Le Domaine Saint Pierre de Trapel is an 18th century château set amid six acres (two and a half hectares) of parklands with open lawns and mature trees. One wing of the château is open to guests, and contains four bedrooms to accommodate eight guests, with the option of an additional double bedroom to sleep up to ten or twelve.
The owners live in the château, and are available to help when needed, but otherwise respect their guests’ privacy. Also on the property is the former gamekeepers’ lodge, La Maison d’Oc, which accommodates four guests in two bedrooms.
The grounds are filled with groves of mature trees, criss-crossed by secluded paths, with many quiet places to sit under the shade of umbrella pines or ancient cedars. The six by twelve metre swimming pool enjoys great privacy. It is shared by the owners and guests at La Maison d’Oc. Wine tasting events also happen on the property.
Set on three floors, the wing has been restored and decorated to a high standard. A great fireplace dominates the traditional kitchen, which is fully equipped and includes a gas stove, a dishwasher, a clothes washer, and a dryer.
A large traditional oak dining table seats up to eight in the dining area, but guests may prefer to dine in the garden on the outdoor dining table provided. The living room is set up for relaxation, with a comfortable sofa, a television, and a stereo.
Guests have the use of three bedrooms for groups of up to six, and a fourth bedroom is available to take up to eight guests or five bedrooms for 10 to 12 guests. All of the bedrooms look onto the garden. On the middle floor is a double bedroom, called the Rose room, with an ensuite bathroom and its own living area. The Jade room, also on the middle floor, has a pair of twin beds and an ensuite bathroom. On the top floor is another living room and two bedrooms, one with a double bed and one with a pair of twin beds, with an ensuite shower room.
It’s a ten minute drive to the centre of the spectacular medieval town of Carcassonne. Originally founded by the Romans, its current ramparts date from the 13th century. Carcassonne’s narrow strees are lined with many interesting shops and excellent restaurants and bars; your hosts can recommend their favourites. This is an excellent region for gastronomy; the specialties include cassoulet and foie gras. Carcassonne has three markets a week, of which the best is on Saturday; plan also to visit the famous market at Mirepoix every Monday. The village of Villemoustassou is closer to Domaine St Pierre, and the nearest place for everyday grocery shopping is just three kilometres away.
There’s no shortage of activities to do and places to explore in the locality. Apart from the endlessly fascinating city of Carcassonne, there are many castles, abbeys, and fortified villages dating from the time of the Cathar Heresy in the 12th century. The Canal du Midi runs close by. Built in the 18th century to connect the Atlantic to the Mediterranean, the canal’s tree-lined banks are very pleasant for walking or cycling. Bikes are available for rent nearby, canoeing is available on the river Aude, and there’s a golf course in Carcassonne. There is a popular diving spot at the beach village of Collioure. The low cost airline Ryanair flies daily to Carcassonne Salvaza airport from London and other European cities.
The Montagne Noir, part of the Cévennes mountain range, lies a short drive north of Domaine Saint Pierre. It’s an ideal day trip for anyone who enjoys hiking and hillwalking. The Mediterranean beaches at Narbonne are just a 40 minute drive. Narbonne has some Roman ruins dating from its founding in the 2nd century AD, and an excellent Gothic cathedral. Toulouse is an hour away in the opposite direction. Also founded by the Romans, Toulouse was an important medieval city and the focus of a lot of Cathar-era history in the 13th century. Its old quarter has remained intact since the 18th century. The Pyrénées mountains which separate France from Spain are also within an hour’s drive, and Spain is a good possibility for a day trip.