Reviewed by Debbie Morgan
Luxury self-catering at its finest
Price: Doubles from £150, room only
Location: South of France
Address: Chateau Les Carrasses, Route de Capestang, (D37), 34130, Quarante, France
We approach through poppy fields, with Château Les Carrasses slowly appearing ahead of us, like a fairy-tale castle, the sun beaming off the turrets, and green as far as the eye can see.
This beautifully restored 19th century vineyard estate has 28 elegant suites and villas (one to three bedrooms ) – many with private gardens and pools, and sits right in the heart of the Languedoc - the sunniest region in France, FYI. The heated (May till end of October) infinity pool becomes my happy place, but there's also a floodlit clay tennis court, beach volleyball court and two boules courts, for when you're feeling energetic.
Order a picnic from the kitchen and take the (free-to-borrow) bikes for a long meander through the 10 acre estate, and on to the neighbouring towns. That's the beauty of Les Carrasses, you are secluded when you want to be, but close enough to civilisation not to feel cut off.
Aside from the Mediterranean climate…
*The infinity pool.
*The beautiful scenery – including orchards, an olive grove and orangerie.
*The wine! Château Les Carrasses is a winery, after all. There's wine tasting and full or half-day wine 'experiences', but we just went to the bar and picked a bottle of each type to test our favourite - mine was definitely the rosé.
*Many of Languedoc's beaches – pale sand, blue water – transform into laid-back clubs in the evening.
*You can go horse-riding or head out onto the water for a spot of kite surfing or kayaking.
*Each of the villas/suites are unique, with a luxurious boutique feel – I love simple touches like bathrobes for each guest in the villas too.
*You can order in pizza!
*(And personal trainers, if you go a little overboard on the pizza loving…)
*There's also a kid's club and babysitters if you bring children along.
If you're looking for a buzzing nightlife, this probably isn't the place for you.
Need to know:
Number of rooms: 28 suites, apartments and villas.
Check-in/check-out times: Check-in 4pm; check-out 11am.
Room service: Yes, but only in the Château suites.
Swimming pool: 1 main infinity pool (heated between May 1 – Oct 31), plus many of the suites and villas have their own private pools.
Wi-Fi: Free throughout the estate (there's even a couple of iPads to borrow, if you've left your gadgets at home).
Spa: No, but you can have in-room massages
Eating and drinking: Each private villa/suite has a fully-equipped kitchen, but if you don't fancy cooking, the Château has a Brasserie serving Mediterranean menu with dishes made using the best locally sourced ingredients. There is a bar and tasting room on the lower terrace. You can also order barbecue packs, as well as picnics, plus let's not forget about the pizza
Near to? The Château is just five minutes from the traditional, very quaint, wine-making villages of Quarante and Capestang, for restaurants, bars and twice-weekly food markets. Plus, of course, vineyards galore!
Getting there: Flights into Béziers* (a 30 minute drive from the Château) are direct from the UK, and you can also fly to Perpignan (50 minutes), Montpellier or Carcassonne (1 hour). EasyJet flies daily direct to Montpellier for around £200.
*Chateau Les Carrasses has a special offer: Stay 3 nights and get the 4th night free – running from 3rd Sept – 31st Oct 2016 (a saving of €199 ).
(Sister property Chateau St Pierre de Serjac opened earlier this year)