Chateau de Lartigolle

Auch, Gascony, France Book from

Reviewed by Kate Parsons
A picture-perfect chateau in the Gascon countryside with cool contemporary interiors, sweeping grounds and 12 boudoir bedrooms (sleeps 26-34)
Take 3 funky graphic designers from London looking for a new laidback lifestyle, add a glorious location in southwest France and a stunning 18th-century chateau in need of a makeover - et voila: the ultimate venue for a group get-together or special occasion (including my own wedding, as it happens).

Investing their creative flair and eye for design, Emma, Chris and Nick have created a glamorous yet comfy dream-home with all the trappings of a boutique hotel. In the lounge and club room, groovy Paul Smith tapestries and Jimmy Hendrix pop art prints sit alongside magnificent French antiques and cosy sofas. Upstairs and in the separate wing are 13 beautiful bedrooms. Catering is flexible: you can whip up your own feasts, bring a chef, or have Emma and Nick indulge you with an extremely creative array of local delicacies. Within their 22-acre grounds are a stunning decked pool and a tennis court; inside the house there's a snooker table and kids' games room. Even without the special occasion, it's a truly special place.

Highs

  • Bold, contemporary interiors marry Philippe Starck chairs with vast, dreamy beds and gorgeous antiques
  • Beautiful pool, tennis court and 22 acres of grounds to keep everyone amused and a peaceful library to retreat to for a read or snooze
  • [i!#kids!Children's] playroom with TV, DVD and board games in case the weather isn't so great
  • Charming owners on hand to assist you with excursions or to cook for you
  • Just an hour from Toulouse

Lows

  • The chateau is 10km from the nearest town, so you will need to have cars if you want to get out and about
  • Apart from historic Auch (a 15-minute drive away), there is not much else locally in terms of nightlife, so you will have to make your own fun
  • Only 1 bath - the rest are seriously cool power showers
  • Sounds can travel through the old building, especially if it's full of noisy children
  • It's pricey - but for a once-in-a-lifetime occasion, it's worth splashing out

Best time to go

The best weather is from May to September but even the winter months are absolutely beautiful. This far south, the weather tends to be fairly mild but outside the summer months it's advisable to bring some woollies. The pool is normally usable from May or early June to late September.

Great for...

Family
Wedding
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Chateau Rental
  • 13
  • Self-catering + chef by arrangement
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Outdoor 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
  • Tennis Court
  • Snooker Table
  • Trampoline
Room:

Rooms

With a total of 12 bedrooms - 8 ensuite doubles (4 can be made up as twins), 2 triples and 3 quadruples - divided between the main house and a separate wing, the chateau can accommodate between 26-34 guests.

Each of the bedrooms has been individually styled with gorgeous handprinted wallpapers, grand beds, crisp linens and elegant antique and designer pieces sourced from New York, France and London. Naturally these are all ensuite and feature state-of-the-art showers and snuggly towels. In fact, the only problem will be deciding which room to keep for yourself.

In the main chateau, there are 2 double or twin bedrooms downstairs (Red and Blue) and 3 doubles upstairs: Nutmeg, Black and White, and Green. Also on the first floor are Grey and Lily, 2 of the quadruple bedrooms, each would work well for a family (1 double bed and 2 singles) or a group of children or friends (4 single beds). Brook and Monkey are the 2 triple rooms in the main house, but only Monkey can be made up with 3 single beds; these 2 rooms can also interconnect to create a sizable family suite.

In the separate wing of the chateau are 3 further smaller ensuite doubles and the third quadruple (also an ensuite).

All the rooms are cosy in winter and cool and airy in summer, but fans are provided should it be a scorcher. Many of the ensuite bathrooms are hidden away in the turrets, so you may find yourself showering in a funky cylindrical wet room (only 1 of the rooms has bath). Enticing local toiletries are provided, along with bales of thick cotton towels.

If you choose the daily help option, you will have someone to not only clean, tidy up and make the beds but also bring in fresh baguettes and croissants each morning.

Features include:

  • Barbeque
  • Bathrobes
  • Central heating
  • Cots Available
  • Dishwasher
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Hairdryer
  • Internet access
  • Microwave
  • Oven
  • Toiletries
  • Washing machine

Eating

The great thing about Lartigolle is that you can choose to self-cater or be catered for, or a mix of the two. There are 3 levels available:

  • Do-it-yourself, which is basically self-catering
  • Daily help, with breakfast and 3 hours cleaning/day
  • Personal chefs, which is half-board (breakfast and cleaning plus a daily 3-course dinner including coffee and cheese).

    When staying more than a couple of night, most people will choose to go it alone, which is easy given that you have an attractive, fully-equipped kitchen and plenty of local markets bursting with fresh, indulgent goodies such as foie gras, duck, toe-curlingly ripe cheeses and delicious fruit and veg, jams and preserves.

    However, Given that Emma and Nick came to France to indulge their love of cooking, we do recommend that you take full advantage of their talents at least once. They can whip up the most delicious dinners, served in the appropriately named Grand Salon or outside in the courtyard under the trees in summer. Options include grilled cod in Noilly Prat and cockle sauce, or local pork loin cooked in French cider, with caramelised apples, potato rosti and boudin noir (black pudding to you and me). Emma has a gift in creating dazzlingly imaginative salads and delicious puds, often with local fruits. The wine list is also reasonably priced and largely local.

    If you are considering holding a big event here, a birthday party or wedding perhaps, they can discuss and provide an appropriate feast; or they can arrange for a local farmer to produce a full spit-roast pig or lamb for the party. Emma will then add some of her wonderful salads and a vegetarian option, and any menu can be tailored to your personal tastes.

    Breakfast, when provided, is a spread of fresh croissants, pains au chocolat and baguettes, alongside cereals, local yogurts, fresh fruit and juices, all laid out by the housekeeper.

    Features include:

    • Children meals
    • Fridge
    • Full kitchen
    • In house cook
    • Microwave
    • Oven
  • Eating:
    Activity:

    Activities

    • Laze by the pool admiring the view, or swim in it if you can summon up the energy!

    • Walk up to the tennis court and let battle commence; with 20 of you it's possible to arrange your own mini tournament

    • If the weather ain't so good, curl up in the library with a good book, play a board game or watch some DVDs in the playroom - there is plenty of space for all

    • Another rainy day activity or after-dinner entertainment is the full size snooker table, conveniently located next to the honesty bar

    • Nick and Emma are happy to help arrange horse riding, rafting, quad biking and canoeing in the area, both for kids and grown ups

    • The ladies (and gents) may like to know that onsite massages and beauty therapies can be arranged

    • The historic market town of Auch, 15 mins away, is worth exploring for its chic boutiques; but you are also just an hour from bustling Toulouse, France's fourth biggest city: on the list to be European City of Culture 2013, and less than two hours from the towns of Condom and Carcassonne - the latter a World Heritage site

    • The southwest of France is renowned for its cuisine: try a classic dish of cassoulet in the town of Castelnaudary or duck breast, foie gras and Toulouse sausage

    • Gascony is also well known for its Armagnac: visit a distillery and try the famous digestif

    • This is huge rugby country - Toulouse is one of the top teams and matches are played from August to April

    • Lartigolle is only an hour and a half from the Pyrenees, so in winter you can drive up for some ski action or even husky sledding; in summer go walking, climbing or mountain biking

    Activities on site or nearby include:

    • Cycling
    • Golf
    • Hiking
    • Historical sites
    • Horse-riding
    • Kayaking
    • Rafting
    • Shopping / markets
    • Swimming
    • Tennis
    • Traditional cultures
    • Trekking

    Kids

    Even sulky teenagers who hate family holidays will find something to love here. If you're booking the whole place out, we'll assume that you're a mixture of families or a large extended family and tell you straight out that it's ideal. We particularly love the children's dorm, where they all have space to hang out plus a table football table to play on, and with games rooms and plenty of room outside to play in plus horse riding, quad biking, tree top adventure parks and waterparks nearby, you won't hear the words 'I'm bored' ringing in your ears all week.

    Best for:

    Teens (over 12)

    Family friendly accommodation:

    All the rooms are well sized and will fit an extra bed. There's are 2 quadruple bedrooms (Grey and Lily), each with a double and 2 twin beds, or 4 single beds - so they could work for a family or perhaps a group of 4 children. There are also 2 triple rooms (Brook and Monkey), which guests can use separately or interconnect - both have a double bed and 1 single, but Monkey can also be made up with 3 singles.

    Babysitting:

    Can be arranged

    Baby listening:

    You can borrow a baby monitor, but be sure to check the coverage as it doesn't extend to the whole property

    Baby equipment:

    • 2 baby cots available on request
    • High chair
    • Baby bedding

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

    Children's meals:

    Self cater (there's a microwave and blender), book in the personal chef treatment or go half board (which costs a little extra per little head). Special menus can be made up and an early tea can be served

    Kids Activities on site:

    • Tailor made lounge
    • TV/DVD with Sky TV
    • Tennis court
    • Trampoline
    • Fenced swimming pool with shallow end
    • Playground
    • Games room with snooker table
    • Kids DVDs, games and books

    Kids Activities nearby:

    • Horse riding
    • Quad biking
    • Tree top adventure parks
    • Water parks
    • Canoeing
    • Rafting

    Families Should Know:

    There are a few places with steps and small drops that children are not encouraged to go near

    Distances:

    • Airport: 50 minutes (Toulouse)
    • Medical facilities: 20 minutes
    • Nearest shops: 10 minutes (Auch)
    Kid Friendly:

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