“A clutch of rustic chic cottages with 20m lap pool and sunny gardens, 30 minutes from Carcassonne (each sleeps 2-7, or 14 in total)”
Two of the cottages flank Tilly and Will's home, the whole forms a stone terrace bookended by large barns. The largest, Le Jasmin, where we stayed, has 2 bedrooms – a high-ceilinged double and twin attic room for kids – plus TV snug with sofa bed on the top floors. Below is the kitchen-diner-living space and bathroom with excellent walk-in shower and clawfoot bath.
L'Etoile is also on 3 floors but narrower so there's one room per level. In descending order: the master bedroom with shower bathroom, a living room with sofabed and Juliet balcony for those awesome vineyard views, and the funky kitchen-diner.
Smallest, for couples, in the garden and mini-orchard near the pool, is stand-alone Le Figuier with galley kitchen and shower bathroom (with underfloor heating) beside an airy bedroom.
Since our visit, Chambre d'Amis has been added. The owners promise that this ground-floor apartment is a spacious home-from-home, with one bedroom, a kitchen and a private terrace.
All have whitewashed walls, natural materials like rattan or flagstones on the floors, kingsize beds, a private terrace or patch of garden with table and chairs (and your own BBQ) and full kitchens.
The 3 kitchens have all you need for self-catering. Each has a coffee machine as well as oven, stove and fridge-freezer in which you'll find your bottle of Blanquette de Limoux (the inspiration for Champagne) for booking through i-escape. Tea, coffee and milk are supplied on arrival. The 2 larger cottages have dishwashers and dining tables, Le Figuier's bistro table and chairs are on its private terrace overlooking the orchard and vines.
Your convivial hosts arrange a weekly communal barbecue and pizza night, dinners and apero boards can be arranged on request. The Barn Bar has an honesty bar, clay pizza oven, pool table and ping pong as well as sofas; here Tilly provides a Sunday brunch May-October. Delicious cassoulet and pizza can be delivered (we partook on our first night). Alternatively head out for dinner to Limoux, Mirepoix, or Belveze-du-Raze, we enjoyed a meal at winery Domaine Gayda, or plunder the local food shops and markets (Mirepoix Mondays and Thursdays, Limoux Fridays - about 10-15 minutes drive away).
We enjoyed bringing our family to these boutique gites which are very well set up for children (Tilly and Will have two sons so know about providing for families). There's even a lovely big rocking horse to ride at the entrance. Our children romped around the grounds, eagerly bouncing on the trampoline, playing football, swinging in hammocks, feeding the chickens, and playing with the toys and games in situ. The pool is gated and the cottages are well-equipped for easy self-catering. And there are lots of child-friendly activities in the area. Fun for all the family!
Babies (0-1 years), Toddlers (1-4 years), Children (4-12 years)
Le Jasmin, where we stayed, and L'Etoile are perfect for families: both are over three storeys, with useful kitchens and comfy living rooms. Le Jasmin sleeps up to 5 in two bedrooms and has an additional TV snug room plus a tub in the bathroom, while L'Etoile has a master bedroom and shower bathroom on the top floor and a sofa bed in the living room below. Both have their own small terrace/patio area outside their kitchen doors for valley views, Le Jasmin also has a hammock at the front.
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking
All cottages are well-equipped for self-catering
The pool is fenced. A few drops and steps around the property so keep an eye on toddlers