WELCOME TO LAGARDE, JUNHAC
Lagarde lies in a region of France known as La Châtaigneraie (the Chestnut Grove), a delightful area of outstanding natural beauty; a mixed landscape of mountain ranges, forests, lakes and rivers, rolling countryside, and steep gorges in the south-west of the department of Cantal, not far from the valleys of the Rivers Lot and Truyere and the spectacular mountains of the Auvergne and the Aubrac.
La Châtagneraie has, in the past, been relatively isolated from much of the rest of France by a lack of modern roads and air transport links. With the extensive upgrading of the road system this wonderful countryside can now be easily accessed in a day’s drive from Britain. Alternatively, you could make an overnight stop for a more leisurely journey.
With the availability of inexpensive flights by Ryanair from London (Stansted) to Limoges, Toulouse and Brive and by FlyBe to Rodez, short breaks of a few days as well as long summer stays are feasible with travel time just a few hours from home.You can also travel by rail from Britain and arrive at Aurillac railway station, just 30 kms away from Lagarde.
Although basic provisions are available from the nearby town of Montsalvy, Aurillac, the main town of the Cantal, is the largest shopping centre for the area where you will be able to buy everything you need for your holiday.
The property for rent is a very substantial Auvergnat Barn beautifully transformed into two completely self-contained gîtes, each with its own private entrance and parking. Accommodation is for up to 10 persons. Gîte No. 1 is for a maximum of 4 persons and Gîte No. 2 for a maximum of 6 persons. Both Gîtes can be hired separately. Together, they offer, on one level, a unique arrangement for up to ten friends and family to enjoy spacious comfort but with independent living space, when required. A comfortable put-you-up bed is available to increase the sleeping capacity of each gite by an additional person.
Alongside the property is an 11m x 5.5m swimming pool surrounded by extensive terraces with plentiful seating areas. In all directions the views are stunning. Lagarde is quiet and peaceful throughout the year and is a must visit place for a relaxing holiday.
The gites are adjacent to the home of the English owners, Gary and Denise Stephens, who will be available should you require any assistance to ensure that you make the most of your holiday in this wonderful area.
The countryside surrounding Lagarde is a delightful mix of undulating fields and forest with granite farm buildings dotting the landscape. The area is known as La Châtaigneraie (the Chestnut Grove) which takes its name from the numerous sweet chestnut trees originally imported in the Middle Ages to provide a staple food source. Over the centuries, the chestnut tree has contributed significantly to the support of rural life and even today is still celebrated at local fairs and festivals. Dense ancient forests of chestnut, oak, beech, pine, and precipitous river gorges suddenly give way to soft, rolling pastures to form some of the most beautiful scenery in France. Deer and boar occasionally roam the surrounding fields and woods and you may catch a sighting of them over your morning croissant. Red squirrels may seek left-overs from your barbecued lunch whilst you doze.
It is fascinating to observe the nature of rural life in the countryside. You can spend a rewarding time exploring La Châtaigneraie on foot. There are many marked footpaths, colour coded according to walking time, which will eventually return you to the starting point. Lagarde is situated on one of these routes which takes you past a water-mill up into some dense forest and through a working farm. On the way you will have observed the architecture of some old farm buildings, admired the cattle in the fields and met some friendly people. Walking time is about four hours. Half way round you can always take a short cut back to Lagarde and your favourite easy chair in the shade with a cool glass! The local scenery and, indeed, the whole of the Cantal, provides superb subject matter for photography and painting.
Although the countryside is stunning, there is so much more to see and do. The pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela passes nearby on its way to Conques, a medieval pilgrim town and one of the most renowned of the Plus Beaux Villages de France. Similar medieval sites will be found within an easy drive from Junhac that include Salers, Estaing, Saint-Cirq-Lapopie, Najac and Belcastel.
The nearby rivers provide plenty of opportunities for swimming, fishing, paddle boarding and canoeing. The valley area is very popular with cyclists. There are beautiful walks in the immediate area of Junhac but if you want to go further afield then the mountain range of the Monts de Cantal and the upland plateau of the Aubrac are within easy driving distance.
The weather during the summer months is generally sunny with temperatures reaching the low to mid 30’s in July. In August the thermometer may even reach the high 30's. Periods of really hot weather are often punctuated by thunderstorms, sometimes with spectacular lightning displays and torrential rain. But these storms don’t last for long and the days which follow are again calm and sunny. Although the temperatures can be high the atmosphere is rarely humid.
The days in late autumn are less predictable than in the summer months. However, you can be sure of spells of warm sunny weather and you will still be able to enjoy meals outside. The third weekend in October sees the celebration of the chestnut at the Foire de la Châtagneraie at Mourjou, nearby. Thousands of people come to this street fair and market which gains in popularity each year and you would be well advised to reserve your accommodation in our gîtes well in advance.
The winter time opens up a whole new field of activities; alpine skiing, snow-boarding, cross-country skiing, ski-touring and trekking the high uplands on snow shoes. Snow conditions suitable for these activities start to develop mid-December and they are still possible up to the end of April. The most reliable time for winter sports is the end of January and throughout February.
Perhaps one of the best times of the year is the end of April and the beginning of May. The trees are coming into full flower and leaf, everything is fresh and new and the days are bright and warm.