Domaine Saint Hilaire

Montagnac, Languedoc, France Book from

A seductively peaceful Hérault hideaway for wine lovers and sybarites
Just a few miles inland from the beach, and within easy driving distance of both Beziers and Sète, Saint Hilaire feels dreamily bucolic. Secreted away amidst 80 hectares of vineyards and garrigue, this Hérault wine estate first saw the light of day in the 1800s. Towering Washingtonia palms, Aleppo pines and an ancient mulberry stand sentinel to its elegant façade, conferring unmistakably Mediterranean good looks: you could be nowhere else but the Midi.

The buildings were completely (and styishly) refurbed in the noughties, but you can still feel the history. An early owner, Baron Hilaire Reynaud, renamed the domaine after his patron saint; he went on to be a general in Napoleon's Army, and some of his portraits and historical artefacts are on display inside the chambres d'hotes. It changed hands in 2016 - we have not visited in its latest guise - but the 4 guest rooms look as crisp and comfy as ever, the pool and gardens as enticing as we remember; and we are looking forward to checking out the new cinema room and wine tasting tour!

Highs

  • The chance to discover Saint Hilaire's prize-winning wines and to see at first hand what goes into their creation
  • Top spec furnishings and fittings in the 4 guest bedrooms which are comfortable with a capital 'C'
  • A peaceful location, but with beaches, hills, lakes and the beguiling towns of Beziers, Pezenas and Sète close by
  • We loved the feeling of staying in a manicured and elegant home - not the slightest hint of hotel

Lows

  • Dinners are only available by prior arrangement: enquire when booking, or let manageress Aukje recommend local restaurants (there are plenty)
  • You will need a car to get around
  • Don't expect swathes of staff or full hotel facilities: this is a chambres d'hotes, albeit a very boutique one
  • You'll find it incredibly hard to leave!

Best time to go

Spring and autumn are wonderful, and in autumn you can help with the grape harvest.

Try and avoid July and August when the French are out to play en masse. However if you do come in August, don't miss the
amazing water jousting festival of St. Louis in Sete, where two white-clad teams in beautiful wooden boats try to knock their opponent into the water using a wooden lance.

Our top tips

Leave plenty of space to bring back some of their excellent wine, available at caveau price - or arrange to have it shipped home.

Great for...

Beach
Eco
Honeymoon
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique B&B
  • 4
  • Breakfast (+ dinner by arrangement)
  • Babies 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
  • Bicycles Available
Room:

Rooms

The 4 bedrooms are comfortable, meticulously thought out, and understatedly handsome. They fan out along the first floor of the bastide with views out through their high, shuttered windows to the surrounding gardens and pool.

La chambre du Baron is Saint Hilaire's flagship, an enormous double with room aplenty for a chaise longue, and both east and west facing windows. We loved the bathroom with its wetroom, separate tub, oval window and exposed beams. If you've got something to celebrate, this room should be your first choice.

La chambre du Chevalier comes a close second, with some lovely festive touches: a crown chandelier, an enormous gilt-framed mirror above the marble fireplace, and a double bed whose headboard reflects the deep red of the original floor tiles. It also has a lovely bathroom with a separate bath and rain shower.

La chambre de la Chatelaine is smaller and less flamboyant, but also retains its eye-catching floor tiles as well as venerable roof beams. The light palette, together with a high garden-facing window, maximise the feeling of space; an open-plan shower room leads directly off from the bedroom.

La chambre du Maire, the only room which can be set up with twin beds, is the smallest; but white walls and a window over the courtyard and winery keep it airy. A small annex holds a kitchenette, useful for couples with young babies requiring bottles and feeds, but surplus to requirements for most other guests.

Features include:

  • Air conditioning
  • Bathrobes
  • Central heating
  • Cots Available
  • Internet access
  • Satellite tv
  • Terrace

Eating

The dining room spans the width of the house, with views to both courtyard and wooded gardens; in fine weather you can sit outside on the terrace in the shadow of a 200-year-old umbrella pine.

Continental breakfasts include fresh orange juice, fruit salad, cheeses and cold cuts, cereals and yoghurts, homemade jams and delicious acacia honey, as well as first class coffee and a choice of leaf teas.

3-4 course dinners are available by prior arrangement: choose anything from a light tapas menu to the famous local plateau of oysters, mussels, shrimps if you're feeling really shellfish. All are. of course, washed down with different Saint Hilaire wines. Alternatively, there are several restaurants within easy driving distance - ask for recommendations (and a taxi, if you intend to déguste).

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Lunch by arrangement
Eating:
Activity: Beziers

Activities

  • Roam Saint Hilaire's 80 hectare estate on foot or by mountain bike; or follow their nature and sculpture walk
  • Play petanque, dip in the pool, or browse the pastels and watercolours on display in their own impressive gallery space
  • Head for the water: you're just 10 minutes from the Bassin de Thau and 25 from the long white beach of Marseillan
  • Browse for antiques in nearby Pezenas, Molière’s former stomping ground; or explore the gorgeous fishing port of Sète
  • Watch the bull fighting at Béziers, admire its cathedral and gardens, walk or boat along the Canal du Midi
  • Enjoy the grandiose architecture of Montpellier's places, its Corum concert hall, its historic quartiers and its Sunday flea market
  • Fish for sea bass on the Bassin de Thau and end your day with oysters and chilled white wine at one of its seafood restaurants

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Cycling
  • Fishing
  • Golf
  • Historical sites
  • Horse-riding
  • Museums / galleries
  • Petanque
  • Sailing
  • Shopping / markets
  • Swimming

Kids

Saint Hilaire isn't really suitable for kids of the inquisitive toddling age, but would be fine for older children who are happy to sleep in their own room, or for a couple with a baby.

Family friendly accommodation:

Maire can accommodate a baby cot, and has a kitchenette which is useful for preparing feeds. Baron can fit an extra bed, if you're coming with just one older child. For 2 or more children, they'll need their own room (only Maire is twin-bedded).

Baby equipment:

Baby cot available on request

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

Kid Friendly: The guest sitting room

Our guests' ratings...

10/
Rooms
10/
Food
10/
Service
10/
Value
10/
Overall

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