Southern Sojourn: the Hippest Places to Stay in Narbonne

Southern Sojourn: the Hippest Places to Stay in Narbonne

From a Haussmann mansion turned sexy latin-inspired hotel, to stunning châteaux riding a sea of vineyards, unsuspecting Narbonne, in the Aude département, offers travellers hip accommodation options for all budgets and styles.

Narbonne may not be the first name that comes to mind when thinking about the south of France, but it’s a charming city whose rich history extends back to Roman times. The Narbonne natural park also holds many attractions including the Massif de la Clape with its ruggedly Mediterranean landscape and renowned wine appellation, and the coastal village of Gruissan with its delightfully ramshackle chalets (made famous by the film Betty Blue) and pink salt lagoons. The stunningly beautiful Abbaye de Fontfroide nearby is also well worth a visit. All the accommodations below provide easy access to the city and attractions.   

Hôtel Le Mosaïque (4-star) 

The only 4-star hotel in Narbonne’s city centre, Le Mosaïque has barely been open a year but has already established an excellent reputation. The hotel is run by the Italo-Argentine Rizzo-Testa family, whose love for Latin culture shines through in the colourfully contemporary decor. But this is blended with classic French elegance: the renovation of the building (formerly a mansion) has retained its 19th-century  Haussmannian character both inside and out.  

The owners have also taken care to source produce and materials from the Occitanie region. In fact, the beautiful marble used in the bathrooms comes from a quarry just down the road in Caunes-Minervois. For that extra touch of luxury, the premium rooms are equipped with Geberit AquaClean toilet systems (think ‘state of the art bidet’) and pop-up TVs at the end of the beds. 

The Franco-Argentine gastronomic restaurant within the building sets the bar high too. The food is outstanding and the service second to none, same with the hotel. But the accent in both is very informal and homely — mi casa es tu casa, as manager Francisco puts it. This extends to the private outdoor pool which is perfect for a relaxing dip or lounge in the warmer months. 

The hotel has 15 rooms and suites, so a nice balance. It is ideally located too, tucked away in a quiet area just off the charming Canal de la Robine yet only five minutes’ walk from the award-winning covered market and ten minutes from the historic centre. 

If self-catering suits you better, the owners also run La Maison des Vendangeurs —traditional houses renovated into holiday apartments — in Narbonne, Fleury and Gruissan.

Hotel rooms from €130 (individual, low season) to €430 (suite, high season) per night, excluding breakfast and tourist tax.  

Maison des Vendangeurs from €75 (Narbonne studio 2 guests low season) to €299 (Gruissan 8 guests high season) per night excluding cleaning fees; further (minimum stay) conditions apply; clients are welcome to book for breakfast, lunch or dinner at the hotel. 

Château L’Hospitalet (5-star) 

The L’Art de Vivre gastronomic restaurant at this hotel/wine resort sums up the philosophy of its charismatic owner, Gérard Bertrand — the art of living is to enjoy life in all its richness, food and wine included. 

Located at the heart of the protected Massif de Le Clape, the hotel offers ‘natural luxury’ and an immersive experience in biodynamic wine-making. At the caveau, you’ll discover over 90 wines from Bertrand’s 17 estates across the Occitanie region. These include Le Clos du Temple, critically acclaimed as the ‘best rosé in the world’. You’ll also learn the story of how Bertrand converted all his estates to biodynamic and has pioneered this approach. In fact, he’s on a mission to raise the profile of the region as a centre of wine-making excellence and innovative practice, throughout the world. 

Meanwhile, he’s certainly succeeded with the hotel. Accommodation at the château is in 17 suites and 13 superior rooms, all elegantly presented. But if you want to push the boat out, the sumptuous Villa Soleilla right next to the spa has 11 spacious suites, a gorgeous pool, and sea views over the vineyard. 

As well as three restaurants in total, the hotel offers a putting green, tennis court and several walking/jogging paths to stay in trim. There’s a strong accent on culture too with a summer jazz festival that always has big names on the bill, and regular exhibitions. Plus, just down the road is L’Hospitalet Beach, offering delicious food and a very tempting range of Bertrand’s wines. For more art de vivre, you can chill on the sunbeds with a cocktail or take a blissful swim.  

Rooms at Le Château from €240 per night, suites €280. La Villa Soleilla suites from €410.

Château Capitoul (4-star) 

This lovingly restored 19th-century château at the heart of the Narbonne natural park offers ‘understated luxury’ and ‘effortless style’. It’s also one of three châteaux/wine estates in the Domaine & Demeure collection run by Irishman Karl O’Hanlon and his wife Anita Forte.  

The tall pine trees shading the entrance set the Mediterranean tone and the views from the south-facing property are simply glorious. These extend across the vineyard (run in partnership with the Bonfils family) and ‘flamingo filled’ lagoons, to the peaks of the Pyrenees beyond. You can also enjoy them from practically anywhere on the naturally elevated site, including the spacious terrace of Asado, the Occitan grill restaurant, and huge, eye-shaped, infinity pool. 

The Mediterranean theme continues with the terraced gardens, designed by four times Chelsea flower show Gold medal winner, James Basson, which are wrapped around the accommodation. This is in the hotel, which has 8 rooms and suites decorated with a blend of art nouveau, art deco, and classic French elegance, or the hamlet of 44 self-catering villas, most of which have a private pool. The hotel also houses a gastronomic restaurant, Méditerranéo, with Michelin star aspirations. 

Relaxing in the Cinq Mondes spa with its four treatment rooms, pool, and hammam, is a must. But there are plenty of activites to enjoy too, including biking around the extensive (240 acre) grounds, taking a wine tour of the estate, or tasting the award-winning wines in the caveau next to the reception. 

The château also prides itself on its environmental approach. For example, it uses no pesticides, herbicides, fertiliser or even water for the plants, and supplies its restaurants with fresh produce from the permaculture garden. 

Hotel rooms at Château Capitoul are from €140 per night; self-catering accommodation begins at €345 per night in a 2-bedroom property with private garden. 

La Poussada/Les Cubes (3-star) 

Boho-Chic meets Brazilian styling at these very comfortable and budget-friendly holiday cottages on the outskirts of La Palme. Run by former top sportspeople, Frédérique and Jean-Marie, they also have the environment very much in mind — all the cottages have been constructed with locally sourced/eco-friendly materials and are ‘bioclimatic’ (energy-efficient). 

The huge, wild and unspoilt La Palme beach is just a stone’s throw away. There’s also Leucate plage just a bit further down the coast in the Pyrenees direction — a favourite with windsurfers. But the (shared) pools at the property, which is on two sites in close proximity, offer a relaxing alternative.  

Cottages (five in total) from €700 per week in low season to €1500 in high; July & August families of 4 maximum, no pets

Lead photo credit : The pool at Le Mosaïque hotel in Narbonne © Verri Agency

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