42 Rue Victor Hugo

Carcassonne, Languedoc, France Book from

Reviewed by Daisy Gell
Gallic-chic suites in historic Carcassonne, with a warm English welcome and self-catering options
Sometimes all you want from your holiday is a little bit of privacy and escapism, and that’s exactly what’s on offer at Peter and Debrah Woodcock’s period Carcassonne townhouse. The suites have self-catering facilities and private entrances, and will spoil you with their luxurious details: a pre-loaded iPod, fresh flowers and 400 thread count bedlinen. Debrah’s décor choices beautifully enhance the suites’ high ceilings and period features, so be prepared to feel some interior design envy (we were particularly taken with a stunning circular wooden mirror).

As for escapism, simply step out the front door and into historic Carcassonne. The medieval walled Cité is a fairytale of drawbridges, towers and cobbled streets, so much so that it's actually the suspected inspiration for Sleeping Beauty! Next it’s time to grab your basket and scour the local markets for lunch. So, come with your partner, find some good wine and soak up the local joie de vivre.

Highs

  • Within walking distance of La Cité (the largest medieval city in Europe) and the Canal du Midi, both Unesco sites
  • Fab décor: a decadent mix of original features and contemporary flair
  • Close to restaurants, bars and major sights, so you don't need a car
  • Welcoming hosts who are attentive and helpful without intruding on your privacy

Lows

  • No meals available, but there are basic self-catering facilities and plenty of eateries nearby
  • La Cité can be heaving in summer; but here in the lower part of the city (ville basse) it's much quieter - and there's a free music festival in July
  • Being in the middle of town, there's some traffic noise and no on-site parking, although it is available nearby
  • The Mezzanine Suite has steep steps and limited headroom and the Master Suite only has access to the kitchen across the hall which is used to prepare breakfast

Best time to go

The Languedoc benefits from 300 days of sunshine per year. July tends to be the hottest month, coinciding with the music and arts festival. The Bastille Day fireworks in the middle of the month are spectacular. Other notable events include the Spanish week at the end of August, the wine festivals in May and October, and the Christmas fair in December. May and June are usually sunny and less crowded, as are September and October.

Our top tips

If you want to get clued up on the history of Carcassonne while you're there, pack the best-selling Labyrinth by Kate Mosse - a fictional account of events.

Great for...

Foodie
Honeymoon
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Apartments
  • 3
  • Self-catering
  • Under 1s accepted
  • Closed: 8 Dec 2016 - 28 Feb 2017
  • Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
Room:

Rooms

Though small, this elegant townhouse offers flexible accommodation options with 3 individually designed suites, which more closely resemble self-contained apartments.

The stylish yet comfortable Apartment Suite is the largest option and has original oak parquet flooring throughout. You enter through large double doors, and the living spaces unfold off a wide corridor. To the left is the bedroom and bathroom; straight ahead, the salon and kitchenette. The salon has huge windows that let the light flood in, while the marble fireplace has a pretty rococo design. Sink into the large sofa and watch a film, or put the iPod on shuffle and relax with a glass of wine (don't worry if you've forgotten your own iPod; a fully loaded one is here for your convenience, with music to suit every taste!). There's a vast kingsize bed in the bedroom (made up with sumptuously soft 400tc bedding, naturally) and the ensuite wet room has a trendy walk-in shower, luxurious toiletries, bathrobes, a hairdryer and a chic walnut vanity unit.

Our favourite was the Mezzanine Suite. Simpler and more contemporary than the other spaces, it has a dining area, slate flooring throughout, and steepish wooden steps up to the sleep deck (with a kingsize double bed). It’s compact but cosy and the entrance way has been blocked off and soundproofed, so you won’t be disturbed by other guests. The downsides are that it’s not suitable for guests with limited mobility and the sleeping area lacks headroom.

The Master Suite offers a slightly different experience. It's more like a traditional hotel room, with an open-plan bedroom and living space, plus an ensuite shower room (with a double entrance). Luckily if you’re craving a bath after a day of exploring, there is a bathtub in the additional bathroom next door. This suite has access to the full kitchen and dining area across the hall - but be aware that Peter uses this kitchen to prepare breakfast for guests and also uses the space to undertake changeovers - but most of the time it is entirely yours. The style credentials remain excellent: high ceilings, original floors, petrol blue walls and vintage artworks all help to create a sense of effortless elegance.

Features include:

  • Central heating
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Dvd player
  • Hairdryer
  • Ipod dock
  • Toiletries
  • WiFi

Eating

The Apartment and Mezzanine Suites each have a kitchenette with a fridge-freezer, a microwave, a hob and tea- and coffee-making facilities. The Master Suite has access to the full kitchen and dining area (used for breakfast).

If you don’t want to cook, you’ll have to dine out for other meals. There are lots of great restaurants and eateries in the Cité for lunch, most of which claim to serve "the best cassoulet in town". A good dinner option is Le Petit Couvert (18 rue de l'Aigle d'Or). The menu soir includes a wide range of starters (salads, seafood, charcuterie), a fish or meat dish, dessert, and a quart (250ml) of local wine. Peter knows the city very well - pick his brain or take a look at the list provided in your suite.

Local markets run on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday - Saturday is the busiest, so it’s a little more full-on, but the produce is often more varied so it might be worth braving the crowds if you fancy picking up some tasty snacks and ingredients.

Features include:

  • Coffee tea making
  • Restaurants nearby
  • Self-catering
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Visit the medieval walled Cité, a World Heritage Site, just a 15-minute walk away. The view from the old bridge over the River Aude is spectacular, both by day and night

  • Stroll around the cobbled streets of Carcassonne and pop into attractive churches: the Lesser Basilica of St-Nazaire is enchanting, as is the main cathedral, St Michel

  • Stock up on local delicacies at Place du Château, a quaint old-fashioned store full of regional specialties: cassoulet, olives aux herbes and grés de la cité (a sweet mix of almonds and vanilla wrapped in puff pastry)

  • Take a tour of the Viscount's Castle, built on Roman foundations, then restored in the mid-19th century

  • Cycle, walk or boat along the stunning Canal du Midi (also a World Heritage Site), which used to link the Mediterranean and Atlantic. It's lined with beautiful stone bridges and plane trees

  • Walk through la lices, the space between the outer wall of the Cité and the inner fortifications, which has fabulous views of the Pyrenees

  • Foodies should flock to the Saturday morning market in the Place Carnot, and the Les Halles meat and fish market

  • Visit in July, when the town holds a month-long arts and music festival (mostly free) and a fabulous Bastille Day firework display

  • If you've got a car, it's an ideal base for day trips: within an hour you could stand on a Mediterranean beach at Gruissan, go river swimming at Lagrasse, watch golden eagles in the Corbières, explore any number of Cathar castles, sample wine in the Minervois, or go big city shopping in Toulouse!

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Cycling
  • Historical sites
  • Museums / galleries
  • Shopping / markets

Kids

The townhouse isn't really suitable for children as the suites have been designed as luxury boltholes for couples. However, small babies can be accommodated.

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years)

Family friendly accommodation:

All the rooms either have a kitchenette or access to a full kitchen.

Baby listening:

Baby monitors are available on request.

Baby equipment:

Baby cots and baths are available on request.

Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

Kid Friendly:

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