Le Castel

near Coutances, Normandy, France Book from Book from £700 per night

A 19th-century Normandy chateau offering spacious suites, a self-catering cottage, vast grounds and great kids facilities in school holidays

‘Family-friendly’ and ‘chateau’ aren’t words that always go together, but at Le Castel they’re effortlessly fused. English owner Jon, who gave up a London flat and a high-flying Fleet Street career to move here, is the perfect host, running the Napoleon III chateau like one long, laid-back house party.

The mansion, set in 4 acres of parkland, started life as a hideaway for the mistress of a Parisian socialite and, as you twist your way here along country lanes, you can see why. But once you find it, the fun begins. School holidays are particularly great, when families can stay on an all-inclusive basis and there are plenty of treats for little ones: Easter egg hunts, games in a woodland den, a toy-filled marquee and a splash pool on the lawn in summer, plus lots of workshops (finger-painting, cake-baking...). Throughout the rest of the year, stays are B&B and there's more of an adult vibe - aperitifs served on leather sofas by a roaring fire, candlelit suppers beside the piano, and BBQs outside on the terrace. Choose either an antique-furnished suite or the self-catering cottage as your relaxing retreat, and the only sound likely to disturb your slumber is the gentle hooting of the owls outside. There are generally plenty of other guests to fraternise with, and two charming cockapoos to meet, you’ll enjoy Jon's easy company and the beautiful surroundings.

Information provided by Le Castel on 21/06/2021.

For 2021, Le Castel will only be offering rentals of the whole 12-bedroom chateau, with or without activities and services.


  • An idyllic location in rolling countryside, near the cathedral city of Coutances, Mont St Michel, Bayeux and the sandy D-Day Beaches
  • Lashings of space, whether in the 4 suites, the stable cottage or outside
  • Tasty communal evening feasts and there are separate kids’ suppers at 5pm
  • Swings, bikes, games and a sandpit mean children will have a whale of a time; dogs are also very welcome
  • The atmosphere is unfussy and homely, with a TV room, a help-yourself bar and snacks, and tea and coffee in the kitchen


  • The furnishings are antique and often intentionally well worn; if you’re seeking contemporary chic, this isn't the place for you
  • 7-night minimum stay during July and Aug (Sun-Sun), but you get organised play sessions unavailable for the rest of the year
  • The communal atmosphere won’t suit everyone, but you can find your own space when you want it
  • No on-site lunch options, evening meals aren't served Thursdays, and it's a drive to the nearest eatery
  • The self-catering cottage is a less lavish proposition

Best time to go

Le Castel is open all year, but is at its best between March and November. If you're bringing the children, come during school holidays (Easter, July and August), when the kids activities are in full swing. If you're bringing the dog or looking for more of a romantic retreat, come outside of these months for blazing fires and solitary walks. Or time your visit to coincide with the now-famous Coutances jazz festival over Ascension weekend (6 weeks after Easter).

Our top tips

Don't miss croquet on the lawn in front of the house: locals may find it quirky, but apparently the game was invented in Normandy.

The markets at St Lô (Saturday) and Coutances (Thursday) are some of the best in Normandy; stock up on veg and cheese before you drive home.

Ask about the treasure hunt which Jon has set up, taking in some of the exquisite abbeys and churches of the region.

Great for...

Cheap & Chic
  • Boutique Hotel
  • 4 suites + 1 cottage
  • Breakfast and dinner
  • 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
  • Daily Maid Service
  • Towels & Bedlinen
  • Bicycles Available
  • Laundry room for the cottages
  • Croquet
  • Play tent


The main house has 4 large two-bedroom suites, each sleeping 3-6, with antique furniture sourced by Jon, and soul-soothing views over lawns and woods.

The largest - and our favourite - is first-floor Roi Suite: its blue and gold double bedroom, Marie Antoinette, has a carved 19th-century bed and an original granite fireplace. At the end of its oak parquet landing is a smaller twin room, Louis, with green silk wall-linings. Both bedrooms have ensuite bathrooms, and can be booked separately if preferred. Also on the first floor is the Emperor Suite, made up of twin-bedded Josephine, with yellow silk walls and plush red velvet furnishings, and double-bedded Napoleon, which is flooded with sunlight in the morning; they share a shower bathroom.

The second-floor attic suite, Dauphin, is smaller and more informal. It includes double-bedded Charles VII, with a stylish claw-footed bathtub from where you can gaze out over the gardens as you soak, and adjacent Joan of Arc, with 3 single beds and a shower room.

The newer ground-floor Comte Suite consists of a small double room, an ensuite bathroom (with tub and overhead shower) and an additional room that can be used as a lounge or child’s bedroom. It opens directly onto the terrace, so you might hear noise from the dining room - but those with a small child may appreciate the opportunity to dine while they sleep nearby.

Created from 18th-century stables 50m away from the chateau (and with access to all amenities) is the two-storey self-catering cottage, Votre. Original features - beams, exposed stonework - remain. There are two bedrooms (a double and a twin) plus a shower bathroom upstairs, and separate living room and kitchen-diner and family bathroom downstairs.

Features include:

  • Central heating
  • Cots Available
  • Extra beds
  • Internet access
  • WiFi


Breakfast (included in the rates year-round) is laid out in the dining room or on the terrace: juices (maybe local apple or even carrot), cereals, yoghurt, fruit, freshly baked croissants and local jams (try the wonderful rhubarb and fig).

Adults can enjoy communal, home-cooked dinners around a grand walnut table (daily except Thursday, included in the rates July & August, otherwise at extra cost). Being so close to the coast, the seafood is particularly good: garlic scallops or king prawns pan-fried in parsley butter. We also enjoyed duck breast with poached plums in a red wine sauce, followed by local cheeses and a dark chocolate pudding with white chocolate sauce.

Kids' suppers - chicken casserole, macaroni cheese or beef stew with salad and cous-cous - are served separately at 5pm, though over 14s can join the grownups if they wish. On Saturdays, there's a family BBQ instead. All suites except Comte have small kitchenettes, and microwaves are available to heat up baby food and sterilise bottles.

There's a simple snack fridge, but no lunches are served, so be sure to get bread and cheese from the local town if you're staying in for the day. Restaurants within a 45-minute drive include La Cale in Blainville-sur-Mer, an unlikely-looking hut that produces excellent moules-frites, and La Verte Campagne in tiny Trelly, where Cordon-Bleu-trained Lynne serves excellent agneau pré-salé (saltmarsh-reared lamb) for which the Cotentin is famous.

If self-catering in the cottage, there are plenty of groceries available locally. It has a well-equipped kitchen plus dining area. Expect salt, pepper, herbs, spices, oil and flour on arrival, and week-long bookings receive a bottle of house wine or Normandy cider. And you're welcome to dine at the chateau of an evening (except Thursdays) if self-catering starts to pall.

Features include:

  • Breakfast
  • Children's meals
  • Communal dining
  • Vegetarian menu


  • Set in 3 acres of parkland, Le Castel has a woodland den, a croquet lawn, plus extra kids facilities and activities during summer
  • If you want to explore, the Cotentin peninsula offers unspoilt sandy beaches, fairytale castles at Gratot and Pirou, a magical abbey at Hambye and a Gothic cathedral at Coutances
  • The D-Day landing beaches, the Bayeux Tapestry and the pinnacle-top monastery of Mont St Michel are all less than an hour’s drive away
  • To the south is the enchanting town of Villedieu-les-Poeles, renowned for its manufacture of cooking pans and bells
  • Fishing, kayaking, windsurfing and sailing are all available within a 15km drive; Jon can also arrange golf (15km), tennis (8km) or horse riding (3km)

Activities on site or nearby include:

  • Cycling
  • Fishing
  • Golf
  • Hiking
  • Historical sites
  • Horse riding
  • Kayaking
  • Sailing
  • Shopping / markets
  • Swimming
  • Tennis
  • Windsurfing


This is the perfect house for children - there's lots of space inside and out, and the relaxed atmosphere means you won't constantly be worrying whether the kids have made a mess. There are two friendly cockapoos for kids to play with too!
If staying in the cottage you still get access to the fun and games on offer at Le Castel, to romp around the parkland, and discover the woodland den and play marquee.
Note that Sunday is the changeover day in July and August for all accommodation, this means cheaper ferries, less traffic and less waiting at toll booths.

Best for:

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

Family friendly accommodation:

Each suite has a double bedroom and an additional single, twin or triple room. Most can also hold a baby cot. The Roi and Dauphin Suites have glamorous claw-footed bathtubs - wasted on infants, but they'll probably like them more than the shower. The Comte Suite is on the ground floor, near the dining room.

Votre cottage in the grounds is also a great well-priced option for families; it has 2 bedrooms, with the second configured as a twin. One bed is done up as a wooden fort with rope ladder for ascent, and a secret play area.


Childcare for kids aged 3+ is offered as part of the summer all-inclusive family holidays - up to 4 hours a day with an English-speaking childminder. There's a charge for children under the age of 3 (see Rates)

Baby listening:

You can borrow baby monitors which work everywhere in the chateau, allowing you to eat a lavish meal and hear what they're doing upstairs

Baby equipment:

  • High chair
  • Plastic crockery and cutlery
  • Cots
  • Baby bedding
  • Bed guards
  • Night light
  • Baby bath
  • Potty
  • Toilet steps

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

Creche/Kid's Club:

During some summer weeks, organised activities for 3-8 year olds (finger painting, picnics, cake baking, games etc) are included in the rates. For Easter, there is an egg hunt in the grounds plus a Bucks Fizz breakfast for adults

Children's meals:

Breakfast is included in the rates and dinner is available Friday-Wednesday (kids' meals are served at 5pm; parents dine at 8pm, included in the rates July & August, otherwise an extra cost). Children over 14 can join the main dining table if they wish. Parents with babies can use the microwave to heat up food and sterilise bottles, and most suites have kitchenettes. On Saturdays there's normally a family BBQ.

If staying in the gites, you can self-cater with ease, or join in the buffet-style family meals on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays. Dinner is served most other nights, except Thursdays - let them know in good time if you want to take advantage of this

Kids Activities on site:

  • Four acre grounds
  • Swings, trampoline
  • Woodland den
  • In-room toys
  • Communal library with UK TV, DVDs, computer and books
  • Gypsy caravan
  • Sandpit
  • Croquet
  • Bikes to borrow
  • Heated 5.5m splash pool (summer only)
  • Play marquee in the garden: toys, games, table tennis and football (summer only)

Kids Activities nearby:

  • Mont St Michel is magical for children
  • The D-Day beaches also make a good family trip
  • Caen's Parc Festyland is a decent mini theme park
  • Jon has designed a regional treasure hunt through churches and abbeys

Families Should Know:

The cottage has steep stairs and spiral staircases, these have stairguards at the top but not at the bottom.


  • Airport: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Doctor: 5 minutes
  • Nearest shop: 10 minutes
Kid Friendly:


Le Castel is just outside the small village of Montpinchon, on the Cotentin peninsula of Normandy. It's in the département of La Manche and the nearest big town is Coutances.

By Air:
The nearest airports are Caen (96km away) and Dinard-St Malo (120km away). From either it's around a 2-hour drive to Le Castel, half of it on the motorway. Click on the links below for a list of airlines serving these airports, but do bear in mind that, from southern England, it's no quicker to fly than to take the ferry.

By Ferry:
Le Castel is easy to reach from southern England, with a choice of ferry routes to Cherbourg or Caen (both are equidistant from the hotel - about 100km / 1.5 hours).
Poole-Cherbourg is the quickest in terms of sailing time (from 2 hours 15 minutes), but Portsmouth-Cherbourg and Portsmouth-Caen have high-speed crossings too.

By Train:
If you'd prefer to travel overland, take the Eurostar from London to Paris, then the train from Paris St Lazare to Coutances, a 15-minute drive away.

By Car:
If you want to hire a car, please see our car rental recommendations.

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

More on getting to France and getting around


  • Caen 96.0 km CFR
  • Dinard-St Malo 120.0 km DNR


  • Beach 15.0 km
  • Shops 3.0 km
  • Restaurant 5.0 km

Rates for Le Castel

Arriving on: