Experience Review: Basking in the French Countryside with Château Les Carrasses
The chateau was built in the late 19th century, and it's a nice feeling to be able to walk around the nearly four hectare grounds and have the history shine brightly. However, it's also rather pleasant that the lights shine brightly as well. That is to say, you can bathe in the historical significance with the sure accompaniment of modern amenities that have been added since its initial construction. It's luxurious but understated, and like the wine they produce, it's top quality, and you can see that it's naturally going to suit most palates, both carefree and sophisticated.
The Château itself was built in 1886 by architect Louis Garron. That name may not sound familiar to you nowadays, but if you mentioned that name in the Languedoc province back in the day, you'd get a knowing nod and, quite possibly, some slow applause. Fittingly, the foundations were built on a rest stop on an ancient pilgrimage route. In some ways, it serves a similar purpose. It's very much a refuge from the chaos and busyness of daily life. Both Bri and I felt worlds away when we were there, and I think that in today's age, that's very much a positive. I didn't feel the need to check my phone or connect to the online world (that's quite a feat for a travel blogger, trust me), and that's largely because I was sure that my phone wasn't going to offer me more than my surroundings.
Evidently, many families had the same idea, this idea of disconnecting from the outside world and connecting with each other. While we only had the pleasure of sticking around for just a short period, many folks were there for a week or longer, many in their accommodation which were private residences (10 of which had private pools and made my publicly jealous.) You got the sense that they were all simultaneously cherishing the fact that they didn't have to breathe in smog laden city air. And, in this instance, I may be projecting my own life experience onto others, but even if they were from a small town, I'm willing to bet that the air was thicker and sweeter at Château Les Carrasses.
At Château Les Carrasses one thing is for sure - Nature and humanity seamlessly co-mingle. You can choose to be near the edge of the large infinity pool admiring the views onto the vineyard or, quite simply, you can stroll through the vineyard itself.
Cháteau Les Carrasses is a collaborative effort between a winemaker, Laurent Bonfils, and the astute hoteliers Karl and Anita O'Hanlon. It seems as if all of their visions have a place in the property. In my humble opinion, this hotel is all about appreciating a region that is sometimes overlooked, the province of Languedoc, which is often known in modern times as Occitanie. The winery, believe it or not, was out of use until recently, and was only revived in the last two decades.
Naturally, Bri and I had to taste some of that wine. Luckily for us, on Sunday evening the Château puts on a barbecue of epic proportions, and each Sunday there's a new band who adds their own flavour to dinner. On this particular Sunday, it was a old-timey blues and jazz band that made ordering another bottle of wine a nice and easy decision. The atmosphere was really something, and Bri and I quickly found out that we'd more or less accidentally wandered into one our favourite nights in recent times.
It may not come as a complete surprise for you to know that I travel a fair bit. I don't know, something about the name "travelingmitch" suggests that idleness may not be my forté. What I'm getting at is that, for better or worse, I get bored fairly easily as it relates to accommodation. You name it, I've stayed in or on something similar. (I say "on" as a polite nod to my nights sleeping on Thai ships while crossing the islands.) But, I rarely get the opportunity to stay in what amounts to a French castle, and few do, and that's what makes a stay here worth it.
After dinner (the sumptuous barbecue I described earlier) we meandered up the flight of stairs past a stained glass window (as you do) and opened the door to our room which looked quite befitting of a castle's bedroom. If our French was stronger, I'm sure we would have played the role of a French king and queen right on the spot. Instead, we did the second best thing we could think of, and that was try another glass of their delightful wines. We sipped on wine and admired the view, and admired the fresh countryside air. Most of all, we imagined all the noises that we could be hearing in Paris that we surely weren't hearing here. Just about all we could hear was the rustle of the vineyards, and that's a noise that has likely already been put on a CD to aid people in their sleep, so we had decidedly few complaints.
The hotel crowns itself as a sort of one stop shop to explore the real majesty of the south of France. They've got concierges that are willing to help you build a mini-itinerary during your stay, and they seem willing to accommodate just about anybody's interests. However, that wasn't what interested us, as we'd been exploring the region at a torrid pace before arrival (please see my Instagram account for further details.) That's why our aim was to enjoy everything that this place itself was all about, and have that be our one and only focus.
At dusk, after initially arriving, we strolled around for nearly an hour. We walked down the laneway and up towards the hill which offers panoramic views of the property. All around us were shades of green, with a clean, greyish structure posed strongly in its midst. It was a nice place to gather our thoughts. It also occured to me that if I was there with my hypothetical future family in a hypothetical future, and perhaps my youngest was causing some commotion, this would be the place I'd saunter off to for just a moment. Though, I'm sure Bri might have something to say about that parenting approach. I'm just letting you know, dear fathers, that this is, at the very least, an option.
After a while we wandered back to the laneway and stood in the shadow of Château Les Carrasses. We walked past the infinity pool which looked infinitely refreshing in the heat, and moved on to the front where my personal favourite spot is - the solarium. It's the logo of the establishment for good reason, and that's really just because it has a way of taking your breath away. Today, the solarium serves as a reading room like no other, with thriving plants to accompany you in your reading endeavours. That place, more than the castle or anywhere else, is where you'd find me if I happened to go missing for an hour or two.
Ultimately, when we travel and try to create memories, we want to know that we've gathered experiences that we will actually hold on to. I mentioned earlier that over the years I've stayed in a million different places and, truthfully, I've forgotten a few - and that's because they were forgettable. With Château Les Carrasses, I got an experience that I know I'll never forget, and in today's world, that's worth something to me.
I was received as media by Château Les Carrasses, whom I humbly thank. Have you been to France or the south of France before? What did you think? What do you think about Château Les Carrasses? Are you interested and coming to check it out? Please let me know any and all of your thoughts in the comments below. As you know, I respond to each and every one!