Christmas’ Magic in French iconic chateaux, part two: Château de Cheverny – Meanderings through France n° 205
By Annick Dournes & Frederic de Poligny
Welcome back to French chateaux’ festivities! This year for Christmas time we invite you in three different wonderful French chateaux, Vaux-le-Vicomte, Cheverny and Chambord. Each one celebrates Christmas in its own way and welcomes all Christmas’ spirit lovers to come and enjoy a festive experience. You are all welcome, children and young at heart alike, to enjoy a very special Christmas season!
Cheverny, one of the most beautiful castles of the Loire Valley
Cheverny Castle is worldwide famous since Hergé chose it as his model to create Moulinsart, Captain Haddock’s house where many of Tintin’s adventure take place. He erased the two lateral wings and there was Moulinsart!
Cheverny is a private estate that belongs to the Hurault family for over 600 years. A fortress was first built at the beginning of the 14th century. Three centuries later medieval fortresses were totally out of fashion and the castle’s owners of the time, Henri and Marguerite Hurault had it replaced with an elegant Renaissance château. Their descendants, the Marquis de Vibraye family, still live in the castle.
Cheverny was the very first private French castle to open its doors to the public in 1922. The chateau we visit today with its harmonious white façade and black slate roof was built in 1625. The de Vibraye family lives in one of the chateau’s wing that is closed to the public. All the other main rooms can be visited and still look like a family residence fully furbished and decorated, proposing a real insight into the aristocratic French way of life.
Christmas time in Cheverny
For the 7th year in a row the chateau welcomes its visitors in a joyful Christmas atmosphere. Every single room of the chateau is beautifully decorated with hundreds of Christmas decorations, garlands and Christmas trees. Constance de Vibraye, the present Marchioness of Cheverny, is proud to be personally involved in the designing of all these decors. The gardens are also decorated in a Christmas spirit and when night falls the Renaissance white façade of the chateau is floodlighted for perfect colourful illuminations.
The chateau will be open every day until 12 January 2020 with special events ready to surprise visitors. On December 15 the castle’s restaurant, “L’Orangerie” will be turned into a huge mountain chalet where local sweet and cake makers will sell their delicious treats. Then Santa himself will fly by helicopter to the chateau and children will welcome him in the park. This will undoubtedly be the highlight of the festivities! If you can’t make it on the 15th, Santa will be back on the 24 and 25 December.
More in Cheverny
To celebrate the link between Hergé and Cheverny a Tintin exhibition is set in the former hayloft next to the chateau. You will be able to relive Tintin, Captain Haddock and Professor Calculus’ adventures taking place in the chateau. In less than 10 years, over 1 million visitors have seen this interesting exhibition.
Close to the Tintin museum don’t miss the castle’s kennels that house over 100 Anglo-French tri-colour hounds, a cross between the English Fox-hound and the French Poitevin. Every day at 11:30 am you can witness the dogs’ lunch and admire these tall and powerful dogs. In May names are given to the new born puppies and you are welcome to suggest a name on the Chateau website.
Don’t miss to continue your visit in the castle’s gardens and park that are also filled with Christmas decorations. There are four different themed gardens to see in Cheverny: the vegetable garden, the “Love Garden” where six monumental sculptures of couples in romantic embrace by Swedish artist Gudmar Olovson, are reflected on the quiet surface of a small pond.
Every year in the huge tulip garden 100,000 flowers create wonderful colourful carpets all April and May long. Last but not least the classic garden with its lovely flowerbeds leads the way to the former orangery that has been turned into an impressive restaurant and tearoom.
Cheverny region also is a renowned wine area producing quality Loire Valley wines. In order to make their own Cheverny wine, the Marquis de Vibraye and his wife have recently created a vineyard in the park and should produce the chateau’s wine in a very near future.
The chateau also has six suites for rent recently created in one of its outbuildings. Designed to welcome 2, 4 or 7 people they are very comfortable and fully equipped with a kitchen, a private garden or balcony, central heating or air conditioning. A perfect stay to discover Cheverny, the Loire Valley and the nearby Blois and Chambord chateaux!
The Chateau de Cheverny is open every day year-round. More at www.chateau-cheverny.fr/en/
The “Relais des Trois Chateaux”, an ideally located hotel in Cheverny village
If you would better stay in a hotel we highly recommend the “Relais des Trois Chateaux”, a 4-star hotel set in Cheverny village, at walking distance from Chateau de Cheverny (800 meters). Several chateaux of the Loire Valley are also close by and you can for instance get to Blois or Chambord by car in less than 30 min.
The hotel is a historic coaching inn dating back to 1850. It has recently been completely refurbished and offers a modern and comfortable accommodation. The smaller rooms are no less than 15 sq m, (160 sq ft), and the hotel also has larger Deluxe and family rooms. They all have been renovated using soft soothing colours, they are well soundproofed and the bathrooms are spick and span!
The restaurant of the hotel still bares the name of the former coaching in, “Les Trois Marchands”. Even if you’re not staying at the hotel having lunch or diner in this restaurant is worth giving a try. The chef is awarded as “Maitre Restaurateur”, a French label that guarantees the quality of the produce used to cook the homemade meals. The chef is highly committed to an eco-responsible approach and favours fresh local organic products.
The dining room has a typical country style decoration with a welcoming and warming fire in the fireplace! Considering the quality of the food the value for money of the different menus is very good, (set menus with appetizer, main course and dessert from Euros 24 to 35). Organic pumpkin and chestnut soup, duck foie gras terrine, grilled piece of Simmental beef, fresh sea fish, country pear poached with spices and caramel, black chocolate and hazelnut fondant… these are a few examples of the yummy homemade dishes.
The restaurant will also be open for Christmas and New Year’s Eve with special menus (Euros 52 and 85). You can discover the complete menus on the website.
More info on the hotel and restaurant’s website available in English: www.relaisdestroischateaux.com/en/
Text ©Annick Dournes
Photos ©Frederic de Poligny & Annick Dournes