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Pied-a-terre in Languedoc-Roussillon

In September of this year, my wife and I thoroughly enjoyed an extended (19-day) stay at Les Aliberts, Minerve, France. The new owners of Les Aliberts, Barbara and Wendell, are truly marvelous hosts, and have made great strides in the two years they’ve owned the place to restore much of the original appearance, inside and out, while providing guests with impeccable accommodations. Each gîte offers complete and luxurious furnishings in a truly beautiful setting. Everything is first-class, including magnetic induction cooktop, excellent refrigerator, and all-new, first-quality furnishings. Dishes and flatware are all good quality and abundant, and so are the cooking utensils. A well-supplied kitchen is a big plus for us; we like to include a full, leisurely lunch as part of our day trips then prepare something light for ourselves in the evenings.
We were there in September 2016. We had begun planning our trip a few years earlier, basing our research into the Languedoc-Roussillon region on the 2014 edition of the Rick Steves Guide to France. By coincidence, the San Francisco Chronicle featured a report on Les Aliberts, so we thought it would make a perfect pied-a-terre, for our favorite type of vacation, day trips to nearby towns, villages, and events (including markets!). As it turned out, we had to delay our original plans for 2014, and when we began to update for 2016, we learned that Les Aliberts had new owners, but we continued to plan on it as the starting point for day trips. What we found was far more than we expected.
Everything about Les Aliberts speaks of class, from the top-quality appliances, equipment, and tableware, to the way that each apartment (“gîte”) is decorated tastefully, with nothing looking cheap or thrown together. We arrived in mid-afternoon, and as they got us settled, Wendell gave me directions to get to the nearest Casino super market for supplies.
The Cave, the large common meeting and dining area has had the original walls and ceiling faithfully restored to their original finish and the entire ambiance of apartments and common areas alike brings in the vineyards and olive groves that surround the property.
Nor are Barbara and Wendell simply proprietors; the olive grove is theirs, as is one of the adjacent vineyards, and they are totally immersed in the daily operation of the neighboring farms. During our stay, Wendell spent at least three of the days helping with the grape harvest. On one evening, they held a wine-tasting event in a candlelit setting in the Cave, featuring four wines, two red and two white, all locally produced. They have totally immersed themselves and Les Aliberts into the local community, even to contracting with a local artisan boulangerie to make baguettes and other fresh breads available to guests on a daily basis, at very minimal cost. They understand the Cathar history of the region, and will explain why many road signs show two different spellings.
Their website,, is newly revised, and Wendell is updating it constantly. Since we were just there, Mary and I can attest to the fact that the pictures on the website are wholly realistic, but even they don’t fully convey the feeling you get in being there. The entire estate truly is that well done, the pool (held at a constant 21ºC) is large and beautifully maintained, as are the spa hot tub, the sauna, and the steam room.
Barbara is German, Wendell is Swiss, both are extremely personable, and between the two of them, they can easily converse in many languages. I’m sure there are many who, like us, like to have a home base for one-day or overnight excursions. I cannot imagine a better, more beautiful, or more affordable (< €200/night, even in peak season), option. Given its central location (Albi is a scant 2-hour drive, and Collioure is only slightly farther), this is a perfect pied-a-terre for the entire Languedoc-Roussillon region.

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