“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”
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.
Your comprehensive continental breakfast buffet and table d’hôte dinner are eaten at individual tables in the chateau's wine-coloured dining room. This opens off the Grand Salon and features hand-painted wallpaper, multiple candles, 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 Christophe (who trained in a Michelin 3-star restaurant) will conjure up your 5-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.
On our first stopover we dined au château and loved our wonderfully zingy salmon tartare (a signature dish), succulent slow-cooked veal à la provençal, and delicious fish tagine. The superbly feisty and gooey cheeses and yummy chocolate fondant were the perfect end notes.
On our second, we took a 5-minute taxi ride to Rive Droite, the owners' restaurant, and had aperitifs out on the terrace beside the Sarthe river. We then dined in the old-print-and-book-filled 'Bibliothèque', one of their 4 themed eating areas.
The food here was just as delicious as at the chateau, but presented in a more artful, nouvelle cuisine style. We particularly enjoyed our crab salad-cake starter with its inspired topping of cauliflower mousse, and the scallops and crevettes, swordfish and fillet steaks, and chocolate fondant with basil ice cream were all excellent too. Chicken nuggets and home-cooked chips went down a storm with the kids.
If you want a change of scene, Charles-Henry can advise on great local restaurants and book taxis for you.
The chateau is extremely child-friendly as Charles-Henry and Ségolène have 3 young 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.
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.
Available on request
Remember baby and child equipment may be limited or need pre-booking
On request, a kids' high tea can be served in the early evening, and Rive Droite has some child-friendly choices
You'll need to watch your kids by the pool