This is cycling, walking, skiing, motorbiking, flyfishing and horseriding heaven in the foothills of the Pyrénées. Artists and cooks will love it too. Some of the steepest climbs in the EU for roadbikes. Cols de Portet d'Aspet and Col de Menté @ 1349m - after a flat start, the mountain rises within 5km.
A lovely renovated barn to a high spec, in the centre of the village. Not too much traffic around here...
The accomm consists of 2 double bedrooms (one a twin/kingsize, and the other a double sleigh bed) with an ensuite bathroom each - one with a bath, and the other with a 145cm x 120cm shower. Between the two rooms is a large open plan kitchen/dining and sitting room. The kitchen is fully equipped, and lots of crockery and glasses are provided in a big armoire.
Downstairs at ground floor is a snug/studio/reading room/ sitting room with a relaxed space - handy for coats and boots etc. Out of the front door, there is a courtyard providing a small wood terrace and a brick-paved patio to choose between shade and sun, your own garage with an extra fridge, the freezer and washing machine. A portable bbq is provided with picnic boxes and umbrellas and deckchairs.
There is your own gate, but it is also fine to do the in-out between the 2 gates, so no turning is needed. There is plenty of space for motorbikes and car and bicycles.
I have 2 mountain bikes and an upright with panier available for visits to the village shop for bread and croissants etc. The new ladies at the shop are doing delicious takeaway meals most days to save slogging....
The pretty village of Soueich is in the lee of a higher plain, sheltered from wind. It is idyllically located on the river Ger amongst the gently rolling foothills of the Pyrenees before they rise up in Aspet to start the steep climb upwards over the mountains leading up and over to Spain via St Béat. The Cols de Menté (1349m), Larrieu (704m), des Ares (797m) and Portet d'Aspet (1069m), test the afiçionados of cycling, as they follow in the tracks of the heroes of the Tour de France in the spring, summer and autumn. In winter up till Easter, go up to the small sunny ski station of le Mourtis 40 minutes away for a little skiing and lovely lunch in the sun, and enjoy the wonderful winding road through banks of snow and rooftops blanketed with a metre of snow. The roads are all efficiently cleared of snow for cars. Carry on over the mountain for lunch in Spain and a bit of Spanish supermarket shopping. Within an hour you can be seated at your table for paella or tapas, and after a slow lunch and a bit of shopping, you can be home again way before dark.
For sporty people, there is so much to do; cycling, skiing, hiking, swimming in mountain lakes, horseriding, paragliding in the mountains, canoeing in the valleys, you name it.
For motorcyclists, you can roar round the mountain twists and turns without too much else on the road.
For horseriders, you can ride up the mountains with a guide.
For children, you can learn to ski at half the price of the Alps (it's a secret place)
For gourmets, there are markets and specialist shops selling all cuts of meat, only seasonal organic produce, chocolatiers, cheese and wine aisles in the supermarkets - even the yogurt counters - will boggle your mind.
For shopaholics, there are some great boutiques in St Gaudens, a bit different (and I will draw a map) not to mention NafNaf and CacheCache.
For painters and writers, it is an inspiration of light and landscape; encompassing lakes in emerald green, skies of azure, mountains of cadmium yellow and green and fields of cows in their every variety.
For nature lovers and bird watchers, there are birds small and enormous, some circling in the thermals, and some twittering in the nut trees.
The summer is hot, the winter is cold, the autumn is beautiful, but the Spring can be grey....a bit of a generalisation as you never do know.
For people wanting nightlife, this is not the place! There are restaurants open at night within 12km, but mostly lunch is the thing, and supper at home.
The area is central for the exploration of Lourdes, the beautiful cities of Toulouse and Pau, Foix and Carcassonne. Both the Atlantic and the Mediterranean coasts are equidistant. There are mediaeval villages, cathedrals, rivers, caves - and markets in towns almost every day with organic produce within 5 to 40km. A LeClerc giant supermarket in St Gaudens tempts with cheeses, fishcounter, butcher, vegetables and fruits all proudly, colourfully and reverently displayed. Summer provides lovely picnic areas next to rivers and in the mountains, walking through the endless forests and drinking from the mountain streams. There are lakes and fishing, cayakking, rafting, paragliding...all manner of activities in this pure air.
The loft-style apartment, renovated by an English decorator, is furnished with an eclectic mix of English antiques, French antiques and 'modern Bali', with a brand new kitchen and modern-style bathrooms. The whitewashed wooden floor is 95 square metres, and has a large open plan kitchen/ dining room and lounge with huge sofa and modern bamboo chairs. There's a nice big central dining table and a large armoire full of crockery and glasses. It is lit by large windows and skylights under the lofty whitewashed beams, the skylights catching the sun all day. At either end are a smart kingsize/twin bedroom with airy ensuite bathroom comprising bath, loo and basin, and at the other end a romantic French double sleigh-bed with ensuite bathroom comprising walk-in shower, loo and basin. The whole project is newly installed to a high standard. The curtains are handmade and interlined for a cosy feel. The ground floor reception/studio of 35 sq m has armchairs, coffee table, bookshelves with lots of maps and local info to study, easels for painters, - making a 'snug' and studio with excellent lighting. The state-of-the-art stove is in here for a warm welcome. The barn has its own front door, entrance gate, wooden deck for dining, and garage, and is at a respectable distance from the main house for a feeling of privacy. Outside furniture, barbecue and dining facilities are available for those long summer evenings. Picnic boxes, umbrella, deckchairs available for a day out. The village has a Post Office and an épicerie to pre-order your croissants and have a coffee. 2km away is a Carrefour Express which has a surprising array of necessities, open 8 to 8'ish. 3km away is Aspet which is a gorgeous place for coffee, a market on Wednesday and Saturday, and a crystal view of the Cagire mountain on a sunny day.
Nearby St Gaudens has a great market on Thursday and the town buzzes. Book for lunch at Café 50 while you finish your wanderings - they don't rush you. There are some great boutiques and quirky shops if you look hard or get a map from me. Banks and cycle shops, hairdressers etc.
Day trip to Pau recommended; go to the Berry for lunch - very good meat, a manic brasserie. Lovely shops, and pristine chateau with moat. Park by the station and go up by lift to the town...all very smart.
I have a big list of restaurants, smart or otherwise, including the one up the road which has set meals, usually pig, cow or duck with chips and salad, a huge cheeseboard and very cheap wine, great fun - almost like a 'local' (see photo).