Staying in a castle will appeal to most kids (and big kids, too!), but add golf, gourmet food and a beautiful location in the Dordogne and you’re onto a real winner. This beguiling 17th-century château has it all, plus a welcoming family-friendly atmosphere so you can all relax.

i-escape blog / Chateau les Merles

Once you’ve pitted your skills against the fiendish 9-hole golf course or swum some laps in the pool, you’ll be ready for an 8-course feast in the stylish restaurant. Or, if you’d rather miss out the exercise bit, you can book onto one of the cookery courses and learn how to rustle up their flagship dishes.

For explorers, pretty cobbled Bergerac is just 10-15 minutes away, with boat trips, a Saturday market and an interesting tobacco museum (where you’re not allowed to smoke!).

i-escape: Chateau les Merles, France

Rooms: All of the rooms (bar the basement single) feel nice and bright thanks to the mostly south-facing windows. Decorated in a monochrome palette with the odd splash of zesty colour, they are eclectically accessorised with Starck perspex chairs, ornate chandeliers and period fireplaces. The bathrooms have twin mirrors, wall-mounted toilets, stacks of towels and luxury bath products. Standard and deluxe rooms are categorised according to how much space and what kind of view you get, while suites have a separate living room. There’s also a large 2-bed apartment with a kitchen and a private terrace, and 2 self-catering villas which are set away from the château. Our favourite room is suite number 7, with its sweeping views of the wooded valley.

i-escape: Chateau les Merles, France

Food: The menus (either à la carte, or 5- or 8-course set ones) in La Bruyère Blanche restaurant are full of well-loved regional recipes featuring ingredients plucked straight from the estate. Everything we ate was beautifully presented and tasty, from the duck-liver paté starter to the tender fillet of beef in a red-wine sauce and the crème brûlée served with slivers of orange. The detailed wine guide (with only local varieties) features not only information about the wine, but interesting titbits about the vineyard and its owners, too. Breakfasts are huge, with freshly baked breads and pastries. Those in the villas can self-cater or book a table in the restaurant if they don’t fancy cooking.

i-escape: Chateau les Merles, France

i-escape: Chateau les Merles, France

i-escape: Kids kit at Chateau les Merles, FranceWhen to go: Golfers naturally tend to choose the dryer summer months. If food is the focus, any time of year is a good time to be in the Dordogne, and the area’s remarkably mild climate means that winter visits can be really enjoyable.

i-escape: Chateau les Merles, France

Special offer: 30% off 5+ night stays from 1 October 2015 – 31 March 2016

Customer review: “Great welcome, lovely place, good food and excellent service.”
Ard, Netherlands (18.07.15)

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