living to mirrorOur vacation rental apartments in Carcassonne received four stars in an official inspection recently.

Logo 4 étoiles 2017We are doing everything strictly by the rules, from the renovation to the rental, and are focusing on the highest quality. The ministry for tourism’s department for furnished tourism rentals set the criteria.

We’re very pleased with the results. Five stars weren’t possible—no possibility of a swimming pool in an apartment in the center of town, nor, for a historically classified building could we have an elevator or air conditioning. The renovation was under the supervision of the Bâtiments de France–our apartment is historically classed not just for the façade but also the interior.

Our apartments are listed on AirBnB, with la Suite Barbès here and l’Ancienne Tannerie here. Let’s take a look again at la Suite Barbès; the next post will look at l’Ancienne Tannerie.

cite sunset
A little reminder of the local draw: la Cité of Carcassonne, shown here at sunset recently, just a short walk from the apartments.

Not to repeat previous posts too much, this one will zoom in on a few favorite details. You can find other posts with pictures and stories about the apartments and their renovation via the tab Our Vacation Apartments above. The post about being featured on Desire to Inspire shows broader shots of the rooms.

mirror detail
A detail of one of the antique gilded mirrors. The previous owner included them in the sale because they were too perfectly matched to the motives (a basket of flowers on this one) to separate them.
living mirror lamp on
Full view of the mirror.

living to fireplaceliving to paintingsEach painting has a story.painting citeWe bought this watercolor at the Toques et Clocher event in Cépie. The painter looked familiar–it turned out we had met at a dinner party some months before, plus she’s the sister of the apartment’s neighbor. Is that karma or what?

painting bridge
The old bridge in Carcassonne.

We found the other three paintings in a storage closet in the apartment. They all feature local scenes. You’ll see almost the exact shot of the one below in this post about the Canal du Midi (the photo captioned “Black Mountains in the background).

painting canal
The Canal du Midi.
painting aude
The Aude River.

The stars are based on a long list of criteria, including the quality of furnishings and decor, modern conveniences like washing machine and hair dryer plus all the usuals in the kitchen, how well the kitchen is stocked with everything needed to prepare meals, the space, etc.


La Suite Barbès has a large living room and a crazy big bedroom (35 square meters, or 375 square feet), plus two marble fireplaces, and elaborate moldings. The furniture is almost entirely antiques sourced from local brocantes or bought from the previous owner.

Queen-size mattress and antique embroidered sheets, which, considering they predate cotton growing, are organic.
bed corner
A sweet engraving found at an antique shop.

bed detail

painting mom 1
This painting is by my mother. I always thought it was gigantic–it’s almost 3 feet tall–but it looks tiny in this room.
toward bathroom
Armchairs face the bed; the bathroom has a washing machine.
I love this Venetian mirror. The silver sconces were tough to find (usually they’re gold-colored).


bedroom fireplace
The bedroom fireplace. A chandelier in every room.
This is the chandelier in the living room. It’s enormous–before we put it up, it was on the floor and came up to my waist. With real crystals.
cherub close
The roly-poly cherub is worthy of a smile.
dining table
This dining set has been in this spot for generations.
dining table detail
The table has four different animals at its base. This is a sanglier, or boar.
The bedroom and living room each have a small balcony.
kitchen stove
The kitchen has an induction stovetop. Induction is wonderful–what we have at home.
kitchen cannisters
Cannisters with coffee, tea…

We have enjoyed meeting the people from all over the world who stay in our apartment. They like the décor–you know you’re in France. They also like the location, just a block from the central square, so it’s close but without the noise. La Cité is about a 10-minute walk away, making it easy to get to without actually staying all the time in the touristy area. The Canal du Midi is also about a 10-minute walk away, as is the train station.

We hope to welcome you and/or your friends in 2018!




41 thoughts on “Four Stars at la Suite Barbès

  1. I’m sure that rating team is tough. You’ve definitely captured the proper mix of respecting La Patrimoine whilst introducing modern comforts. Hope to stay there one day!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Félicitations 🎉🍾🎊. The apartment is really beautiful and it is a pleasure to see close ups of some of the fine detail. I am so glad the previous owner left the mirrors … a good example of integrity over self-serving. I echo what jmnowak says … I’d stay there 😊

    Liked by 1 person

          1. Sometimes It’s better that way. Seeing something changed, however well it is done can be strange. My mother went back to the house I grew up in and found it terribly hard even though the people who bought the house had done a wonderful and sympathetic job with the changes they had made. You have the knowledge that this lady knew she was leaving her house in safe and loving hands. I am sure that brought her comfort.

            Liked by 1 person

  3. The whole thing looks fab. And the combination of different furniture styles and periods makes it look real and homely rather than staged and cold. Are the kitchen tiles Spanish? They look terribly similar to work that’s done in the Seville area.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. The color was chosen by Bâtiments de France….they got to pick the color for the shutters and window trim, so we went with the same thing but two shades darker for the walls.


  4. Greetings! First of all, what an absolutely beautiful place you have restored. So lovely! I found your blog via the chocolate cake post on David Liebovitz’s blog. You left a comment regarding a family cake recipe you have that uses oil…which I always prefer to use as well. Would you share the recipe by any chance?
    I also see that you follow several other blogs that I do as well. Interesting that you are a Northwest Chimpanzee Sanctuary follower! They live here in my state of Washington and I have actually met them. 🙂 I had a pair of boots custom made for Jamie several years ago and got to deliver them to her!
    You are welcome to e-mail me, if you’d like, at

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, we have fans. But very few places in Europe do A/C. There’s no humidity in summer, for one thing, and nights are cool. The walls are three feet thick and made of stone, which also keeps the interiors cool. I’ve been in Carcassonne for 13 years without air conditioning and don’t miss it at all.


    2. The south of France is very different from south Florida. Its quite dry, so the heat is less oppressive, plus as francetaste says, those thick stone walls keep the temperatures more even, like a cave underground. I live in Provence and don’t have aircon, and the temperatures last summer were close to fahrenheit 100, it wasn’t too bad. There is usually a breeze, and I confess to falling into the pool a few times.
      bonnie in provence

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Well deserved four stars, not easy to achieve, bravo. You’ve done a remarkable job of keeping all of the charm and dusting it off for your guests to enjoy. I would have any of those pieces in my house – well I do sort of, I have one of those Henri II dining chairs, and a few crystal chandeliers smaller than yours. My ceilings are not high enough for that big one, its quite a marvel.
    bonnie in provence

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Henri II style (revived) was very popular–a mix of hand-carving and machine work.
      I love the high ceilings, except when I have to get on a ladder, for example, to put up the drapes. I don’t look forward to changing light bulbs.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. The closest thing to American Victorial was Henri II, lots of machine carving with some hand work, and a sort of “more is more” aesthetic. Its surprising how little respect it gets here in France. I’ve seen a lot of it literally dumped, or just the doors and pediments salvaged. Most of it is very good wood, usually walnut. Changing light bulbs would be challenging, wonder who changed the candles?
        bonnie in provence

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Brava on those four stars! Oh, the details! The mirrors, the pottery, the carving on the wood, the paintings and their stories… Lovely. All of it. The care and attentiveness is so obvious. Gorgeous.

    I am reminded of a few stays in France that I’ve had over the years in places that simply made me feel embraced in their design. Délicieux.


    Liked by 1 person

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