As you drive through the tall fir trees along the winding hilly roads in search of Les Chalet du Tarn, where to your side rolls the calm, serene Tarn river, you can't help feeling as though you have escaped. Escaped the busy day-to-day hassle of life, the crowds and heat of tourists and have discovered a wonderful retreat in the heart of the French countryside in the Midi-Pyrenees.
The road curves and you cross a small, stone bridge and crawl across taking in the breathtaking views up and down the Tarn. A quaint church sits at the opposite side and as you reach this you take the lane to the left, following alongside the river again, driving carefully between it's banks and the Chateaux on your right. This is a place of heritage and original architecture.
Les Chalet du Tarn is a campsite, but there are chalets you can hire. Before you have even pitched your tent, with views that are hard to put into words, the friendly owner invites you to dine tonight - what's on the menu? "Ce soir", he says, "Moules frites". Heaven to my senses.
Each night the owners create a new menu, everything is home made and served fresh to your private, if basic, table.
Imagine: you are sat back, relaxed, with a glass of locale vin blanc/rouge/rose in your hand; the quiet hush surrounds you, a slight rustling of the trees and background run of the river; a few children play over in the park while on the other tables couples sit and converse in their mother tongue. The owner stands command over the hot coals, stirring and lifting the steaming moules in a home made garlic and white wine sauce. The smell is phenomenal. He is a master of precision, carefully watching and marinading the most incredible moules you will ever eat (and that is some claim).
As they are served, straight from the huge wok style pan, to your table the traditional skinny frites are rushed from the kitchen by his wife and staff where you are left to dive in and devour these delights.
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