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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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