Chateau de La Barre

Pays de Loire, Pays de la Loire, France Book from Book from £151 per night

An elegant chateau, home to the Count of Vanssay's family since 1404, plus 2 separate apartments for 2-4, in glorious countryside near Vendome

The fact that so many of Château de la Barre’s guests are return visitors says it all: this place is a real find. Set amongst 100 acres of private parkland and fragrant gardens, the elegant château has been in the de Vanssay family since the 14th century and still has its ancient moat fortifications. Inside, the heritage is evident: wall tapestries, ancestral portraits and endless antiques. It’s full of heirlooms you’d normally see in a museum – but here you can eat from the priceless china, walk on centuries-old Persian rugs, even sleep in a Louis XVI bed.

But what makes this place really special is your hosts, the Comte and Comtesse de Vanssay. They’re the 20th generation of Vanssays to live here and want their home to be a place where guests can experience a true ‘aristocratic holiday'. On arrival you’ll enjoy afternoon tea in the elegant lounge; dinner is a 4-course feast served en famille in the Grand Dining Hall. By day you can ride, play billiards and croquet, try archery or head off to the magnificent Loire châteaux. Seize your chance to see how the other half live – and live it with them.
Covid update: see our Flexible Booking Policy.

Highs

  • Regal bedrooms, with traditional Toile de Jouy fabric covering the walls and antique furniture (plus power showers for 21st-century comfort); several combine to make vast suites
  • Excellent formal dinners, complemented by carefully chosen wines from the family cellar
  • Within easy driving distance of several châteaux, 12th-century Romanesque churches and the Loire vineyards
  • Welcoming yet down-to-earth hosts: Guy is a writer and wine connoisseur, while Marnie is a mine of information on French history and the château's antiques
  • For a bit more independence, book one of the self-catering apartments (note there's a 7 night minimum booking requirement)

Lows

  • Dinner and suppers require prior reservation
  • You're somewhat off the beaten track, halfway between Chartres and the Loire Valley (about an hour from each)
  • Don't expect cool, contemporary décor – this is splendour of the plushest kind

Best time to go

Any time of year. If you're a keen walker, the shoulder months (April, May and September) offer great weather without oppressive heat. If you're a sun seeker, book in during June, July and August and take life at a slow pace - perfect picnic and wine tasting weather! Some festivals (sound and light shows in Le Mans and Loire valley châteaux) and smaller castles may only be open in July and August. In winter, the château becomes a gloriously romantic bolthole. It's open almost all year, and privately booked for the Le Mans week every year (mid June).

Our top tips

The château is a perfect place to visit a deux and indulge in a weekend of French fine living – dressing for dinner is de rigueur so pack a couple of suitably smart outfits (no trainers, athleisure wear or jeans for example).

Great for...

Foodie
Romantic
  • Historic Chateau
  • 8 rooms + 2 apartments
  • Breakfast + meals by arrangement
  • All ages welcome
  • Open all year
  • Heated Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
  • Tennis Court
  • Snooker Table
  • Bicycles Available
  • Laundry Service
  • Deer park
  • Cooking lessons
  • Language tuition weeks
Room: Chambre Marin

Rooms

The eight ensuite bedrooms are split between the southwest and east wings; the former overlooks the park and flower gardens, the latter a 15th-century courtyard. Sumptuous bathrobes, decanters of port and a tea tray add a homely edge, whilst power showers, Chopard toiletries and monogrammed linen sheets tick the luxury boxes. Most of the rooms have fabulous Toile de Jouy fabrics, based on those created during the 'Siècle des Lumières' (Enlightenment), and featuring a mixture of animals, castles and other motifs.

So which to choose? The vast Chambre Marin de Vanssay (the Prestige) houses a splendid antique oak wardrobe, 17th-century Florentine mirror towers and a canopied kingsize bed, while Deluxe Double room Chambre Bleue features a magnificent embroidered silk Rubelli, antique oil paintings and a balcony overlooking the park. We stayed in the other delightful Deluxe Double – Chambre Jaune – the golden toile de Jouy wall fabric made the room light and bright and its romantic bed is inside an alcove surmounted by a 17th-century Flemish painting. The Superior Double (Chambre aux Fleurs) was built during the Hundred Years War!

At the end of the southwest wing sits the stunning Romantic Deluxe room (Chambre Esprit de Jouy Verte) with an authentic Louis XVIth canopied bed (ideal for honeymooners); this can combine with the smaller Chambre Esprit de Jouy Bleue adjacent to make a Suite. The Single Room (Louis XV, more of a small double,) and is perfect for an older child, when connected to the flagship Chambre Marin de Vanssay to create Suite Marin.

Finally there are two Self-catering Cottage apartments for weekly rental (Saturday-Saturday). These are housed in a separate wing which the Vanssays call the 'cottage'. Guests have access to the château gardens and its 100-acre park but not to the château front terrace or the château itself.

Features include:

  • Central heating
  • Coffee / tea making
  • Fireplace
  • Hairdryer
  • WiFi

Eating

Eating en famille with the Comte and Comtesse in their candlelit 17th-century dining hall was the highlight of our stay. We started with a Pineau aperitif in the Grand Salon, then moved to the long oak table, lit by a chandelier, to dine off the family crystal and china. The 4-course menu is ever changing – regional French cuisine with some more modern influences – and each course is complemented by a carefully chosen wine. He chose a subtly dry Jasnieres blanc for the entree of salmon en croute, then a smooth Saumur-Champigny rouge (both Loire valley wines) for the plat principal of champignon et veau, which he continued to pour liberally throughout the cheese course.

These "grand siècle" dinners must be booked in advance, and require a minimum of four guests. On other nights, you can opt for a lighter supper – salad, cold cuts, melon, cheese, a bottle of wine and a tarte tatin – served in the small dining room with its Impressionist paintings or, weather permitting, on the terrace or by the swimming pool.

Breakfast, a spread of fruit, juices, cereals, French pastries, yoghurts and freshly laid eggs, was served in in the sunny breakfast room, where the walls are lined with Impressionist paintings. No lunches are served, but chances are you'll be out and about during the day as we were.

If you're staying in one of the apartments, these are strictly self-catering – the kitchens have hob, oven, fridge-freezer, sink and cooking equipment – or to join the Vanssays for a feast in the chateau (one dinner is allowed, depending on availability).

There are several recommended restaurants nearby, a delicious little gourmet bistrot is a 2-minute drive or 800m walk from the chateau, in the adjoining village (open every evening except Wednesday) and Guy and Marnie are happy to advise and make bookings for you. The Manoir de St Quentin is excellent and the Pertica has a Michelin star.

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Coffee / tea making
  • Communal dining
  • Dinner by arrangement
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

  • Explore the grounds and Bercé forest on foot or by bicycle, then return to the chateau for a championship of billiards and croquet, and to the heated swimming pool
  • Ask Guy for a tour of the chateau to admire its heirlooms and impressive wine cellar - he has plenty of stories about his ancestors whose faces dot the walls, after all this is the house he grew up in!
  • Take a hot air balloon from the terrace at dawn and return in time for a Champagne breakfast
  • You're an hour or so from the famous Loire Valley chateaux, including Chambord, Ussé, Cheverny, Chenonceau and Saumur, and when you get bored of castles there are 12th-century churches with period frescoes to admire
  • Go horse riding (10km away; the owners can arrange), have a round of golf - there are some excellent 18-hole courses in the vicinity, or play tennis in the local village
  • Walk through the beautiful Jardin du Plessis Sesnieres, a landscaped French formal garden and English-style tree park by a lake with a pretty tea room; or the astonishing topiary and the children's maze in the gardens of the Chateau de Villandry, near Tours
  • Go wine tasting at one of the region's excellent wineries, then buy some French bread and cheeses and have a picnic
  • Explore the remarkable old city of Le Mans, home of the Plantagenet kings and stage set for many films, although now more famous for its 24-hour racing!
  • The stunning cathedral at Chartres is within day-tripping distance, an hours' drive away
  • Europe's oldest stained-glass windows are in the magnificent Gothic Trinity Abbey in nearby Vendome
  • Indulge in a Renaissance lunch at Clos Lucé, home to Leonardo Da Vinci... afterwards, stroll through the park with interactive displays of his genius inventions

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Cycling
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Horse riding
  • Language courses
  • Private guided tours
  • Shopping / markets
  • Tennis
  • Wine tasting

Kids

Children of all ages are welcome, providing of course that they are “castle-friendly" and are at all times under full parental responsibility. We think it best suited to those with kids 8 years and older. There are no child meals or discounts. There is one antique cast iron baby cot, and a high chair, but no extra beds.

Best for:

Babies (0-1 years), Teens (over 12)

Family friendly accommodation:

Junior Suite aux Fleurs (sleeps 3) is a combination of the Chambre aux Fleurs paired with a small single room and they share a Jacuzzi bath. Suite Esprit de Jouy Verte et Bleue combines both Chambre Esprit de Jouy Verte with the adjoining large single Chambre Esprit de Jouy Bleue, and they share an ensuite shower bathroom. Larger families should take the Family Suite Bleue and Oiseaux which pairs Chambre Bleue and Chambre aux Oiseaux, a deluxe double and deluxe king, via their dressing rooms and sleep up to 4.

Families Should Know:

The Chateau is full of valuable heirlooms including fine china and crystal, and antique furniture, rugs and fabrics. There is a swimming pool in the grounds. Full supervision of children is expected.

Kid Friendly:

Location

Chateau de la Barre is about 2 hours' drive southwest of Paris; it's 40km (1/2 hour's drive) east of Le Mans, and about 1 hour's drive from Chartres, Orleans and Tours. It's a good base for exploring both the Loire Valley and the Perche (in southern Normandy).

By Air:
Tours Airport (65km) is the closest, but most people fly into Paris Charles de Gaulle (180km) and drive down. Click on the links below for a list of airlines serving these airports.

From the Airport
The hotel can arrange a transfer from Tours airport - see Rates - or the hire of a vintage car should you wish to drive from here (enquire when booking). There is also a direct train from the airport to Le Mans, and the hotel can arrange a chauffeured pick-up service from here - please enquire when booking.

By Train:
If you'd prefer to travel overland from the UK, you can get the Eurostar to Gare du Nord in Paris, then a TGV fast train to Vendôme-Villiers where you can hire a car at the station for the final leg or hop in a taxi (30 mins' drive; approx €75.)

By Car:
We'd recommend hiring a car to get here, partly for ease and mainly so you have the freedom to explore the Loire Valley. See our car rental recommendations. It's a 55-minute drive from Tours, the nearest branch.

Detailed directions will be sent to you when you book through i-escape.com.

More on getting to France and getting around

Airports:

  • Tours 65.0 km TUF
  • Paris Charles de Gaulle 180.0 km CDG

Other:

  • Beach 300.0 km
  • Shops 28.0 km
  • Restaurant 4.0 km

Our guests' ratings...

Based on 1 independent review from i-escape guests

6/10
Room
6/10
Service
6/10
Value
6/10
Overall

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Rates for Chateau de La Barre

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