Monique and Paul-André bought this old wine-grower’s estate on the edge of town in a state of dilapidation and carefully restored it inside and out. They look after you beautifully – she has endless energy and adores people, he is quiet and charming. There’s a light-flooded guest sitting room to use, gardens with views to the Pyrenees and quietly luxurious bedrooms.
Eat breakfast in the orangery or under the pomegranate trees in summer – you get a spread of pastries, bread, fruit, homemade cake, jam made by a neighbour, cheese and fruit juices. It’s a few minutes’ walk to the village of Moussoulens for places to eat – it has a bakery and general store too.
Use the car to discover hilltop bastides and the castles of the Cathars. Carcassonne is up the road and has a lively market on Thursdays and Sundays. Montolieu is just a five-minute drive and has tons of bookshops to browse – the French version of Hay. Cyclists love the routes along the Canal du Midi.