Chateau Rigaud

Nr St Emilion, Bordeaux & Charente, France Book from

Chic chateau hosting laid back house parties (Wine Weekends and Private Parties) or available as private rental (sleeps up to 16 adults + 8 children)
15 minutes' drive from wine Mecca, St Emilion, gets you to Chateau Rigaud. It's a big pad with thick stone walls, ancient timber staircases and fireplaces dating back to the 15th century. English owners, Anna and Andrew Barwick, revamped the place back in 2006 and have been evolving it ever since. Their latest refurbishment took place in 2011. Their energy and gusto continues unabated. 9 large bedrooms show boutique panache: off piste Farrow and Ball colours, silk and velvet curtains, roll top baths, Ren products and 400 thread count sheets. The professional chef's kitchen in theatre style invites guests to pull up their stalls and watch the master at work. Outside there's acres of space: pretty rose gardens, wildflower meadows, fenced heated pool and productive vegetable garden to feed the kitchens.

Rigaud makes a great private rental - for a weekend or longer, with a first class private chef, waitresses and housekeeping included with every booking as well as optional childcare and spa therapist. It would also make a fabulous venue for a sumptuous French wedding, catering for up to 100 guests for the main meal. For those who want just a room, they run house parties on certain dates: pitch up, enjoy good food, free-flowing wine and chats with like-minded guests. House Parties come in different flavours: Wine Weekends for budding oenologists; Family Breaks for stressed out parents; Birthday Party Weekends to give yourself a 3 night splurge without the hassle of catering yourself. This is not a hotel: don't expect minibars or room TVs; instead help yourself to drinks from the bar and catch a movie in the private cinema. Laid back, reassuringly spontaneous. We love it.

Highs

  • Truly different: masses of space, character and low-key style
  • Their House Parties are a breath of fresh air: akin to staying away with friends without the bore of domestics
  • Perfect venue for special celebrations and weddings
  • Great for kids (huge playroom, games room, lawns to race around, childcare)
  • If it rains, there are "Plan Bs": the private cinema with comfy sofas is fab, as are the candlelit massages
  • Sparky lively hosts who take great care to ensure you have a good time all the time
  • Near the historic town of St Emilion and Bordeaux's top notch vineyards
  • Easy 45-min drive from Bordeaux or Bergerac airports

Lows

  • Don't expect room service or door locks: this is determinedly not a hotel but gives you a stylish homeliness few hotels can match
  • You'll all be eating together so clearly not for those who want total seclusion; though we never tired of the company and enjoyed swapping stories until the early hours
  • House Party dinner times can sometimes run a little late
  • Watch out for the old wooden staircase - it's magnificent but a challenge in high heels

Best time to go

By April and May, temperatures start to pick up but the coutryside looks greener (it can rain at any time). Hottest in August but the landscape begins to look sun burnt. The spring and summer months best for alfresco dining. The winter months for cozying up with log fires and long lunches.

Our top tips

Try Anna's favourite day trip: drive over the hills to Duras for a quick coffee, followed by lunch in Eymet - a stunning example of a bastide town with a superb pizza restaurant; then on to the fairytale chateau Bridoire, a little hidden gem and finally to Bergerac for a stroll around the old town, a short shopping opportunity and a beer before heading home.

Great for...

Family
Foodie
Wedding
  • = Recommended
  • = Best in region
  • = World favourite
  • Chateau rental
  • 9
  • All ages welcome (except Wine Weekends)
  • Open all year
  • Heated Pool
  • Spa Treatments
  • WiFi
  • Pet Friendly
  • Disabled Access
  • Beach Nearby
  • Off-street Parking
  • Restaurants Nearby
  • Air Conditioning
  • Guest Lounge
  • Terrace
  • Garden
  • Gym
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
  • Bicycles Available
Room:

Rooms

They're not short of space at Rigaud: 16 original stone fireplaces, 4 staircases, 2 kitchens, 4 lounges and terraces - see Floor Plans. With ancient wooden beams, soaring ceilings, and long cool passages you don't expect any of the bedrooms to be poky. What you find are 8 large bedrooms where original features mix with contemporary boutique style: floors of dark wood or ancient terracotta, retro crystal chandeliers and big comfy wooden beds - either four-poster or sleigh - with high thread count cotton sheets and maybe a faux-fur throw. Colours are moody Farrow and Ball - perhaps dark blue in the Ballroom or more earthy tones in the Maroc room. All have en suite bathrooms - some with roll-top baths, others with walk-in showers; all have lovely organic Ren products, hairdryers and bathrobes. Additional children's beds and cots can be provided.

Ballroom: one of the largest rooms with giant 4-poster bed and double aspect windows with views over meadows and vineyards. Vast curtains made of midnight blue silk and velvet work well with dark blue Farrow and Ball paint and white Mies Van der Rohe Barcelona chairs. We found the super king size deliciously comfortable. No shower, but a roll-top bath perfect for soaking (though you can hear some noise from the kitchen beneath).

Tower: arguably the best room in the house as the owners used to live here. It has a large double aspect room with super king size de L'Esparda bed. The room is dominated by a magnificent 16th Century fireplace. The bathroom features pretty ancient terracotta tiles with another fireplace and a roll top bath and this leads on to the tower: three metres in diametre the tower is the largest walk in shower to be found in the Gironde.

Aquitaine: dark grey silk shot curtains with walls painted light grey. It has a large king size bed overlooking the garden plus an ensuite bathroom with tub and shower. It can connect with the Boudoir room.

Boudoir: has a large double bed with aqua and grey colour scheme. As it can be joined with Aquitaine, it makes it a good family option. The window overlooking the garden is slightly smaller than others making it a tad darker but we liked its bright shower room (one of the few bathrooms with a view)

Dauphin: has a 4-poster bed and roll top bath set into an alcove, original brick tiled floors and brown silk and velvet curtains.

Bourgie: has a 4-poster bed and roll top bath, special 17th century fireplace, shower unit in a cabinet, light grey and brown silk curtains and writing desk.

Maroc: is the largest of them all with a 4-poster bed, fabulous bathroom with chandelier, roll top bath and huge mosaic-tiled shower. Colours are earthy reds. It also has a small separate bedroom which can fit two children's beds.

Jardin: is the only room on the ground floor and has a large double bed, walk-in shower, grey silk curtains and fuchsia velvet cushions.

Dormitory: when taken as a private house rental, there's also a room for kids which has 3 double bunks which sleeps 6 and has an ensuite bathroom.

Features include:

  • Barbeque
  • Central heating
  • Cots Available
  • Dishwasher
  • Extra beds
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • Internet access
  • Microwave
  • Oven
  • Phone
  • Washing machine

Eating

House Parties: everyone eats together usually at the long candlelit table in the dining room. Drinks are included and the wine certainly flows. Evenings kick off with an aperitif in the bar - perhaps Champagne and blinis or a Rosé wine tasting. Chef Steve Carss trained with Rick Stein before moving to London where he headed up private dining at The Chancery. Steve's food gains high praise from guests. Depending upon the occasion he might produce a slow cooked leg of lamb to be carved and shared in a family style at the table, or perhaps a ceviche of scallops followed by duo of duck breast and confit in a honey and soy jus. Canapes in the bar are always a highlight of the evening and a large percentage of the produce, particularly during the summer months, is grown on site

Breakfast is a simple buffet of cereals, croissants, yoghurts, fruit and cheese, laid out in the dining room until the last guest has ventured down (just as well, after our late nights). Lunch might be homemade soup and quiche or a lazy Sunday roast beneath the large tree on the lawn.

For Family House Parties there are kitchen meals for the kids: nannies oversee lunch while parents mill around at suppertime (around 5.30pm) with a cup of tea or a head start on pre-dinner drinks. The food is wholesome: perhaps pasta, fish pie with peas or roast chicken with cauliflower cheese, followed by peaches and ice cream or homemade cake. Food can be whizzed in the Magimix for babies.

Chateau Rentals: Private rentals choose meals from a suggested weekly menu or the chef will cook entirely to order. The chef and waitress come as part of the package included in the cost of the house rental with the ingredient budget settled separately

Features include:

  • Bar
  • Breakfast
  • Children meals
  • Dinner by arrangement
  • Fridge
  • Full kitchen
  • In house cook
  • Lunch by arrangement
  • Microwave
  • Oven
Eating:
Activity:

Activities

At the house:

Guests frequently spend all day at the chateau relaxing by the outdoor pool, flicking through the latest glossy mags, strolling round the large gardens or neighbouring vineyards. If it rains, it gives you a good excuse to curl up on a squashy sofa in their private cinema: it's the ultimate viewing experience with a fantastic sound system and large selection of the latest films. In need of some pampering? They can arrange massages, manicures and facials in a quiet corner of the chateau. There's also a piano, ping pong and a large screen TV in the dinky Chapel bar where you can watch footie matches.

Out and About:

  • Visit one of the local markets - there's one for every day of the week at nearby towns

  • You're in the heart of the Bordeaux wine region, surrounded by vines. Chateau Rigaud can arrange a number of different vineyard tours and tastings according to your interest

  • The pretty historical town of St Emilion (a UNESCO world heritage site) is just 15 minutes' drive away. You'll find dozens of wine shops selling the world's finest bottles (with eye-popping prices to match). L'Envers du Decor (tel: 05 57 54 48 31) makes a good lunch spot with its pretty shaded courtyard

  • Visit Rauzan, a charming small market town with extraordinary cave system and great views from the ruined castle

  • The fine old city of Bordeaux with its grand architecture and expensive shops, makes a lovely day trip. Ask Kate to plan you an itinerary or a walk around the town and for a restaurant recommendation depending upon your style and budget. The flea market in St Michele on a Sunday morning is great for people watching, photography and the odd bargain.

  • Mountain biking: the Chateau can arrange for "The Bike Man" to come out with bikes to suit all (including little buggies for toddlers and tandems for slightly older kids). Take the road from the chateau down to the river and then along to the village of Sainte Terre for steak frites at the riverside restaurant

  • Canoe descents are available all along the Dordogne. Distances vary but Chateau Rigaud suggests the best ones under 2 hrs. A company will drop you up river with a canoe and you paddle home. The closest goes from Pessac just 5 minutes from the Chateau

  • Go to the inland lake, Lac du Greson, 15 minutes' drive north of nearby Castillon. Several café bars allow you to drink a beer while the kids play on the man made beach or swim in the cordoned off swimming area

  • Further afield you can reach the beach: if you need to surf, the Atlantic coast is a 1½ hour drive away

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Caves
  • Cycling
  • Go karting
  • Historical sites
  • Kayaking
  • Shopping / markets
  • Swimming

Kids

Chateau Rigaud is a fantastically child-friendly private rental, run by a parents who know what it's like to want to stay somewhere stylish with young children, although theirs are rapidly growing up. It's a whole house rental and would be a great location for a 40th or similar birthday celebration where you can bring the kids too.

The Wine Weekends are adults-only but for the rest of the year children are welcomed with open arms.

Best for:

All ages

Family friendly accommodation:

All the bedrooms are large enough for extra beds and cots (bedding is provided) and Maroc or Tower, both of which are suites with a separate room for the children.

Most rooms have a bathtub and the nursery also has a tub for baby bath time if yours has a shower.

There's also a dormitory with 3 bunk beds (sleeping up to 6 children).

Babysitting:

A fleet of English-speaking nannies are available (see rates).

Baby listening:

Super-strength baby listening/monitors available on request which work everywhere in the house so you can enjoy a candlelit dinner while they're in bed.

Baby equipment:

  • Baby cots available on request
  • High chair
  • Pushchair
  • Children's backpack (for carrying toddlers)
  • Bedding
  • Potty
  • Nightlight
  • Baby bath
  • Bottle warming

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

Creche/Kid's Club:

The Stable nursery/kids club welcomes children 0-7 and nannies provide relevant care. From 7 up, kids can be supervised in outdoor play or in the cinema. They also provide animation courses which culminate in films being screened on the cinema screen.

Children's meals:

Child-friendly food and mealtimes are on offer. Bibs and crockery is provided plus guests can use the microwave, sterilizer, blender and fridge (bring purees if you're weaning). See eating for more details.

Kids Activities on site:

  • Big, magnificently-stocked playroom
  • Lawn, climbing frame and playground
  • Games room with ping pong, XBox, DVDs, books
  • Fenced swimming pool with shallow end
  • TV in lounge with SKY and CBeebies

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Farm animals nearby
  • Canoeing trips
  • Swimming in the local lake
  • Tennis
  • Riding
  • Playing in the woods

Families Should Know:

It's not completely child-proof: watch the big drop on the north of the house to the road and the grand staircase which is too big for a stair gate. Bedroom doors don't have locks (our friend's toddler was found exploring the corridors early evening).

Distances:

  • Airport: 1 hour (Bergerac or Bordeaux)
  • Hospital: 10 minutes
Kid Friendly:

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