Metairie Montplaisir

near Carcassonne, Languedoc, France Book from Eur109

Reviewed by Nadine Mellor
Relax by the stylish pool or sun-dappled river at this idyllic, family-friendly and foodie guesthouse, 10 minutes from Carcassonne
Tall gates open to dove-grey shutters, a bank of trees, an elegant pool - and Amélie, who has poured love and passion into renovating this old métairie (farmhouse). The house is on the edge of the summer-popular village of Conques sur Orbiel, but all you hear is the sound of the river in the lovely large garden; from a couple of bedrooms it will even lull you to sleep.

Métairie Montplaisir is a vibrant place in any season, and the attention to detail is exceptional, from newspapers at breakfast to sarongs for the pool. With just 5 guest rooms and a 1-bedroom cottage, you may have the gardens (or the cosy fireside) to yourself. Sip an aperitif on the terrace or relax indoors: the interiors are a gorgeous mix of Latin American colour and old-world French charm (Amélie is much-travelled). Wonderful smells waft from the kitchen; the food - a fresh carpaccio of scallops, a silken panna cotta - comes courtesy of cook Françoise, and the wines are carefully chosen. Amélie’s happiness is infectious, her personal insight into the area invaluable, and the service is warm and charming. For us, staying here exemplified the good life.

Highs

  • Arrive as strangers, leave as friends - families, couples, even pets are welcomed with open arms
  • Idyllic gardens with a serene pool, and a river to sing you to sleep; unflashy pampering doesn’t come better than this
  • Big, gorgeous bedrooms with zinging colours
  • Delicious breakfasts, lunches and table d’hôtes dinners from market-fresh produce
  • An easy drive to Carcassonne, wild hilltop castles, vineyards and the Canal du Midi; Amelie shares her local knowledge with guests

Lows

  • With so few rooms, you’re obliged to be sociable
  • No bathtubs in Rosalie, Nandette, Francesca and the The Atelier - but you do get excellent showers
  • The pool is unheated
  • Francesca is only open during peak season
  • You'll need to book ahead for summer

Best time to go

Métairie Montplaisir is a pleasure to visit all year round. In summer, prices are higher and traffic queues longer, but Carcassonne throws France’s biggest party on Bastille Day (14 July), when the skies are ablaze with fireworks. Other notable events from Europe’s finest fortified city include Spanish week at the end of August, wine festivals in May and October, jazz in May, and the Christmas fair in December.

Our top tips

Resist the temptation to stay here all day! The Languedoc is one of the most rewarding regions in France, so get out and explore. Come home to cards in the living room, sofas by the fire, or, in summer, an aperitif by the elegant saltwater pool.

Great for...

Family
Foodie
Great Outdoors
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Boutique Guesthouse
  • 5 rooms + 1 cottage
  • Breakfast (+ other meals on request)
  • 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
  • Bicycles Available
  • Cookery classes
Room: Rosalie

Rooms

Style, space and charm characterise the five rooms in the main house and a cottage beside the river.

We stayed in warm, sunny Carlota suite, named for Amelie’s daughter, with colours and textures of Mexico, Colombia and Brazil. Notable also for its bioethanol double-sided fireplace and superb bathroom with white oval bath, vibrant orange wall and drenching shower. Suite Francesca, in a converted stable has double and twin rooms, a spacious bathroom with walk in shower, and pool views.

Ségur - more zinging colour with two walls in turquoise, punctuated with bright pink alcoves, and luxurious bathroom with bath and walk-in shower - is great for romantics. As are Rosalie - a deep pink and aubergine double with old Persian fabrics mixed with contemporary lighting and furniture - and second-floor Nandette, inspired by the Majorelle gardens in Morocco with deep blues throughout.

Light-filled two-storey The Atelier (with a large workshop-like window) is separate from the main building, with a secluded terrace and the river beneath the window.

Features include:

  • Bathrobes
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Fan
  • Hairdryer
  • Nespresso coffee machine
  • Terrace
  • Tv
  • WiFi
  • Wifi internet

Eating

Breakfast is a treat, taken either in the dining room or under the chestnut tree in summer: we feasted on freshly squeezed juice and fresh fruits, homemade yoghurt, delicious orange cake, bread, croissants and warm brioche, good butter, eggs cooked to order, cured ham, coffee and jams of the garden's bounty. Lunch (perhaps homemade tomato soup, carpaccio of scallops, a chanterelle omelette) is served pool-side in summers (you can order a pool plate of one course and one dessert).

In the evenings, the daily culinary soirée begins with an aperitif, tapenades and fresh anchovies. We enjoyed seasonal local vegetables, duck in a red wine reduction and a dreamy chocolate mousse with garden figs, all accompanied by well-chosen wines. Françoise was awarded a Michelin fork at her previous restaurant in St Tropez. And there's also a weekly crêpes night to enjoy too.

Unsurprisingly we didn't dine out but Amélie can recommend restaurants in Carcassonne and around. You can self-cater in The Atelier (the kitchen has an oven, fridge, kettle, pots and pans, crockery and cutlery), but breakfast is included in the rates and most prefer Françoise's excellent cooking.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Children meals
  • Coffee tea making
  • Cooking classes
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Lunch by arrangement
  • Restaurants nearby
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • The must-see medieval citadel of Carcassonne is only 8km away. Navigate cobbled ramps and narrow streets brimming with gargoyles and history. Tour Château Comtal, brave the Musée de l’Inquisition, then pick a restaurant for a hearty cassoulet. The walled cité draws 4 million visitors a year
  • Amélie can organise wine-tasting sessions, book guides, bikes or days out on the tree-lined Canal du Midi, or visits to local workshops, such as artisan soap or handmade chocolates
  • Visit elegant Montolieu, 15km away, the ‘Village of Books’, which honours bookbinders and has a monthly book market. Nearby is the last working paper mill in the region: Brousses et Villaret (established in 1698)
  • Lastours is the closest of the area’s amazing Cathar sites. The 4 ancient towers, which survived 10 centuries of raids and sieges, have a breathtaking view from the top, 1,000 feet above the valley
  • Some of the biggest caves in France, Gouffre de Cabrespine, are under 30 minutes' drive away
  • Cookery classes and in-room massages are also on offer

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Boat trips
  • Cooking classes
  • Cycling
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Museums / galleries
  • Picnics
  • Private guided tours
  • Shopping / markets
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Well being
  • Wine tasting

Kids

As long as you’re aware of the small river, and coax your children to put away the pool toys at day's end, this is a delightful place for families, thanks to the laid-back atmosphere and welcoming presence of Amélie, Françoise and Carlota. Families should be cognisant that this is also a relaxing couples' retreat, luckily the garden is large and has plenty of space for all.

We brought our family here for half-term, and had a wonderful time exploring Carcassonne, Cathar Country and local caves, all within easy reach. Parents and children alike felt instantly at home at Metairie Montplaisir.

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years), Toddlers (1-4 years), Children (4-12 years)

Family friendly accommodation:

Family room Francesca has a double room and a twin room for kids, plus it can fit a baby cot. The Atelier and Carlota, where we stayed, can each take 2 extra beds/cots for kids under 12; Ségur has space for an additional child's bed or cot. Nandette can fit either an extra bed or a baby cot, while Rosalie is suitable for a cot only. No extra beds are possible for children over the age of 12.

Baby equipment:

  • Baby cots
  • High chairs

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

Children's meals:

Wholesome menus are concocted to take note of children’s needs, and you can cook for yourselves if you stay in The Atelier.

Kids Activities on site:

  • Swimming in the saltwater pool, pool toys available
  • Bikes to hire
  • Large gardens to play in
  • Cooking and chocolate-making workshops
  • Marble paper-making workshops on request

Kids Activities nearby:

  • The fortified city of Carcassonne, buy the treasure hunt and discover hidden secrets of this iconic medieval city or take a train through the ramparts
  • Hilltop castles at Lastours and other Cathar sites such as Saissac
  • The impressive caves at Gouffre-de-Cabrespine are just under 30 minutes away
  • Wild swimming spots in nearby rivers (Amélie can advise)
  • Boat rides on the Canal du Midi
  • Take the paper mill tour at Brousses et Villaret

Families Should Know:

A river runs through the garden, and the pool is unfenced

Distances:

  • Airport: 15 minutes (Carcassonne)
  • Hospital: 10 minutes (Carcassonne)
  • Shop: 5 minutes (Conques sur Orbiel)
Kid Friendly:

Our guests' ratings...

10/
Rooms
10/
Food
10/
Service
9/
Value
10/
Overall

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