Destinations Magazine

Château De La Bourdaisière – a Magnificent Castle – Loire Valley, France

By Frame To Frame - Bob And Jean @frametoframebJ

Château de la Bourdaisière  - lawn & forest -  Loire Valley - France

One of my hopes on our trip to France was to spend a night in a “real” castle.  By happenstance, we came upon a little tourist information booth along a country road in the Loire Valley, and it happened to be staffed by an English-speaking young woman.  We learned afterwards that these booths usually have a sign indicating either English or French service, so we were lucky in that case.

Château de la Bourdaisière Castle entrance sign -  Loire Valley - France

After reservations were secured by phone at Château de la Bourdaisière, we traveled some distance through the countryside to our accommodation, not knowing exactly what was in store for us.

Château de la Bourdaisière Castle main entrance gate -  Loire Valley - France

I was thrilled when we pulled up to an impressive stone gate controlling entrance to the château’s estate.  On the other side of the imposing gate, the castle revealed itself at the end of a very long lane and was situated at the top of a low rise.  It looked magnificent!  Château de la Bourdaisière was our home for the next two days, and we were going to be made to feel like a king and queen.

Château de la Bourdaisière Castle with front lawns -  Loire Valley - France

The Château de la Bourdaisière  is a stately castle dating from the XVth century.  It is designated as a monument historique, or a National Heritage Site of France.  Little did we know of the sordid history of the place.  It began life as a fortress but changed hands several times over the centuries.

Marie Gaudin

In 1520, the King of France, King Francis Ier, had a new castle constructed on the site, built for his mistress, Marie Gaudin.  After her death, the property remained in the family’s hands.  In later years, Marie Gaudin’s great-granddaughter, Gabrielle d’Estrées, was born in the château and went on to become mistress to another king, Henry IV of France.

Château de la Bourdaisière Castle - hallway with sunlight-  Loire Valley - France

Lavish decor greeted us as soon as we entered through the grand doors of the palatial edifice.  I immediately recalled the black and white tiled floors of Versailles that so impressed me.

Château de la Bourdaisière Castle - painting in hallway -  Loire Valley - France

Opulence existed everywhere I turned, and I was quick to embrace the grandeur of the place.

Château de la Bourdaisière Castle - hallway -  Loire Valley - France

Château de la Bourdaisière Castle - interior fireplace -  Loire Valley - France

Château de la Bourdaisière Castle - Bob and Jean reflection in mirror -  Loire Valley - France

Being free to explore the endless corridors, secret staircases and expansive rooms of this regal castle, Bob and I felt as if we owned the place.  No other guests were booked to arrive, so we had the whole place to ourselves.

Château de la Bourdaisière Castle - library -  Loire Valley - France

Château de la Bourdaisière Castle - interior view-  Loire Valley - France

Château de la Bourdaisière Castle - hallway mirrror with riding boots -  Loire Valley - France

Château de la Bourdaisière Castle - stonehallways-  Loire Valley - France

While Bob unpacked some of his belongings, I roamed about the vacant hallways and hidden stairwells, inspired to investigate by the wavering shadows and mysterious nooks.

Château de la Bourdaisière Castle - small room-  Loire Valley - France

A peek into the scullery revealed a homey, warm atmosphere, but nary a maid to be seen.

Château de la Bourdaisière - our bedroom -  Loire Valley - France

The hostess, upon our arrival, had generously given us an upgrade to a suite located on the third floor.  Our room, like the others, was spacious and quite differently decorated in the spirit of taste and refinement demonstrated by the women who made history there.  It was bright and inviting, and afforded a panoramic view of the traditional French gardens from the twin paned window.

Château de la Bourdaisière - wooden supports in our bedroom -  Loire Valley - France

After a luxurious bubble bath, I settled in for a dreamy sleep…until a mosquito came buzzing around my ears.  No establishments in France, or other parts of Europe as far as I know, utilize screens on the windows, and we had ours flung wide to let in the fresh, aromatic night air.   The mosquito was quickly dispatched, and Bob and I drifted off with thoughts of royalty that had once slept in that very room.

Château de la Bourdaisière - breakfast served for two in our bedroom -  Loire Valley - France

We had opted for breakfast at bedside where we basked in early morning sunshine in our private retreat.

Château de la Bourdaisière Castle - front -  Loire Valley - France

Our room faced east, overlooking the estate’s front terrace.

Château de la Bourdaisière - formal gardens on edge of forest -  Loire Valley - France

I was in heaven when, having thrown our enormous windows wide, I could look out upon a perfectly manicured garden and private woodlot.  Bathed in soft, warm sunshine, I literally draped myself out over the windowsill and fondly remembered the fairy tale that tells the story about Rapunzel.

Château de la Bourdaisière - wild red deer on edge of forest -  Loire Valley - France

With sunbeams bouncing off the ancient stone walls and a family of deer grazing in the shadow of a silhouetted archway, it felt like we had traveled back in time.  It was so perfect!

Château de la Bourdaisière Castle - Jean on the courtyard balcony -  Loire Valley - France

With breakfast completed, it was time to explore the 55-hectare property and to enjoy the quietude found in the heart of the park-like setting.

Château de la Bourdaisière Castle forest and lawn -  Loire Valley - France

Château de la Bourdaisière Castle - entrance gate to forest -  Loire Valley - France

Château de la Bourdaisière -view from our balcony to battlement ruins -  Loire Valley - France

Château de la Bourdaisière Castle - front lawn with entrance gate -  Loire Valley - France

Although modest in comparison to the extensive property at Versailles, it no less impressed us with the regal flair of symmetry and precision.

Château de la Bourdaisière Castle entrance gate -  Loire Valley - France

I couldn’t get enough of the ambience that surrounded us nor the history visible at our every step.  Beside each stone archway, brick wall and ivy-clad facade, I could feel shadows of the past walking with me.

Château de la Bourdaisière - gardens between inner and outer castle walls -  Loire Valley - France

As I mentioned already, Château de la Bourdaisière was originally a medieval fortress that overlooked the Cher and the Loire Rivers.  The walls of the moat still remain in tact, and it was easy to imagine how they served to defend the castle from English invasions at the time.  As part of our self-guided tour, Bob and I walked through the now dry moats on both the north and east sides of the château.

Château de la Bourdaisière Castle - walls and forest-  Loire Valley - France

The moats were divided into sections by substantial buttressed walls and archways, while simple plantings of trimmed and shaped shrubs nicely edged the garden space that now exists within the confines of the moat’s walls.

Château de la Bourdaisière - Castle walls entrance gates - Loire Valley - France

It was between 1518-1522 that Philibert Babou transformed the medieval fortress into a Renaissance Castle, with large windows, reception rooms and 3 drawer bridges to the terrace.  Philibert Babou was the husband of Marie Gaudin who was the mistress of King Francis I.  As such, Philibert received numerous charges and honours that brought a huge fortune to the family.

Château de la Bourdaisière Castle - tree lined laneway -  Loire Valley - France

The Château de la Bourdaisière is located near the biggest castles in the Loire Valley, and in the middle of the vineyards of Montlouis and Vouvray, but when wandering through the giant woodlot on the property, we could’ve been miles from anywhere.

Château de la Bourdaisière Castle - stonewall fences -  Loire Valley - France

Our walk took us to the furthest reaches of the property where we found the original stone wall that secured the castle proper.

Château de la Bourdaisière Castle - Château de la Bourdaisière Castle - stonewall fence in farm fence  Loire Valley - France

Château de la Bourdaisière Castle - tomatoes on shelves 3-  Loire Valley - France

In our next blog posting, we will delve into the management of the gardens and the castle, which now follows the principles of sustainability.  The present owner is actively working to conserve ancient species in both the vegetable and flower gardens that were both impressive in and of themselves.  In fact, in 2011, the chateau’s gardens were a finalist for the European Garden Award bestowed by the European Garden Heritage Network.

Checkout some of our other postings from France

Claude Monet Water Lily Pon in Giverny - Frame To Frame - Bob & Jean photo

Photo Essay: Giverny and the Water Pond: Part of Monet’s Legacy

Hall of Mirrors, chandeliers - Palace of Versailles - France

Photo Essay: Palace of Versailles – Monument to Royal Grandeur
Arc de Triomphe at sunset - Paris - France
Photo Essay: Paris – Arc de Triomphe
Place de la Concorde - Paris - France
Photo Essay: Paris – End of a Kingdom – The Rise of an Emperor
Paris downtown - hazy morning
Photo Essay: Paris in the Springtime

Frame To Frame.ca


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COMMENTS ( 1 )

By Majid Ali
posted on 20 April at 22:52
Report spam/abuse

What a nice overview of the french castle.