A Beautiful Holiday Gite in the French Pyrenees
Mas Forge, a hillside retreat belonging to Hedley and Anita Smith, is a truly delightful destination for a holiday, secreted away on a wooded hillside in that part of France known as Roussillon.
little history and geography
Roussillon, French Catalonia, is an agricultural area set deep in the south of the country, bordered by Spain to the south and the Mediterranean to the east. Comfortably obscure and less pretentious than the neighbouring Cote D'azur, even today it remains one of France's best kept secrets.
Spreading northwards from the foothills of the Pyrenees, it is a region of vivid contrasts, from the marshes and beaches of the coast up through the valleys of the rivers Tech and Tet into the Capcir plateau and the spectacular gorges and peaks of the mountains, dominated by the magnificent Canigou, the great landmark of Catalonia.
Beneath the foothills of Canigou, where the valley of the river Tet narrows dramatically into a gorge, lies the small walled town of Villefranche de Conflent. This is one of the towns that Vauban, military engineer to Louis XIV, fortified after the area finally became part of France with the treaty of the Pyrenees in 1659.
It is here that the waters of the river Cady join those of the Tet, having slipped down from the lower slopes of Canigou near the famous abbey of St Martin, through the Gorge du Cady, past the spa town of Vernet Les Bains and beneath the wooded slopes in which Mas Forge is secreted.Mas Forge
Once you are at Mas Forge, relaxing in one of the two delightful gites at Hedley and Anita's secluded hillside retreat, you will enjoy a rare prize that few destinations in Continental Europe can offer the traveller.
You could be forgiven for thinking that this might be the charming approach by rural trackway past goats and vineyards that you enjoyed, the 10 acres of hillside and footpaths that you are at liberty to roam or possibly the spectacular view of Canigou across the valley. Or after a few days you might reflect that it could be the very drinkable and rarely seen in the UK “Muscat Sec” or possibly bathing in the unique swimming pool built into the base of an old kiln of Gothic proportions.
Well these things are all to be enjoyed at Mas Forge, but the treasure to which we refer is the discovery after travelling nearly 1000 miles away from home to deepest, most beautiful, France, that all of the plumbing has been done by an Englishman.
You may think finding joy in such an apparently mundane detail a little eccentric, whilst hopefully not failing to appreciate the numerous benefits it confers upon one's experience, but in many ways it underlines everything that is so unique and enjoyable about staying at Mas Forge.
The essence of this is the way in which the energy, ingenuity, style and sheer joy of both Hedley and Anita have been intimately woven into the fabric of the place - from top to bottom. This takes on a staggeringly literal meaning when you stand back and look at the enormous scale and sheer verticality of the earthworks and masonry that support Mas Forge, but is equally reflected in the numerous small details of construction, landscaping, decoration and furnishing that have transformed what was a dramatic industrial site into a secluded and beautiful place to stay.
Within the grounds of Mas Forge are two semi-detached gites - Cady and Tech.
|Cady||Sleeps a maximum of 6 people in 2 bedrooms.|
|Ground floor||Hall, shower / toilet, kitchen diner, large south facing living room.|
|Upstairs||Bathroom, twin room, double room with 2 extra single beds.|
|Tech||Sleeps a maximum of 10 people in 4 bedrooms.|
|Ground floor||Spacious living room, dining table for 12, kitchen area, utility room, 2 shower rooms, large twin.|
|Upstairs||Bathroom, 1 double, 1 twin (extra bed), mezzanine 1 bed, 2 bunks.|
|Outside||Private terraces with BBQs, tables &
garden furniture. Extensive shared gardens lead to pool and solar-heated
jacuzzi, fenced and gated.
Separate informal common room with pool table, reference books, maps, table football, games and general information.