Chateau de Saint Paterne

Near Alencon, Pays de la Loire, France
Book from GBP Book from £155 per night

Chateau de Saint Paterne

Near Alencon, Pays de la Loire, France

A gorgeous 15th-century chateau on the Normandy-Loire border, where history has been given a stylish and stately twist, warmed by a family's welcome

A gorgeous 15th-century chateau on the Normandy-Loire border, where history has been given a stylish and stately twist, warmed by a family's welcome

This beautifully restored Renaissance chateau, in the Alençon satellite village of Saint Paterne, was once home to a mistress of the French King Henry IV. Since today's owner Charles-Henry de Valbray inherited it in 1989, as a long-abandoned shell, he and his wife Ségolène have spent 3 decades restoring it with many an authentic period flourish and lashings of eclectic charm. Both speak excellent English and live in the 18th-century-added wing, so they may join you in the Dangerous-Liaisons-style Grand Salon or out on the terrace for pre-dinner aperitifs and ensure you feel right at home.

Each of the chateau bedrooms has been elegantly and distinctly designed (many furnished with swagged 4-posters and free-standing tubs), and couples will love the romantic L’Orangerie in the garden and Datcha larch chalet hidden in the woods. The 25-acre garden has vast sweeping lawns, lots of outdoor games, play areas and a swimming pool so it's also a great place for families, especially in summer. Food served up in-chateau is thoroughly delicious - and good value, too.

Highs

  • Its location - 70 miles south of the port of Caen, 100 miles west of Paris - is great for stopovers, or longer stays to explore the Loire Valley, Chartres, Le Mans and the Perche region
  • All the beautiful boho-chic bedroom choices, design touches and historical features
  • The warm intelligence and enthusiasm of Charles-Henry and Ségolène, and the feel of staying in a historic family home
  • The delicious homely food - and the trouble taken to record menus by date to make sure you won't have the same one when you come back!
  • The romantic bathrooms, some with tub-mounted candles and champagne flutes; help yourself to fizz from the honesty bar

Lows

  • Lunch is not served at the chateau but poolside you'll find a fridge filled with cool drinks and ice creams and there is a boulangerie nearby
  • Dinners are a set menu, though this changes daily and dietary requirements can be catered for
  • There's no room service as such, but private breakfasts can be organised by special request
  • There's no supervision at the pool so you'll need to keep an eye on any swimming children yourself, and it's worth climbing the Datcha's and Chambre du Parc's fun loft ladders with care

Best time to go

The chateau is normally open from mid-March to mid-December. All the seasons have their own garden and weather pleasures. Summers are obviously lovely and August is the busiest period, when most families come to stay. The wood-burning stove, outdoor Jacuzzi and sauna in the Datcha mean we'd love to stay there when it's snowing.

Our top tips

  • Do have a chat with Charles-Henry and Ségolène to learn about the restoration of their much-loved home and be inspired by their passion for design, art, the magic play of light, and the joys of fine foods and wines. It really enriched our understanding of the place and the enjoyment of our (all-too-brief) stopover stays
  • Cheese lovers! Make a round-trip to the 1791 birthplace and home of Camembert, an hour's drive north, and enjoy its cheese-shaped museum's homage to the gooey treat (and of course stock up at the local market...)
  • Great for...

    Family
    Foodie
    Romantic
    • Boutique Hotel
    • 11 rooms
    • Breakfast (+ dinners on request)
    • All ages welcome
    • Open all year
    • Heated Pool
    • Spa Treatments
    • Beach Nearby
    • Pet Friendly
    • Disabled Access
    • Car recommended
    • Parking
    • Restaurants Nearby
    • WiFi
    • Air Conditioning
    • Guest Lounge
    • Terrace
    • Garden
    • Gym
    • Bicycles Available
    • Trampoline
    • Badminton court
    • Electric car charger
    Room:

    Rooms

    All 11 rooms and suites have such distinctive charm that lots of guests have declared their intention to come back again and again to try out each one in turn! The 9 in the chateau range from cosy Classics up to spacious Luxury Suites. Their swagged chintz, velvets and silks, four-posters and beams, wood panelling and painted wall fabrics, writing desks and antique fireplaces are balanced by the modern comforts of fluffy duvets, DVD TVs, stereos and minibars.

    The dining room, Grand Salon, wood-panelled library and 1 Luxury Suite (Chambre de la Roseraie, which is great for a family) take up the ground floor, and a wide wooden staircase polished by centuries of footsteps sweeps you up to the 5 guest rooms on the first floor. These include Chambre d'Henry IV (a Superior) with its original ceiling beams colourfully painted with the entwined crests of the king and his mistress, Chambre de la Canard (the Superior Junior Suite) with its panelled bathroom, and the super-chic Chambre de Madame (another Luxury Suite), graced with bold black and white stripes and Christian Lacroix wingback chairs, as well as the 2 Classic rooms.

    We also loved the slant-beamed, attic character of the top-floor suites, particularly Chambre du Parc (the Junior Suite) with its raised loft bathroom and sunken tub, and Chambre des Mystères (a Luxury Suite) with its massive bathroom and own 'secret' spiral staircase entrance. The 2 Superior rooms are up here too.

    Out in the garden, Luxury Suite L'Orangerie is made for honeymooners - a light-flooded space of warmed terracotta tiles, theatrical-backdrop-draped stone walls and a Jacuzzi bathtub. Or if you'd prefer a log cabin hidden in a forest, the 2-level Datcha, complete with an outdoor hot tub and indoor sauna, offers a toasty slice of sensual seventh heaven.

    Features include:

    • Bathrobes
    • Hairdryer
    • In-room treatments available
    • Iron
    • Minibar
    • Safe box
    • WiFi

    Eating

    Your continental breakfast buffet and table d’hôte dinner are eaten at individual tables in the chateau's atmospheric wine-coloured dining room. This opens off the Grand Salon and features hand-painted wallpaper, silver candelabra, and Ségolène's ever-growing collection of asparagus porcelain.

    Charles-Henry has published 2 cookery books to date, so he really knows his onions, and either he or their expert chef will conjure up your 3-course set dinner using fresh, local and seasonal produce, some of it from their own kitchen garden. If you're vegetarian, or have any other special dietary needs, you just need to give them advance warning. Guests gather for aperitifs (included in the prix fixe menu) fireside in the salon or on warm evenings out on the terrace before dinner is served at 8pm.

    On our most recent visit we dined au château every evening enjoying generous G&Ts and Kir Royales, before tucking into wonderfully zingy salmon tartare (a signature dish) followed by succulent slow-cooked veal à la provençale (with second helpings on offer too). A yummy chocolate fondant was the perfect end note.

    If you want a change of scene, Charles-Henry can advise on great local restaurants and book taxis (included in the fixed prix menu) - before dinner is served at 8pm.for you.

    Features include:

    • Coffee maker
    • Dinner by arrangement
    • Honesty bar
    • Kids' meals
    • Vegetarian options
    Eating:
    Activity:

    Activities

    • Just relax in the 25-acre park garden, swim in and lounge by the pool, play badminton, ping-pong or croquet on the huge lawns, or explore the dappled wood (great for hide and seek)

    • Have an essential oil or shiatsu massage in the peace and luxury of your own room

    • Borrow bikes from the chateau, go on a group horse ride through the nearby forests, or paddle canoes down the Sarthe river

    • Pop into the pretty town of Alençon and learn about the exquisite lacemaking which made its name in the C17th at the Museum of Fine Arts

    • Drive over to see the Bayeux Tapestries, some stunning Loire chateaux or the amazing Chartres Cathedral - all within 2 hours’ drive of Alençon, as are the coastal delights of Mont St Michel, Caen, Deauville and (Impressionist art-inspiring) Honfleur

    • Visit the old town of Le Mans, 30-45 minutes away (depending how fast you like to drive!), and go for a spin on the famous Bugatti race circuit there

    • Explore the antique shops, public gardens and charming auberges of the Perche region (10km away), and visit the riverside Saint Ceneri le Gerei - famous for being one of the most beautiful villages in France

    Activities on site or nearby include:

    • Badminton
    • Croquet
    • Cycling
    • Historical sites
    • Horse riding
    • Kayaking
    • Museums / galleries
    • Plantlife / flora
    • Shopping / markets
    • Swimming
    • Table tennis
    • Well being

    Kids

    The chateau is extremely child-friendly as Charles-Henry and Ségolène have 3 sons themselves. Most families come in August, and your hosts try to ensure all younger children eat together earlier so that the adults can enjoy a peaceful dinner.

    Best for:

    All ages

    Family friendly accommodation:

    Most rooms can either fit an extra bed (and/or baby cot) or have a sofabed. The Luxury Suites Chambre de la Roseraie and Superior Junior Suite Chambre des Canards are best suited to families thanks to their little side rooms with single and bunk beds respectively. The former also has its own side entrance and a tiny private terrace as it's at one end of the ground floor.

    Cots Available, Extra Beds Available

    Babysitting:

    Available on request

    Baby equipment:

    • Baby cots

    Remember  baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking

    Children's meals:

    On request, a kids' high tea can be served in the early evening.

    Kids Activities on site:

    • Floats for the swimming pool
    • Play areas in the garden
    • Bikes to borrow
    • Badminton court
    • Table tennis
    • Trampoline
    • Goats and chickens to feed

    Kids Activities nearby:

    • Horse riding

    Families Should Know:

    You'll need to watch your kids by the pool

    Distances:

    • Airport: 1-2 hours
    • Hospital: 5 minutes
    • Shop: 10 minutes' walk
    Kid Friendly:

    Location

    Chateau de Saint Paterne is 5 minutes' drive from the Normandy town of Alençon, famous for its exquisite lace, in northern France. It's 55km due north of Le Mans in the Loire Valley, and 10km from the Perche region.

    By Air:
    You can fly from London to the little airport of Tours or fly into Paris. Click on the links below for a list of airlines serving Charles de Gaulle.

    From the Airport
    The hotel does not offer transfers so we'd recommend hiring a car. See our car rental recommendations. There's plenty of parking at the chateau, as well as EV charging points.

    By Train:
    There are trains which go from London's St Pancras station to Le Mans, and Le Mans is then just 30-45 minutes' drive away. See Seat 61 for details.

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

    More on getting to France and getting around

    Airports:

    • Tours Val de Loire 110.0 km TUF
    • Paris Charles de Gaulle 180.0 km CDG

    Other:

    • Beach 100.0 km
    • Shops 2.0 km
    • Restaurant 2.0 km

    Our guests' ratings...

    Based on 8 independent reviews from i-escape guests

    10/10
    Room
    9/10
    Food
    9/10
    Service
    9/10
    Value
    9/10
    Overall

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    Rates for Chateau de Saint Paterne

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