After a swift 25-minute taxi or drive from tiny Beziers airport, its hard to know who'll be more excited as the first view of the rolling grounds, beautiful limestone turrets and glistening infinity pool of the magnificent Chateau les Carrasses sweeps into view. Will it be grown-ups, who'll be chomping at the bit to check-in at their sleek and stylish new home, or mini-guests who'll be totally enchanted by the Disney-esque fairytale castle exterior. Whichever it is, there's little doubt that the initial surge of excitement is unlikely to fade.
This chic yet family-friendly chateau was treated to some serious investment in 2011 and now boasts 28 luxurious self-catering apartments and former grape-pickers cottages, some with private pools, a kid-friendly but foodie's paradise of a bistro, a cocktail bar, glamorous boutique, clay tennis courts, electric bikes, gourmet picnic service, room-service meal delivery and a kids clubhouse (open to guests in high summer only) with supervision in summer. That's not to mention the stunning communal infinity pool, boules pitches, beach volleyball court and glorious 10-acres of grounds, which guests are encouraged to roam using the bikes and picnic service provided. Junior guests aged 4 and over love the outdoorsy approach of the summer holiday kids activities that are based in the kids 'HQ' but mainly involve exploring the grounds and have been designed by co-owner Anita O'Hanlon, a trained child psychologist, to be a refreshing alternative to the 'sit and bead or draw' approach of some kids clubs. Even outside of school holidays, there's plenty for little ones to do with trikes available on free loan, acres of lawns to play on and a beach volley ball pitch mini guests are encouraged to use as a giant sandpit with toys provided.
Although the accommodation is self-catering, great food and drink is high on the agenda at Les Carrasses, not least because Languedoc native, chef and former producer for TV's Food Network, Anne DeRavel is at the helm in the kitchen. Her enthusiasm for the region, which has recently been gathering quite a reputation for some of France's best wines, is obvious in the menus of the funky bistro, as well as the in-room dining with delicious plats du jour, pizzas, BBQ and picnic packs, all based on fresh, seasonal produce from local artisan suppliers. A daily breakfast pastries or bread delivery option is also available.
Being so close to the airport, itself only a shot hop from the UK, Les Carrasses is perfect for an indulgent weekend break, but its stylish and well-equipped accommodation will have most guests hankering to stay much longer and, with so many places to explore in the region, whether the sights and sounds of Carcassonne, Montpellier and Marseille, or the beautiful coastline, two weeks is easily filled. Every suite, apartment and villa at Château Les Carrasses is spacious and luxurious, making the most of the impressive dimensions and original features of the 19th century buildings. Each property is individually interior designed, though all share a chic French take on tradition-meets-modernity. Beds are large and comfortable and bathrooms have large tubs and/or showers, comfortable bathrobes and Fragonard toiletries. Living areas offer wi-fi, flat screen TV/DVD, and iPod, fully charged with carefully selected playlists. Every property has a fully-equipped kitchen, and all are air-conditioned and heated. Washing machines are provided in all apartments except the chateau suites and attic apartments. Most of the properties have sunny private gardens or terraces with BBQ, outdoor dining areas and sun loungers. Many also enjoy private heated pools.
Accommodation Overview -Les Forges
Booking requests from this page will secure a booking for the 3-bedroom house with small garden and private pool (unfenced) which is heated mid June - mid September. Those looking for smaller houses or who are happy to use the communal pool (gated) should see our listings for the other accommodation at Les Carrasses here.
Originally part of the barn, l'Hibou is a generous light-filled three bedroom(all en-suite) house providing spacious accommodation for six people and a baby or two. On the ground floor, French doors lead outside from the large open-plan kitchen/living room to a lovely west-facing terrace and garden with BBQ, sun loungers, dining furniture and pool (7.5m by 3.5m and unfenced so care should be taken with little ones). There's a double room downstairs with ensuite and generous wardrobe space. Upstairs, there are two ensuite bedrooms, one with 160cm double and the other with 2 x 90cm singles, which can be linked to become a 180cm double. Les Forges has lovely views to the Olive Grove and across the orchard to the vines beyond. Like all accommodation at Les Carrasses, the house is exceptionally well designed and equipped with mod cons including air-conditioning, heating, washing machines (not chateau suites/attic suites), flatscreen TVs/DVds and IPod dock with loaded IPod,
Les Carrasses is fabulously situated being within an hours drive of no less than four airports (see below), all served by low-cost flights from the UK and therefore making it a quick and easy indulgent break for those short on time or looking to supplement their main holidays. For those with more time to spare, a week or two can be easily filled not just relaxing in the grounds or by the pool, which can be hard to leav, but also exploring the many towns, small and large, and coastal resorts within a short drive.
Highlights of the region include the amazing historic walled cite at Carcassonne, which will have would-be knights and princesses in rapture, the charming, mainly 17th century, town of Penzenas, bustling Montpellier and Narbonne with its fabulous indoor market. There's also pretty Limoux, birthplace of the forerunner, and some say better, to Champagne, and lovely harbour towns such as Marseillian, which has been likened to the St Tropez of old.
The Chateau's concierge service are full of useful advice and suggestions. They have a partnership with a nearby beach club which offers excellent food, lounger service and even massages. It also transforms into a laid-back 'club' in the evening, with the latest in relaxed beach sounds from international and home-grown DJs. In addition, they can arrange golf passes for one of the three courses within an hour's drive, wine tours and watersports.
Nearest Medical Services:
Getting There: Airports nearest the Les Carrasses include Beziers (25mins), Perpignan (50mins), Montpellier (1hr), Carcassonne (1hr), Nimes (90mins), Girona (105mins) and Toulouse (120mins). Check www.skyscanner.net for flights from your nearest airport. Those travelling from outside of Europe, might find it best to fly to Barcelona and make drive from there to Les Carrasses which usually takes under 3 hours. Train is also a convenient way to reach Les Carrasses since the Chateau is just 15mins from Beziers TGV station, which has a regular service from Paris and takes about 4hrs 30mins.