Published by Lyn on 23 May 2018
Clos du Magnolia is a gem of a B&B that also has a self-catering gite. It's run by cyclists near the Orb River, just 20km north of Beziers.
This is another review that has written itself.
Of all the B&Bs and hotels I've stayed at while reviewing for Freewheeling France (and there has been a lot), this is on the top 10 list.
The picturesque Orb Valley is much less cycled than many other parts of France, simply because most of us haven't caught on just yet. But we will. It's a valley of gorges and rivers and vineyards joined by lovely, sweeping roads. And at just 20km from Beziers and the Canal du Midi, it's not even that far off the beaten track. (The Mediterranean Coast at Valras-Plage is only 35km away).
5 things I liked
1. It's cyclist-run.
Top of the list is that Clos du Magnolia is owned by two cyclists, Mervyn and Jane. Not only that, but Mervyn is a career walking and cycling guide, so there's no one better to advise on local routes (or which way the wind's blowing, or how far the nearest boulangerie is, or what percentage gradient that climb is ...) than him.
2. Bikey facilities.
And as an extension of the above, there's a massive garage area with safe bike storage (and a very impressive fleet that Jane and Mervyn have acquired over the years), stacks of tools, plus a couple of house bikes that are available for guest use. They also work with a Julia and Steve, who can deliver road bikes to the door from just up the road.
3. The garden.
Love, love, love the garden. There is, as the name suggests, a magnificent magnolia in the garden, alongside cavernous walkways of foliage leading to quiet corners to relax with a book. There's also a pool that I unfortunately didn't get the test so early in the season.
4. The accommodation.
I stayed in one of their B&B rooms. It was super clean and spacious and – despite the room facing out on to the village road – it was super quiet; not sure how much glazing is on those windows but I couldn't hear any traffic at all as I dozed off to sleep. There are three B&B rooms plus a self-catering gite/apartment that sleeps four, making Clos du Magnolia ideal for single riders right through to club groups. Jane lays breakfast out in the breakfast room and you can help yourself to cereals, bread, eggs and yoghurts. I though this was a really nice and relaxed way to start the day.
5. Bike routes.
I stayed just one night en route to Provence, so I only had time for an early morning spin. On Mervyn's advice I headed out for a loop around Cessenon-sur-Orb and Roquebrun (above). It really is a stunning area. The road was lined with vineyards before they gave way to the river Orb and a succession of pretty villages. There are lots of options here, many roads linking together to form lovely loops – for example here and here – and doubtless dozens of others in Mervyn's Garmin just waiting to be shared with you. This is a magical, accessible part of France that really is best seen on two wheels.
I loved my stay with Jane and Mervyn at Clos du Magnolia, and I'd love to see more cyclists discovering this gem of a B&B and the wonderful biking nearby.