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Lively Bastide Village…

Chalabre – it’s where we both live ….  seriously by choice……Jennifer and her husband Vinx (world famous, hugely travelled jazz singer and composer) searched the length and breadth of France before deciding to live here,  I did exactly the same thing – in my case, starting at La Rochelle in Brittany, working my way down to the coast and then deciding it was HERE that I wanted to live ….  so, why here ?

When you approach Chalabre it feels welcoming, the village roofs of warm red curved tiles – the wonderful old plane trees lining the streets – the village church, lit at night – all combine to give a feeling of welcome….  As you come into the village centre, big old houses, many with their half timbered construction lovingly renovated, surround the old market square.  The market square is still used for the Saturday farmers market, music evenings, village fetes, and is the living centre of an increasingly vibrant village.  The roses growing up many of the houses are given by the Mairie, a commitment to making our village more beautiful year by year… High on the hill overlooking the village, the chateau looks down and is home to exhibitions that celebrate the village with living history re-creations of medieval days … jousting by knights in armor…  brilliant horsemanship… and every joust ends with a child being officially “knighted ” by the “king”…  Chalabre celebrates the children who are our future as well as bringing the past to exciting life .


It’s a rural community, agriculture is still the main area of employment locally, and many families have lived here for generations ….  Strangers are welcome here too, as many, many names in our phone book are Spanish – a reminder of how many people fled here during the Spanish Civil War.  Now the new “strangers” are people like Jennifer and I…  Jennifer and her husband are American, I’m Welsh, my next door neighbor is Dutch/French and at the end of the Square is a charming Russian surveyor!  So, a complete mixture of cultures all co-existing happily in a French village, taking part in village life and becoming part of the local community that has made us welcome.


In a world that, sadly, seems to be more and more troubled, more and more dangerous, more and more uncaring, we are lucky enough to live in an area with the lowest crime rate in France … an area where the streets are safe and where children can play in the market square unsupervised.  Its a relaxed way of life, shopkeepers have time to talk with you, and the farmers market is the weekly meeting venue …. thanks to the Committee des Fetes… who run the coffee shop which is open only during market hours.  Where else would you find a Committee devoted solely to having a nice time?  Almost every village in this region of France has one….  funnily enough it is the region in France that has the lowest number of people per square mile – and the highest number of fetes!


On a practical level, we have excellent internet and cable –  allowing many people to work from their homes – and it is not far to link to the network of “fast” roads that criss cross France… great air access too, with a choice of three international airports – Toulouse, Carcassonne and Barcelona…  and the train service is a thing of wonder …  we are very, very privileged here with the luxury of rural living allied to all the bonuses of the modern world.


Many of the villages in this region are similar to Chalabre … welcoming, safe, and each village has its own special character…. Mirepoix is more bustling, Leran is noted for its choir and the number of artists living there, St. Colombe has a seriously excellent Committee des Fetes, and Bastide sur l’Hers has the most amazing Bastille day  firework display – where the sky over the river is lit up with light….  everyone has their own favorite villages…..and Jennifer and I both admit to total bias where Chalabre is concerned!!  Come and discover which is your favorite village – it is an amazing region with something for everyone – we shall look forward to helping you find your dream home … and to becoming part of this largely undiscovered region of France.

With all best wishes, Lizzie and Jennifer

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