24 hours: A Chateau in Normandy

Chateau de Saint Paterne

Chateau de Saint Paterne

After a few hours making our way southward on A28 we arrived toward a rather unexceptional town, slightly modern bordering industrial. Passed through a suburban complex. Looped a roundabout enough times to be noticed for the fact we were just on the verge of lost until a few narrow roads, a right and a quick right and we saw tall hedges and iron gates. This was it. We entered the drive and it was a magnificent paradise built in the 15th century, even before the House of Bourbon reigned.

Charles-Henry, the friendly owner with wavy dark hair and a relaxed way about him returned from 30 years away from the family abode to Normandy and turned his ancestral home into an inn. A testament to the ages this place has been in his family, his own grandparents (or great-) had been beheaded during the revolution. The walls felt unchanged from when there heads were still upon their shoulders with velvet patterns on the wallpaper, elaborate crystal chandeliers, upholstered Baroque chairs in the drawing room, and the walls covered with paintings of a lost noble ancestry.

We quickly refreshed in our room and prepared ourselves for dinner. The room covered in red velvet wall paper, a red velvet duvet and our bathroom sink made from a reclaimed ship captain’s wheel.

We sat down at dinner, the corner table in a small candlelit room where most guests were already seated whispering across the tables to each other. The sun not quite down and in the dusk we saw the expanse of a well groomed lawn that seemed at one time ambled for hours, or roamed on horseback.

Dinner was a four course meal beginning with a salmon tartare salad, followed by roasted chicken, some green salad to cleanse the palette and then a spectacular cheese assortment, including a calvados-goat cheese to salivate over. We finished with a homemade blackberry crumble.

The food was divine and we enjoyed it with a red from nearby Saumur. After dinner, we retired to the drawing room where there was an espresso machine (yes, I’ll take one) and an endless assortment of Calvados, Armagnac, whiskies and Portos to sample. You just kindly had to note which you were sampling in a small notepad by the liquor so it could be added to your bill.

We brought our digestifs to a table outside to enjoy the cool of the night before the rains came in and marveled the old structure we would be sleeping in.

We retired to our room where there was a bottle of Armagnac for tasting. A delicious eau de vie made from plums.

The next morning loud, crackling thunder and deep grey skies kept us in a deep slumber, enjoying the drizzle on the roof of the storm overhead.

By the time we arrived to breakfast the sun appeared. We took a table at a corner window looking out into the expanse of green.

P'tit Dej'

P’tit Dej’

A buffet of homemade yogurts, jams, praline bundt cake and croissants awaited us on a long table with candelabras in the center of the room while delicious black coffee went from our mugs to our lips.

Orange marmalade with grain toast and fresh coffee

Orange marmalade with grain toast and fresh coffee

We took it all in on the velvet red couches of the drawing room to the leave a slice of Renaissance paradise for the next destination.