By Annick Dournes & Frederic de Poligny
If the Chateau des Grotteaux is one of the smallest castles in France it nevertheless is one of the very best guest-house in the Loire Valley. Exquisitely renovated a few years ago this historic monument can be your secret luxury hideaway while visiting the Chateaux of the Loire Valley.
The revival of this gem of the Loire Valley began when the Vicomte and Vicomtesse du Halgouet discovered the chateau in 2014. At that time it was in poor condition and begging for love. When the Halgouet discovered the chateau in 2014 and fell in love with the chateau they were successful entrepreneurs in close by Blois and didn’t think of changing their way of life. While looking for a country house they found themselves ready to abandon a comfortable life and took this incredible bet.They sold their home and company in Blois, bought the castle and undertook huge work of renovation. It took them two years before being able to open this exceptional home for demanding guests.
The story of the chateau begins in the early 17th century. Guillaume Ribier. was a lawyer and a close advisor of King Louis XIII and Cardinal de Richelieu. This fine scholar was also a wealthy man. This allowed him to spend lavishly on books, his true passion. He was able to collect over 3,500 books making his library one of the most important ones of the times. To give his beloved collection a setting worthy of the name he built Chateau des Grotteaux with the sole purpose of creating a magnificent library. He died childless at 85 and his nephew inherited the library. This big galoot was not interested in books and only saw the profit he could make by selling them. He lost no time in doing so… One-half was acquired by the Tsar of Russia, the other one by Cardinal Mazarin, Richelieu’s successor. Who knows where these books might be today?
As centuries went by the chateau and its park were transformed and embellished. A Renaissance mill was built, an orangery created and an elegant metal bridge spanning over the Cosson River was especially designed for the chateau by Gustave Eiffel. The castle is set in the middle of a 33 ha-park entirely surrounded by high walls. After going through the arched gate-way you’ll discover a beautiful English-style park created by a close friend of Napoleon, Charles-Joseph Bagieu. He followed the Emperor through his campaigns and was thus able to bring back exotic trees and species from different countries. He successfully acclimatized them and we can still see many of them today. You will in particular see two magnificent and rare bald cypresses that Napoleon brought back from Louisiana especially for his friend’s park.
Today Cecile and Gaël du Halgouet have taken up the baton and are worthy successors of these historical figures. They not only restored the chateau with love and care, they also made it look unique and precious. With a very sure sense of taste Cecile du Halgouet carefully chose antique and designers’ furniture, rare objets d’art, family heirloom, fine materials by Hermes to create a warm and welcoming house. During the renovation work the Halgouet got a divine surprise discovering hidden frescos dating from the 17th century. They have been carefully restored and are now a wonderful decor in two of the five bedrooms. Each room is unique with its own decor and atmosphere. Four of them are in the chateau itself while the fifth one is located in the orangery. They all offer beautiful views over the park, the Cosson River or the close by Cheverny vineyards. There is no TV set in the rooms but you can have one on request. You can also rent a small private cottage in the park ideal for a family or a bunch of friends. Both the castle and the park are listed.
You will first discover the ground floor is totally reserved for guests, night and day. The magnificent former library and dining room have been turned into warm welcoming lounges open 24 hours a day. To be sure that their guests really feel at home like Lords and Ladies of the manor, the owners decided to hand over to guests the historical part of the castle. The owners chose to live in the adjacent and independent wing of the castle. So, feel free to make yourself a drink, play the piano, read a book and enjoy the fire crackling in the impressive stone fireplace. Enjoy the French art de vivre!
In the morning you will enjoy a hearty breakfast served in the former huge kitchen where an impressive earthenware stove has pride of place. The breakfast buffet is a feast of the eye! Local fresh products have been carefully selected to make a healthy and delicious breakfast. Cheese, cold cuts, home-made jams, honey from the estate’s beehives, fresh fruits, breads and croissants… not to forget the delicious cakes made by Cecile du Halgouet.
The park hides a large heated swimming pool and the pool-house proposes a wide range of drinks. There’s also a hard tennis court (racquets and ball available on request). The Chateau des Grotteaux also proposes a true concierge service, just ask and you will get your wish! Why not go canoeing on the Cosson River and paddle to Chambord, a unique way to get to this amazing chateau? On the way you may meet beavers, otters and numerous birds. The river abounds with fish and you can have a nice fish trip catching pike, pikeperch, carp…
At the chateau you can also borrow a bike and easily discover close by chateaux. It will take you only 20 minutes to get to Chambord, Blois or Cheverny… And if you want to discover the Loire Valley from the air, they can arrange a balloon take-off right in the park! Want to play golf, have a yoga course, a direct transfer from Paris by helicopter (only 50 min), a guided tour in any castle or town of the Loire Valley, a unique photographic safari in Chambord for the call of the deer… Just ask. You can also privatize the chateau for a special event and invite up to 150 people to share unique moments.
The Chateau des Grotteaux is an adult only guesthouse. No children are allowed here to preserve the peacefulness of the place.
More info and booking at: https://www.chateau-grotteaux.com/en/
Text ©Annick Dournes
Photos: ©Frederic de Poligny or ©Annick Dournes