Chateau de Montoussel was built in 1462 and stands in large private grounds in the Haute-Garonne region of the Midi Pyrenees, on the outskirts of the village of Beauville. The owners live in the château and have created three gîtes from the former outbuildings.
The Hopkins Gîte was once the stone stables. With three bedroooms on two floors, it has room for six guests comfortably. The Mutley Gîte sleeps four guests. It has a African carved four poster bed in the main bedroom and twin beds in the second. An adjacent storehouse is now the Red y Pink Gîte, a one-bedroom home for a couple.
All three gites have cable TV with British and French channels. Wireless internet access is available throughout the gîtes and on their private raised terraces.
The owners, Will and Karen Lawes, renovated the gîtes in consultation with local craftspeople, keeping all the centuries-old stone and solid wooden beams, and combining them with a bright contemporary style.
The three gîtes share a private swimming pool, fenced for safety, and overlook the surrounding fields and woodland. Guests can enjoy the extensive park-like grounds of the château, which is planted with 500-year-old cedar trees.
Each of the gîtes has its own outside dining area, with a dining table and chairs, umbrella and barbecue. The gîtes can also use a shaded dining area in the former barn with seating for 16, which opens onto a shared outdoor deck.
The owners are happy to assist their guests if needed. Guests can order a small hamper of food for their arrival.
Château de Montoussel is set among farms and woodland, with quiet country lanes leading to traditional rural villages. A good rustic restaurant is in the neighbouring village, fifteen minutes' walk. The village of Caraman, five minutes' drive, has cafés, a bakery, a pharmacy, and other services.
The local countryside is full of birds and wildlife and ideal to explore on foot or bicycle. The owners have a list of nearby walking trails.
Every Saturday morning, the nearby town of Revel hosts one of the top ten open-air markets in France, featuring a great variety of regional produce and specialty foods.
Bassin de Saint-Ferréol, 23 kilometres away, is an artificial lake contstructed in the 17th century as part of the Canal du Midi, the great canal connecting the Atlantic to the Mediterranean. The site includes an extensive park, cascades, a geyser and shady paths ideal for walks, bike rides or picnics. Visitors can windsurf, sail, and canoe on the lake, and there are many good restaurants nearby.
The village of Sorèze is classified as a historical site for its streets lined by 17th and 18th century half-timbered and corbelled houses.
The region is proud of its cuisine, and particularly the famous cassoulet, a slow-cooked casserole of beans, sausages, and duck. The nearby town of Castelnaudary claims to make the original and most authentic cassoulet. Castelnaudary is also the main port on the Canal du Midi, and one can walk or cycle for miles along the banks of the canal.
From Château de Montoussel, there is a great variety of activities which are available on a day trip. The closest ski resorts are less than an hour away, and the Mediterranean coast is less than two hours.
Closer at hand is Carcassonne, a great medieval fortified city and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is one of France's most visited tourist attractions. Within its medieval walls are a great variety of restaurants and shops selling crafts and regional specialties.
The region was once the centre of the medieval sect of the Cathars. The legacy of that time dots the surrounding landscape in the form of numerous hilltop castles and fortified villages.