I remember my first visit to the Loire Valley like it was yesterday. Understandably given my left hand still carries the scars of a weekend that didn’t go quite as planned.
Still in the infancy of my career as a freelance scribe, a cheap weekend in a quaint Tours townhouse beckoned, but three days quickly went off course as bad weather prevented our flight landing, causing day one to be spent travelling by coach from Limoges. The rain didn’t stop, and by Sunday I was sitting in a hospital having my hand stitched together after winding up in the gutter, rather than on the road bike that had just come out from under me, slipping on a street slick from yet another torrential downpour.
Thankfully, a more recent visit made up for said misadventure and then some. Times have definitely changed since that woeful weekend in which I lost both my pride and my girlfriend. Budgets do not remain anywhere near as tight, and I’m lucky enough to have a new companion for such trips. Even so, memories of that fall- and the resulting weeks sitting around incapable of typing properly- meant it was with some trepidation that we booked a few days stay at the Chateau de Premonville, situated just outside the charming village of Langeais.
We discovered upon arrival that it would be hard to describe just how breathtaking the property is. Picture your ideal image of a French Chateau, and you’re almost (but not quite) there. The fairytale turret, garret windows set in carved stone, black slate roof and enchanting woodland all around. Akin to residing in Cinderella’s palace and the exquisite details within match that stunning exterior. Originally built in the 19th Century and well looked after since, it’s a little overwhelming when you consider quite how much effort has gone into restoring and preserving the original interior features.
That said, there’s nothing dated about the place. So whilst you can sit down to dine in a room of dark woods, or- during the summer- your own cave dining room (boasting atmospheric solid stone walls); wander through corridors and hallways that smack of antique refinement; and spend an evening in front of a roaring fire that seems to have burned for an eternity; you’ll also find everything one would expect from a modern luxury villa holiday. From the outdoor heated pool complete with terrace seating, to iPod docks, LCD TVs and DVD players in the sitting and dining areas, this is a place where everything is provided.
Those who yearn to be outside and active will also be delighted. On-site you can enjoy paddocks, walking routes through the extensive grounds, boules, badminton, archery, frisbees, golf and bicycle hire. Meanwhile, beyond this opulent rambling pile it’s just a ten-minute walk to Langeais itself, home to one of France’s lesser-known, but unarguably imposing large chateaus (Chateau Langeais). The village has a fine selection of eateries too, perfect for satisfying an appetite worked up from your walk. Beyond all this, you can be at the world famous Chateau d’Azay-le-Rideau or Chateau Villandry in a less than ten miles drive.
A perfect place to base yourself when setting out to explore the interior of France’s elegant history, but, perhaps more so, a perfect place in which to escape the world with friends, family and loved ones, and enjoy all the comforts of aristocratic life in the 21st Century. In short, it could not have been any more luxurious or wonderful and a perfect place to rewrite my experience of the Loire Valley.