Welcoming and nurturing wellness retreat in the hills south of Carcassonne with fragrant gardens and organic food”
Your hosts Denise and John (who took over in 2020) have imbued all with a wonderfully nurturing vibe – their skin and aromatherapy spa brand, ila, showcases natural and organic products. The house's original features – an elegant banistered staircase, panelling and marble fireplaces – have been overlaid with Indian artisan furniture, romantic chandeliers, and tranquil hues. All senses are satiated here: jewel colours are found in cushions and throws, the leafy garden smells of jasmine, damask rose and herbs, the (mostly vegetarian) food is local, seasonal and bursts with real flavour. You're encouraged to treat Maison ila (formerly known as Le Trésor) as you would your own home.
- The beautiful yoga, sound healing and meditation space which instils restorative calm to all
- The range of treatments and therapies on offer include craniosacral therapy, vitality boosting massages and gorgeous facials
- Excellent dinners on request, using locally sourced produce; breakfast is included
- Sonnac is well off the tourist trail, yet an easy drive from some of Languedoc's prettiest villages and only an hour from Carcassonne
- You need to give at least 24 hours notice for dinner; local restaurants are a drive away
- Little to see or do in this workaday little village - and no shops (which is half the attraction); the surrounding hills are beautiful, with views of distant Pyrenees
- Expect to hear passing traffic as well as the comings and goings of the other guests
- We have yet to visit since the new owners have taken charge, and can't wait to try the Bien Etre therapies and treatments when we get there
Best time to go
Our top tips
- Boutique Guesthouse
- 5 rooms + 1 cottage for 2-4
- Breakfast (+ dinner on request)
- All ages welcome
- Open all year
- Spa Treatments
- Pet Friendly
- Disabled Access
- Beach Nearby
- Off-street Parking
- Restaurants Nearby
- Air Conditioning
- Guest Lounge
- Daily Maid Service
- Towels & Bedlinen
- Concierge Service
- Bicycles Available
- Laundry Service
The five rooms are ranged along the building's first floor. All are high-ceilinged with an airy, expansive feel: a perfect canvas for statement mirrors, eye-catching chandeliers, headboards and Farrow & Ball walls. There are antique trunks and old armchairs plundered from the local brocantes. Planked floors, cornicing and marble fireplaces remind you that this is a genuine maison bourgeoise.
Serene Chambre Un is a massive suite with an emperor-size bed, a free-standing roll-top bathtub and a spare bedroom/dressing room. Chambre Cinq is also stunning - a romantic bolthole with a large freestanding bath, 'Italian' shower, and stylish living area.
In the remaining rooms, showers take the place of baths. We stayed in calm and comfortable Chambre Quatre, and were charmed by the feature marble fireplace and its bold day bed. Whitewashed Chambre Trois can be made up as a twin or double, and smaller Chambre Deux has a lovely antique bed beside shuttered windows overlooking the square.
For couples travelling together or a small family there's La Petite Maison, which has two bedrooms on the top floor, and a well-stocked kitchen opening onto a cosy living room on the ground floor. Outside is a private terrace garden.
All rooms have really comfy mattresses and crisp Egyptian cotton bedding, and in your bath or shower room you're treated to a generous range of Denise's signature ila organic products.
- Central heating
- Family friendly
- Honesty bar
It's always nice to find somewhere with a genuine commitment to buying local and organic produce. Meals can be served in the high-ceilinged dining room looking out to the Place de l'Eglise, or in the magical garden when weather permits. Get going with an excellent breakfast: delicious local apple juice as well as mille fleurs honey comes from the village whilst your bread, pains aux chocolat and croissants are brought oven-fresh from the local boulangerie. Expect a fresh fruit salad or a smoothie, creamy yoghurt, homemade jams and freshly made coffee.
Hampers for picnic lunches and in-room breakfasts can be easily arranged, these need pre-booking.
Set 3-course dinners of scrummy (mostly) vegetarian fare are available every evening, you'll need to give at least 24 hours notice. Note that the food served on retreats is always vegetarian, at other times fish can be requested for chambre d'hote guests. The honesty bar has a carefully chosen selection of local organic wines, beers and cremant.
If you prefer a change of scene, you'll need to jump in the car. The nearest place to eat is 3km away in Chalabre, where you can choose between a simple pizzeria or the rather more staid Hôtel de France. If you're happy to drive a little further, Mirepoix has masses of restaurants, including the excellent L'autre Jardin.
- Coffee / tea making
- Dinner by arrangement
- Family friendly
- Organic produce
- Vegetarian menu
- The healing and nurturing here can be in the form of 3, 5 or 7 day programmes (which include organic meals, daily activities, Wild Training, yoga and meditation sessions) or simply choose one of the many treatments and in-room therapies on offer
- Follow way-marked footpaths out from the village or head off for a day's hiking or skiing in the Pyrenees
- Get on your bike: this region is very popular for cycling, with the Tour du France passing right through the village. The hotel can organise bike hire in advance of your stay
- Spend a day in Carcassonne making sure to get going early in summer if you want to beat the crowds. The medieval walled Cité is a Unesco World Heritage Site, as is the stunning Canal du Midi, which used to link the Mediterranean and Atlantic
- Shop for a picnic in Mirepoix, then head into Cathar country to visit some of France’s most beautiful bastide towns and ruins of spectacular fortresses
- Swim in the lakes at Puivert or Montbel; both are ideal for families with younger children. There's also wild river swimming across the lane, swimming towels can be provided
- There are two 18-hole golf courses within an hour's drive, or the hotel can arrange horse riding, kayaking and fishing expeditions. You can waterski, windsurf and sail at Montbel
- Wander the backstreets of Camon, one of the region's prettiest villages. It's just a 10-minute drive
- Follow a spectacular gorge down to the Mediterranean and discover the rare beauty of Collioures ; ideal for a day trip
Activities on site or nearby include:
- Historical sites
- Horse riding
- Shopping / markets
This is not the ideal place to bring your family as there's nothing for kids at the guesthouse, although the garden and village square are both child-friendly. There are plenty of places to explore nearby with kids, and the Med is under 2 hours drive away. We think teens would get bored here.
Babies (0-1 years)
Family friendly accommodation:
A baby cot can go in Room 4 but the best bet for families is the two-storey two-bedroom La Petite Maison which has its own private terrace garden.
- A high chair
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking
Kids Activities nearby:
- Swimming spots in rivers and lakes (2 shallow lakes within 10 minutes' drive)
- Bamboo park
- Bison farm
- Airport: 1 hour (Carcassonne)
- Shop: 5 minutes' drive
- Hospital: 20 minutes
Maison ila is set in the charming town of Sonnac-sur-l'Hers in Aude. It's an hour south of Carcassonne in the Languedoc region of southern France.
Carcassonne Airport (50km) is the closest, but Toulouse and Béziers are only a 2-hour drive away. Click on the links below for a list of airlines serving these airports.
From the Airport
A taxi will cost around EUR 90 or you can hire a car (see below).
If you want to hire a car, see our car rental recommendations.
Detailed directions will be sent to you when you book through i-escape.com.
More on getting to France and getting around
- Carcassonne 50.0 km CCF
- Beach 100.0 km
- Shops 3.0 km
- Restaurant 3.0 km