Where in France? What is there?

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  4. Where in France? What is there?

Where are Halcyon Leisure properties located?

Halcyon Leisure holiday properties are located in South West France, in an area covered loosely by the départements of Lot (46) , Lot-et-Garonne (47), Tarn-et-Garonne (82) and Dordogne (24)

The greatest concentration of properties is near the point where Lot, Lot-et-Garonne and Tarn-et-Garonne meet near Montaigu de Quercy.

The map shows the départments and the principal towns of each département.

What is the area like?

With the motorways of the A62 and the A20 running on either side, and the nearest major cities of Toulouse and Bordeaux being an hour to the south and an hour to the north west respectively it is an extremely peaceful county area, with a gentle pace of life.

Dotted by historic medieval villages, each with its own character, the main activity is farming and food production with a very wide range of crops grown beside the normal cereals and sunflowers. There are large areas of soft fruit orchards, hazelnuts, walnuts, honey, vegetables and fields of the famour Quercy melons.

The rolling countryside is an ever changing patchwork of colour as the year progresses, and almost around every corner there are spectacular views.

Almost all Halcyon Leisure properties have charming features – or quirks…  Be prepared for some unusual features, and things from bygone eras.  Relax into the informality and gentle way of life in the area, and you will enjoy a great time: Many make the mistake of expecting and demanding hotel style service, which is most definitely not what self catering properties in this area of France are about.

Sun, Sun, Sun!!!

This area of France enjoys a very sunny climate in summer, with long days of unbroken sun: The Peak months of July and August will enjoy temperatures usually at least 80F (27C), making shade as important as sun, and most Owners have carefully develope shaded areas for protection during the heat of the day. This is the place to come if you want to live outdoors for a couple of weeks with barbecue the most common form of cooking for most families.

Sunny periods can be punctuated by sharp storms, but these are usually in and out within 24 hours.

Spring and Autumn can also offer beautifully sunny weeks but less reliably than July and August.

What are the major attractions?

Templars House, Dunes

The area is rich in history, and well connected to British history as Richard I (The Lionheart) and his mother, Eleanor of Aquitaine, spent much of their lives in the area, and before them there was a significant Roman presence.  Many villages and towns have buildings dating from Medieval times, and traditions still run strong throughout the area.

Natural history abounds in the mainly oak woodlands and meadows with amazing populations of butterflies and wild flowers: African migrant birds, notably the hoopoe, are frequently sighted along with a healthy reptile population.

The mainly limestone landscape gives rise to many cave systems, and the world famous prehistoric cave paintings at Lascaux are in this area.

With quiet roads and well marked paths, the area is superb for cycling and walking, with a good range of rides and walks for all abilities becoming well established and published. The St Jacques de Compstela Pilgrim Route runs through the area on its way to northern Spain, and long distance walkers along this route are frequently seen around Cahors, Montcuq and Lauzerte. See a separate article on Walking and Cycling for more information

With the rivers Lot and Dordogne there are water based activities – canoeing, fishing and cruising, and for more advance adventure sports the magnificent limestone gorge of Averyron offers climbing and white water opportunities.

Within this area is the Cahors AOC producing the full bodied red wines of the region, and to the north west the Bergerac AOC wines will be found: Many of the wineries are open for tasting and purchase, many along with food as the industry diversifies.

What ISN’T there?

There are no very large towns or cities within an hour of this area, so a city break this is not!  Fast food outlets are still fairly scarce away from the larger towns with just an odd burger bar or pizza outlet around, but generally all independent: The nearest McDonalds, Pizza Hut etc will be found some miles away around the larger towns – and then not all of them.

Costa, Starbucks and other coffee house chains are in their infancy in France – but there are plenty of bars and recently several Tea rooms have opened, mainly run by English expatriates, which provide a much more personal style of service than that aimed at the masses.

Theme parks are smaller around the area, although there is a large one at Agen, but there are still plenty of things for families to do and see.

Night clubs are few and far between, but there are plenty of entertainments with music and dancing of all types throughout the year – keep your eye on magazines such as the Quercy and Périgord Local for the latest information on what’s on in the area.  These free magazines are available at several outlets throughout the area, including at Bergerac airport.

Walk to the boulangerie

A requirement for many guests is the romantic French ideal of the walk to the boulangerie for fresh bread and croissants in the morning: Sadly the harsh reality is that the French countryside has suffered the same as the English countryside, and the days of every village having a bakery are a memory as the supermarkets and larger outlets have gained a stranglehold on everyday shopping.

Although the traditional boulangerie is few and far between, the tradition of fresh delicious bread every day is very much alive, and the freshest croissants, baguettes, flutes and other breads will be available somewhere nearby…. just rarely within walking distance nowadays.  Some supermarkets and other shops operate a ‘Depot de pain’ service where bread is delivered in for locals to collect.

A few properties are within walking distance of the nearest boulangerie – if this is a must for you, please tell us when booking.

Do I need to speak French?

There is a strong expatriate community throughout the area, and English is widely spoken: However, as with any French people you meet, an effort to at least try to communicate in their language is very much appreciated and respected – no effort or fear will often be met with refusal to try to communicate.

How do we get there?

Although the area is relatively remote from airports and motorways, the strong expatriate population means that you have a good choice of air routes during the summer and some all the year round to points within an hours drive. Please see the article on Travel for more information on all matters relating to Travel to the area.

Do you have any more questions on the area? Please contact Halcyon Leisure with your questions which we will endeavour to answer.

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