The South of Lebanon is not only coastal cities, olds souks, seaside restaurants, and Mediterranean sunsets. Don’t get me wrong, I love all that, but there’s more to it. After my last escape, I can easily add stunning countryside and beautiful villages to the list.
In the mood for a roadtrip together?
Let’s start by heading to Saida, or Sidon. If you have enough time, a walk in this historic city is never boring. From the Sidon Sea Castle, to the Soap Museum, the old souks, the street food, and much more, you’ll have quite some time to waste around here. I personally did not have time to properly visit Saida, but this detailed guide by the Ministry of Tourism will give you an idea on what you can see and do here.
From Saida, you should follow the signage that leads you to Maghdouche. Maghdouche is eight kilometers southeast of Sidon and is home to Our Lady of the Awaiting, also known as Our Lady of Mantara, where we did our first stop. The name is given to the cave where Virgin Mary used to spend her nights, waiting for her son Jesus to finish his preaching at the top of the hill where Maghdouche is today. If you still don’t know, “Our Lady of Mantara” was officially announced an international pilgrimage site in May 2016, placing Lebanon on the international religious tourism map. More details about that in my Maghdouche article.
Driving from Maghdouche upward in the Nabatiyeh district, you will pass by the villages of Aarnaya, Anqoun, Arab el Jal, and Sarba, before reaching Jarjouaa.
Jarjouaa will be your stop for the night, where the comfort and serenity of a mountain house will soon become the highlight of your escape.
Welcome to Beit Matta!
Beit Matta is the family home where all summer weekends are meant to be spent. It’s the grandma’s house where every little thing is made with extra love, where everything feels warmer, smells nicer, and tastes better.
From the moment the lovely sisters Jeanne and Christine welcome you in their house, you feel at home.
In no time, you find yourself in their kitchen, enjoying a cup of tea by the “sobia”, or even helping them prepare the dinner you will be enjoying together.
You will share stories and you will know theirs. You will quickly admire their attachment to their heritage – their house and their roots – and their infinite passion to share it with others. Whether the serenity of their village, the beautiful nature, the fresh organic produce from their garden, or their good vibes. You share their lives for a weekend and moments you will not forget.
Beit Matta is one of the most truthful and genuine guesthouse experiences I’ve lived. Through their passion for giving and sharing, the Matta sisters invite locals and tourists to have a taste of their own little paradise, but most importantly of Lebanon’s warm hospitality and the simple, beautiful, and peaceful life of its villages.
With its lovely garden fully equipped with everything you need to enjoy a great bbq with friends, a night under the stars, a relaxing time in nature, or even a refreshing dip in a cozy pool, Beit Matta is a perfect destination to disconnect from the city and enjoy quality time with friends and family.
A whole floor comprising of 5 rooms is ready to welcome you while the sisters will make sure you have everything you need to enjoy a night in, playing, eating, drinking, and having fun!
What to do around Jarjouaa:
Al Rehan Grotto: Know as the Jeita of the South, Al Rehan caves are home to stalactite and stalagmite formations and naturally-carved statues, one of them being the 4th largest subterranean cave in Lebanon and the biggest of South Lebanon!
Jezzine: Only 10 minutes away from Jarjouaa, Jezzine is a beautiful town known for its nature, diversified landscape, waterfalls, caves, and much more. During my visit, I enjoyed:
Jezzine waterfall is the fifth highest waterfall in the world and the highest in Lebanon and the region, rising 904 meters above sea level, earning Jezzine the name “City of Falls”.
The Kanaan Palace
Known to date back more than 120 years, this beautiful traditional house carries the legacy of its owner, Soleiman Bey Kenaan (1856 – 1932), a Lebanese nationalist known for freeing the inhabitants of the Jezzine region from their obligations to pay tribute to the Druze feudal landlords of the time. His son Maroun was one of the seven parliament members to draw and sign the Lebanese flag and draft a memorandum against the French mandate in November 1943.
For a more detailed guide about what to do in Jezzine, check Lebanon Traveler’s tips here.
To book your room in Beit Matta, you can get in touch with the guesthouse on Facebook, Instagram (@beitmattaliban), or on 03-419648.
It’s also worth mentioning that the Matta sisters run Gracy’s takeaway and delivery salad bar in Sin el Fil during the week (which means you’re in for some amazing food!).
I hope you enjoyed the article and that you’ll tell me soon about your own experience of Jarjouaa and Beit Matta!