Greetings dear readers and friends! Well, it’s turning out to be a beautiful spring in Provence… but of course, would we expect anything less? With the blooming wildflowers, growing grapevines, and sun-washed beaches, the South of France is living up to its reputation as one of the prettiest spots in Europe.
And we were lucky enough to discover another incredible corner of the south thanks to the kind hospitality of the folks at Château Autignac in the Languedoc region. If you’re not too familiar with the region (which is an absolute must-see for wine-lovers and Francophiles), the Languedoc is located in the central part of southern France, approximately between the Rhône river and the Garonne River – including major cities like Nîmes, Montpellier, and its capital, Toulouse. The region produces more than a third of the grapes in France and is home to famous tourist attractions like the Canal du Midi, Le Pont du Gard, and the picturesque town of Uzès.
And it was in another equally picturesque town, the village of Autignac, that we were hosted in an exquisite château – restored to its former glory with a touch of modernity and an attention to detail that was definitely impressive. The owners clearly put all of their passion into their dream of combining the rich history of the château with their love of the Languedoc region and its wine-making traditions.
In fact, Château Autignac just happens to have its own wine domaine (as you do!) – Domaine des Prés-Lasses. The domaine itself is near the château and there is a tasting-room / cave on-site). The Domaine des Prés-Lasses is under the Faugères appellation; the village of Autignac being one of seven villages to hold this distinction.
Château Autignac is a chambre d’hôtes – actually a luxury chambre d’hôtes. You have the advantage of having “hosts” on-site to take care of your daily needs, but with only 5 rooms (5 gorgeous rooms), you feel as if you quite have the château all to yourself. It’s calme absolu as the French would say… an absolute calm.
I spent the first afternoon of our stay at the swimming pool and it took me a while to really get settled in. After twisting around a bit on my towel, looking over my shoulder to see who was around, and finally getting ready to put my toes in the water, I had a bit of a hard time figuring out what was expected of me. Then I got… absolutely nothing. Everything was so quiet and calm, my only responsibility consisted of listening to the birds chirp overhead and making sure I’d applied enough sunscreen. In short, heavenly.
And one important detail that is a godsend to families like ours is that the château also has a kind of self-catering apartment. “Apartment” sounds so basic in these terms, and is also know as a gîte in France, but neither of these terms seems to do our “residence” justice. We had it all… a fully-functional kitchen, living and dining area, washing machine (that served as a dryer too), gorgeous bathroom, and, my undeniable favorite, heated floors. If you’ve ever woken up in the morning to swing around and put your toes on gloriously toasty floorboards, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Perhaps that all sounds a bit silly, but that’s not a luxury you get every day… this mama was very happy.
Besides lounging around the pool, or relaxing in your room, another activity to take advantage of during your stay is wine-tasting at the château. My husband got the difficult task of trying out a few of their wines. He returned to our gîte with a lovely bottle of Amour, one of their signature wines, which we promptly enjoyed that evening with our DIY cheese & charcuterie plate.
And I stopped counting the number of vineyards we passed along the road. Since we had our little-one in tow, we opted for a stop at the village of Faugères (where the appellation takes its name) and a quick tour of a lovingly-restored windmill at the top of the village. Here we had a spectacular view of all those rolling vineyards, and a nice French gentlement pointed us in the direction of the snow-capped Pyrénées.
We also did a fair amount of exploring the village of Autignac – popping in and out of local bakeries and cafés, and enjoying the comings and goings of families at the local park. And seemingly at every turn, we could make out the top of Château Autignac which is quite literally the focal point of the village.
And that was really as much of a reminder as I needed that their glorious swimming pool was just a short walk away. After the history, the charm of the region, and those remarkable vineyards, the thing that stayed with me most about our trip was that feeling of peace and calm… a real echappée belle, beautiful escape.
A very warm “merci” to our hosts at Château Autignac. You can learn more about the château on their website and they are active on social media (showing off beautiful pics of the region!) on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
The château also has a large reception space to host weddings and events, and separate rooms for corporate / business meetings.