Vie de Chateau: Chateau-B&B review

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It’s like being invited to spend the week with good friends.  From the moment I was picked up at the train station, I felt more as though I was on my way to spend a few days at a friend’s  château rather than a hotel or B & B (that is, of course, if I had friends with châteaux).  In a nutshell, the story of the Vie de Château is that this lovely domicile was built in the late 1700’s and has been in the de Genevraye family since.  The Count (Patrick) and the Countess (Gianne), an American artist, have spent the past 10 years restoring the château to its original glory.  The Count and the Countess,  people who love to be surrounded by friends and family, have decided to open their château to a wider audience then their current pool of friends and now the doors are open to you as well.  The only requirement: “No dull people,” Patrick says as we enjoy our dinner in front of the fireplace in the salon.  “My only fear is dull people.”  They look at their guests more as friends and just as we look to our friends to be lovers of life, laughter, and the bonheur, they look to their guests to be the same.   Don’t expect a typical B & B type of experience at the château—more a sophisticated version of summer camp for grown-ups.  They host seven to nine paying guests for a week, always with a theme(s).  The May program (May 7-14) focuses on fine arts, the July program (July 30 – August 6) focuses on music and wine, and the Thanksgiving program (November 19–26) is a very special opportunity to participate in the traditional autumn hunt (Chasse à Courre).  Their website (www.the-vie-de-chateau.com) provides complete details on all of the programs offered.  Each week also provides plenty of opportunity to explore the region, play a game of golf, and enjoy the park surrounding the château.  Bikes rides, walks in the woods, and horseback riding are all at your fingertips.  Each week a local oenologist  comes to the château to offer a private wine-tasting of regional wines.  This very personal tasting gives you an opportunity to learn about the wines, traditions, vineyards, and wine-makers of the Loire Valley.  Outside of the organized activities, there is plenty of time to relax or explore on your own.The interior of the château is an eclectic blend of châteaux styles during the late 1700’s, the traditions of the regions, and the tastes of the de Genevraye lineage.  The Countess has given painstaking attention to restoring the interior of the château to its original décor, from the tapestries to the clock on the fireplace to the linens.  She spent a good six months on each room, first to see the room in all of its light and moods, and then to determine how it was meant to look.  The attention shows.  You do not feel as though you are in a renovated room but rather that the room has always been this way.  OK, that can be good and bad.  Some of the original beds were made for little Napoléons and, being a tall woman, I find myself lying a bit diagonally in order to stretch out, but the down pillows and the wool-filled mattress makes you forget all about short little Napoléons.My corner of the château was the Chambre de Dame and I absolutely loved it.  It’s a huge room on the corner of the château with one set of French-door windows facing the meadow and brook and the other set facing the forest.  The room is very bright and has a double bed, small sofa, desk, and a working fireplace.  The bathroom is large as well, with two sinks, a bathtub, and a bidet.  If you prefer a more modern bathing experience (i.e. shower), then I recommend the room directly above the Chambre de Dame, which is called Chambre de Caroline.  It’s also big, has the same views, has a queen-size bed, but also has a shower.  Since this room is in the corner of the top floor of the château, it’s very quiet and very private.  For the single traveller, I recommend the Chambre de Mireille with its river view, fireplace, and large canopied single bed that is a bit like a cocoon.  You are assured to have very restful nights in this room.  The Chambre de Mireille also has a shower, and it is it is close to the toilettes.   A word on that:  all of the rooms have access to bathrooms, but in the traditional French style, the toilettes are in a separate room, in this case located on each of the three floors of the château.  Don’t let this discourage you; just bring a robe and tally it up as part of the true château experience.  Remember that you are among friends when you stay at the château.  The website gives you full details and photographs on each of the rooms available to paying guests. In addition to the bedrooms, you are welcome to relax in one of the salons or the more casual Scottish Bar, which has a small bar, comfy sofa, satellite television, and movies.  The salons are formal and decorated with antiques – not the type of room you will want to put your feet up and relax in, but the Scottish…
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