Seven months before our departure I was so excited to have found accommodations (through Rick Steves' France 2012 guidebook) at Coté Cité (a French B & B or chambres d'hôte) in Carcassonne, France. The new owner (since 2010?) Madame Simone Mayer patiently responded to my fledgling efforts at written French.
We settled on two rooms, "Carpe Diem"and "Chambre des Fées" because one of our traveling companions had suffered an injury that made stairs difficult and both of these rooms are on the ground floor. The internet photos/descriptions of both of these charming rooms are authentic. The architectural features and decorative ceiling and wall paintings are charming. My ensuite bathroom (Chambre des Fées) was compact, very convenient and well appointed: toilet, shower, pedestal sink, mirrors. Plenty of hot water, no "plumbing ïssues."
Where Coté Cité really shines is in the warm and accommodating nature of the owner and proprietor, Simone Mayer. Upon our arrival, our rooms were ready and we were given a tour of the gorgeous Breakfast Room. It is a gorgeous architectural space which Simone has meticulously restored and enhanced with her own distinctive and appropriate accessories - many of them collectors' items of note. But Simone's emphasis is on making her guests feel at home. How water and a selection of teas are always available as are pieces of fresh fruit.
Breakfast is a leisurely self-service affair. You can linger over your meal and return later for a pick-me-up tea break. This is also the area where your can access the free WIFI network she offers. A typical breakfast might include a freshly baked loaf of brioche to slice and toast, croissants or baguette, butter, homemade orange marmalade, French press coffee, assorted teas, milk, yoghurt, cereal, and fresh fruit (one day we had delicious baked apples too.)
When we inquired about nearby restaurants for dinner, Simone was eager to suggest and describe various local options and once we had chosen, she called to reserve a table for us. When I commented that she was spoiling us with her kind attentions, she replied in French (Simone does not speak English), "If I did not enjoy doing this, I should seek another career." I found all of her suggestions and arrangements to be perfect for our needs (and as a former California caterer, I can be a critical judge.)
But that's not all! After three days at Coté Cité, it was time to provision and claim our "barge" to cruise the Canal du Midi for a week. Since it was a Sunday and most nearby stores were closed, Simone drove me to the only supermarché that was open on Sunday morning so I could purchase the supplies we needed. Then she orchestrated the two-taxi transfer to our departure base in Trèbes! WOW! What a hostess!
We treated her and her visiting friend to lunch at the nearby restaurant before our departure.
Any downsides? Only one. On one of the tree nights we stayed there, the adjacent room chose to party into the wee hours - a small inconvenience for all of the benefits and fond memories.
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