Fancy playing at being a real aristocrat – for a few days, at least? Why not stay at one of the many châteaux across France which welcome paying guests? Some feature adjoining swimming pools, spas and tennis courts and even golf courses!
Château de Fère, Aisne
This five-star establishment has all you would expect from a high-end hotel-restaurant: luxury spa, swimming pool, tennis court, lovely rooms (35 in all), meeting rooms and a wonderful restaurant, all surrounded by swathes of beautiful forest. But what makes a visit here even more special are the handsome ruins of the 13th-century Château de Fère-en-Tardenois just next to it, and the adjacent Renaissance bridge.
Château de Gizeux, Indre-et-Loire
The landlady of this château, Stéphanie de Laffon, doesn’t really see herself as the building’s owner. “Not in the way that you might have an owner of an apartment or a house,” she says. “We feel like we are guardians of something that is much more important than us. We’ll be here perhaps 20 or 30 years, in a place that is 600 or so years old. So we’re just a tiny part of the château’s history.”
With five suites and one larger apartment available, Stephanie hopes her guests might also be a small part of the château’s history. Once you’ve checked in you can enjoy a guided tour of the building, its parks and its gardens before taking a dip in the heated pool.
Château d’Ermenonville, Oise
Just 45 minutes from Paris, this perfect little château is surrounded by water and parkland. You won’t be surprised that for many weekends during the summer it is booked up for wedding parties. There are plenty of rooms available, plus activities such as biking, boat rides and horse riding. Close by is the original burial site of the Enlightenment philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, on a tiny wooded island in a lake in the park that now has his name. His remains were later moved to the Pantheon in Paris.
Château de Verrières, Maine-et-Loire
This five-star hotel in the Loire Valley boasts four acres of grounds, the highlight of which is the outdoor swimming pool, heated during the summer months. Inside there’s a spa with sauna, Jacuzzi and treatments. The bar has a great selection of wines.
Le Grand Manoir d’Aleksandr, Gironde
In the quiet Gironde town of Saint-Médard-de-Guizières, Le Grand Manoir d’Aleksandr is right in the heart of the Bordeaux wine region, a short drive from Saint-Émilion, the vines of Pomerol and the historic town of Libourne. With eight large bedrooms, it is built in the elegant Napoleon III style, and includes a grand reception hall, living room and a beautiful dining room. Throughout the building you will discover many original features such as parquet wood floors, marble fireplaces, impressive high ceilings and a simply stunning stone staircase.
Domaine des Bidaudières, Indre-et-Loire
An elegant 15th-century château, the Domaine des Bidaudières is in the heart of the Vouvray vineyards in the Loire Valley. Owners Sylvie and Pascal have nine guest rooms on offer, each one named after a local vineyard. On one side are views over the estate grounds and lake, on the other the swimming pool and terrace.
Château des Vigiers, Dordogne
This lovely 16th-century château, just half an hour’s drive from Bergerac airport, has been converted into a four-star hotel, complete with vineyard, a 27-hole golf course, a spa, tennis courts, two heated outdoor swimming pools and an indoor swimming pool. It has two restaurants – one of them, Les Fresques, boasting a Michelin star. “This gourmet restaurant is classic, intimate and elegant,” says the Michelin Guide. “It prides itself on fine, meticulous cuisine, excellent ingredients (truffles in season) and local wines. These start with those from the estate’s own vineyard.” Sounds perfect!
Au Château, All regions
This online agency features 55 or so different châteaux dotted across France. They invites us to: “Share in the charm and ambiance of stately manor houses, medieval castles, Renaissance châteaux and aristocratic family homes. We offer a wide selection of properties, from unique small castles and country manors offering understated elegance to opulent and stylishly-decorated luxury châteaux.” Rather conveniently, you can search for a château to stay in using preferences ranging from art classes, French lessons, dance courses and wine tasting to swimming pools, tennis courts, horse riding and spas. You can
even opt for helicopter landing facilities, should that be a requirement.
“Weekly rentals of an entire château are ideal for a family holiday or to celebrate a special occasion, enjoy a unique vacation or for a destination wedding,”
the company suggests.
Lead photo credit : A night fit for a king at Château de Fère © Château de Fere
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