Ever wondered what it’s like to stay in a castle and be entertained by the lord and lady of the manor? Well, for the first time visitors to the Western Loire can find out. The region’s oldest dynasties are not only opening their doors to the public but welcoming holidaymakers to stay in their magnificent, immaculately decorated, homes – almost as if they were a part of the family.
It’s a wonderful way for visitors to experience the region’s famous chateaux and a far cry from staying in an anonymous hotel. Who better, after all, than a property’s owner to provide a personal and informal welcome? Their understandable pride in their homes ensures guests an enjoyable stay whether it is timeless luxury and elegance they are after, or somewhere the family can relax.
Three immaculate properties stand out: Château de Verrières, Saumur, where the friendly owner Mme de Valbray is always on hand to look after her guests; elegant Château de Briottières, Champigné, owned by Mme de Valbray’s brother François; and Château de Chambiers, Durtal, a more family orientated property, where each room tells a story of the owner’s personal history.
Never so close nor so easy Western Loire is easily accessible with direct flights from Southampton to Angers and to Nantes in season from Gatwick, Nottingham East Midlands, Manchester, Stansted, Liverpool, Shannon, Cardiff, Cork and Dublin. The area is also well serviced by both the cross channel ferry companies and trains.
The daily flights to Angers from Southampton and to Nantes from Gatwick and Stansted, together with the thrice weekly ones from Nottingham East Midlands and Dublin will shortly be joined by seasonal flights from Bournemouth, Shannon, Cardiff, Cork and Liverpool.
The area is bordered by Normandy and Brittany to the north, central Loire Valley to the east and Poitou-Charentes to the South, it stretches from the Atlantic coast to Le Mans and is intersected by the famous River Loire with its many tributaries and waterways. Its diverse landscape and intriguing heritage presents a rare breadth of experience for every occasion and budget.
Château de Verrières, Saumur
Set in a glorious four-acre park in the heart of the city of Saumur, Château de Verrières is the perfect spot for exploring the natural and historical treasures of the Loire Valley. Visitors can make a day out at the Royal Abbey of Fontevraud, the National School of Horseriding, troglodyte caves, and the historical cities of Chinon, Angers and Tours – and, of course, the many châteaux that are synonymous with the Loire region.
In Saumur itself, holidaymakers can enjoy the pedestrianized streets with charming old stone houses and the lively Saturday morning market.
Authentically decorated with period furniture, the château offers the comforts of s grand hotel whilst maintaining the atmosphere of a private house with Mme de Valbray always on hand to make sure her guests enjoy their stay.
Known as the Pearl of Anjou, Saumur is recognised by UNESCO as part of World Heritage. Famous for its wine and links to horse riding, visitors will be bowled over by its charm, serenity and elegance.Château de Verrières, 53 rue d’Alsace, 49400 Saumur, France. Tel 33 (0)2 41 38 05 15, fax 33 (0)2 41 38 18 18, e-mail email@example.com http://www.chateau-verrieres.com/
Château de Briottières, Champigné
Château de Briottières, set in a 125-acre English-style park in the heart of the Loire Valley, is a new guesthouse which stylishly combines the comfort and elegance of a luxury hotel with a warm welcome and fine food of a private chateau. In 2007 it received enthusiastic plaudits from Chateaux et Hotels de France, Guide Hotels et Auberges de Charme en France, Guide Hôtels du Patrimoine and Guide Golfs & Hôtels.
The château comprises 15 bedrooms with period furniture, a charming guesthouse with three bedrooms and a three-bedroom apartment, swimming pool, horse riding, tennis and park. There is a golf course nearby, and, of course, the famous Loire châteaux. * Château des Briottières, 49330 Champigné, France. Tel 00 33 (0)2 41 42 00 02, fax 00 33 (0)2 41 42 01 55, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org http://www.briottieres.com/ Château de Chambiers, DurtalA family orientated property deep in the Baugeois forest, 30km east of Angers. Everyone feels at home here. Host Anne Crouan is passionate about interior décor and also something of a cook, often using fresh produce from her garden and serving dinner by candlelight.
Ancient family portraits watch over guests while the bedrooms are inspired by the family’s rich history. There is the Pierre Loti room – named after the famous French writer and sailor with whom Anne’s grandfather travelled; the “Retour des iles (back from the islands)” room, which tells the story of Anne’s grandmother and her life in the Caribbean. Prettiest of all is the Caroline room – all decked out in pink, it was Anne’s daughter’s room. Cottages are also available to rent in the park.
Visitors can take long, romantic strolls in the forest or visit the village of Rairies, where terra cotta tiles were manufactured in the 18th and 19th centuries.
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