Heaven on earth does exist, and it’s called Domaine en Birbès. Since Mariëlle and Rob Zandvliet settled in Laurac near Carcassonne, they have created a small paradise for young and old. Six holiday homes and six safari lodge tents are spread around the main farmhouse and surrounding grounds. The whole is topped off with a swimming pool. And in the renovated barn, you can spend long summer nights whilst enjoying a sip and a bite. Combined with the Dutch couple’s joie de vivre and hospitality, you’re in for a relaxing vacation.
When Chéri and I walked to the reception of Domaine en Birbès, we were greeted by the friendly Kaatje, the family dog. While waiting for Mariëlle, two adorable toddlers came to ask Jet- the youngest daughter- if they could walk the dog. The second dog, Zus (Sister), joined them willingly, bringing a big smile to the kid’s faces. Welcome to Domaine en Birbès, where this little scene is part of everyday life. Here, the children can discover the car-free grounds and live countless adventures while the parents can sit back and relax. There even is time to read a book. Or you can rent a bike and join Rob on a cycling trip through the region.
Old meets new
Since 2010, Mariëlle and Rob transformed their farmhouse- dating from around 1790- into a small-scale holiday resort. They started by creating three gîtes in the charming stone house. The workshop in the garden was also subject to renovation for holidayers. An utterly cool tree house serves as an extra bedroom for up to three kids. The latest additions are two grand holiday homes, also near the farm. As the surrounding grounds were spacious enough, Mariëlle and Rob also placed six safari lodge tents suitable for five persons. Whatever rental option you choose, you can be sure to settle in comfortably. Every gîte- suitable for four to six people- is different, but they all have a pleasant mix of old meets new. And they all have a fully equipped kitchen and a modern bathroom. The safari tents have a glamping vibe and separate, but private, sanitary facilities.
For the ultimate holiday feeling, you can splash into the secured swimming pool with a sweeping view over the meadows. And even the big barn has undergone an update with room to play and relax. You’ll also find an eye-catching open kitchen, the stage of many cosy nights. Twice a week, Mariëlle cooks up a wonderful homemade menu. First, the young sprouts will gather around the long tables for a healthy two-course dinner. After they have filled their bellies, it’s time for the grownups to have their three-course meal. And Saturdays are pizza night, made by Rob from the wood-fired oven. It’s funny to see that guests stay at their tables at the start, but after a while, everyone mixes together. Beautiful new friendships have been born at Domaine en Birbès.
Everything you can dream of
Despite its name, the village of Laurac-le-Grand is small with only 200 inhabitants. It’s a pleasant half-hour walk to this former capital of the Lauragais area, though. If you manage to get the kids out of the pool, there is enough to discover within an hour’s drive. Think about Carcassonne and Toulouse or go to Mirepoix’s weekly market. You can even go to the beach for a day. Domaine en Birbès has everything you can dream of for your holiday. And more! Mariëlle and Rob are such warm and welcoming people and have thought about every detail. It’s a wonderful place that you will want to go back to again and again.