A tale of two family-friendly French Châteaus
There are many things that France does well; great wine, incredible food and the entire month of August off for almost everyone! Then there is the scenery; the seemingly endless fields of lavender in Provence, the Pink Granite Coast of Brittany and the idyllic vineyards and valleys of Champagne-Ardenne. What we really love (really, truly love), however, are the French Châteaus. These castles of yesteryear pepper the landscape making a drive through France feel like a journey through the pages of a storybook. We recently visited two Châteaus that have been transformed into luxury family accommodation, and are now firmly convinced that a move to France is in our future!
Chateau Les Carrasses
By: Katja Gaskell
Located in one of the sunniest corners in France and surrounded by 60 acres of vineyards is Château Les Carrasses, a 19th-century castle that looks like it belongs on the pages of a Brothers Grimm fairytale. With witch-hat turrets, buttery stone walls and magnificent wooden doors, this grand country house makes for a delightful holiday hideaway.
The château was originally built in 1886, at the height of the Languedoc wine boom. Today, this welcoming French castle offers 28 (soon to be 30) self-catering suites and villas. The suites are positioned within the château’s original structure with bathrooms tucked away in turrets and Juliet balconies overlooking the grounds with the Pyrenees mountains in the distance. The former wine cellars, grape pickers-quarters and stables have been transformed into a mix of two- and three-bedroom villas, and what was once the gardener’s cottage is a now romantic retreat for two.
Now, this may all sound très chic, but is it any good for kids? Fortunately, the answer is a resounding oui! There’s a huge amount of space for kids to roam, whether on foot or on one of the château’s mountain bikes, in addition to a heated infinity pool, a clay tennis court, and places to play volleyball and boules. Visit during July and August and children can take advantage of the bilingual kids’ club.
The Brasserie and bar put a contemporary spin on Mediterranean cuisine, complemented by the best regional wines. The restaurant is not open every day outside of peak seasons but you can self-cater in your state-of-the-art-kitchen. Chefs are also happy to prepare a takeaway meal or picnic, ideal if you manage to drag yourselves away from the confines of the château. You’ll discover plenty to do in the surrounding area, from colorful local markets and medieval towns to the best beaches for kite-surfing.
Château St Pierre de Serjac
By Andrea Fellman
Château St Pierre de Sejac is the perfect French escape for families looking to relax and spend some quality time in the South of France. This family-friendly Château sits in the Languedoc region of France, not far from the French and Spanish border, making it a great location for families that might be visiting Barcelona and want to escape the crowds and get a little taste of the South of France!
This 200-acre estate dates back to 1870 and the property was completely renovated and opened in the spring of 2016. In the original chateau building that overlooks the infinity pool there are eight luxury hotel rooms, while scattered around the rest of the estate are the 36 self-catering properties built specifically with families in mind. The infinity pool is also where you’ll find large family-style BBQ’s happening all summer long, with specific kids dinners and a variety of kids club activities happening during the day, giving parents some alone time.
The 36 units range from one to four bedrooms and are generous in size, stylishly decorated and fully equipped with beautiful kitchens, large dining tables for family dinners, and cozy living rooms with fireplaces. However, just because there is a kitchen doesn’t mean you have to be cooking every night. Special arrangements can be made to have dinner delivered right to your door. Each of the units’ amenities vary, but all have an outdoor seating area and a BBQ grill, and 17 of these units have their own private pools. Bikes are also available for the entire family to explore more of the countryside.
The original chateau building is also where you’ll find the dining room that serves breakfast, lunch and dinner as well as another cozy sitting room with the bar. There is a full spa on the property that offers a wide range of treatments. The spa also includes an indoor pool, jacuzzi, sauna and steam room. There is a beautiful event space for hosting large parties and events that also serves as a wine tasting room and wine shop. Inside this building and tucked just behind two large barn doors is where they have even started to make wine again and a range of wine activities will also be available in September 2018
Katja Gaskell is a travel writer recently returned to London, U.K. after 12 years of living abroad in Australia, India and Mexico. She's the co-founder of globetotting.com and is a firm believer that you can - and should! - take your kids everywhere. Katja has written across a range of titles for Lonely Planet guidebooks, tested luxury hotels for Mr & Mrs Smith and has contributed to publications including BBC Food, Hotelier International and The Australian.