Over a ten-year period I translated close to four hundred films for the National Film Theatre/British Film Institute. Among them were early films by Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Werner Herzog, Claude Lelouch, François Truffaut. During the London Film Festivals film makers were frequently showcased with a whole evening’s programme – the Surrealists, films directed by Jeanne Moreau or the films of Costa Gavras and Berthold Brecht. There were also documentaries and political films such as speeches by Goebbels or Fidel Castro. Many of these films were rare prints, often arrived at the last minute and did not have subtitles, so had to be translated simultaneously.

Landscape of Le Bretous close to the Abbaye de Villelongue near Carcassonne, Languedoc-Roussillon, France

Landscape of Le Bretous close to the Abbaye de Villelongue near Carcassonne, Languedoc-Roussillon, France © A. Burchardt

I recently translated the website for the Abbaye de Villelongue near Carcassonne. This former Cistercian abbey was ransacked during the French revolution when the last remaining twelve monks were driven out. It lay neglected until the Eloffe family bought it in the 1960’s. They have worked tirelessly to restore its important architectural heritage.  They now provide bed and breakfast in this idyllic setting. The rooms are beautifully furnished and look out onto the old cloisters, as well as into the remains of the vast church. The abbey lies in a hidden valley just beneath a wild garrigue plateau from which one has a breathtaking view of the Pyrenees. Adjoining Jean Eloffe’s abbey there is another bed and breakfast place, so for the abbey proper with the cloisters and the church be sure to go to the big gate giving onto the courtyard.

Ten minutes’ drive away, on the other side of the plateau, you will find the book village of Montolieu (a smaller version of Hay-on-Wye) with cafés/restaurant and Nelly Barthès’ excellent village épicerie. She stocks fruit and vegetables of a quality you simply can’t find in the supermarkets. It is also the best place to listen to and learn/practise really useful, everyday French.

Go to : www.

N.B. At the abbey don’t forget to try Jean Eloffe’s extraordinary home-made jams for breakfast.

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