We stayed just one brief night in the Chateau de Vaulx, as a stop over on the drive back up from the South of France. We had booked a meal, but were heavily delayed on the roads - we rang Marty, the owner, to tell him, thinking that we would have to cancel dinner; but he was very reassuring and kind, told us not to worry, and that we would have dinner whenever we arrived. In the end,we arrived exhausted, with nerves frayed, at half past 9 at night, after 10 hours of hell on the road...and the reception we received was the PERFECT antidote to our appalling day.
Firstly, the region. Although it was getting dark, we could see that we were in stunning surroundings - beautiful, bucolic rolling countryside, the archetypal rustic serenity you hope to find in France, but are so often disappointed not to get. We immediately felt a sense of peace and calm in the middle of this rural paradise. Then the chateau itself. A historic, and classical building, superbly restored by Marty - inside and out - to reflect utmost sympathy for the period, while ensuring the modern visitor is comfortable (Marty seems to have a past in Architecture and Interior Design). You immediately feel like you are being treated to your very own French stately home, as you walk around the tall towers of the main building, and walk into the many rooms inside that are bedecked with authentic period furniture, paintings, timepieces and original 17th century fireplaces. But the atmosphere isn't stuffy, or uptight - Marty sets you at ease - tells you to make yourself comfortable and go where you wish; you feel as if you are having the chance to taste the kind of life the nobility prefers to keep to itself. It also boasts incredible views from all sides, perched as it is on a hill, and overlooking the delightful countryside. My wife kept remarking that this really was a fairytale escape. Marty allowed us to settle in, then served us dinner in the very romantic drawing room - with a huge roaring fire next to us. Bearing in mind that this was now 10pm, he insisted on preparing our dinner freshly. We had a delightful 4 course meal - a leek and onion tart with ingredients from the chateau's garden, a casseroled beef (again with local beef, and fresh potatoes from the garden), local cheeses, and apple and raisin tart (freshly made). With wine served from a crystal decanter, this magnificent feast in these remarkable surroundings cost a meagre 60 Euros - considering we had spent the last week and a half spending 120-150 Euros on 2 course meals of questionable quality in the South, this represented outstanding value. Marty left us to relax in piece next to the fire, and told us to get up as and when we pleased, and to take time to enjoy the chateau the next day. There were no urgent demands for us to check out by any particular time - the message was "your pleasure is my pleasure". Marty is truly the most hospitable and considerate host I have ever met - in any professional or social capacity. We cannot sing his praises highly enough! We stayed in the Chambre de Mello, which is furnished with many period features, and has a wonderful view over the hills. The bathroom however is very modern, with excellent shower facilities - so there is no sense of compromise in the experience. The bed was extremely comfortable, and the peace and quiet was blissful. Considering the day we had had, this experience was a godsend. After a wonderful night's sleep, we enjoyed an excellent breakfast, and were then able to walk around the grounds before we moved on to our next stop in Champagne. The gardens are beautiful, and this made it even more difficult for us to move on. We wish we'd stayed a week here - you could easily do that, and more. This experience eclipsed the rest of our holiday, and we will certainly return. (There are also a few very friendly furry friends - a cat and some delightful dogs. Although my wife is not a big pet person, they were so well behaved, that if you wanted to play with them you could without fear of having to fight them off! And in the end we both did, as they were too adorable to resist!)
www.tripadvisor.com, Pilch9, London, June 23, 2011