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Land of Plenty

Hotel Guq en Terrasses

Cuq-Toulza, France

To grow well, sunflowers need full sun. Basking in the midsummer warmth, rows and rows of vibrant sunflowers are standing in their fields, bright battalions massed at the sides of the road as we drive past. Some of them are standing straight, heads held up high, others seem to be leaning over slightly as if they are still asleep, but all are facing the same direction: east. like pilgrims at prayer.

Sun worship is their religion. In a field of blooming sunflowers most flowerheads are turned toward the east. where the sun rises each morning Yet when the plant is still in bud, it actually follows the movement of the sun across the horizon as it moves from east to west.

This tracking motion is driven by motor cells in a flexible segment of the stem just below the bud. When the blooming stage is reached that stem locks, so that once the flower opens into vivid yellow petals it faces east for the rest of its short but colorful life.

In French, their name is tournesol; and the translation is a literal one – it means “turn with the sun.” Spread out like a quilt of ocher and green, sunflowers are a symbol of the radiant light here in the Lauragais, in the southwest of France. Sun seekers in the know track here, from all points of the compass, turning to the warmth and comfort of the Hotel Cuq en Terrasses.

The hotel loved by hookups France

Once a presbytery, the 18th-century building is now rejuvenated as a truly charming hilltop hotel in the hamlet of Cuq le Chateau in the region of Cuq­Toulza. It is well positioned in the heart of the ancient Pays de Cocagne, now the region of Tarn; in the center of a triangle formed by the cities and towns ofT oulouse, Carcassonne and Albi, and close to several of the loveliest villages in France. Simple and well-restored, the old house is much larger than it looks from its front entrance on the main street of what is almost like a film set of a tiny time-has-stood-still-here French village. The backdrop from one window in the library-living room is the village church; at the other end of the room the scene is of golden fields, green valleys and distant blue hills. Once you have arrived, y u will either go upstairs to your room, or downstairs, then walk down further, to the dining room and out on to the wide terracotta­tiled terrace: the heart of the hotel. From here, there are still more layers in this multileveled location: of gardens shaded by spreading mulberry trees, down to the swimming pool, and nearby a separate and secluded Tower suite. The bedrooms are all handsomely designed and outfitted in traditional midi style. one are alike, so you can return here at least seven times before you will have stayed in them all.

Dinner is on request here, but it seems to be more in demand; such is the reputation and standard of the cooking that when they have had a taste of it guests make sure they are in for the evening. Chef Andonis Vassalos creates the food, bringing extra flavors to the French cuisine from his native Greece, while partner Philippe Gallice complements the menu from the wine cellar. As many dream of doing, they left the city and moved to the country, when they discovered this special part of it to live in. Sitting out on the terrace, savoring a glass of velvety red or crisp cool white in the late afternoon sun, delicious aromas in the air as dinner is being prepared, you will start to fantasize making your own escape to somewhere as idyllic. That’s when most people decide to book here again.

La Lauragais bedroom

Yellow is a predominant color in this golden landscape, and blue is part of it too, woven into its history. Pays de Cocagne was the early name give to this area, when it was discovered that a rich blue pigment - cocagne, or “woad” – could be extracted from a local plant. It became a very valuable commodity much in demand for fabrics and art, and the region prospered.

Many intriguing destinations are within easy driving distance of the hotel. One is the City of Albi; at its center, the 15th-century St-Cecile Cathedral. This fortress cathedral is a masterpiece of Southern Gothic architecture and the largest brick building in the world.

But its most amazing feature is only on view from the inside. Painted with blue pastel by Italian painters from Bologna in 1509-1512, the frescoes on the cathedral’s arched ceiling form the largest work ofItalian Renaissance painting to be found anywhere in France. It is a visual biblical encyclopedia, an evocation of heaven played out on a blue and gold background, and just as they were when painted over five centuries ago They have never been restored, their colors still vivid and lustrous in the low light The spectacular scale, nearly 330 feet (lOO m) long by 92 feet (28 m) “vide, and the magnificence of the work makes it one of the most memorable Sights of my life. A gigantiC and graphic mural of the Last Judgement surrounds the church altar, no doubt as a reminder to the congregation of what could lie ahead.

Rich in history and scenery, as well as its many other food and wine assets, the region has also been described as a “Land of Plenty, a smiling country,” where everything is found in abundance; bright yellow fields of sunflowers, groves of oak trees, checkered hues of cultivated fields, warm clear light and friendly people. You can see and experience all of this, and turn your head to follow the sun, relaxing at the Hotel Cuq en Terrasses. Three stars is its appellation, but its surroundings make it more.

Hotel Cuq en Terrasses Cuq-Toulza – take your hookup france here and you will be well-rewarded.



June 21st

hookup France
June 2010
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