This article appears in Vol 22: The Design Issue

When signing up to one of the inspiring workshops at Château de Gudanes, located at the foot of the Pyrenees mountains, you’ll not only sleep in a fairytale castle, you’ll also help to rewrite the story of this magical place by lending a hand in its ongoing restoration.

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First built as a fortress in the 13th century, the château became a fully functioning castle in the 18th century, when it was nicknamed “the king of the Pyrenees”. After many decades in a derelict state, an Australian family came to its rescue five years ago. When Karina and Craig Waters from Perth stumbled upon Château de Gudanes it was love at first sight.

The continuing Château de Gudanes story is a family affair with a modern twist of collaborative consumption. It is a labour of love in every sense.


The Château comprises of 93 rooms – restored one at a time by owners Karina and Craig Waters. Tiles from the 18th century have been sourced for the bathrooms, underfloor heating has been installed in some parts of the building and the castle now counts nine refurbished bedrooms as well as two kitchens. When night falls, guests must find their way by candlelight.


Petit-déjeuner is taken at your leisure.

How about lunch and dinner?

Guests help out in the kitchens, working alongside the chefs and using local ingredients to craft communal banquets and countryside picnics.

Is there a bar?

The house boasts a well stocked bar of house wine, house spirits , house beer and non-alcoholic beverages. Regional wine tastings and lunch time aperitifs are common place here.

Within a short distance you’ll find?

Visit the medieval walled city of Carcassonne and promenade the ancient stone-paved thoroughfares. Explore the picturesque village of Albi or Mirepoix and on Sunday morning stroll to the market in the nearby village of Les Cabannes.

Things you should know…

A stay at the château is only possible when you book one of its workshops, which host up to 16 participants for three, five or seven-day retreats. Themes range from flea market hunting to a patisserie course aptly named Château-Gâteau. One local lady gives yoga classes, while another organises horseback riding.

Workshops start from £1,550


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