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The modern world can make one long for a retreat far removed from the consumerism that everyday life revolves around. A desire to "go back to basics" is sure to be fulfilled here. Visitors will find their gaze fixed to the slopes of the Cantal mountains and pastures that stretch all the way to the distant horizon dotted with grassy summits. The silence, broken only by the hum of wild life, the calls of rare birds and the whistling of the wind, leaves one free to dream and meditate. Life here is closed off from the rest of the world, nourished only by the endless surrounding nature. Evenings finish with one last glance at the celestial masterpiece in the sky that is undisturbed by artificial light. These ancient stones have been fashioned into a pastoral refuge and saved from abandonment, they are now dedicated to two of life's greatest pleasures - simply being and contemplating.
Few regions in France have made it through the twentieth century without being hugely affected by industrialisation or the development of tourism. Cantal has been spared. The land of volcanoes offers a unique experience, its telluric force is almost frightening but its authenticity is comforting. The mountain is dotted with burons, small stone houses that were used for the production of Cantal during periods of transhumance. After passing by Buron Niercombe on a hike, we could not bear the idea of being some of the last few to see it standing. It may not have been rational, but this adventure has brought us a great deal of pride and happiness.
The greatest challenge with burons is making light of some of the heavier features. Entirely built out of dry stone, the quality of the recovered corbelled, barrel vault brings balance to the ensemble. Everything here testifies to the strength and intelligence of man, a little reminder in the midst of nature.
The property is three hundred years old, Cantal used to be matured here during the summer months. After the war, cheese production standards virtually ended the transhumance of dairy cows and they were replaced by breeding-related herds. The burons were thus abandoned and began collapsing one after the other for lack of monitoring and maintenance. During our first visit here in 2005, the whole front part of the buron had collapsed and it would only have survived one or two more winters. Niercombe is one of the furthest burons from its original farm so a five kilometre track was constructed. This was done with respect for the magnificent beech forest which surrounds it and above all its origins.
With the house heated by firewood and lit up by candles, you feel completely removed from the rest of the world. The most natural materials possible were used for the decor, such as the table legs which were made from the stumps of surrounding beech trees. The panoramic view of the Cantal valley is perfect for understanding the geography of the region, the highlands, the peaks of volcanoes and the villages far below. A feeling of serenity will be the first thing you notice as you go back to basics.
The buron is a place to find yourself and open up to others more freely by the end the experience. Hiking is an essential activity here along with reading, contemplation, and enjoying good food accompanied by good wine.
1450 € per week
950 € per week-end
With two floors, the buron can accommodate four people. The living room, heated by a woodburner, is also a space to sleep. In this somewhat "rough and ready" world, a real bathroom has been installed with a shower, hot water, a sink and a toilet, along with a kitchen with a refrigerator and a gas stove.