Blessed with over 300 days of sunshine, some of France's best wines and endless sandy beaches, the Languedoc-Roussillon has long been one of the country's best-kept secrets. Development came relatively late to the area, ensuring that its traditional wine-making villages, medieval towns and verdant, rolling countryside haven't been blighted by the over-development seen in nearby Provence and Spain.
The languid Canal du Midi, now a World Heritage Site, carves its way through the charming village of La Redorte - providing endless opportunities for superb walks, bike rides and boating. There's nothing quite like floating beneath its tunnel of soft leaves with a simple picnic and chilled bottle of wine. Or dining on the banks of the canal at the La Rivassel restaurant.
The beaches and bustling fishing villages of the Mediterranean are only a short drive away, as are dramatic Cathar Castles perched on rocky outcrops and that riot of fairytale spires and towers that is Carcassonne Castle.
Superb wineries abound - some of France's top-rated wines now come from the Languedoc region, which is reputed to be one of the world's most exciting wine-growing areas. Languedoc also offers excellent cuisine, in charming fishing ports along the coast, in the leafy-squares of countless villages and in smart eateries in the region's towns and cities.
Access to the region is excellent and surprisingly economical - making even popping down for the weekend quick and easy. RyanAir, EasyJet, FlyBe and others offer a continual stream of flights to the area - to nearby Carcassonne airport, as well as Perpignan, Béziers, Montpellier, Nîmes, Toulouse and Girona just over the border in Spain. Train and road connections are also excellent.
The château's grounds now play host to new properties, built either side of an elegant 'plunge pool' surrounded by a sun terrace and gardens.
If you ever tire of lazing by the pool or dining 'al fresco' in your garden, a relaxed restaurant and wine bar awaits you on the château's ground floor - where you can meet with friends for a delicious meal or compare notes on the region's finest wines.
Another of the château's original parlours has been turned into a refined 'tea room' - the perfect place to have breakfast on warm summer mornings.
The development also offers its very own luxury spa - where residents and their guests can book a number of treatments (which use local herbs and oils) or simply luxuriate in the heated jacuzzi.
Tel: 03339 872824
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Europe's Luxury Resort Pioneers
In 2004, the founder of Propriétés & Co, Miguel Espada, developed a bold idea - to reconvert the best of the crumbling châteaux, abbeys, monasteries and other heritage buildings lining the Mediterranean, and transform them into luxury seaview and vineyard estates.
Braving regulatory hurdles and the challenges of building in southern Europe, Miguel and his passionate team of architects, artisans, designers and builders have since achieved something that no one had dared attempt before - to bring some of Europe's most elegant historic properties back to life while transforming them in to tasteful boutique residences and 'spa resorts'.
This pioneering approach, which we call 'authentic development', combines the best of modern sustainability, convenience and luxury with the elegance of a by-gone age, to create upmarket estates that have been carefully integrated into the local culture and natural environment.
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