Bucket List item: Spend the Night in a real Castle
We were modern day intruders, I decided, as we passed through a thicket of trees on our drive to le Château du Gué-Péan. Fog was beginning to circle the château, consuming the light cloak of misty drizzle. The birds sang louder, determined to be heard as the rain began to pour. Singing in the rain–an opera for our arrival, no less. I wondered if the songs had been passed down from their ancestors. Cars and motors were out of place here. Instead, horses, shining armor, and a sword for my husband would have been more appropriate. For me? Well, a proper lady should be riding sidesaddle, dressed in a ruffled blouse, with corset and petticoats, of course. Les vêtements appropriés du jour. But alas, we were a few centuries too late. Really, flowery writing is appropriate for this place. I started thinking in sonnets as we pulled in.
Located in Montrichard, in Loire-et-Cher, the fortified castle stood just as it was in 1600, except for the dry moat. It’s stuck in time.
Built on the site of a Roman camp, Le Château du Gué-Péan is not nearly as well known as some of its neighbors. Tucked away like a secret, the château served as the private residence of Monsieur le Marquis de Keguelin, or Raymond, until his death. It was rumored to have been the private meeting place of King Francoise I and Mary Queen of Scots. Presently, the château is open only for guided tours.
“Ah, oui. The turret room will be yours for your stay at the chateau. You will dine with Monsieur le Marquis tonight, oui? There will be drinks before we dine.” This is one time I was thankful to have overpacked– the extra dress I stuffed in my bag at the last minute just happened to be perfect for drinks and dinner with le Marquis.
Unlike the exterior of the château, our grand round room had been updated– up to late 50s-early 60s style–just a few decades short of present day. But what the room lacked in modern style was more than made up for in comfort and overall hospitality.
Both evenings we met le Marquis in the study for drinks. He had been a member of La Résistance and was kind enough to share with us some of his amazing stories and memorabilia, including letters from Sir Winston Churchill and Charles de Gaulle. We also got a glimpse of a letter by Marie Antoinette written from prison to her children shortly before her death. Dinner followed in the grand dining room–truly a setting fit for a king.
The food was outstanding, and the conversation delightful. Monsieur le Marquis’s thickly accented English was difficult for us to understand at times, but our meals with him were the most exciting events of our trip.
We spent the next two days roaming the place, inside and out. I could feel the ghosts of past inhabitants. From WWI graffiti left by soldiers in the turret, to the paintings hanging throughout, history could be found in nearly every nook and cranny. We were even joined by a friendly, unseen presence that insisted on persistently tilting our bedside lampshade. With a history as long and storied as that of le château, there’s no telling who — or what — else was hanging out with us. 🙂
We booked the château knowing that it was off the beaten path, and it took quite a bit of difficulty to arrange (understatement). But both my husband and I just had this feeling about the place and decided to put forth the effort in spite of the obstacles. It paid off. Experiences like this are why we travel. Let’s face it, travel is hard work and can be a lot of trouble, especially in the planning stages. Our stay could just as easily have been a disaster, but it wasn’t. That’s just the chance one takes when hitting the road.
My tip? Follow your instincts and don’t give up if you encounter obstacles. Too many people look at obstacles as a sign that it’s time to give up, but often the most difficult experiences are among the most satisfying. You may even get a tip of the hat–or lampshade–for your trouble.
To locate a Château, Castle, or Palace, research online or contact your travel agent.
Here’s wishing you safe and happy travels ❤️✨ and an obstacle worth surmounting 💫
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