Chateau d'Uzer

Ardeche, Provence, France Book from Book from £96 per night

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
    • 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
    • Football

    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...

    Based on 11 independent reviews from i-escape guests

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

    Wonderful, magical place!

    10/10,

    Amazing place for our family. The setting is incredible and the hotel is fantastic. We truly enjoyed meeting other guests in a relaxed atmosphere and having dinner together whilst our kids bonded over UNO and the hidden cinema room. Lovely place to relax with young children.

    9/10,

    My husband and I spent 4 days in this magical place. Exceptional, is the first word that comes to mind when attempting to describe our experience. The Chateau is a work of art, from the overall structure down to the small touches added by Veronique and Eric. It rained the entire first day of our stay but we didn't mind due to the desire to take in the essence of the rooms we were lucky enough to inhabit. We also visited nearby villages during our stay which were unique in character and a great choice for travelers wishing to have an experience outside of the typical "tourist route." Eric and Veronique provided us with excellent suggestions for restaurants. As good as they were, the best dining experience of our entire trip was the evening that we ate a meal prepared by Veronique. Several courses were offered and each one was bursting with flavor while remaining well balanced. Our meal at the table was more reminiscent of a dinner party with friends as other guests attended and shared their stories. I can't say enough about this place. Go. You won't be disappointed.

    10/10,

    We stayed 3 nights in the Suite Cote Cour after a 4 night stay in Philomene.
    Absolutely lovely, and very quiet as the walls are incredibly thick! There's an outside courtyard which is great, and it's right next to the guest kitchen which is perfect for families although it does mean that the courtyard area isn't totally private but this didn't bother us at all.The whole of the Chateau is achingly stylish and beautiful but not in an off-putting way and it's an incredibly relaxing place. It's perfect for children and my 11 and 14 year old sons particularly loved the cinema room in the converted dungeon, the pool area and exploring the river running alongside. The owners Veronique and Eric were wonderful hosts and gave us some super recommendations for areas to go (e.g. fantastic places to swim to avoid the really touristy parts of the Ardeche Gorge), walks to try, and local restaurants. I highly recommend eating at the Chateau on the evenings that they host their table d'Hote dinner. We had dinner 3 times and every time it was absolutely delicious. There's no menu, and Eric just gives his (amazing) chef carte blanche to create a 3 course dinner. There's pre-dinner aperitifs and canapés as well, before sitting down at one long table so it feels like a dinner party rather than a restaurant. We were the only English people staying the whole time we were there (which is a positive) and as our dinner party conversational French is now pretty rusty I was slightly apprehensive but needn't have worried as Eric and Veronique were perfect hosts and gently steered us towards other couples who also spoke good English and these dinners really made our stay extra special.

    10/10,

    Amazing property and location. We only wish we could have stayed longer and explored the region more. Our hosts were fantastic and we would love to return someday.

    10/10,

    Just fabulous

    10/10,

    We had a wonderful time and the owners and staff were really friendly. Great little shop with fantastic antiques and clothing onsite too!
    The pool was wonderful and filled with water from the river so fresh and clean. We were often the only ones pool side in the morning as there was so many things to do and see in the area around the Chateau.
    The rooms were gorgeous. The only thing I would mention is that the shower in the Zephir room is over a bath and if you are tall like my husband it made it hard to shower without getting water everywhere a small thing though that didn't detract from the holiday!

    10/10,

    We absolutely loved our time at Chateau d'Uzer - Eric and Veronique were absolutely brilliant, thank you ever so much!

    10/10,

    What an amazing place with fantastic hosts. A small slice of paradise hidden away from the world.

    10/10,

    We really enjoyed our stay at Chateau d'Uzer. The Chateau is amazing. The owners charming and hospitable, offering wonderful food and heavenly accommodation.

    10/10,

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    Rates for Chateau d'Uzer