“Are you sure this is it?” I remarked to my husband. “It doesn’t look very fancy.”
“We have a weekend without the kids. That’s luxury in itself.” He responded.
We had found Maison Laurent on the main road in the town, a four-story cloud grey townhouse with sage green shutters and an unobtrusive sign announcing its name. We were in the Carcassone area sans children to take advantage of a long weekend stay my husband had won at Maison Laurent as part of a charity auction.
Maison Laurent, A Luxury B&B
The smooth grey of the flagstone floor and whitewashed interior was a welcome relief from the heat outside. A wrought iron and grey stone staircase beckoned us up to the main living floor. We were greeted by the cheery English owners, Anthony and Rachel, and their exuberant English Spaniel, Bella.
They ushered us out of the large French doors leading to a landscaped rear garden. Under the intense French sun, the greens and pinks of the lush planting in full bloom were a kaleidoscope of colour. The gravel-covered paths crunched under Bella’s paws as she trotted off at regular intervals to inspect her domain.
Sheltered under a canopy, we relaxed in the dappled sunshine with glasses of the local white wine. The plain-fronted buildings in Pieusse had held their secrets close – beautiful interiors and large private back gardens! There’s a pool in the back of the garden perfect for relaxing in the sunshine.
Our room, located on the top floor, was a perfect mix of traditional decor with modern conveniences. The open windows let in a gentle warm breeze which ruffled the pale linen curtains. We could see over the orange-tiled roofs of the town and, in the distance, the vineyards and the church steeple. You always knew what time it was because the church bells chimed the time on the hour 24/7.
We sank onto the restored Louis XV bed and, hurrah, our WiFi reception was great! I knew any concerns I had about the quality of the B&B were unfounded.
Maison Laurent is a traditional Maison d’Maitre in Languedoc close to Carcassone, the Pyrenees and the Spanish border. Anthony and Rachel bought the house from the previous owner, Laurent Sanchez, whose family had held it since it was built in the 1870’s. They painstakingly restored and modernised the house five years ago. The house was christened Maison Laurent because Maison Sanchez didn’t sound very French!
Breakfast in the morning was an elegant affair. The smell of toast hung in the air of the open plan kitchen dining room. Although I was tempted by the freshly baked croissants and baguettes on offer, I opted for a small bowl of grapefruit and orange slices with creamy local yogurt. I knew breakfast would most likely be my lightest meal of the day! Anthony made me a happy woman when he brewed me a pot of English breakfast tea with teabags imported from Yorkshire.
Apparently, one of the reasons Anthony wanted to run a B&B is his love of cooking. His hobby is to your benefit because Anthony and Rachel offer dinner at the hotel several days a week if you are so inclined.
The Carcassone Region of the Languedoc
The hamlet of Pieusse has one main road with pastel-coloured houses bleached by the sun standing like soldiers to attention. The buildings were stark in their wood and stone simplicity adorned only with colour-coordinated wooden shutters. At the end of the main road, there is a triangular roundabout spruced up with flowers, a bench and a monument of Jesus hanging on the cross.
The roundabout lead to the road out of town in one direction and fields of wine-growing grapes the other way. I wondered how many teenagers had sat under the Jesus statue with a bottle of local wine and prayed to get out of this one cheval town. Unlike those teenagers in my imagination we thought Pieusse was the perfect escape from our hectic lives.
Between Maison Laurent and the roundabout, the main (probably only?) restaurant in town, La Taverne a Bacchus, serves up rustic French food cooked on an open spit. I think the delicious food, quirky restaurant and opportunities for people watching deserves a post in itself.
Armed with helpful tips from Rachel, we set off every day after breakfast in our rental car to explore the nearby vineyards, canals, rolling hills and stone villages. Maison Laurent was perfectly located to take advantage of all that this gorgeous pastoral region of France has to offer.
Good To Know:
Maison Laurent, in the village of Pieusse, is located bout 15 minutes from Caracassone and 90 minutes from the international airport in Toulouse. The accommodation comprises of 4 double bedrooms which range in price currently from Euro 105 to 145 a night. There is a pool and loungers available for use during the summer season. Children over the age of 12 may be accommodated upon request.