Hike the Grande Randonnée that passes through, marvel at the market of Carcassonne. This is Château La Villatade, a delicious spot in the Haut Minervois, a history-laden corner of France. Living on site are Sophie, Richard, and Max (the charming hound), always ready with meals and warm hospitality, but entirely discreet. Their vineyard produces wines awarded the Minervois appellation, and Richard is happy to offer tastings and share their passion for the land and wine. The winery, a complex of buildings surrounded by tall trees and gardens of olive, oleander, ash and pear, dates from the 17th century; at its heart you’ll find a beautiful, medieval, fresh-water ‘bassin’, a stunning place to swim. On arrival, enter the large inner courtyard, gravelled and topped with a table or two. Off here lie the gîtes, all on one level, simply and sympathetically restored. Each comes with its own kitchen, dining terrace and fresh, tranquil rooms; Lavande, with fluttering white curtains and pale lilac walls, is particularly restful. Settle in with the flocks of bee-eaters, humming cicadas, shooting stars, velvety wines… and the shaded terraces with dreamy views.