets are always occupied (except between 12 and 3 when it is time for lunch and a sieste) and all are friendly, having time to chat. Everyone will say 'bonjour' to you as a matter of course, so do reply. If you don't speak French but know some Spanish, many people here speak Spanish too - they do learn English at school but most are not proficient but they really appreciate it when you try to speak French. When living in Thezan des Corbieres you will be in the heart of French village life and able to join in local events such as vide greniers, fetes and markets.
For such a small village it is quite well served with amenities. The Tabac offers cigarettes and newspapers and stationery plus an eclectic assortment of items including light bulbs and plasters - it is also the village Post Office - plus they serve a wonderful takeaway coffee.The village grocery store - Epicerie - sells a small selection of essential goods and some fresh vegetables and fruit. Twice a week vans selling fresh fruit and vegetables, and others selling fish and meat, congregate in the village square to make a small market. 6 km away in St Laurent de la Cabrerisse there is a Spa supermarket and just 14 km away, on the road to Lezignan Corbieres, are two huge supermarkets - Intermarche and Carrefour - plus there is a very large, and very wonderful, produce market in Lezignan on Wednesdays details of other local markets are listed in the cottage handbook. Aldi and Lidl are in the town of Lezignan Corbieres.
The village Pizzeria sells simple, but well cooked, meals, together with beers and wines. Situated in the village square, it is just round the corner from Maison des Fleurs. At the edge of the village, five minutes walk, is a Bar/Restaurant La P'tit Mtard, meals and drinks are served plus they organise Paella nights every month and other special events. The villages of St Laurent and Fabrezan (8km away) have several Restaurants and Bars, Ferrals les Corbieres (9km away) has a lively Bar - Chez Bembe, which has excellent live music some nights, they also serve food at lunch time and some evenings. Ferrals les Corbieres also has a restaurant that has entry in the Michelin Guide - En Catimini. Nearby towns of Lezignan and Narbonne have a wonderful choice of Restaurants.
When the produce vans come, twice a week, and set up a little market in the village square to sell fresh vegetables and meat and fish, their arrival is announced by Helene in the Mairie's office - her broadcasts always start with the words 'allo 'allo'... now where have you heard that before?
Thezan des Corbieres is situated 27 miles from Beziers and Carcassonne airports, Perpignan (37 miles) and Montpellier (68 miles) are also accessible as is Toulouse (93 miles), the A 61 motorway is only ten minutes away. There are so many beaches available in this area (approximately 44), the closest are only 35 minutes away. Once on the motorway you are just over one hour from the border with Spain.
The TGV also goes to Perpignan from Paris or the SCNF actually goes to Lezignan-Corbieres and/or Narbonne. Once in Narbonne you can hire a car, they will leave the keys with the Station Master if you arrive at an unsociable time, or you could cycle to the village if you are a keen cyclist.