In the 80s an old Catalan, long-time family friend, Eli showed us the most beautiful place in France, his home town, and we were immediately fascinated. The old castle in the town centre, the proximity to the lively coastal towns, the tranquillity, the nature with its beautiful hiking trails into the mountains, the small medieval towns all around, which breathed history and attracted artists today as they did then in the midst of a region characterised by viticulture with sunshine hours like on the Côte d'Azur, but still original and rooted in Catalan traditions. We had seen a lot of France, but here was the place that had it all. We kids wanted a big pool, of course, so Eli took us high above the village to the Domaine des Albères. There, the "Mas Catalanes" as the Catalan summer houses situated on the forest slope are called, shared a large swimming pool, a tennis court and a table tennis room. A small mas with a dream view over the lowlands of Perpignan to Mont Canigou, the Catalans' local mountain, was for sale and it was love at first sight.
For decades we spent our holidays there with friends, children and grandchildren. The small holiday home, which today bears the name "Maison Eli" with its two flats "Belle Vue" and "Petit Charme", where you could spend your holidays together but still independently, simply suited all situations in life. At first, the grandparents came along. Later, when our growing children aspired to independence, they brought their friends to their own realm, while we enjoyed the play of colours of the sun setting over the mountains on the balcony above with a glass of wine. The friends came back, rented the house when we didn't need it ourselves and word got around that the Bückers had a dream cottage in the south of France and so at some point the cottage was fully booked. The back and forth between Germany and France was finally too much for my mother. She sold her house in Germany and moved permanently to Laroque. Not to the holiday home, which was not age-appropriate due to its location on a steep slope, but to a house at the foot of the mountain. It's very nice too, but to this day she sometimes goes up to the holiday home for coffee, because of course you don't have the fantastic view in the valley.
Then something happened that we had not expected: We fell in love again. Even further up the mountain, further from the swimming pool and tennis court, but directly on the hiking trails, was Villa-Josephine. From the terrace, as at Maison Eli, you can see across the lowlands to the mostly snow-covered Mont Canigou and the Corbiere but on the right-hand side additionally the deep blue Mediterranean Sea. This Mas also belongs to the Domaine des Alberes, so we can use the swimming pool and tennis court, but there are quite a few metres of altitude in between. Well, what you love, you have to hold on to! We didn't hesitate for a day.
By the way, Villa-Josephine was not always called that. Like Maison Eli, it bears the name of an old Catalan woman who lived in Duilhac sous Peyrepertuse. Josephine was something like my 3rd grandma. Actually the grandmother of my exchange partner, she took me in like her own granddaughter and, together with my host parents Janine and Eli, pampered me with everything the countryside had to offer. I still remember the first time I stepped onto the terrace and saw the view. You could see the snow-capped Canigou on the left and the sea on the right and the mountains behind the plain and all the places in between.... Our holiday home Maison Eli also had a fabulous view, but here we were much higher and the terrace was huge.... On a clear day, you can see all the way to her and the Carthage castles of the Corbieres and I immediately had to think of her.
Since then, we have made ourselves at home here and come here with our grown-up children or friends. We don't always need both apartments, so we go back to renting out one of them. The other one remains unrented so that we can come here at short notice whenever we want. So in Villa Josephine you will either meet us here yourself, or have the house to yourself. We are always happy to meet new people and welcome them to our two holiday homes, but we would love to have returning tenants who love this region as much as we do and treat the house as their own. In our old cottage we have had many tenants who have returned regularly over decades, so of course we are happy to accommodate them. My mother continues to live permanently a little further down the road from the Domaine in Laroque, so you always have a personal contact on site for emergencies. Just like us, by the way, she speaks English and French in addition to her mother tongue German and also understands some Spanish. So we will certainly get along well.
Do you have any questions or problems? Feel free to contact us. We have had our second home in Laroque for over 35 years and can certainly help you. We will provide you with a comprehensive information set containing shopping information, doctors, markets, ..... after booking, but we will also be happy to help you beyond that if you get stuck somewhere. My mother now lives permanently further down the road in Laroque, on the way to the Domaine, so you would also have a German-speaking contact person on site if you were ever in need.
Actually, we don't have any special, extensive house rules, just treat the house as if it were your own. For example, take the neighbourhood into consideration. We have very charming, nice, friendly neighbours and want it to stay that way. So please don't have loud parties in the house that disturb the neighborhood.
The house is a non-smoking house and has a stone floor, which should also offer allergy sufferers as much time as possible, so smoking is not allowed in the house and pets are unfortunately not allowed in the house for the same reason.