A Century of Enduring History at Le Mas Pandit

Jun 13, 2024

A Century of Enduring History and Heritage at Le Mas Pandit

 (9-minute read)

As you may know, Country Kids is set at the place called “Le Mas Pandit” coming from the name of the first owner. A Century of Enduring History and Heritage at Le Mas Pandit. A “Mas” is the name the inhabitants from the south of France gave to their tool’s storage, built with stones and where the farmers used to break during their working day in the Occitanie region.

We look after our Mas as our little slice of heaven: A hidden place, a green oasis preserved from the hustle bustle of the rest of the world. Like a secret we’d like to share with the people we love, and now with our guests.

What makes Country Kids so special comes with no doubt from the background of this “Mas”, we were so curious to find more informations about it’s history and the persons who lived there and passed though. Since we arrived in 2015 at “Le Mas Pandit”, we’ve tried to learn more about the history of Country Kids and “Le Mas Pandit”. We promptly realized it would be a huge challenge for us to collect information about what life looked like within the past.

We slightly had a glimpse of Le Mas Pandit’s past life thanks to the local archives, but the testimonials were hard to gather. We once found a sepulcher in Brenas with the name “Pandit” engraved on it.

We thought that the details of the past life in our little paradise would be impossible to find anymore… Until spring 2023 !

An Unforgettable Call

pril 2023. Laure received a phone call: “I’m Mrs Pandit’s nephew. She’s 97 years old and she’d love to come visit you to see the place where she was born in.

She could also tell you the history of “Le Mas Pandit”. Are you interested?”. After years and years of searching, it was finally time for us to learn more about our beloved “Mas”.

After all our efforts to gather some information, after all our research, all the questions asked to our neighborhood… Sylvain, Alice, Laure, Emy and Mila We finally had the opportunity to have some answers.

And now, it’s time for us to share all these with you. Alice is a ninety-seven year old woman. Smiling, dexterous and most of all… very chatty. Honestly, you could barely trust she’s 97 !

The living building & the Roquefort dairy

If you’re interested by the French tradition, you might have heard about the romance between French people…and cheese. Without surprise, you’ll learn that Mas Pandit’s history is very linked to this cheese tradition.

Roquefort-sur-Soulzon is just one hour drive up north from Country Kids. It’s in this little village that the blue cheese was created. This typical cheese inherited the name of his birthplace, “Roquefort”.

It quickly became one of the most famous cheeses in France, and especially here in the South of France.

The Roquefort company presented themselves at Le Mas Pandit and asked permission to the family to buy and use a piece of land of the Mas in order to build a blue cheese dairy.

The place was perfect for this purpose: a natural spring that provided enough water, a lawn where the trucks could easily turn around and load the cheese into it…

After many discussions, the family agreed. The blue cheese dairy was built. On the ground floor, the dairy was operating: farmers from the countryside were bringing the sheep milk, then it was transformed, and the cheeses were made… Upstairs, a flat was arranged for the cheesemakers.

By this time, Le Mas Pandit was split in two parts:

  • The blue cheese dairy as we know today as “The Farm House
  • The living building where the Pandit family lived, renamed now as

the Old Dair

The natural water source at“Montbrengues” A Century of Enduring History

We feel very lucky of having our own fresh water source that runs down to us from the hills, from the piece of land called ‘Montbrengues’, 900 meters above ‘Le Mas Pandit’.

This is the foot of the massif central mountain which is called the Larzac plateau. This water source had been the treasure of Mas Pandit for many generations and still is today.

This water provided by the Larzac plateau made the reputation of the area, well known for water activities and… sheep farming and blue cheese production.

You now better understand why the Roquefort company insist upon the family to set up the cheese dairy here at Le Mas Pandit: A lots of water was necessary to wash all the molds several times every day, wash the floor after the cheese production…

Water shortages, at all time and everywhere in the world, has always been a source of jealousy and conflicts. Even here in the very deep countryside where everything’s so green. How surprised we were when Alice told us that the nearby “Le Mas bas” was already lacked water during summer in the early 30’s.

Before the war, women from there were used to come here at “Le Mas pandit” to use water to clean their clothes and fill up jars. In order to save the water as much as possible, the neighbors had to limit garden watering and water quickly became like a treasure to be preserved.

Pandit’s family, and especially Alice and her father, fought right to the very end to keep their water source access. A lot of people tried to redirect the source to their own land or tried to appropriate themselves the source. Even the French government land agency (SAFER) tried to purchase water source piece of land to supply on water the village of Octon at a time.

Sunset Picnics with a French Twist

If you fancy a more laid-back experience in romantic France, what could be better than a sunset picnic? We can arrange a basket filled with local cheeses, freshly baked bread, and a bottle of the finest wine from our cellar – you wouldn’t expect anything else from the perfect holiday destination for children with wine-loving parents, would you?

There are many scenic spots to choose from. Whether it’s a quiet lakeside escape or a hidden glade you desire most for your picnic and visual feast, watch the sun drift behind the hills on the horizon, as the sky shifts through a rainbow of colours.

Life at Mas Pandit

“Le Mas Pandit” was built in the 1700’s by the Pandit family. The family lived in this peaceful place for at least three generations, a century of enduring history by this time, “Le Mas Pandit” was already a pleasant property.

As most of the rural families from the countryside, the Pandit were peasants and lived from subsistence farming.

Everything was built with the aim of living side by side with animals. You can still find traces from this past farmer life in the actual apartments we rent.

All the lowest windows you can observe were the straw storage on top of the animals rooms, (like one of the parent’s bedroom window above apartment one or the children’s bedroom in the Chestnut House).

You could find the horses on the basement of apartment one, the pigs in the Chestnut House for examples…

The apartment two was the old local bakery, with a huge baking chamber (which is now the dining room). And the bar and shop at the heart of the hamlet was the laundry place of the Mas.

Alice is the younger member of her family and belongs to the fourth generation of Pandit family. She was born in 1926 at “Le Mas Pandit” (in triple children’s bedroom of the apartment four as we call it nowadays).

Alice’s father was a war-wounded man from the first world war. He had no choice to stop his engraver stones activity.

Despite her young age, Alice was already working a lot, helping her father in all his duties. Helping her father in all these tasks gave her a strong knowledge of the limits of the property, how everything was working as well as farm life.

In the 30’s, before the World War II “Le Mas Pandit” was part of a rural social structure. A rural life as you can easily imagined it. Alice said :

“When I was a little girl, my father often asked me to go say something to a neighbor in the nearby village Brenas. I was going there by run to deliver the message and I was coming back. Everything was working this way by this time. We also had itinerants’ vendors coming from Octon, a bus that passed several times a week… In fact, we were very organized!”.

During the World War II, “Le Mas Pandit” has remain untouched, and thankfully the soldiers didn’t reach the gates. Thanks to their animals, the farm, their vegetables gardens, orchard and of course the water source, all the family lived peacefully and didn’t suffer from hunger during that period of time. “Le Mas Pandit” was already a quiet and peaceful place, envied by everybody.

Despite everything, things started to get worse: all the men were required to join the army and all the services have ceased. Roquefort company decided to sell the building straight after the war

A couple of time after, Mr Meschonat, a german guy, bought the Roquefort dairy thanks to his mother’s inheritance money.

Alice leaved the Mas Pandit in 1945. Her mother, her sister and her brother-in-law stayed in the place for a few years and lived with Mr. Meschonat as a neighbor. The man was very helpful, providing various services. But in 1989, Alice’s sister sadly passed away. Alice came back to “Le Mas Pandit” to take care of her mother and her brother-in-law.

By this time, her mother was old and her brother-in-law was devasted by the loss of his wife, unable to take care of himself. Both of them were under Alice’s responsibility and the family left “Le Mas Pandit”.

As the property was unoccupied, Mr. Meschonat (who had gain the trust of Alice’s brother-in-law) went after the property keys. He started to live at “Le Mas Pandit” like he was home: He occupied the Pandit’s house, set up mobile home in the garden he rented to German tourists…

 After many conflicts, Mr Meschonat made an offer to Alice and her family to buy the Mas (the lands, the farmhouse and of course… the water source). Alice accepted. She needed money to look after her sick mother and to take care of her brother-in-law. Mr Meschonat and Alice sealed the deal by signing a sale contract.

 But three days before the sale, the French rural land agency made “pre-emption”. The “pre-emption” is a right of substitution, in which the original buyer of the property is obliged to give permission to the public agency. In France, the government has a right of first purchase on a great deal of rural property when it comes onto the market. The SAFER was very interested by this land because of the water source of Montbrengue.

Then the sale stopped for five and very long years. Alice resisted and fought during five years to keep the water source hers and to finalize the sale with Mr Meschonat. Alice faced challenges in overcoming all her duties at the farm, the administrative procedures as well as facing the loss of her father and her sister and the care of her mother and brother-in-law. During her visit we felt that she was a very strong woman.

The tourist turn at Mas Pandit

History of Country Kids and “Le Mas Pandit”

In 1990, Mr Meschonat finally acquired “Le Mas Pandit” and started his tourism activity. He opened “Languedoc European Center”, within accommodations for tourists, camping site, outdoors activities but also concerts, danse… And even a nightclub. Yes, you read correctly: a nightclub in the very deep countryside.

In 2006, “Le Mas Pandit” finally became Country Kids when Tracey and Stuart Scher bought the place. They did a lot of buildingwork, they designed all the apartments, built the pool, the tennis court… as you know it nowadays.

We arrived in 2015. We’re so happy tokeep going on this activity and to continueto make this place live in on our way.We’re thrilled to call this place home andto share our hidden gem with our guestsand family. We have spent so many happyhours here with our two kids, building beautiful memories.

And we sincerely hope you will create beautiful memories with your family here too.

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