A Special Time in Bugarach, Rousillon, France (Pays de Cathares)

I was lucky to be able to catch up with my old friend from grad school, Ioana Sandi, at her place in the south of France. In the southwest of France. I tend to think of “the South of France” – as in that song by the Grateful Dead, or in a reference in a Bond movie, or in general otherwise, as “somewhere near Nice” or more exotically “somewhere near Frejus” or “St. Tropez…”at any rate not where I’ve actually been recently.

My south of France is the other side of le Midi, the side toward the other erupted mountains of the African/European mash-up, the Pyrenees, the land of d’Oc, or the Languedoc, and this place near Carcassonne…heading up into the foothills…to Aix les Bains…further into the folds…the land of the Cathar Knights…a whole history of separation…but a place of gathering energy…

What I’m getting at is: BUGARACH!


My friend Ioana, originally of Bucharest, bought this place about 5 years ago. I had the privilege of visiting in its first winter when they were just starting to fix it up. Actually it was the second winter, first full winter. And getting from Lisbon to Lyon via Bugarach is another story entirely…for another time.

Now, Ioana, with husband Steven, and little Lydia, have fixed up quite a beautiful spot.


But it was bittersweet to be visiting, because this was now the end of their adventure in France; they were moving back to Britain to find better schooling options for Lydia, and her soon-to-arrive sister. It is wonderful they will be in Stroud, a Berkeley or Portlandia type town between Bristol and Bath, but it is indeed sad to be leaving this spot. I think we’ll all have to rent it from the new owners and visit sometime!

So this weekend I happened to be passing through, I was able to join the neighbors and surrounding friends – locals and expats and travelers like me – for a wonderful fete with plenty of food, songs, and a big fire!


It was wonderful to spend time with them and recall good times in London during our LSE days, and to reconnect about real estate, education, the meaning of life, and all sorts of good things in a short lovely while. Thank you Ioana and Steven! See you soon!


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