Chateau Les Carrasses

Quarante, Languedoc, France Book from Book from £175 per night

Picture-perfect chateau with stunning food and self-catering villas for 2-8, set amid vineyards near the Canal du Midi; ideal for families
Our jaws dropped as we swept up the tree-lined drive, through vineyards bursting with colour, to Château Les Carrasses - a 19th-century castle straight out of a fairytale. And this hideaway comes with a magical tale, too. It was built in 1886, at the height of Languedoc's wine boom, on the foundations of a pilgrimage rest stop. Over a century later it fell into ruin and lay abandoned for many years, before being rescued and completely transformed by Irish owners Karl and Anita.

Now, 28 self-catering suites and villas sit within the chateau’s original structure: bathrooms nestle in turrets, 3-bedroom villas occupy the former wine cellars, and the gardener’s cottage is a romantic retreat. Each has private outdoor space and is tastefully decorated with French antiques. There's also a heated infinity pool, a Mediterranean-style brasserie run by eminent chef Valère Diochet, and wonderfully warm staff full of local knowledge. Spend your days playing pétanque under pine trees and visiting Languedoc’s picturesque villages and markets, or drive 30 minutes to glorious sandy beaches. On top of being beautiful, this is one of the warmest regions in France, with over 300 days of sunshine a year.

Highs

    • The idyllic rural setting - 10 acres of vineyards, meadow and woodland, and the Pyrenees mountains as a backdrop
    • A relaxed ambiance but luxurious feel
    • Heaven for families with various sizes of accommodation (some have private pools) plus tennis courts and a kids club in July and August
    • Bikes to borrow; pack a picnic and cycle along the famous Canal du Midi
    • Mealtime flexibility: you can self cater, eat à la carte in the excellent brasserie, grab takeaway pizzas or get meals delivered

Lows

  • Don't expect full hotel facilities such as a spa; this is a self-catering property with perks
  • You'll need a car to get here and explore the region
  • The brasserie menu is light on vegetarian options but the chef is happy to create something on request
  • Some private gardens are overlooked

Best time to go

Both early summer (May and June) and early autumn (September) are beautiful - the weather is warm and the area not too crowded. Wine connoisseurs, take note; September sees the region’s grape harvest so is a great time for winery tours. We visited in October and found complete peace, but temperatures were cool and we had a few downpours. If possible, avoid July and August as prices rise and restaurants are often fully booked.

Our top tips

  • Take a book and a glass of wine to the orangerie. It’s a magical hideout full of plants, books and sofas.

  • Make a trip to the coast: we had the most blissful day at Gruissan taking long windy walks along the beach and feasting on our French picnic while overlooking the lagoon.
  • Great for...

    Family
    Foodie
    Great Outdoors
    Wedding
    • Boutique chateau
    • 28 suites and villas
    • Self catering, restaurant on-site
    • All ages welcome
    • Open all year
    • Heated 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
    • Bicycles Available
    Room:

    Rooms

    There are 28 self-catering suites and villas spread across the grounds, hidden between lavender, honeysuckle and jasmine, and amongst fountains. Suites occupy the main chateau and feel more romantic. They also benefit from traditional hotel servicing and incredible views across the vineyards. For honeymooners, we’d suggest the cosy and secluded gardener’s cottage (Maison du Jardinier), hidden at the edge of the property, with its own pool.

    Within the former wine cellars, blacksmith’s quarters and stables, you find a mix of 2- and 3-bedroom villas. Some have a private pool or Jacuzzi; all have gardens or terraces. Our favourites were the atmospheric villas in the old wine cave with incredible views towards the mountains and mezzanines perched atop wooden beams (Les Maisons de la Cave).

    Décor is chic throughout, blending modern comforts with original features and bespoke local handicrafts. Expect vintage prints of mushroom varieties, ancient wooden chests and gilded mirrors.

    Features include:

    • Air conditioning
    • Bathrobes
    • Central heating
    • Coffee / tea making
    • Coffee maker
    • DVD player
    • Hairdryer
    • Ipod dock
    • Phone
    • Toiletries
    • TV
    • WiFi

    Eating

    All suites and villas have state-of-the-art kitchens, equipped with every gadget you need to whip up a feast. Mouth-wateringly fresh produce is available at the local markets.

    The Mediterranean-style brasserie - fronted by chef Valère Diochet - is a relaxed place for breakfast, lunch and dinner. In the morning, a long table heaves under a spread of fresh pastries, cheeses and meats - we couldn’t stop eating succulent figs from the estate. Lunch was a delight, too: pea soup topped with burrata, followed by grilled sea bass. For dinner, choose à la carte dishes such as pan-fried scallops with chestnut velouté or try the chef's tasting menu. We washed everything down with a bottle of the chateau’s Syrah. Perfection.

    If you prefer to dine in the privacy of your accommodation, all meals can be ordered to take away. In summer, there's a pizza delivery service and barbecue packs are available. For a change of scene, there are wonderful restaurants in the surrounding villages; ask reception for suggestions.

    Features include:

    • Bar
    • Children's meals
    • Coffee / tea making
    • Coffee maker
    • Restaurant
    • Room service
    • Welcome hamper
    Eating:
    Activity:

    Activities

    • Laze by the infinity pool with a book and soak up the views
    • Work up a sweat: the chateau has a pétanque court, a clay tennis court and a beach volleyball pitch
    • Enjoy a wine-tasting afternoon. There are hundreds of vineyards close by; try St Chinian, Faugeres or the Minervois
    • Borrow bikes and explore the chateau’s 10 acres of vineyard, meadow and woodland
    • Take a trip along the picturesque Canal du Midi - either by barge or kayak
    • Explore the Languedoc region: we’d recommend trips to hilltop Minerve, colourful Sète and seaside Gruissan
    • The gold-sand beaches at Serignan and Portiragnes are a 25-minute drive

      Activities on site or nearby include:

      • Boat trips
      • Cycling
      • Hiking
      • Historical sites
      • Horse riding
      • Kayaking
      • Museums / galleries
      • Petanque
      • Shopping / markets
      • Swimming
      • Tennis
      • Volleyball
      • Wine tasting

    Kids

    Fantastic for families, with equipment to borrow for little ones, masses of space for kids to run free, various shapes and sizes of accommodation, a heated infinity pool, tennis court, volleyball, bikes to borrow and an on-site brasserie. In the summer holidays there's a kids club with a full schedule of events.

    Best for:

    All ages

    Family friendly accommodation:

    Various 1- to 3-bedroom villas, which can sleep a maximum of 8 people, all with well-equipped kitchens. A number have private pools and all (except the Suites du Chateau) have enclosed, private gardens.

    Babysitting:

    On request

    Baby equipment:

    • Baby cots
    • High chairs
    • Stair gates
    • Potties
    • Baby baths
    • Baby monitors
    • Bottle warming

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

    Creche/Kid's Club:

    There’s a kids club in July and August for children aged 4-12, with a range of activities including pétanque, arts and crafts, acting and singing

    Children's meals:

    The brasserie has a kids menu. Private kitchens in the villas mean you can prepare meals and snacks throughout the day; note that the nearest supermarkets are a 10-minute drive away

    Kids Activities on site:

    • Heated infinity pool
    • Tennis court
    • Bikes to borrow for the whole family
    • Volleyball court
    • Petanque
    • DVDs, books and toys

    Kids Activities nearby:

    • Safari park
    • Horse riding
    • Waterpark
    • Aquarium
    • Zoo
    • Fairground

    Families Should Know:

    Steep steps in some properties; all private pools are alarmed but unfenced; terraces/gardens enclosed

    Distances:

    • Airport: 40 minutes' drive (Béziers)
    • Hospital: 30 minutes' drive
    • Shops: 10 minutes' drive
    Kid Friendly:

    Our guests' ratings...

    Based on 1 independent review from i-escape guests

    10/10
    Room
    10/10
    Food
    10/10
    Service
    10/10
    Value
    10/10
    Overall

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    Rates for Chateau Les Carrasses