Wine tasting in the south of France is nothing new, but this tiny Languedoc village offered Stylist contributor Alice Griffiths an experience unlike any other
Driving a vintage red Citroën, admiring vineyard views of Assignan, with the breeze in my hair and the sun on my face, I feel like a heroine from a classic French movie. It’s fitting for my stay at Village Castigno, a hotel that is more akin to a picture-perfect French hamlet.
Walking into the main square is like stepping on to a film set, from the intricate paintwork to the cobbled streets linking the properties this quirky hotel has scattered through the village. The bold colour theme – deep reds, purples and pinks – is inspired by the local wines.
There are 24 unique bedrooms, ranging from cosy one-bed wine-picker houses to luxury suites. My room (a junior suite) is in the largest property, the nine-bedroom Maison des Amis, which is available to book as a whole house or by the room. With quirky design and rustic shutters opening on to a beautiful view, you can soak in the freestanding bath while gazing out through the veranda doors. There is also a pool and patio area, which is perfect for cooling off in the French summer heat.
I hop on to a Kawasaki buggy to enjoy a tour of the 42 hectares of vineyards surrounding the village, ending up at the newly built wine cellar, Chai. Designed by Belgian architect Lionel Jadot and shaped like a wine bottle, it’s the perfect location to sample the full range of Castigno wines, from the beautifully deep-bodied Terra Casta to the fruitier, floral Grace Des Anges Blanc.
Castigno offers various experiences (including borrowing that vintage Citroën mentioned earlier: £177 for half a day). So, to soak up all that wine, I join chef Rosina for a bread-making class (£49 each). We bake four different loaves, and I feel utterly relaxed by the therapeutic kneading. In fact, Castigno’s ethos is all about switching off: wifi is available in reception, but a digital detox is encouraged.
A trip to Village Castigno would not be complete without dining in all three of the restaurants, which are dotted around the square, encouraging the sense of community. From a hearty breakfast of pastries and cheese at La Petite Table, to the haute cuisine of La Table and the Asian flavours of Le Thai. Each restaurant’s menu changes every day, using fresh produce from Castigno’s own vegetable plot and herb garden. Alternatively, enjoy a picnic of local olives, cheese and – of course – wine in the vineyard. The Castigno staff will even thoughtfully pack a battery-powered record player (and music of your choice) in your picnic basket to soundtrack your lunch. And, if all that food and wine gets a bit much, you can relax in Le Petit Péché, a wellness room offering Ayurvedic massages and treatments.
A haven for foodies, wine lovers and anyone seeking a more indulgent authentic getaway, Village Castigno is everything that France does best.
Prices start from £115 per night on a room-only basis; visit villagecastigno.com
Images: Village Castigno