Languedoc-Roussillon is a region in south west France which often hides under the shadow of its more glamorous neighbours further east on the Riviera. But to those in the know, it’s far more appealing; huge sandy beaches, stunning scenery and lower prices. And what could be better than to base yourself in the 12th century luxury Chateau Asturias near Carcassonne
There are always hotel choices, but when you want to take the family away, in many cases hiring a self catering property can be a much better option. Particularly if you enjoy meeting locals and experimenting with authentic local cuisine untarnished by any major tourist agenda.
In my case, we were a family group of nine which included two small children so a large chateau was the perfect solution.
Atop the quaint and very ancient hilltop town of Aragon lies the quite splendid Chateau Asturias. Six bedrooms and a huge ground floor living space are cradled inside walls over 800 years old. Of course, there have been many modern adjustments which comfortably hold hands with the chateau’s more senior elements which blend luxury living with a real sense of living history.
I have to confess, relying on my sat nav to navigate the narrow lanes of Aragon in a hefty people mover is perhaps not the best way to introduce ourselves to the locals. But a Gallic shrug is all it takes to win them over. The lovely Anne, who is patiently waiting to greet us at the Chateau, shows us the proper way to get up here, a far easier route than the one we took.
We don’t make the same mistake again.
As it happens, we arrive right in the middle of a wedding celebration at the historic church next door. I don’t think Aragon has seen such a burst of activity in centuries!
Chateau Asturias’s main ground level living space is where we spend most of our time; the huge living room has a large dining table to one side and some couches on the other. Patio doors lead out to the small courtyard/garden where the pool sits amid Balinese statuettes, proudly overlooking a stunning view of prime Languedoc countryside below.
Back inside, a smaller TV room lies off to one side with plenty of comfy settees if we need to escape for some quiet time. A long corridor leads to generous kitchen dominated by a huge American style fridge freezer, with the equally large gas stove coming a close second. We can get out to the pool and garden this way too which is perfect for getting some cool drinks when we need them..
Upstairs six large bedrooms take up two floors with three on each, and all have a varying mix of period furniture, with the master bedroom sporting a classy four poster bed and shared access to a balcony overlooking the village.
The village shop is perfect for daily supplies, although it lies at the bottom of town and I am given the privilege of walking down there each morning to get fresh bread and cheese. Walking down is dead easy, it is the walking back up which proves challenging. That said, watching the more senior locals manage to do it every day spurs me on.
For the big shopping needs, the local Leclerc supermarket is just a 10 minute drive away on the outskirts of Carcassonne and we make full use of our huge fridge in there.
Speaking of Carcassonne, the medieval old city is quite magnificent. Perched on a hill just outside the more modern town, alongside the famous Canal du Midi, it’s castle, towers and ramparts bring the past to life. It is a busy tourist destination, I read somewhere it is the second most visited monument in France after The Louvre, but walking its narrow cobbled streets is something not to be missed.
Looking for a day out to the stunning Languedoc beaches takes us to Gruisson. The wide expanse of empty beach a breath of fresh air. Some sun bathing, some swimming and an excellent lunch at the family run Le Kaonil by the small harbour, sums up a great family day out.
We spend another afternoon walking in the countryside through the local Cabardes vineyards from Aragon to Pennautier and back. Aragon’s rural location makes it a perfect base for cyclists and walkers keen on exploring the Aude and beyond.
Our time at Chateau Asturias near Carcassonne has been memorable. The views, the village life, the tranquillity and the gentle rhythm of the property makes it all that bit more special.
Languedoc is a treasure, and I hope it never changes.
Tell Me More about Chateau Asturias near Carcassonne
Chateau Asturias is a 90 minute drive from Avignon International Station, 45 minutes from Perpignan Airport and just 15 minutes from Carcassonne.
Chateau Asturias near Carcassonne can be booked through
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