Episodes - The Traveler's Journal

TRAVELER'S JOURNAL 2387 - RELISHING BARDOU

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The TRAVELER'S JOURNAL: February twenty-seventh, relishing a remote rock resort.

Thirty-six years ago, Jean and Klaus Erhardt fell in love with Bardou, a deserted hamlet set in the stony foothills of the mountains of the Haute©Languedoc region in southwest France. Dating to the 16th century, Bardou consisted of rocky fields and several dozen crumbling, stone houses and barns. Locals thought the Erharts were crazy when they paid the last descendent of Bardou's original inhabitants $20,000 and set about restoring the buildings. Over the years, they've transformed Bardou into a rustic gathering place for intrepid travelers, nature lovers and artists.

Three miles up a narrow path from the nearest paved road, Bardou is best approached by foot. The first impression seems a setting for a fairy tale, a tight cluster of stone structures huddled together on a craggy rise in a hollow of chestnut trees, with a flurry of strutting peacocks splashed around for color. Each of the cottages is unique. Some are tiny, with barely room for the basics. Others can easily accommodate a family of ten. Most have a fireplace, kitchen space and sleeping room or loft. As far as modern conveniences, there are none. No heat except the fireplace, no electricity or phone. Guests have to bring their own food and bedding and share a common shower and five impeccable privies.

Yet even rarer amenities are abundant, such as the sight of chestnut trees drenched in honeyed sunlight or the flow of fascinating off-the-grid characters who find their way to Bardou, a hidden hiker's haven of good living and uncompromising beauty.

You'll find directions to Bardou in the latest issue of National Geographic Traveler, a supporter of our program.

Bardou's best for nature lovers, artists and people who truly want to get away. The mailing address is Bardou, par Mons-la-Trivalle, 34390 Olargue, France. There's no e-mail or fax, but the phone number (from the US) is 011-334-67-97-72-43

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