Quarante is a small historic village not far from the Canal du Midi and located within an area of Occitanie formerly referred to as Languedoc. By car, Quarante is about 30 minutes from Béziers or Narbonne, and approximately an hour from Carcassonne or Montpellier.
I love living in this village. From the minute I moved here (over 14 years ago) I felt it had a warm and friendly character, it combines old fashioned quirks and modern day facilities to have almost everything you need to get from day to day, French style. It’s a working village that remains active all year round. There are various shops and services, schools, a pharmacy, hairdressers, post office, butchers – plus a friendly boulangerie and bustling café of course.
The village, like many of this region, is surrounded by vineyards and the wine-growing culture is deeply rooted in the hearts of the Quarantais, the people from Quarante. Approximately 1700 people live here, though that does fluctuate a little through the year. Some houses are holiday or second homes, both for English speakers and the French – we are only 30 minutes from the Mediterranean, which makes it a convenient location for beach visits in the warm summer months.
From a sketcher’s point of view Quarante is a wonderful place to be. If you wander into the heart of the medieval centre to find the ancient church and the fountain, the cobbled streets are so narrow a vehicle could never pass. Explore a little further and you’ll find charming properties, churches, chapels, stone walls, shutters, rooftops, vineyards and donkeys in fields – if quintessential France is something you want to capture in a sketchbook, you’ll definitely find it here.
Does a short stay in Quarante sound tempting? Read on!
Where to Stay
I am thrilled to let you know about some beautiful apartments now available in Quarante. They are owned by a lovely Norwegian couple and have been advertised on AirBnB. The apartments are modern and fully equipped with everything you may need for a stay in southern France. With all mod cons, kitchen facilities and air-con, you are based in the heart of the village in a quiet street overlooking the vineyards and local winery.
There are 2 apartments sleeping from 2 to 6 adults, dependant on the size of your group.
The minimum stay in the apartments is 3 nights, and here are the links with reviews on AirBnB
- 2 people sharing the small apartment with patio (2 beds) ie 41€/person/night
- 3 adults sharing the larger apartment with terrace (3 beds) – ie 53€/person/night
There is also a Bed & Breakfast in Quarante called La Sorga de Vida – this is a Maison de Vigneron style property with high ceilings and many period features in the rooms. La Sorga de Vida is owned & managed by French couple Genevieve and Alain. Genevieve is passionate about catering so you can expect some substantial breakfasts! Evening meals can be prepared by arrangement at additional cost. There are 3 bedrooms available and prices start from 78€ per night – see reviews and availability on Booking.com.
A huge bonus of booking an apartment is that it gives you great flexibility during your stay – you can plan your own itinerary and sketch on one or several days. Bring your sketching friends and/or a non-sketching partner, you’ll have a fantastic time! My approach to travel and urban sketching is that the mood is light and the colours are bright! I’ll show you around so you’ll see daily French village life as it really is – and in addition to watercolour tips and other techniques I can give you lots of help, advice and recommendations on making the most of your trip and learning more about this incredible area of France. Workshop prices will vary according to the number in your group – if there is a date you’d like to book please just send me an email!
Travel and Transport
One of the lesser known facts about Quarante is that it is so easy to get to, even without a car! From Monday to Saturday a bus service runs several times a day between Quarante village centre and Béziers station – it costs about 1,60€ each way. This same bus route can take you to other villages en route, including Capestang and the Canal du Midi at Poilhes. Getting around and filling a few days with local sketch subjects is so very easy to do! Béziers station is a TGV stop as well as for other mainline trains running from Montpellier, Barcelona, Carcassonne and Toulouse. For air travellers, a 20-minute navette bus service also runs between the flights into Béziers airport and Béziers station. I use these public transport services regularly and it makes getting in and out of Quarante so easy – no hire car, taxis or parking problems required!
Obviously if you prefer to hire a car you can do that from an airport or the station. Taxis from Béziers are also available
You can fly into Béziers or Carcassonne with Ryanair. International airports Toulouse, Montpellier and Perpignan service flights with many other airlines including Easyjet and British Airways.
If you are interested in spending 1 or more days sketching in the south of France and staying in Quarante – simply send me an email and we can explore dates and options for your trip!