We all love to escape sometimes, even if it’s just for a long weekend. It’s amazing how a change of scenery can refresh the body and soul, and I desperately seek out quaint, but alluring, destinations that I can run to, to do just that: refresh.

This time, it’s the Languedoc region of France that has drawn me in. Between the foothills of the expansive Pyrenees and the historic city of Carcassonne is the small country village of La Redorte.

Just one of the many villages along the Canal du Midi, the small hamlet is built around the Chȃteau de la Redorte; which has become a 25-suite residence (and delightful getaway) as well as my latest weekend retreat. The Chȃteau, having been in the same family for seven generations has had an extensive refurbishment, supported by its current owner Countess Dominique d’Artoi.

Its sweeping staircase and vast drawing rooms once hosted parties for the nobility, and now they host my camera and me. It’s amazing how buildings can see through so many facets of life.

The interior remains practically the same, with homage paid to its grandiose architecture and spirit. The only contemporary additions are the villas located to the front of the Chȃteau where I resided for the weekend.

Villas can sleep up to six, making them an option to consider for families or a group of friends. I may have been a lone traveller, but the resort was full of the noise of families on long stay holidays and couples on a weekend escape.

One of the appeals of the location is its proximity to the Mediterranean, and over the Spanish border even Barcelona and Girona, should you wish to take a longer break. But honestly, I felt captivated by the region, and I found myself wishing to stay and walk lazily by the canal and eat pastries all day. The Chȃteau has its own restaurant with a simple, yet delicious menu for dinner.

There is something incredibly pleasant about being able to eat outside, and despite the light evening breeze I ate on the terrace and sipped on wine from the Chȃteau’s vineyard. Speaking of wine, there is also a ‘wine tunnel’ to explore, which will eventually become a place for drinks receptions or just an evening tipple.

As part of my trip, I tried several wines from the local Minervois region and developed a taste for their fruity notes; the wine also made the perfect accompaniment to a plate of grilled gambas I devoured at dinner.

The surrounding villages are sleepy, but charming, and provide some lovely afternoon excursions. I visited the La Mas D’Antonin to sample the region’s finest olive oils and truffles; as a die-hard foodie, I was in my element, and I feel rather well informed as to the uses of truffles, including in sandwiches (I fully intend on continuing this pairing in Ireland). The Chȃteau will happily organise day excursions, whether you have rented a car or not.

The beauty of this destination is not only the appeal of the quintessential French chȃteau but the warm and friendly welcome that comes with it. Yes, it’s a hotel, but the management and staff will make you feel like it’s your home, if only for a few days. So if you add this hospitality to the delicious food and luxurious surroundings, you may not want to leave.

Travel Facts:

Classic Suites at Chȃteau de la Redorte start at €119 per night in low season, to €229 per night for the Poolside Villa.
Fly directly from Dublin and Cork to Carcassonne (€30) with Ryanair or Dublin to Toulouse (€120) with Aer Lingus.
www.chateau-redorte.com

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