The Chateau Challain exists for dreamers. Chateau Challain’s turrets, sweeping staircases ,manicured gardens and long drive started as the dream of Albert de la Rochefoucauld and his beloved wife the Countess Ida who in 1847 began with a design created for them by the Parisian architect Louis Visconti. Just an hour and a half from the city of light and no less grand than her older counterparts in the Loire, this relatively young chateau in neo- Gothic style, sometimes dubbed the “petit Chambord” awaits your royal visit for a few nights or longer stay .
What to Love:
- Complete privacy and rural quiet in the French country side
- Entire property available for weddings, events and galas to include all services and catering
- “There is no microwave in the chateau.”
- Central location: 1.5 hours to Paris (train), 5 hrs. Bordeaux, 2 hrs. Mont St. Michel, 1 h.r to Brittany.
- They will arrange anything. Bike rentals, wine country tours, unforgettable engagement –ask in advance.
What to Know:
- B & B only, restaurants nearby; Les Tonnelles in Candé a few minutes by car or a Michelin star restaurant five minutes away. You can hire a chef to cater.
- The château can be a complete respite or a base for exploring Nantes, Saumur , the Loire Valley or Anjou region / Angers.
- Upstairs plumbing pump runs briefly in use due to the construction of château . If you use the toilet at night this may wake your partner.
- No attractions within walking distance except for tiny village. Pool available in summer. No weight room. No elevator.
- The château is easily accessible by TGV fast train to/from Paris. Transport from train station to chateau is available through chateau or rental cars available at station.
- Children welcome.
After a few days in busy Paris tripping over the lines at the Louvre, most visitors long for a quiet place in the country. And if you must retreat to the French countryside, I recommend a certain private chateau where you may also indulge your dreams.
How about a grand entrance? Maybe you’d like to climb out of your sports car, toss back your cape, amble up the stairs into your private chateau and be greeted with a glass of Champagne? Or perhaps you envision floating down a glowing marble staircase in your wedding gown to dance the night away with your prince?
Arrive at Chateau Challain and Zeus the German Sheppard greets you at the door with affable Jean-Marie and Fabien the chateau owner’s assistants not far behind. Take the tour they offer to familiarize yourself with the exquisitely carved wood-paneled library with French authors collection, the Countess’ own blue silk bedroom, the stuffed wild animal menagerie ( all acquired antiquities), grand salon, immense dining room and a rich taste of history.
Chateau Challain is so well is located that no matter where you venture from the grounds you can get a different taste of France. In Nantes, Angers and Saumur culture abounds. In the Loire; wines and castles beckon. Chateau Challain is an ideal base for day-tripping in any direction.
Open year round for guests, fantasy weddings are a specialty from April to October. Marry in the tiny chapel inside the chateau, on the lake bridge, under the gazebo, or in the adjacent formal church. Parties book the entire chateau. Consider a trip out to see the grounds, taste the menu and share with the florist and event planner your vision well in advance. A good time to pick out your honeymoon suite too.
As you might expect in a fairytale castle, here the romance factor is high. Moonlight pools in your room through huge windows inviting midnight trysts. Spacious suites are individually decorated in La Belle Époque style and beautifully appointed with carved antique beds, fabric covered walls, paintings and luxurious private baths. I loved my Empress Suite. The chateau owner, a modern-day dreamer, who has a background in design fashioned this suite after the Empress Eugenie. In fact a brooch she saw at a decorator show inspired the aubergine and chocolate wall coverings, elegant bed clothes and massive silk draperies in this suite suitable for an Empress- or moi.
Another suite coveted by just-wedded couples is aptly called the Romance suite. It could be favored for the claw foot tub for two with views to the garden, or the small en-suite dining room. But my guess is the private location and huge rose silk bed!
You will not find Wi-Fi or a TV in the suites. Such things of the outside world are available in the television lounge on the second floor. But to ensure that you are cosseted in peace and luxury for a time you might forget all that and take a stroll in the gardens with your special someone -perhaps to share your own dreams?
While You’re There:
- Romance factor is high; acres of manicured grounds invite long strolls.
- Perfect base for day trips to :
In Angers: Some say the purest French is still spoken here. Visit the ancient seat of the Dukes of Anjou chateau complex which includes the longest medieval tapestry known in the world. http://angers.monuments-nationaux.fr/en
In Nantes: An historic Loire River city leading out to the sea built on trade. This birthplace of Jules Verne has more gardens than most cities and unusual attractions. Visit the huge wooden elephant www.lesmachines-nantes.fr ( in French) or enjoy glass orangeries, covered walks and hothouses in Jardin des Plantes laid out over two hundred years ago.
In the Loire Valley: famous for its historically significant chateau and wines. Visithttp://www.chateaux-de-la-loire.fr/chateaux_of_the_loire.htm for list and websites. www.loirevalleywine.com
In Saumur: Caves in the local tuffeau stone are used to grow mushrooms and store wine. http://www.wine-searcher.com/regions-saumur-champigny . Cabernet Franc lovers will recognize Saumur as the source of the appellation Saumur –Champigny .