by Diana Eastaff
Out for the day : L’Abri la Vall
L’Abri la Vall: shelter, protection, refuge, retreat
The Pyrenées-Orientales; endless possibilities between mountain and Med, Spain just round the corner, Cathar Castles, Catalan culture, walks, beach, cycling, swimming… Busy, busy… but here’s a suggestion that’s a little more relaxing.
L ‘Abri la Vall is situated in the small village of La Vall (French Lavail) above Sorède, in the heart of the Gorges de la Vall. The long and winding road up follows the track of the Massane River which flows down from its source high in the forests above.
As you reach the edge of the village, you see the Eglise St Martin de Lavall, the Romanesque church where King Philip the Bold stopped to pray on his way through the Gorges to lay siege to Girona.
There are about 15 houses in this small hamlet. One of them belongs to Björn and Magdalena Hedström.
Their lovely home is a place of peace and tranquillity. Hidden. A secret place.
Look up and you see the Tour Massane, massive granite rocks and thick forests. Listen and you hear babbling brooks, birdsong and perhaps the rustle of leaves. It is their home but they have opened it up to those who are looking for more than just a B & B.
Lovingly restored, once part of a convent, the house was built in the 10th century. Björn and Magdalena bought the house in 2014 and have really only just finished renovating it, totally in keeping with its 17th century origins.
Five guest suites, simple furniture, clean white walls, a couple with spectacular views. In the large dining-room, a huge rectangular table made from wooden boards comes from an old jetty just outside Gothenburg where they used to live.
Björn and Magdalena welcome you into their home, join you around the dinner table – but maintain a huge respect for your privacy and need to be alone with your thoughts. Indeed, that is the whole ethos of L’Abri la Vall – shelter, protection, refuge, retreat.
As featured in P-O Life N° 66 (winter 2019-20)