When I was a little girl, I used to dream that one day I’d live in a château, swanning around in beautiful period costume, and lounging on a chaise longue… Ok, so I actually live in a little Victorian terrace in London, but my passion for period properties and all their wonders and features lives on.
A few weeks ago I was invited to visit an 18th century château in the heart of the Loire in France, a dream trip for me, I couldn’t wait to take a step back in time. After a short flight to Nantes we were soon settled at our luxury destination for the night, Château de Vézins.
We were the guests of Marc Deschamps, one of the owners of this stunning building. After a very warm welcome, that included tasting some of the fabulous local wines and a quick tour, it was love at first sight, I was in true interiors heaven. Marc’s passion and respect for this beautiful château and it’s history were soon made very apparent, he’s put his heart and soul into renovating this amazing property.
He’s not alone, Marc, his wife Gaelle and their team have lovingly restored this beautiful historic building to it’s true former glory. From the outset, they decided to undertake the restoration in a way that was respectful of the history and heritage of the building. The attention to detail is second to none, the collection of furniture throughout the château is something else, each one lovingly handpicked and either antique or vintage.
Trying to recapture the original feel of the château was the motivation behind using genuine antique furnishings instead of modern replicas, and entailed sourcing 26 different types of fabrics and matching paint colours to recreate period interiors.
The Château is the Dechamps’ second home, it’s the perfect bolt hole for dreamy weekends away exploring the Loire, that’s if you can tear yourself away from stunning surroundings of the property that is.
Helping the château reclaim its former splendour has been a labour of love. The process was very hands-on with, amongst other things, the Deschamps flying in every weekend for two years to create the French gardens and the families labouring to sand and oil the first section of floors themselves.
The grounds and gardens were in an advanced state of disrepair when they purchased the property, making the task a significant one. Over the course of 10 years, the renovation entailed: Clearing 5 tons of pigeon droppings, replacing 100 broken windows, renovating 77 rooms. Planting 187 trees, 312 flowers and 765 other plants. Pouring 70 tones of gravel to create the allées. Clearing 2,000 m3 of mud out of the moat.
With 1000m2 of living space, 7+ reception rooms and 9 bedrooms, the château has been redecorated and furnished with French period flair and taste. This is the bedroom I stayed in, The White Room. It’s rumoured to have a ghost, I wasn’t lucky enough to see her though…
With a dreamy wrought iron child’s bed draped in a mosquito net and a huge white period bed, the bathroom has been sympathetically restored with a rustic french feel too.
Here are just some of the other bedrooms, some with dramatic antique four-poster beds. Each one has it’s own style and look.
There was so much exploring to do outside too, the grounds boast over seven acres of manicured private gardens with a heated swimming pool, Jacuzzi, magnificent French gardens with fountains, Japanese gardens with pond, a 14th century moat, barbecue and outdoor dining in the conservatory.
The town of Vézins is quaint and quiet – perfect for a family get away from the bustling city life, there’s a local Boulanger, café, pharmacy, hairdresser and church. The front gate of the château is right on the village square, making it easily accessible whenever you need to go into town.
Local attractions and activities include: a fresh food market in the village square every Tuesday morning, cycling paths in the local forests, horse-riding in the nearby village of Mela, shopping and culture in the nearby town of Cholet. You can also take tours of other nearby châteaus.
Whilst we were there we took a wine tasting boat trip along the Loire, Bruno and Sebastien were our perfect hosts. We sampled five of Sebastien’s delicious wines, were treated with some mouth-watering canapés and got to take in the magical views of the Loire. Bruno handcrafted the boat, it is a traditional flat-bottomed design. (Visit chateaudptwines.com for more info)
In my short visit to the Loire, I really felt that I immersed myself in French culture. It’s so important to me on a trip away, to truly find out what the destination has to to offer. Staying at the château gave me such an insight into French history, I’m so eager to return and explore this wonderful part of the world again.
Although you can rent the château privately, it’s also a proud member of THIRDHOME, something Marc was keen to tell us about. THIRDHOME is an exclusive luxury property and travel club that enables second home owners to exchange time in their home for stays in spectacular destinations around the world. To be accepted into the ‘club’, your property must be located in a desirable location with quality furnishings, appointments and amenities.
I think the pull and USP of this club, is that a lot of travellers find it more interesting to stay in other people’s homes rather than hotels when they travel. It’s a real home, an experience. It’s so easy to feel like a tourist or foreigner while holidaying, but staying in someone’s home helps you imagine what it’s actually like to live there.
Once you have made stays available in your second home for other members to use, you will be awarded travel credits, called ‘Keys’, for each stay deposited based on the value of your home. The more desirable the stay, the more Keys you can earn. Giving away peek weeks can award you more keys too.
The member then spends their keys on the property they wish to visit, at their own chosen time, it doesn’t have to be the same week(s) as those that have been deposited. The collection is vast, browse some the 10,000 amazing holiday homes on offer here: thirdhome.com/properties. Please visit thirdhome.com Chateau De Vezins or visit www.thirdhome.com for more information.
I appreciate that many of the people reading this, like me, don’t own a second home, I am humbled everyday to own my little home in London. One can but dream eh? (and save!)
Here’s the link and more information if you would like to book Château de Vézins privately chateauvezins.com.
*Although this trip was a ‘press trip’, I wasn’t paid to write this article and all views and opinions are my own.
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