The village

A peaceful gite in the Auvergne

Gîte Lou Coucaye -  Massif Central




Open from late April to late October
- a gîte in a hamlet in one of the most beautiful undiscovered parts of France.

Haut-Allier valley 
a  listed natural and historic 
heritage area in southern France




The hamlet of Chazieux

A gite in Auvergne

Gite Lou Coucaye

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 A gite where you won't get bored......

There are plenty of gites in quiet locations which, to be honest, do not have much to offer other than peace and quiet.


Gite Lou CoucayeLou Coucaye is not one of these. Here, peace and quiet is just one among many  assets. As well its magnificent and unspoilt natural 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, walking, river swimming and biking, kayaking or fishing, bird-watching or botany.

15 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 plenty 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, there is an extensive programme of evening concerts in the historic churches and chapels of the Haut Allier - many with top class performers.

Details

This  tastefully restored farm cottage gîte is in a small and friendly hamlet in the rural area of Saint Ilpize, in the heart Auvergne's  beautiful Haut-Allier valley, 90 km. south of Clermont Ferrand.  The stone-built gite 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)

Ground floor  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, top-loading washing machine and cupboards.  
There is also a toilet with 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 hillside behind. 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 the full

Stone paved patio with sunshine and shade
La terrasse en dalles de pierre, avec soleil et ombre
terrace, facing west, catches the early evening sunshine.  The first floor contains the main bedroom (pine floor with 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 ideal for children, but suitable for adults too. Both second-floor rooms have fitted carpets. All bedrooms have curtains, not shutters. 

Chazieux from above the village
Lou Coucaye is the white house, centre left
Lou Coucaye est la maison blanche, centre gauche

Further details :


Lou Coucaye has.........

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 region,  
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 relax......  

Continue to page 2: nature, wildlife and the local area

Click here for photos of the bedrooms

In brief.....

Capacity:

A three-bedroom gîte for up to six people in one of the most beautiful - yet relatively unknown - parts of the Auvergne Massif Central -  Smoking not permitted within the gite.   Sorry, no animals accepted.

Location

In the beautiful Haut Allier valley in the heart of the Auvergne. Calm, beautiful scenery all round.
Altitude: 500 m
15 km south of Brioude
100 km south of Clermont Ferrand
28 km from A75 motorway.
Road access: about 8 hours drive from the Channel ports, 5 hrs from Paris, 8 hrs from Strasbourg.  
Air access:  Closest airports with direct UK flights:  Clermont Ferrand (1h - Ryanair) , Rodez (2h30 - Ryanair) , Lyon St Exupéry (3h - Easyjet, BA) .

Climate

Average annual rainfall in Chazieux is about 600 mm (about 24 inches) per year.
(Compare this with  London Gatwick 752 mm, Manchester 899 mm, Bordeaux: 851 mm,  Avignon 700 mm, Lyon 826 mm, Nice 804 mm,  Florence: 842 mm, Rome 792 mm).
For more detail:  see Climate

Leisure

Abundant opportunities for outdoor leisure activities. River sports, excellent  river swimming, hiking, biking, bird-watching

Activities and visits 

 More photos  

More about the Auvergne

♦  More about the Auvergne
♦  The Haut Allier: music and concerts

Guest book: holidays at Lou Coucaye
See what visitors have said.

Wildlife

The Allier valley is a listed European natural  heritage area, with marvellous bird watching opportunities
Click for more on Natura 2000

The valley is in the process of designation as a new Natural park area (parc natural régional, the regional equivalent of a National Park)

Media

The Auvergne

2016 The Auvergne has been discovered by Lonely Planet.... the region has been chosen as no 6 in Lonely Planet's "top ten regions of the world" to visit...
"The Auvergne arouses a most delicious kind of vertigo... but somehow it has long been overlooked for being too peaceably rural. But that’s all changing, as French travellers weary of tourist-clogged rivieras seek escape here."

The Haut Allier valley

If you like peaceful caves and gorges, valleys and streams, archaeological sites and little chapels with hardly anyone else around, the Allier Valley in the department of Haute Loire is the place to go"
Wayne Bodkin, in the Sunday Times "Holiday France" supplement,