La Maison d’Oc was built in the 18th century as the gamekeeper’s lodge on a grand country estate, La Domaine Saint Pierre de Trapel. The house is a three-storey residence, fully refurbished to accommodate four guests in two bedrooms. Full of character and atmosphere, with exposed thick stone walls and wooden beams, the house also has plenty of modern comforts and conveniences. It is surrounded by three hectares (8 acres) of private grounds, close to the 18th century mansion of Saint Pierre de Trapel. The owners live in the mansion, and are always happy to assist their guests. Rooms in the mansion are also available for B&B accommodation - ask for details. 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 6 x 12 metre swimming pool enjoys great privacy, and is shared with the guests at the mansion. Wines tasting from local wines selected and wines session are organized on request.
La Maison d’Oc has its own garden and a shaded sunken terrace. The terrace has a plunge-pool, outdoor furniture, and a barbecue; it’s perfect for outdoor dining. Guests have a parking spot beside the house.
Inside, the warm and welcoming kitchen-living room is on the ground floor. The kitchen is fully equipped with a dishwasher and laundry facilities, and has a round dining table for four. There’s a sofa for relaxing, a stereo, and a TV with English-language channels.
A stone staircase leads upstairs to the second bedroom and the bathroom. This bedroom has a double bed and a single bed, and is decorated in rich reds; it overlooks the local vineyards. The marble-tiled modern bathroom has a shower stall and WC. Upstairs again on the top floor is the master bedroom. Decorated in rich oranges and yellows, with exposed stone walls, a cross-beamed ceiling, and teak furniture, this bedroom also has a view over the vineyards in the surrounding Minervois countryside.
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 La Maison d’Oc, 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. 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 La Maison d’Oc. 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.