What We Love
- A hip stay at a quirky château with art gallery and spa in southern France's Languedoc regionChilling in stunning guest rooms and suites with plenty of playful and quirky decor
- Reliably good cuisine paired with organic wines grown on the Château Castigno estate
- Perusing the incredible Castigno Art Galerie for its exhibitions by established and emerging artists
What To Know
- The home-away-from-home feel is perfect for couples, friend groups, and families
- Dine on gourmet dishes at La Table and tapas at La Petite Table all washed down with locally-made eco-wines
- On a romantic rendezvous? Drop by onsite bespoke lingerie shop Petit Pêché
It’s all absurdly quirky at this characterful château located between Carcassonne and Montpellier in the south of France. Owned by Flemish couple Marc and Tine Verstraete, who stumbled across this crumbling property in 2007 and then set about buying an entire village to house their hybrid hotel creation, you’re treated to a whimsical world of intimate design and pure French charm at Village Castigno.
Set in four historic freestanding buildings, the accommodation ranges from one- and two- bedroom wine-pickers’ houses and converted stables, to a nine-bedroom manor. There’s also an outdoor pool, gallery for high-calibre artworks, lingerie boutique, divine spa for treatments and massages by a Balinese therapist, and secluded vine-laden terraces for all-day chilling.
Unsurprisingly, it’s all rather excellent on the food and drink front too. There are three unique dining spots, plus an outstanding choice of organic wine from the Château Castigno estate a grape’s throw away. When you’re not quaffing wine, there’s plenty more to keep you busy; most excitingly herb-picking, vineyard-hopping, baking bread, taking ceramics or cooking classes, or borrowing the retro scooters to zip around the beautiful Languedoc region.
How to Get There
Castigno makes for a hotel stay with a difference. The village setting, entirely repaved at the owners' expense, is quirky and fun, and the 'garrigue'-perfumed countryside and nearby mountain scenery lovely. Service and welcome are faultless.
Our room was Vic, a one-storey village house done up in Castigno style and colours, with a frankly superfluous kitchenette, a sofa you couldn't sit back in, a table with four chairs for reading and writing. Upstairs was a very decent bed with good linen. The storage space was very scanty: a hanging rail about 40cms long, half of which was taken up by the towelling robes, and cupboard space which was more like kitchen units than bedroom furniture. Shower, no bath. Washbasin on a step, no door. Toilet so tiny one's knees touched the door, but that didn't matter as the door didn't close.
The sitting-out area was in the pedestrianised street outside, which would have been fine, except a local, doubtless disgruntled at the way the foreign owners have taken over his village, employed a great many non-French staff and dictated the parking rules, always parked his van there.
The suite was very dark in the daytime, lights necessary all the time, and creeper prevented the bedroom area shutters being used, though there were good curtains. Now all this cost 1071 euros for four nights, and that was the early-bird, non-refundable rate: much too expensive for such accommodation. When we came to pay, we had to remind them of the agreed rate, as they invoiced us for the full rate of 1160 euros. Breakfast at 23 euros each was extra, though it was a very good one.
The public amenities like the Maison des Amis were fine, but anyone thinking of staying at Castigno should bear in mind that it is a very windy part of France - the village square and outdoor cafe were never frequented during our entire stay - and think of going in July or August only.
The estate's winery is one of the most fascinating buildings in the region, if not in all of France, shaped like a wine bottle and completely clad in bark. Good St Chinian wines.
Of the three restaurants, La Table is exceptional, one of the best Michelin-starred places we have been to. The four-course menu was 60 euros but with a free glass of fizz; meanwhile the Thai restaurant, whose food was authentic and adequate but whose decor is primitive, cost 40 euros with the same fizz 9 euros per glass extra, so its meal was 49 euros compared to 60 at the sensational La Table. La Petite Table, with its dull menu and over-sized meat portions, worked out the same as the Thai. Both the winery and the top restaurant can be booked without being an overnight guest.
My partner found Castigno in a newspaper article and thought we should give it a try. We booked 2 nights stay in a luxury room we also booked to go wine tasting and to eat at the 3 restaurants too.
The village of Assignan is out of the way and super quiet. We parked up in the Maison des Amis car park and then walked up to reception. The signs are really easy to follow.
We managed to check in early as we had the wine tasting and lunch booked for that afternoon.
Karina who I had been talking to via email was the person to check us in so it was all very easy and straight forward. Karina then took us on a tour of the area and showed us what was what. She took us down to Maison des Amis which was where our room was and showed us around the building. There is a beautiful space to chill, listen to music and a kitchen available if you fancy doing some cooking too.
We got our bags and then went off for lunch followed by the wine tasting. Both were fantastic.
We ate in Le Thai that night which was amazing.
With regards to the room. The issue's I had was that it wasn't bright enough for me, I found it quite small and I didn't like some of the decor.
I loved the bed, shower and toiletries. One thing missing for us was a box of tissues. Please consider putting these in your rooms.
Wifi is only available in the Wine school room but you are made aware of this when you book your stay as the premise is to stop using technology whilst you stay here.
We decided to have breakfast at Castigno after our first night's stay. WOW, it was insane. We arrived to be given smoothie shots and juice, tea, coffee. Pastries were on the table with some bread and fruit. Then came the eggs, meat, veg etc. It was a feast. Far too much for us but it was wonderful and worth experiencing.
The staff are amazing. Nothing is too much trouble and they are super helpful with any questions.
Castigno is a lovely, beautiful place and if you want some peace and quiet I would most certainly recommend it.
What a unique experience it was. One of the most amazing places I have been to. The combination of the complete package made it an unforgettable experience. The chateau the winery the nice village the pool just the wholesome made it for what it is. Unforgettable and addicting. Can’t wait to go back ????????