How to have an unforgettable French holiday? Add a fairy tale château

Last updated 10th July 2024

A recent road trip to a family wedding, turned into a fairy tale holiday in France for Katie Amps and her family, thanks to graceful Château Capitoul in Narbonne.


Château Capitoul, a fairy tale holiday in France

We decided to make our May half-term break more exciting by taking a mini adventure to the South of France. Unfortunately, our holiday in France coincided with the Monaco Grand Prix weekend, causing flight prices to soar. As a result, flying into Nice, our usual choice was not an option.

The journey from home to Saint Raphael, our final destination, took about 14 hours, which seemed quite daunting, especially with a 5-year-old and a 16-year-old amid her GCSEs! Luckily, we have a semi-converted VW campervan, so we had plenty of space. The kids could stretch out and have all their essentials on hand, and I could pack everything, including the kitchen sink! Everyone was happy!

Driving is an eye-opener on holiday in France

Our main reason for this holiday in France was a family wedding in the beautiful seaside town of Saint Raphael. But we decided to add two days to the trip’s start and end, with stopovers along the way to break up the 14-hour drive.

Driving in France is an eye-opener! The roads are much quieter than in the UK, making the transition to driving on the right hand side much more manageable. Although there are toll roads to consider, which can be costly, we didn’t hit any traffic jams on the whole 2,000-mile-plus journey, so it was worth it!

However, we made lots of (coffee) stops, much to the annoyance of our driver (my husband)! But the kids were great; we had hardly any ‘Are we nearly there yet’, and the long journey gave my daughter some brilliant time to revise for her GCSEs without distractions.

Our route took us from Peterborough to Dover to the Eurotunnel crossing. I had no idea what to expect, but the process was straightforward. We arrived early so we could jump on an earlier crossing, which only took 35 minutes. You drive onto the train, and once you’re in position, you can get out and walk around if you want to. There are even toilets on the train, which makes it much easier with little ones.


Reims Cathedral, Northern France

Losing our hearts to the lovely city of Reims

Once we crossed into France, our first leg of the journey took us approximately two and a half hours from Calais to the beautiful city of Reims. Unfortunately, we had limited time to spend here because we arrived after seven in the evening, and planned to hit the road early the following day. We booked a cheap Airbnb and headed into the city centre for a lovely meal and a stroll. We loved Reims so much we decided to include a day here on our return journey.


Château Capitoul under clear, blue skies

So the fairy tale part of our holiday in France begins

Day two started first thing for what should have been a six-hour journey from Reims to Narbonne. In fact, it turned out to be nearly 10 hours due to far too many stops. Note for next time: take more snacks and a flask!

However, what awaited us on arrival in Narbonne made the journey pale into insignificance. Imagine pulling up to this magical castle that looks like it’s been plucked right out of a children’s storybook.

This was magnificent Château Capitoul, a heavenly place to relax and unwind, and a super convenient break in our road trip. Set in 200 acres of stunning Languedoc countryside, it’s an expansive hotel and vineyard estate encasing 44 stone villas that look like they’ve been sprinkled across the land. And its views stretch all the way over vine-wrapped hills to the distant sea, like Mother Nature’s own version of HD widescreen.


Villa with private pool, Château Capitoul

Naturally the kids loved our own private pool

Our stay was in one of the Château’s larger four-bedroom villas, and it was spectacular. On the top level was one triple bedroom with an ensuite, one double room with an ensuite, and a master bedroom with an extremely large, dazzling bathroom. Downstairs, we were greeted by a splendid open-plan kitchen, dining and living area which had panoramic views across the vineyard, I’d never seen anything like it. Plus, the kitchen had a washing machine, which was really helpful for us because of the length of our trip.

Although our children truly went wild when they realised we had our own private swimming pool in the garden. Fortunately, it also had a retractable electric cover, so we didn’t need to worry about Ronnie going into the pool unnoticed. The gardens were beautifully maintained too, and there was a gas-fired plancha, as well as plenty of outside furniture.


Rooftops of Narbonne, France

Extraordinary restaurants just minutes away

Château Capitoul is also a 4-star hotel and offers two exceptional dining experiences, both of which are perfect for families.

Asado, a welcoming brasserie-style restaurant, specialises in local meats and seafood grilled over vine wood. Breakfast is served in Asado too,  a vast spread featuring breads and pastries along with pancakes and eggs any way you like – a huge hit with the kids.

In the main Château, Méditerranéo is Capitoul’s fine dining restaurant offering an intimate experience with a limited number of tables and impeccable service.

No holiday in France is complete without a market day

The estate sits between Gruissan – an old fishing village steeped in tradition but also a dynamic seaside resort – and Narbonne, an historical market town with beautiful buildings and canals. We wanted to explore the area, so day one was spent on the quirky beach at Grussain, which is surrounded by 1400 homes on stilts.

Then it was on to Narbonne to soak up the atmosphere with a morning meander through Les Halles, the food market. It was buzzing with life, colour, sounds and aromas, and we discovered some of the best local produce in the South of France. After a day of shopping in Narbonne, it was time to unwind back at the villa and sample some of our goods alongside a Château Capitoul BBQ pack, which had been delivered to our villa. After dinner, the kids loved watching the sunset from the swimming pool.


Infinity pool, Château Capitoul

How Château Capitoul creates the perfect holiday in France

Château Capitol boasts one of the largest and most beautiful panoramic infinity swimming pools you’re ever likely to enjoy. It’s surrounded by a spacious terrace with luxurious loungers and a very cool bar, all shaded by mature olive trees. With only the tranquil sound of cicadas in the background, it’s the ideal spot to relax and delve into your holiday reading.

Our kids loved the tennis court, particularly as racquets and balls were available to borrow. The pétanque court proved to be another family favourite, and next time we visit we’ll definitely take advantage of the complimentary guest bikes, complete with helmets and locks.


Wine tasting, Château Capitoul

Wine tasting and luxurious spa treats are just a few of Château Capitoul’s talents

Don’t miss a visit to the Château wine cellar and shop, where you can arrange a wine tasting of the estate’s wines. We enjoyed sampling five excellent wines from the Château and surrounding area. Luckily, because we’d driven here, we had plenty of space to take some bottles home as a reminder of this wonderful part of our holiday in France.

In July and August, Château Capitoul also features a kids’ club from Monday to Friday, run by qualified, bilingual (French/English) staff.

The luxurious spa is a potential treat for older kids (age 16 and over). As well as an indoor pool, crafted from beautiful limestone, it offers a Jacuzzi, sauna, and steam room.  You can choose from a wide range of rejuvenating treatments too, so my daughter, Ella, and I cherished some quality girl time, indulging in a delightful facial before a refreshing dip in the pool.

Although if your children are five or over and you visit during the UK school summer holidays and you can also enjoy the spa’s parent and child sessions. These lovely bonding experiences give you two hours together in the heated swimming pool and hot tub, as well as a body massage or facial each. And as all spa treatments feature the French brand Nougatine, which is natural and free of parabens, silicones and artificial colourings, they’re perfectly suited to young skin.


Low-impact gardening, Château Capitoul

More about Domaine & Demeure

To date, Domaine & Demeure, the owners of Château Capitoul, have restored three fairy-tale châteaux into stylish getaways for families and wine enthusiasts. All share a strong commitment to environmental preservation with a focus on sustainable farming and offer foraging tours and permaculture lessons along with visits to a mini farm. Additionally, each of the estates prioritises seasonal, local produce and ever expanding organic gardens.

Château Capitoul itself has created an impressive ‘dry garden’ using resilient native plant species which thrive without artificial watering or chemicals. The estate is also home to 400 bird species, large bat colonies, and provides an important habitat for endangered flora and fauna.

How to plan this holiday in France

How to get there

Direct UK flights to Béziers, from 2 hours

Narbonne is 40 minutes’ drive west of Beziers Airport

By road: Calais to Narbonne, from 10 hours, 15 minutes

Get 1-night free for stays of 3-nights or more

Stay at Château Capitoul for 3-nights or more this summer and get 1-night free.

Two bedroom, self-catering villa with garden from £420 per night.

Offer available until 31 August 2024

See more offers and book Château Capitoul