Domaine de la Veine, Palaja, Nr. Carcassonne

Sleeps 16 + 6

£8,950 per week

Set in 250 hectares of unspoilt undulating Mediterranean landscape surrounded by a pine forest, wild juniper, lavender, and rosemary-covered hillsides with vineyards, olive groves, and a 25 hectare grassland park opposite a lake, the Domaine de la Veine is one of the largest private estates in the Languedoc-Roussillon region and the biggest in the vicinity of Carcassonne. The estate has been designated as a Natura 2000 wildlife fauna and flora conservation zone, as well as being renowned for its magnificent unspoilt surroundings and spectacular natural views and wildlife, including deer and wild boar in the forest.

The house lies in an idyllic, tranquil setting for friends or family looking for a relaxing and secluded getaway far from the madding crowd, and whose silence is broken by nothing but the harmonious chorus of cicadas during the day and the hooting owls or the song of nightingales after dark. Approached by very long winding east and west drives, it is nevertheless situated only 16 minutes drive from the world-famous cathedral city of Carcassonne.

The house has been beautifully restored in traditional Provençal style and is tastefully decorated throughout. Filled with beautiful 18-19th century Georgian and early Victorian or Regency and French Empire antique furniture, along with landscape oil paintings and inherited family portraits, this is not a house for those who prefer what the owner calls “blank minimalism”!

Adjoined is a charming cottage or old French Bérgerie with a separate kitchen and 3 bedrooms that can sleep a further 6 guests. The rooms are nearly all spacious and bright and have stone-flagged floors or, in the eastern side of the house, old terracotta tiles so the house remains cool during the summer. Nearly all the windows have shutters and in most parts the stone walls are over 80 cm thick.

The large main kitchen and back kitchen are particularly well equipped, including a professional top-of-the-range French Château Cornue cooker, a very large stone fireplace designed with a raised platform at hip-height to double as an easily usable barbecue, and a long old antique pine kitchen table with another table extension seating 16. Next door is the large dining room and two very spacious drawing rooms in which ample sofa and armchair seating is available, again with large stone fireplaces. One of these rooms converts into a cinema room connected to surround-sound speakers also directly linked via the DVD/CD player to the in-house WiFi system.  This extends throughout the whole house as well as the swimming pool and the adjoining Bérgerie cottage.

With its eight bedrooms, seven of which have large private bathrooms and three of which are extremely large by any standards, the main house sleeps 16 guests very comfortably.

The property is set in a beautifully maintained four hectare garden with extensive lawns, a magnificently arched winery, a barn, dry-stone-walled terraced olive groves, parasol pines, plains, and cedar trees — all of which can be remotely floodlit at night. The deep, ultra-marine-coloured diving pool has a large shallow end, 1.2 m deep, which is perfect for children. Surrounded by stone terracing and plenty of sun loungers, there are wonderful views of the surrounding sun-baked hillsides on the estate and, over the distant plains and hills, the Minervois region is visible 60 km away towards the Med.

The pool is set in front of a pool house equipped with both a built-in barbecue fireplace with a chimney flue to evacuate the smoke and two large tables that can be placed end-to-end to seat up to 24 guests. Here there is an independent and well-equipped kitchen area plus a newly built shower room extension.  The whole pool area has a sound system with two microphones that can be wirelessly linked to any smart phone. Ideal for teenagers — they can play music as loud as they want here without a soul complaining as the nearest neighbours are over 2.5 km away!

Price Guide 2019:

July & August £8,950 per week
Other months on request

Sleeps: 16 + 6

Ground Floor

  • Main Hall with balconied mezzanine landing above and sweeping staircase
  • Drawing Room (85 sq.m.) with traditional stone fireplace and French doors to the garden to the north and the courtyard to the south
  • Very large high-ceilinged Kitchen with fireplace doubling as a barbecue
  • Dining Room
  • Back (Staff) Kitchen
  • Utility Room/Office
  • 2nd Utility/Boot Room

First Floor

  • Drawing Room/Cinema Room
  • Four-poster (Peach) Bedroom with ensuite Bathroom
  • Twin (Grey) Bedroom with ensuite Bathroom
  • Master (Blue/Grey) Bedroom with super kingsize bed and ensuite Bathroom
  • Double (Pink) Bedroom with ensuite Bathroom
  • Double (North-facing Yellow) Bedroom with ensuite Bathroom
  • Double (South-facing Yellow) Bedroom with ensuite Bathroom (separate access to bathroom via a door from main passage)
  • Twin (Green) Bedroom with Bathroom across a private passage area

Second Floor

  • Twin (Blue) Bedroom, sharing bathroom of the room below. Here there is a narrow/steep staircase access more suitable for teenagers.  However, this is a large and light room with a large seating area and a French/English satellite TV and WiFi

La Bérgerie

  • Double (Olive) Bedroom
  • Two Twin Bedrooms
  • Bathroom
  • Private enclosed garden with barbecue and arched eating area

General Layout of the Domaine

La Bérgerie

Note:  These plans are not to scale.

Main House – Ground Floor

Main House – First and Second Floors

Note:  These plans are not to scale.

  • Caretaker couple living onsite providing:
  • Daily housekeeping
  • Gardening/pool maintenance
  • Chef — can be arranged at extra charge
  • Swimming Pool 15 m x 7 m (2.5 m deep) with large shallow end, 1.2 m deep
  • 16 sun loungers
  • Pool House with shower room, changing room, kitchen facilities, bar counter, and barbecue
  • Cinema Room with 4.5 m x 3 m cinema roll-down screen with surround sound
  • Bluetooth stereo system, CD, and DVD with 450 film library
  • WiFi extending throughout the house as well as the swimming pool and La Bérgerie
  • Televisions with French and English satellite channels
  • Large Trampoline with high surrounding safety net
  • Table Tennis
  • Children’s swing in Play Area
  • Horse Trekking with a fully qualified professional riding school instructress
  • 18-hole golf course with Michelin starred restaurant 15 mins drive

Less than an hour from the Mediterranean and sitting in the foothills of the Pyrenees, the Domaine de la Veine is located in one of the most beautiful and authentic regions of France—the Languedoc-Roussillon. To picture yourself here you will need to banish clichéd images of the South of France. This is the real genuine France, Provence but without the over-commercialised branding and swaths of anonymous tourists. And, surrounding the house within our totally private and secluded estate, beyond as far as the eye can see, the Corbières region is one of the wildest, most unspoilt areas of France, despite bordering the Mediterranean and enjoying all its climatic advantages in summer, just like the Riviera.

Walking

Nestled in the heart of the Corbières, the Domaine de la Veine is renowned for its spectacular unspoilt landscape and natural beauty. Being the largest estate in the vicinity of Carcassonne (bigger than Monaco!), there are no shortages of walks across its 630 acres of undulating hills and forest. We highly recommend taking a walk up the Montahut Est hill on the domaine to watch the sunset, perhaps with a picnic and some wine. This vantage point offers a panoramic view of the nearby villages and towns, as well as the Pyrenees on a clear day. Should you wish to go further afield, the surrounding area offers a vast array of exceptional hikes for all levels, many of which are part of historic pilgrimage trails or Grande Randonnée paths. Follow the footsteps of the ancient Cathars with the Languedoc’s unique Sentier Cathare. The trail links nine of the Cathars’ famous fortresses through countryside and high mountain ridges of breath-taking beauty. For a more strenuous hike, why not climb to the top of mount Bugarach, the highest summit in the Corbières, or the Pic du Canigou, the highest peak in the Western Pyrenean mountain range, visible from Marseilles. For all hiking levels, tailor-made itineraries can be arranged.

Horse riding

The history of the Domaine de la Veine is closely tied to its horses, and several of the surrounding meadows have been converted into pasture. The stables are still today home to two retired horses named Llamp and Ming, who were rescued and provided a safe haven here at the domaine. Horseback riding is one of best ways to explore the region, and many surrounding riding schools, such as the Domaine de Fraisse, offer fantastic treks tailored to both beginners and experienced riders. We have partnered with Valerie Paulo from our local village, only a 7 min drive away, who specialises in horse whispering with her 18 horses, and who will create unique riding treks for our guests, even those who are novice riders.

Cycling

Tucked away between the Mediterranean and the Pyrenees, the Aude is a dream department for cyclists, providing a wonderful mix of hilly inland rides and more gentle paths alongside its rivers and wine routes. Such is the quality of the cycling paths and roads here that the Tour de France race passes very close to the house every year. For race enthusiasts who are staying with us during the cycling season in July, you can choose a spot next to the Tour de France route and cheer on the riders! In fact, stage 15 of the 2019 Tour will begin in Limoux, only a 30 min drive (or 90 min cycle!) away. Should you wish to explore the area by bike yourself, we can arrange road, mountain, and even electric bike hire.

Beach

Although you may wish to simply relax by the pool at the domaine, within 50 min you could be basking in the sunshine by the Mediterranean. The Languedoc coastline is rich and varied, and its lovely sandy beaches, marshlands, and rocky outcrops have long been favoured by painters and poets. Our favourite spot is by Biquet Plage at Leucate, a restaurant with a laid-back ambiance that serves excellent fresh fish and tapas-style platters, only meters away from the shore. Narbonne Plage, Gruissan, and Port-la-Nouvelle beaches are also within very easy access for a day trip.

Lakes & rivers

For those of you who are wild swimming enthusiasts, there are many surrounding lakes and rivers that offer a wonderful setting for a natural swim. Lagrasse is a truly gorgeous little village that boasts a famous abbey, and the river Orbier that flows through the village is dammed each summer, creating a natural pool. Just up from Lagrasse on the same river Orbier is Ribaute, a small village with a pretty stone bridge. Here the water is cool, clean, crystal clear, andcalm, and there is even a small waterfall that is perfect for the children to play in. The more intrepid can also jump into the deep-water pool from the ancient but still alarmingly high arched bridge!

Skiing

During the winter months, the Pyrenees offer some fantastic skiing, which you’ll find is totally unspoilt, more intimate, family-friendly, and affordable than the Alps. The ski resort at the Mont d’Olmes is within 1h40 drive from the house, making a wonderful day trip. The Ax 3 Domaines and Camurac ski resorts are also within easy access. All ski equipment can be rented on site.

Golf & tennis

Located only 15 min from the house on ancient vineyards, the Domaine d’Auriac has an 18-hole golf course that is open all year round. The course’s perfectly manicured lawns and exceptional panorama on the local landscape deservedly earn it a high reputation. Clubs and buggies can be hired on site. Tennis enthusiasts can rent rackets and use the tennis courts at several of Carcassonne’s tennis clubs for a small hourly fee.

Adventure

For the more adventurous among you and for those of you with children, there are also plenty of fun activities to do in the area. Open all year round is the WinKart go-karting centre of Carcassonne, which has circuits adapted to adults and children as young as seven. The town also has an acrobatic forest route at O2 Adventure, with eight courses for the whole family, finishing off with a thrilling zipline across the Cavayere lake. The lake itself is within walking distance of the estate, and young children will be delighted to use the aquapark that has recently opened there. On nearby rivers you can also enjoy kayaking, canoeing, rafting, rock climbing, and canyoning, and if you spend a day by the beach, sailing, windsurfing, kitesurfing, water-skiing, and wakeboarding can be arranged. You can even hire a jetski at Leucate beach. For more extreme adrenaline hunters, tandem skydives can be booked near Lezignan. This region

of France is also well known for its particularly rich and intricate cave system, and although not always the first activity that comes to mind, cave exploration offers a rare glimpse into this beautiful subterranean world. The largest developed cave in the Aude department is the Grotte de Limousis, open from April to end October, and the giant Gouffre de Cabrespine, one of the largest caves open for tourism in the world, is also well worth the visit.

Culture

During the summer months the region truly becomes alive with cultural events, ranging from local village festivals and fairs to music concerts. The Festival de Carcassonne which takes place in July is unique and extraordinary in its energy and diversity, and in a decade has established itself as one of the ten biggest festivals in France. The setting is unique and unrivalled—the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Medieval City. Around 100 performances are offered throughout the month, including theatre, opera, ballet, and music, attracting the likes of Elton John, Supertramp, and Sting. We also highly recommend that you do not miss out on the firework display on the 14th of July, which takes places every year to celebrate the storming of the Bastille in 1789 during the French Revolution. There are also a large number of museums to choose from if you favour something more tranquil, including the fine art Musée des Beaux Arts in the centre of Carcassonne.

Wine routes

With its 700 000 acres of vineyards, the Languedoc-Roussillon is the largest wine-producing region in the world and was the first French region to be introduced to vine-growing and wine-making by the Romans. The wild Corbières area that surrounds the property is home to some outstandingly good-value quality wines, many of which are now organically produced by a new generation of young and energetic winemakers. This is red wine country, although interesting whites and rosés are now also beginning to emerge (including local varieties of Picpoul, Terret, and Clairette), and the region is also home to the first sparkling wines, the Blanquette and Crémant de Limoux, precursors to Champagne. Slightly further afield the Minervoix region is also fantastic for reds and sweet whites. The Domaine de la Vène itself has a long history of winemaking, and you will see many vineyards around the estate. Wineries such as the Château de Pennautier in Carcassonne offer a tour of the chateau as well as wine tastings, and 15 min down the road near the village of Montlaur you will find the Domaine de Domneuve, which produces an excellent rosé. Slightly further afield and close to Narbonne is the Fontfroide Abbey, which is well worth the visit not only for its wine tasting but also to discover the splendour of one of the most beautiful Cistercian abbeys in France. The Fabre family, who have been winemakers since 1605, also welcome you to tastings in the underground cellars of their numerous chateaux, located all around the Languedoc. Should you wish for a bespoke wine tour this can be prearranged upon request.

Restaurants

There is no shortage of food and fantastic cuisine in the Languedoc region, this is France after all! Local village bistrots serve hearty and authentic wine and food, including cassoulet, the region’s speciality. If you spend an afternoon playing golf at the Auriac, the bistrot there serves as the 19th hole and offers great-value traditional French food, no matter your handicap. There are also a multitude of higher-end restaurants for a finer dining experience, all within 20 min of the house. Most notable is the two-Michelin-starred Restaurant du Parc, located at the foot of the famous Carcassonne citadel and only a 15 min drive away. In the citadel itself is the Hotel de la Cité and its Barbacane restaurant, which has recently reacquired its Michelin star. In addition to its bistrot, at the Domaine d’Auriac you will also find Bernard Rigaudis’ gastronomic restaurant, which has held a Michelin star for 34 years. Although not quite as high end, for a truly French gastronomic experience, do also try the Château de Cavanac, a personal favourite of ours that serves great food and wine in reconverted horse stables. Slightly further afield, although very much worth the 50 min drive, is the Auberge du Vieux Puits. The restaurant, run by Gilles Goujou, has three Michelin stars and has been described as displaying some of the most sophisticated cuisine in France.

Food and markets

The area is home to some truly phenomenal food markets and shops. For an authentic experience, the Carcassonne market takes place every Saturday morning, and you will find it abounds with fresh vegetables and local produce. In the stunning medieval village of Mirepoix there is also a superb Monday market, surrounding by bustling cafes and bars. Arguably the best food market in the region though is the beautiful covered Narbonne market. Open every morning and bursting with life, you can find anything you can think of, including typical creamy fragrant cheeses, local jams and honeys, olive oil, and fresh seafood. For a shop that showcases all the best local produce, look no further than La Ferme, located in the centre of Carcassonne, which is truly a food lovers’ paradise.

Local towns and villages

There are an abundance of beautiful typical French southern villages and towns to explore in the Languedoc. Carcassonne, our nearest local town, is famous worldwide for its impressive medieval Cité, the largest in Europe. Founded during the Gallo-Roman period, the citadel has been fully restored, and in 1997 was added to UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites. A trip to the citadel for an afternoon is a must to walk along its 3 km of ramparts and to discover its buzzing centre, full of vibrant restaurants, cafés, and shops. Another fantastic way to spend a day is to rent a boat and slowly make your way down the Canal du Midi that runs through the town. The sunny canal is one of the oldest man-made waterways in Europe, and is dotted with beautiful bridges and aqueducts. Further north and within an hour’s drive is the wonderful city of Toulouse. Owing to the pink stone used in many of its buildings, it is referred to as the Ville Rose, and is full of terrific restaurants, high-end shops, and site-seeing opportunities. Another lovely day out is to take a scenic trip through the Minervoix, where you will cross deep gorges and flowery meadows until you reach the little village of Minerve perched up on the cliff, where there are several good restaurants. A comprehensive list of all our recommended sight-seeing trips can be found at the house.

  • Palaja 7 mins drive (local village with baker, butcher, tobacconist, hairdresser, chemist, grocery store, café pizzeria, and post office)
  • Carcassonne 16 mins drive
  • Carcassonne Airport and supermarkets/hypermarkets 20 mins drive
  • Montpellier 1 h 25 mins drive
  • Perpignan 1 h 15 mins drive
  • Toulouse Airport 1 h 30 mins drive
  • Mediterranean sea (best fish beach restaurant – Chez Biquet) 50 mins drive
  • Barcelona Airport 2 h 45 mins drive

Please note that the map is only a general indicator of location

What Sarah thinks:

“A rare opportunity to rent a house and estate of such important standing in the region. Although there are formal rooms including the dining room and not one but two drawing rooms, this is a house which welcomes you warmly as the family home it is, with a wonderful relaxed farmhouse style kitchen, huge pool, techi facilities and stunning views privacy is not a problem!

Client Reviews:

“A little corner of heaven on earth! Rosie and James welcomed us to this magnificent residence with much kindness and generosity. The house and estate are even more beautiful in real life. We took advantage of the location to relax whilst discovering Carcassonne and the surrounding area. The quality of the facilities was way more superior than our expectations. We had an excellent stay with our family and will very gladly go back with our friends!”

“We were welcomed with remarkable kindness and the hosts were very attentive. The property was simply wonderful, and the house in which we were staying was sublime. We came with our family and will be coming back soon.”

“Stunning location in the middle of nature, whilst being very close to Carcassonne (10 mins). Our hosts were very friendly, attentive to small caring details and quickly responded. It was impossible to leave the pool, its pool house and barbecue. As soon as you have tried it you will want to come back.”