“An elegant chateau, home to the Count of Vanssay's family since 1404, plus 2 separate apartments for 2-4, set in glorious countryside near Vendome”
The 8 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, Hermes 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 Deluxe) houses a splendid antique oak wardrobe, 17th-century Florentine mirror towers and a canopied kingsize bed, while the Kingsize Double room - Chambre Bleue - features a magnificent embroidered silk Rubelli, antique oil paintings and a balcony overlooking the park. At the end of the southwest wing sits the stunning Junior Deluxe room (Chambre Esprit de Jouy) with an authentic Louis XVIth canopied bed.
We stayed in the delightful Superior room - Chambre Jaune - the golden toile de Jouy wall fabric made the room light and bright and its double bed inside an alcove surmounted by a 17th-century Flemish painting was quite romantic. The Standard Double (Chambre aux Fleurs) was built during the Hundred Years War! There are also 2 Single Rooms, one of which (Louis XV) is perfect for an older child as it adjoins the Chambre Esprit de Jouy.
Finally there are 2 Self-catering Cottage apartments for weekly rental (Saturday-Saturday; although shorter lets may be possible, upon enquiry and at a surcharge). 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.
Eating en famille with the Comte and Comtesse in their candlelit 17th-century dining hall was the highlight of our stay here. 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 Loir valley wines) for the plat principal of champignon et veau, which he continued to pour liberally throughout the cheese course.
These aristocratic-style dinners must be booked in advance, and are only available on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. 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 billiard room.
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, you can choose to self-cater - 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, and Guy and Marnie are happy to advise and make bookings for you. St Antoine in the local village does very good regional cuisine, whilst Relais d'Antan is said to be exceptional.