Two couples, made up of four writers, set out on a journey in late autumn to explore Paris and the French countryside. There are about 3,000 castles in France and we visited several of them… but only one “Castle of Dreams.”
To get there, we went by Rail Europe to the town of Angers, then through Challain la Potherie to the chateau. Simple, it takes just a short time to get to a dream world.
In a sense, the Chateau Challain in Challain la Potherie exists for dreamers. Indeed, it started as the dream of Albert de la Rochefoucauld and his beloved wife, the Countess Ida. In 1847 the design created for them by the Parisian architect Louis Visconti came to life. 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.” Thus, this castle is not medieval, but from the era of the reign of Napoleon III.
It is easy to see why this is a favorite spot for weddings and corporate events. The American couple who now own this castle purchased it for about $2 million in 2001 and have done a fabulous job with the expensive task of renovating and furnishing the chateau… worthwhile, as they have doubled, or maybe even tripled their investment in it, working alongside crews and employing 70 local residents full time. In addition to fulfilling a couple’s dream, as well as visitors, it has brought life and endearment back to a small village.
That evening, assistant Jean Marie and chef Fabian joined us for dinner, taking us to dine in the next town, Candé, at Les Tonnelles. We all enjoyed our own meals and oh’d and ah’d at each others’ selections. Getting to know Jean Marie and Fabian made the entire evening more delightful!
Staying in the castle’s Empress Suite and Toile de Joile was as romantic as it sounds. The Chateau Challain does not have an elevator. However it does have Internet access in the library upstairs for those who feel the need to stay connected.
Trekking down its staircases and through halls and more stairs to the kitchen, our breakfast for four was quite enjoyable. In the warm cozy kitchen, Fabian had prepared fresh croissants, orange juice, homemade jam, and all the right accompaniments.
After a few days in busy Paris, tripping over lines at the Louvre, most visitors long for a quiet place in the country. The four of us certainly did. And for retreats in the French countryside, we recommend this private chateau where dreams can be indulged.
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? For corporate incentives, you may want to recognize the knights of your organization. Chateau Challain can be your answer.