A gite where
you won't get
There are plenty of gites in quiet locations which,
to be honest, do not have much to offer other than peace and quiet.
Lou Coucaye is not one of these.
Here, peace and
is just one among many assets. As well its magnificent and
environment, the area round Lou Coucaye is one of
France's 41 officially designated Art and heritage areas,
thanks to its rich heritage of mediaeval
castles, churches, and unspoilt villages. In addition, the area offers
a wealth of opportunities for outdoor pursuits,
river swimming and biking, kayaking
km from Lou Coucaye, Brioude,
the local market town, is one of the most
attractive small towns in France.... Yet being off the busy tourist
trail, it has kept its character, unlike many of the more famous small
towns in France, which are now just tourist traps. The
"Brivadois" is one of the drier parts of France, with
2200 hours of sunshine
a year, and is also an area where there is
to do even on a rainy day. The "Haut Allier" is also
in the process of classification as a regional park.
As well as the
beautiful natural environment, in July and August,
is an extensive programme of evening concerts in the
and chapels of the Haut Allier - many with top class performers.
tastefully restored farm cottage gîte is in a small and
friendly hamlet in the rural area of Saint Ilpize,
the heart Auvergne's beautiful Haut-Allier
valley, 90 km. south of Clermont Ferrand. The stone-built
has been carefully and attractively restored. The hillside
behind (starting just behind the house) (map
is a class 1 nature reserve (ZNIEFF type 1 - French
equivalent of a class 1 SSSI) . The area is a haven for nature lovers,
with its wealth of wildlife - birds, mammals and plants - including
eagles, deer and even small wild prickly-pear cacti. And the valley
still has some of the old terraced vineyards that made it famous in
past centuries. A short walk from the village is a small heritage
vineyard, conserving many old varieties of vine, and just beyond it the
impressive mediaeval castle of St. Ilpize.
Chazieux is at the end of the road, and there is hardly any vehicle
traffic in the village. The only
traffic jams occur when the road is taken up by a flock of sheep.
Guests at Lou Coucaye are welcomed with fresh flowers and maybe also
fresh vegetables from the
garden. Click for panorama
of the village
(high resolution jpg photo)
a spacious living area with dining table for six, and comfortable
chairs, under a beamed ceiling. The two windows look out over the
valley, with views
down to the river and up to the hilltops opposite. There is a
semi-enclosed kitchen area with gas cooker, fridge-freezer, microwave,
washing machine and cupboards.
is also a
wash-basin, and a cloakroom under the stairs.
The front door gives onto a large stone paved terrace, with chairs and
a table for al fresco dining, with views over the valley and up the
This area tends to become the main living space for visitors
during the summer months. Throughout the summer, it offers sunshine and
shade. There is adequate shade in the heat of the day, but
Stone paved patio with sunshine and shade
La terrasse en dalles de
pierre, avec soleil et ombre
terrace, facing west, catches the early evening
contains the main bedroom
rugs): one double bed, built in wardrobe; the window looks out over the
valley. The adjoining bathroom has a full-size bath with shower, plus
second toilet and washbasin.
The second floor
has two bedrooms, one with a double bed, the other, under a sloping
wood panelled ceiling, with two single beds. The double-
bedded room has
windows facing up and down the valley; the single bedded-room, has a
secured floor-level window with views down to the river, and a
skylight. This room, with its selection of toys and games, is
children, but suitable for adults too. Both second-floor rooms have
carpets. All bedrooms have curtains, not shutters.
Lou Coucaye is the white house, centre left
Lou Coucaye est la
maison blanche, centre gauche
Further details :
Broadband Internet access (Wifi and ethernet
connections) , DVD/CD player and LCD TV
monitor. (Some DVDs can be borrowed)
Books in English and French, books about the
Toys, books and games for children,
There is generally mobile phone reception in the gite, or (for some
phones) outside. .....
The river is popular with anglers (fly or coarse fishing), and the area
abounds in historic monuments....
And of course, it is also a wonderful spot for those who just want to
Continue to page 2: nature, wildlife and the local area
Click here for
of the bedrooms