Chateau Les Carrasses – Languedoc, France
Newly opened in July 2012, Les Carrasses is many things to many people: at once a boutique retreat, self-catering family resort, a winery and private member’s club. And it seems to work.
Beds are super-comfy and all rooms, suites and properties are fully equipped comprising kitchen areas with top notch appliances. Bedrooms and suites are largely housed within the Chateau itself, with more spacious properties located within the many renovated stables and various outbuildings.
The Chateau has been painstakingly restored – perhaps even beyond its former glory – and the stylish, almost urban interior design of the public areas works really well giving the overall feel a grown-up, sophisticated edge.
Staff are extremely friendly and really can’t do enough to ensure their guests have a great time (such as calling to check that everything is OK if you dine outside the Chateau and have to drive home during a thunderstorm).
- A mix of thirty, forty and fifty something British, French and German couples and families with young children.
- Bistro – Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served on the roof terrace or in the small bistro, part of an open-plan space which acts as lounge, reception, concierge desk and boutique. The kitchen is run by Anna whose simple lunchtime menu consists of quick snacks such as hotdogs, caesar salad and homemade soup, while her tapas dishes in the evening are varied, seasonal and locally sourced.
- Swimming pool – The gated pool is perfect for adults and kids alike with a huge terrace and plenty of comfy sunbeds. Some of the larger suites and properties have their own small private pools.
- Tennis court – The red clay tennis court can be booked by the hour at any time of day with free racquets and balls and only a small charge for floodlight usage.
- Beach volley ball – Shaded by trees all day, the court can also be booked by the hour.
- Kids’ Club – Daily entertainment for children over four years (additional charge).
- Boules – Boules can be played in the Chateau’s courtyard.
- Winery – With its first harvest expected from mid-September 2011, vines surround the Chateau and are the inspiration for weekly wine tasting quiz nights. Local wine guru, Matthew Stubbs, who runs Vinecole based at one of the region’s best domaines, Domaine Gayda, between Limoux and Carcassonne, tests guests’ knowledge of the region’s best wines as they tuck into a delicious tapas dinner every Thursday.
- Cycling – Bikes of all sizes are available to explore the surrounding countryside.
- Region – Small, authentique towns and villages such as Capestang, Poilhes and Roquebrun are just a short cycle or scenic drive away, and the canal du midi is literally on the Chateau’s doorstep. Medieval and Roman cities such as Carcasonne, Narbonne, Beziers, Perpignan and beautiful Montpelier are all within easy reach and it’s only a 20-minute drive to the dunes of Serignan plage.
- Chateau Les Carrasses – Route de Capestang, between Capestang and Quarante, near Beziers, Languedoc & Roussillon, France (+33 (0)4 67 00 00 67 / +44 (0)845 686 8067 / email@example.com / www.lescarrasses.com)
- 29 August – 4 September 2011
- 24 – 27 degrees. The preluding 41 degree heatwave resulted in moody weather, warm & humid yet cloudy with some rain and a couple of storms, and intermittent sunshine.
- A speedy four-hour TGV train journey direct from Paris Gare de Lyon, followed by a 20-minute drive from Beziers. Montpelier receives domestic and international flights; Beziers & Narbonne receive flights from the UK.
- Room number 4 has a small balcony with wonderful views across the vineyards. The Gardner’s Cottage is situated furthest away from the main buildings with its own small pool and is perhaps the best value for money.
THE FAT MOUSE VERDICT:
- The Good – The wide range of activities both on site and across the region is fantastic; the Chateau is a safe haven and particularly well geared up for families with children of all ages; charming and caring staff; stunning property and well positioned; reasonable prices (there’s not a single wine on the list above 30 Euros).
- The Bad – Conversely, while a lovely spot for couples seeking solitude yet with plenty of facilities, July & August can be a little overwhelming in terms of the large numbers of children; the landscaping was not completed and another year will give the gardens a chance to really mesh with the revitalised buildings; wi-fi is unreliable.
MACARON RATING: 0000 1/4