In the continuing series, Tootlafrance takes a look at an Irishman’s dream castle come true in the South of France
Château les Carrasses
Lieu-dit Les Carrasses, Route de Capestang, 34310 QUARANTE, France.
First Impressions :
Depending on which way you come in, the arrival is via at best a small and slightly uneven road that winds its way through fields of crops and vineyards, with the occasional wildlife crossing the road. Suddenly, amidst the quiet rural setting, you’re in modernity and instantly-recognisable 4-star luxury.
The chateau started with rags, then went to riches and back to rags again before a visionary arrived from Ireland to restore it and bring it to a level that’s surely above what it was ever at.
The Irishman in question was former banker Karl O’Hanlon. Before that, it had become a run-down shadow of its former self. The outbuildings that are mostly private apartments clustering around the original two courtyards, for example, were crumbling and full of rubbish, while the chateau itself was a sad-looking shell.
Although it might give the initial appearance of a 17th-century feudal mansion, it was built up with money from the wine trade that was booming in these parts during the latter half of the 19th century. There was a penchant at the time for building grand-looking chateau by those who had the means and this farm clearly had.
Most of the large farm around the house was sold off over the years as the farm’s fortunes sank, but one of the current owners’ proudest achievements is that the vineyards that spread out so beautifully before and around the chateau are now once more producing bottles of wine bearing the name of Les Carrasses on the label.
Who do We Know has Stayed There?
It’s not yet long enough on the circuit to have accumulated a very famous list of guests but some notable figures from the world of Irish politics have stayed here. Staff are far too discreet to dare hurt the goose that’s laying the golden eggs, because this establishment really is an oasis of complete peace and quiet that isn’t all that far from bigger towns like Béziers.
Do They Look After You?
The nicest aspect of the care they give is that you are obliged to relax. It has a posh and formal air about it but that’s only because it’s a peaceful chateau of some quality in a dreamlike setting. There is no dress code and airs and graces are firmly ignored and downright discouraged. It’s formal French with an Irish attitude and nothing seems to be too much trouble for anyone.
What are the Rooms Like?The standard in both the apartments and the château is essentially the same 5-star level but with variations on size and facilities and most of the apartments have private swimming pools. Superb quality finish is evident in every single part of the surface of the buildings inside and out.
The rooms are understated elegance that’s a few steps shy of being minimalist. The décor respectfully acknowledges the warm limestone hues. The beds are strong but sink-into and the bathrooms are of a five-star standard.
The brasserie-style menu is something that will surely develop into something more befitting the surroundings over the coming years, but even as it stands, the food and service is excellent and the setting is truly stunning:
From the restored salon inside to the huge outdoor terrace, the experience is utterly charming. This is particularly true of the exterior. Covers are arranged on a gravel surface just above the infinity pool and with a wide sweep of the valley below that’s partially blocked by a ring of mature trees.
The Bottom Line
Château suites for two start at €139 per night for a three-night stay in low season, climbing to €255/night for the same level and conditions during high season. Check the website for further details and deals.