South of Toulouse, on the edge of the Ariege, just south of the town of Lezat, in the parish of St Ybars, you will find Chateau Ariege.
Built around the middle of the 19th century for the Baronne de Nomazy, the Château is situated away from the main road south to the Pyrenean mountains, surrounded by its own woods and parkland - in complete privacy.
The region may once have been split by religious conflict, but today it’s a wonderfully bucolic area which stretches away from the cosmopolitan sophistication of Toulouse for 70 miles down to the rising peaks of the Pyrenees, which are topped with ice and snow even in the late spring.
The faraway mountain range, behind which Andorra nestles, serves as a constant point of orientation to the south, dipping in and out of view as you wind your way around the rising and falling lanes.
The most enchanting of the three settlements, though, is Mirepoix, a bastide, or planned, town where the solidly elegant cathedral of St Maurice - its nave the second widest in Europe - gazes down on the medieval square bordered by half-timbered houses fronted by a delightful wooden arcade.
From here it is only a short drive south east to the stunning walled city of Carcassonne - but in the Ariege one feels far from the tourist masses that congregate there.
Chateau Ariege is less than 1 hour from Toulouse airport, 1 1/2 hours from Carcassonne and 2 hours from Bordeaux.
Other international airports in the region are Bergerac, Limoges, Perpignan, Rodez and Pau.
By road the Chateau is an 8-9 hours drive from Calais and a day by rail from London St Pancras.