Tonton Marcel, a French and German guide to agritourism, dropped by O’Vineyards toward the end of harvest. They’re on the lookout for the unpretentious, country relation of Mr. and Mrs. Smith who also runs accommodations on the farm. 😀
Photos they took while here
Tonton Marcel separates the wheat from the chaff
I think this is a guide that needed to exist. One of the big problems with agritourism is that you’re never sure if you’re getting a cool, modern farm experience or a cheap little cot in a hayloft with a farmer who seems to dislike visitors. This second group is often a historical artifact resulting from the way farmers used to make a little spare cash.
There was a time when your horses got tired and you’d ask one of the locals if there were any pensions before the next big town. A place where you could tie up your horses and shut your eyes until morning. Those places still exist. A lot of farms and vineyards run their chambres d’hotes or gites in a similar manner. You show up, get the key, and then they’ll avoid you at all cost for the rest of your stay. The room is located on a farm, but otherwise you’re as separated from the farm experience as possible. These places also tend to be a little run down. A little rusticity can be charming, but people also expect a certain level of comfort.
Modern agritourism, especially in wine, can result in massive investments like four star hotels with a view on the vines. Every comfort imaginable. But then these accommodations can go a bit too far and you forget you’re even staying at a farm.
Tonton Marcel seems to seek out the special sweetspot between authenticity and modernity. They’re looking for operators like my family. We actually make wine and we’re winemakers before we’re hoteliers. But at the same time, we understand that you should show your guests a bit of hospitality and we’re savvy enough to include them in the winemaking process when we can. Guests at O’Vineyards will almost definitely remember the winemakers as they look back fondly on their stay.
So the guide finds farms like mine. And I think a lot of kids my age are looking for this sort of experience. I say kids because the average age of our B&B guests so far is about 35. That’s exceptionally low for a B&B. It’s eye opening for a lot of operators who think that only older couples are interested in the bed and breakfast concept.
So here’s hoping that Tonton Marcel becomes as much a household name as Mr & Mrs Smith.
Carcassonne and the surrounding area are very popular travel destinations because of the charm, character and history of the region. Rather than staying at a cookie-cutter hotel when you visit Carcassonne, consider taking advantage of some of the incredibly unique accommodations available in the area.
Obviously if you’re looking for holiday accommodation on a vineyard, I highly recommend visiting me at O’Vineyards! But vineyards aren’t the only cool place to stay while you’re in Carcassonne.
You can spend a night floating down the Canal du Midi. Or sleep inside a medieval castle! Gypsy caravans? Vintage Airstream trailers? If you want to go further afield in the Languedoc Roussillon, you can find… Country yurts? Treehouses? Glam Camping?
With all of these options, you don’t have to have to stick to traditional lodging accommodations.
Here’s a list of just a few unusual options available around Carcassonne.
O’Vineyards B&B Carcassonne
885 Ave de la Montagne Noire
33 (0)4 68 10 89 18
In the Castle
5 Rue Raymond Roger Trencavel
La Cite 11000 Carcassonne
33 (0)4 68 25 33 40
On the Canal du Midi
28 rue du Canal
33 (0)6 16 46 28 67
Les Roulottes Du Lauragais
1, rue de la République
33 (0)4 68 60 56 64
This is a list of accommodations on the Canal du Midi and Canal du Rhone. These are bed & breakfasts, gites or other lodging alternatives that let you sleep on a boat that cruises down some of France’s grooviest canals.
Obviously, I’d like to see you stay at O’Vineyards Bed & Breakfast which is a few kilometers from the Pont Rouge stop of the Canal du Midi. But staying at a vineyard isn’t quite the same as staying on a boat. So here’s a list for the fluvial accommodation lovers out there:
Canal du Midi
France is renowned for having a diverse landscape, and the department of Aude is particularly rich and varied. One of the few landmarks that manages to unite this vast area is the Canal du Midi or Canal des Mers that connects the Mediterranean coast to Toulouse (and thus allows ships to pass from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean without circumnavigating the Iberian peninsula).
28 rue du Canal.
06 16 46 28 67
Ecluse de l’Eveque
06 82 09 98 75
La Baïsa – Gite fluviale
06 07 88 18 30
écluse de la méditerranée
11400 LE MAS SAINTES PUELLES
06.86.95.71.36 (de préférence entre 18 et 21h)
Le Canal du Rhone
Rue de l’Écluse
06 25 24 85 00
Port de plaisance
06 10 69 59 81