Chateau d'Uzer

Ardeche, Provence, France Book from Eur130

A beautifully restored castle with 6 opulent suites, a freshwater pool and 2 bohemian gypsy caravans, hidden in gardens deep in the Ardèche
After a thrilling drive along twisting roads, past soaring cliffs and sparkling rivers peppered with pebble beaches, we arrived at this fairy-tale chateau to find a note of magic in the air. Tucked away in the hilltop village of Uzer, it was originally built to protect nearby silver mines, which helped to fund the Crusades. Luckily for us, it’s now been reborn as a sumptuous country hideaway: the old dungeon has been transformed into a cinema room with red-velvet chairs, the arched medieval chapel has become a library, and the 6 sprawling suites have been brought back to life with the perfect blend of traditional charm and modern luxury. The only room left untouched is the rococo Winter Garden with its dreamy pastoral fresco. Outside are ancient rose gardens and terraces shaded by cedars and palms, plus a surprise among the trees: gypsy caravans where you can sleep in the most bewitching of settings.

We enjoyed blissful days relaxing by the lovely pool and strolling around the jasmine-scented grounds, occasionally venturing out to explore the Ardèche’s towering gorges and famous cave paintings. We left utterly enchanted by the rambling estate and this spectacular corner of France.

Highs

  • We loved the stunning interiors created by owners Véronique and Eric
  • Ideally placed for exploring the Ardèche: a beautiful region where you can kayak down river gorges and go wild swimming
  • Delicious breakfasts, plus convivial dinners brimming with local produce
  • The relaxed, get-away-from-it-all vibe. A perfect place to unwind, and you can book massages
  • Extremely romantic but also great for families, with 2-bedroom suites, a family gypsy caravan and a guest kitchen

Lows

  • Rates for the caravans and one suite, Côté Cour, don't include breakfast (you'll get a kitchenette or access to the guest kitchen to make your own)
  • You’ll need a car to get around and to get to restaurants if you want to eat out
  • Meals are communal affairs and most of the guests are French, so you might want to brush up on your language skills
  • Credit cards aren't accepted, so you need to pay by bank transfer or cash

Best time to go

The chateau is open all year round. Spring and summer are the best times for exploring the beautiful scenery of the Ardèche and making the most of the pool, but don’t discount winter - it’s a wonderful season to experience the castle, and you can cosy up by the roaring fire.

Our top tips

  • Don't miss the impressive Caverne du Pont d’Arc, a replica of the nearby Chauvet Cave, which contains the earliest and best-preserved prehistoric cave drawings in the world
  • Start the day with a free morning yoga session, courtesy of Véronique
  • Great for...

    Family
    Great Outdoors
    • = Recommended
    • = Best in region
    • = World favourite
    • Boutique guesthouse
    • 6 suites + 2 gypsy caravans
    • Mix of self-catering and B&B
    • All ages welcome
    • Open all year
    • Outdoor Pool
    • Spa Treatments
    • WiFi
    • Pet Friendly
    • Disabled Access
    • Beach Nearby
    • Off-street Parking
    • Restaurants Nearby
    • Air Conditioning
    • Guest Lounge
    • Terrace
    • Garden
    • Gym
    • Bicycles Available
    Room: La Suite Céleste

    Rooms

    Five of the vast suites are within the castle. Each is uniquely styled, with lofty ceilings, vintage furniture and extremely comfortable beds. Walls are adorned with eclectic artwork, and rich fabrics come in shades of ochre, burnt orange, lilac and dusty pink. Bathrooms have rain showers clad in mosaic tiles or smooth plaster, and some have tubs, too.

    Our favourite was the romantic Chambre du Grand Salon, which has a beautiful honeycomb-tile floor and French doors opening onto a private balcony with garden views. The Chambre du Général is similar, while Zéphir, Céleste and Pom et Flore all have a second bedroom. Another 2-bedroom suite, Côté Cour, is set across the courtyard, next to the communal kitchen - which is handy as this suite is let on a self-catering basis. Its privacy means it's perfect for families, and we liked the lime-washed walls, polished concrete floors and huge bathroom.

    If you fancy a back-to-nature experience, there are 2 charming gypsy caravans hidden in the gardens, each with a double bed and creature comforts such as proper toilets and air-con. The largest, Philomène, is actually a trio of trailers, one housing the main bedroom and bathroom, one housing 3 children’s beds, and another with a living area and kitchenette.

    Features include:

    • Cots Available
    • Extra beds
    • Hairdryer
    • WiFi

    Eating

    If you're staying in one of the 5 chateau suites, breakfast is taken in the vaulted dining room or outside on the terrace. You'll find just-baked croissants and crispy baguettes with homemade jams, fresh fruit salads, and a selection of homemade cakes, waffles and pancakes.

    The caravans and the Suite Côté Cour are let on a self-catering basis. Philomène has a kitchenette for preparing your own breakfast (and dinner at a pinch), but you'll need to use the guest kitchen if staying in La Vie en Rose or Côté Cour. There's a shop in the village for supplies.

    The table d'hôte dinners are casual and convivial affairs around a communal table. There’s no menu; just let Véronique know you'd like to dine in and she'll tell you what’s on offer. We wandered downstairs to find chilled white wine and homemade olive tapenade waiting for us in the courtyard, before tucking into 3 courses of rustic Ardèche fare - soup made with just-picked spoils from the vegetable and herb gardens, chicken in a red-wine sauce, local cheeses drizzled with honey.

    If you want to dine out there are good restaurants within a short drive.

    Features include:

    • Breakfast
    • Children meals
    • Communal dining
    • Lunch by arrangement
    Eating:
    Activity:

    Activities

    • Soak up all the chateau has to offer: relax by the pool, explore the ancient rose gardens, book a massage, or take a morning yoga class with Véronique. There's also a little boutique where you can buy crafts and homeware
    • Hike through forests and vineyards. There are lovely trails to follow straight from the chateau
    • Spend a day kayaking along the Ardèche gorges, paddling through stunning scenery and gentle rapids before stopping for lunch on the pebbled shores. Véronique can advise on kayak hire and prepare picnics on request
    • Marvel at the Pont d’Arc, a striking natural stone bridge carved by the river
    • Hire the chateau’s electric bikes (check in advance) to explore the picturesque villages of Balazuc, Labeaume and Aubenas
    • See the Ardèche from above. Véronique and Eric are both aviation enthusiasts and can arrange paragliding or scenic flights in a light aircraft

    Activities on site or nearby include:

    • Birdwatching
    • Cycling
    • Fishing
    • Hiking
    • Historical sites
    • Kayaking
    • Paragliding
    • Scenic flights
    • Shopping / markets
    • Swimming
    • Well being
    • Wine tasting
    • Yoga

    Kids

    Children of all ages are welcome, and kids will love playing in the gardens, exploring the surrounding area and watching movies in the cinema room.

    Best for:

    Babies (0-1 years), Children (4-12 years)

    Family friendly accommodation:

    Three of the suites in the castle - Zéphir, Céleste and Pom et Flore - have second twin bedrooms, as does Suite Côté Cour, which is set on the other side of the courtyard; they can also take a rollaway single bed or baby cot. One of the gypsy caravans, Philomène, is a trio of trailers: one with a double bed, a second with 3 children's beds and a third with a living area and kitchenette.

    Baby equipment:

    • Baby cots
    • High chairs

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

    Children's meals:

    There’s a guest kitchen where you can prepare your own food (particularly handy for those staying in the adjacent Suite Côté Cour), and Philomène has its own kitchenette. Note that breakfast isn't included in the rates if you book either of the caravans or Suite Côté Cour.

    Kids Activities on site:

    • Gardens to explore
    • Freshwater pool
    • Cinema room
    • Electric bikes to hire
    • Toys
    • Rowing boat to borrow

    Kids Activities nearby:

    • Kayaking through the Ardèche gorges
    • Wild swimming

    Families Should Know:

    The pool is walled and gated, but note that a river runs alongside the chateau

    Distances:

    • Airport: 1.5-hour drive (Nîmes)
    • Shop: 2-minute walk
    • Hospital: 25-minute drive (Aubenas)
    Kid Friendly:

    Our guests' ratings...

    10/
    Rooms
    10/
    Food
    10/
    Service
    10/
    Value
    10/
    Overall

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