Like a kid in a candy castle!

Trip Start Dec 12, 2012
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Trip End Jan 07, 2013


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Flag of France  , Pays de la Loire,
Saturday, December 29, 2012

Dong, dong, dong, the bells of the Challain de Potherie church wake us up at the civilised time of 8am. Breakfast doesn’t even start until 9am – this is my kind of place!  In fact we only made it to breakfast just before noon and then spent a good hour having a long lazy breakfast.  Drizzly today so decided to have a relaxing day hanging around the Chateau.  And why not, it’s not exactly Holiday Inn prices here so for once we’re going to enjoy our accommodation properly.  

Unfortunately this doesn’t mean what Jeff thinks it should!  Hahaha

First we explored some more of the rooms inside the chateau. Jeff all excited being allowed to wander around as he likes and take photos.  A lot of chateaus etc won’t let you take photos inside so he’s like a kid in a candy castle! After an hour or two the rain let up a little so we decided to “welly” up and head off for a tramp around the estate in the mud.  Zeus the wonder dog declined our invitation in favour of the heater in the guest lounge - slacker.  

Walked to the other end of the lake and looked back at the chateau with the grey clouds behind it. Even in the gloomy weather it’s breathtaking and we can’t believe were’ staying here! Strolled around the copse of woods for a little while then checked out the hothouse and the other buildings.  There’s sure a lot of buildings in this estate.  

Getting a bit chilly by now so back inside, de-wellied, then down to the games room for a couple of rounds of fooseball!  Not exactly what we thought we’d be doing in a chateau!

Getting a bit peckish by now so wandered down to the kitchen to see about getting a cuppa and maybe scrounging a croissant left over from breakfast.  There are cafes in the adjoining village but unfortunately they’re all closed between Christmas and New Years.  Hmmm, bit of a tactical error there what!

We found Cynthia the owner in the kitchen and she kindly offered to make us a snack and also booked us into a restaurant in the next village for dinner.  Our snack ended up being ham and cheese in croissants, first fried with garlic and the whole thing pan fried too.  Delicious but can just about feel the fat spurting from us every time we move!

While having lunch we heard the history of the chateau.  I had assumed Cynthia bought it from the ancestral owners, but it’s actually been out of the original families hands for over 100 years.  It was built 160 years ago after the former chateau was pulled down.  The original owners died just before the 20th century, the next owner let the Nazis occupy the Chateau and after the war none of the locals would work for him or have anything at all to do with him so he had to sell.  

It was then a summer camp (a summer camp!!!) for the next 30years and had an Olympic sized swimming pool in the front garden. For the 20 years after that it changed hands numerous times but was never occupied.  

Seems a lot of people bought it thinking they could make it into apartments (council said no) or a golf course (drainage issues) or they just realised the enormity and cost of restoring it to it’s former glory, so instead it just sat there becoming more and more derelict.  

Cynthia and her husband bought it just over 10years ago and set about restoring it.  She’s done an amazing job but what vision to take it from what it was to what we see today.  

Speaking of... Jeff was itching to have a peek in the un-restored floors and lucky for him Cynthia said ok seeing it was just the two of us.  Armed with our phones as torches we scampered upstairs and started to explore.  

The top three floors were all in a similar state, bare floorboards, bare plaster with holes in both at times and sometimes large sections of ceiling pulled down too.  Jeff even went up one of the winding staircases to a turret.  I was quite happy to stay behind for that.  Was half expecting to fall through the floor every second step I took.  Silly as we could see tools and so forth from workmen on every floor so it was obviously quite safe!  

Spent a few hours roaming these floors, constantly being amazed that Cynthina transformed it from this into something so beautiful.  When she bought the chateau it only had ONE bathroom in the entire place!  Makes me wonder what all those kids on summer camp did for 30 years though!

Time for dinner, so off into the dark with the instructions of “go straight” (we know how well that works for us.. especially when the castle exits onto a T junction), a few wrong turns but eventually found our way to the restaurant a couple of villages over.  

Now, Cynthia had warned us that the owner was a little eccentric.  Yes.. well we could see that within about 2 seconds and I think a better adjective would be “complete FREAK!”.  

First he sat us at a table for 4, moved things around to make it a table for 2 (we were the only diners in the whole place) and then insisted we sit closer together.  Follows much scraping of table and chairs to rearrange us until we were 5cms closer and each had to straddle a table leg – but he was happy.  Once he left the room we surreptitiously rearranged ourselves to be more comfortable, only to have another round of table and chair scraping we he came back in the room and moved us back.  It was about this time I started mouthing “Freak” every time he left the room. 

Luckily, the food was good, and too much of it as usual as you had to choose one of the set menu options.  I am really hanging out to just have a nice bowl of vege soup!  

During our meal, Mr Weirdo kept bringing over photo albums to show us – sometimes it was of his restaurant showing it 10yrs ago vs current day, or it could be photos of his aging parents house in whoop whoop that he’s trying to sell for them.  We also saw photos of his wife’s scarily floral B&B, and randomly, lots of photos of old cars that have stopped at his restaurant.  

Time came to leave and seriously, he followed us out the door and made us go look at his function room across the courtyard where he’ll be hosting 100 people for new years eve.  What an extremely odd little man!  Very friendly, but it was like being subjected to a strange Uncles spoon collection against your will!  

We also had to sign his guest book, and noticed another diner had summed it up perfectly, saying “... very French with shades of Basil Fawlty and Manuel”.  What more is there to say?
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