By Ben Parkinson, Head of Digital Marketing

Ben spent a sunny week exploring the picturesque Languedoc-Roussillon region in southern France, with wife and toddler in tow. Here’s how they got on in a few of our favourite family-friendly hotels.

I’ll admit I didn’t know much about Languedoc-Roussillon before our week-long trip, and I had my apprehensions about heading away from the coast as July’s heat started to creep in. But I had no need to worry because what I found was a beautiful region that felt ‘authentically French’, less touched by the tourist trail than the bigger names of the south, and a handful of hotels that made travelling with a toddler an absolute breeze.

Stop 1: Villas St Pierre de Serjac

Our petite red Fiat 500 hire car took us the 30-minute drive to our first destination, Villas St Pierre de Serjac, where the tone was set by the Italian cypress tree-lined drive flanked by vineyards.

We stayed in one of the immaculate three-bed villas, dressed in a nouveau shabby-chic style, which thankfully came with a private pool and air conditioning. Despite being a new building, the design is so convincing it could’ve been one of the original maisons, complete with the odd squeaky floorboard (intentional or otherwise). Beautiful features included a stone staircase, chunky beams and a glass floor that revealed the wine cellar. It’s not exactly designed with toddlers in mind, but child safety features can be added on request.

For someone like me who can’t sit still for too long, the walking and cycle trails around the 220 acres of vineyards, olive groves and woodland are a big draw. There are mountain bikes available to borrow, suitable for all ages and some with a child’s seat, and it would be easy to go for a long way without having to go on a road. Our two-year-old Ida also loved being out in the grounds, spotting creepy crawlies and generally being free-range.

Dinner was served al fresco under the festoon-lit canopy overlooking the pool and vineyards. After a glass of Château St Pierre de Serjac rose, we settled into some fresh and tasty dishes: Mediterranean fish sashimi, Barbary duck with Serjac figs, Mediterranean smoked tuna tataki and chocolate mousse with flambeed orange. Then we rolled back to our villa just in time to catch the most incredible sunset, rounding off our first night in Languedoc-Roussillon in style.

Villas from £147 per night.

Stop 2: Country Kids

We piled back into our Fiat and headed north to Brenas where we would find our home for the next 5 nights. Set in 30 acres of family-friendly farmland, Country Kids is a paradise for youngsters who need to be entertained, and parents who want a break from entertaining. Their ‘Absolutely Everything Included’ rate says it all; along with meals and drinks, our week included two on- or off-site activities, a spa treatment, two nights of babysitting, daily housekeeping and a fantastic kids’ club (for kids from 3 months old).

When we were asked to choose our activities ahead of arrival, it all sounded a bit like a military operation. But once we were there it became clear that fun and relaxation were all that were on the agenda, and having our days laid out for us only aided that. Some of our highlights included my heavenly full body massage, taking out a boat on the local lake (Lac du Salagou), Ida’s swimming lesson with the eccentric and legendary Michel, family yoga and group dinners with our fellow guests. The children’s highlight had to be 9.30 am when the bell rang to join Farmer Sylv on his (mini) tractor and trailer to go and feed the animals.

We filled gaps in our schedule by exploring the array of typical French towns and markets that surround the farm’s limits. Mornings in Clermont-l’Hérault, the old village of Mourèze, and the colourful weekly market at Pézenas were just a few favourites.

There are only seven apartments and villas, each one charmingly rustic and thoughtfully kitted out with toys and equipment to suit the needs of the family staying (e.g. a basket of Ida-sized nappies, her own Country Kids hat and a stuffed chicken the size of a labrador ). These personal touches that cover all bases, along with the brilliantly attentive staff who quickly win the hearts of the kids, make this place the special family retreat that spoils guests of all ages and keeps them coming back for more.

All-inclusive apartments from £609 per night

Stop 3: Chateau Les Carrasses

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Our final port of call was Chateau les Carrasses, the sister property of Villas/Chateau St Pierre de Serjac, where our week began. The villas had a familiar feel, all finished to the high standard we’ve come to expect from this group of properties. Ours, ‘La Maison des Vendangeurs’, featured two bedrooms that were peaceful, cool and dark (with the aid of the shutters), so we all slept soundly – a godsend during those hot summer nights! With an open-plan living area and steps down to a small private garden with sun loungers and barbecue, we could have happily spent a week here.

As part of their commitment to sustainability, the hotel makes a point of employing local staff.  This means that many don’t speak fluent English, but I quite enjoyed the chance to test my French. Their mini-farm is another effort to be more green, developing the kitchen garden and evolving its produce, some of which made it to our plates that evening.

The farm provides a fun experience for the children (and adults) staying, too. As part of the farmer’s daily rounds, he hosts a feeding and petting session for the kids; they get the opportunity to get to know the animals and can make it part of their holiday routine.

After missing out at Serjac, we were determined to get up early and take the bikes around the vineyards before the day got too hot. We saddled up with Ida on the back of one of their mountain bikes and let ourselves get lost on the estate before admitting we should have taken one of their route maps from Reception. A few signposts later and we had navigated our way back to the grand hotel once again. After a quick shower we headed straight to the well-deserved breakfast buffet, squeezing our own fresh orange juice and eyeing up all the viennoiseries.

Rooms from £144 per night.

More places to stay in Languedoc-Roussillon

  •  Mini-resort Imagine Roussillon provides the best of both worlds, with fantastic facilities for families and a sociable atmosphere, plus the freedom of self-catering. Apartments from £160 per night. 
  • For a large family or two travelling together, Manoir du Languedoc sleeps up to 12, is close to the coast and has acres of land for kids to roam. Rental from £371 per night.