The Barn Swallows are back and re-building their nests


At the end of March we spotted the barn swallows circling the terrace. We are always so happy to see them back, it marks a real start to spring, and they were earlier this year than last.

They have since been busy dismantling parts of last year’s nests and are rebuilding again. The gîte is full at the moment, but the swallows are pretty tolerant and sociable, and just get on with it while their visitors relax on the terrace.


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Why Mas d’en Roca, and What’s that on the roof?

Why Mas d’en Roca?

We are very fortunate to be able to offer you the chance to stay in a gite with historic roots. Here is some information on the hamlet of La Sacristie and the wider village of Los Masos.

The name Los Masos, seen frequently in Catalonia, generally indicates a grouping of farms or houses. Here, it indicates a collection of hamlets and so is unusual, in fact the Los Masos hamlets, in 1035, were referred to as ‘villares’. Throughout the Middle Ages, they are generally termed Los Vilars, and Los Masos appears in the 17th and 18th centuries. There are four remaining hamlets:

La Sacristie

La Sacristie (Sacrestia in 1358), where the gite is located, gets its name from the sacristan (or sexton) of the nearby monastery of St Michel de Cuixa, who, up until the 16th century, was the lord of the hamlet. In the 17th century and for many years afterwards, the Roca family owned these central, stone built buildings and it is from this family that the gite gets its name. Roca is (coincidentally) also Catalan for stone.

Local Catalan villagers still refer to La Sacristie as ‘Mas d’en Roca’. For more history click here.

Ballet, Joncet and Llonat

The neighbouring hamlet of Ballanet is mentioned from 865 (villare Avellaneto). The name in Catalan indicates a wood of hazel trees, while Joncet (Juncet in 1371, the oldest form being Vincitellum in 1035) evokes a place where the ‘Joncs’ or rushes grow. The origin or the name Llonat is more uncertain: the hamlet was called Lunad in 1035, and could correspond to a name of anybody Gallic, Lunos. Lastly, the “lost” hamlet of Roure is related to the presence of the old oak.

What’s that on the roof?


Glad you asked. It’s an “Espanta bruixes” which means a Witch repellant! Sometimes in French parts of the Pyrenees Orientales it is also called a “Cockerels tail”. It’s an upward facing tile placed at the apex of the roof at the end of construction, and sometimes on each corner. Some are cut out in the shape of fork or imitate a cockerel’s tail feathers, as ours does. It is supposed to chase away bad spirits and to bring prosperity to the inhabitants of the building: they are most often found on barns, as though the harvests and the cattle needed more care than the people themselves! We hope ours brings you a happy holiday!

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Visitors’ Book Artwork

We love to get your comments in our visitors books to remind us of your stay. Here are some of the things you’ve said:

Wordle-english  Wordle-francais

We are also thrilled when comments turn in to works of art:

Posted in Livre d'Or Tagged with: , ,

Les Gitans de la Tourlandry in private concert in our courtyard!


April 2011: A few spontaneous songs with these great musicians, staying with us from Maine-et-Loire.

Posted in Guests

This is a test post!

Since we have launched a new website we thought you might like a blog, so here goes.

Do let us know what you’d like to hear about. Maybe the activities we get up to, our news, happenings in the area, etc


A Mushroom, yesterday

If you don’t, Charlie might post pictures of fungus.

Posted in Pyrénées Orientales