One of the latest properties we’ve added to our portfolio of luxury large group holiday houses is this beautiful 15th century chateau not far from Poitiers in the heart of the Poitou-Charentes region of France. Trust us, it doesn’t get much more perfect than this; 7 bedrooms sleep 20 people, there’s heaps of room, unique interiors, a heated pool, and 23 acres of private grounds to wander in.
Dreamers, art lovers and history buffs will adore this little slice of paradise, and so will families; Chateau La Chutelière offers a chance to gather together, to unwind and explore in the most tranquil surroundings, to get to know the local area, the ancient towns and castles, beautiful countryside and tourist attractions. Oozing style and history, the front of the house is like a typical French chateau,– but go round the back and it’s completely different, with two round towers; much the same as it was when it was built as a fortress 600 years ago. Flowers and herbs spill and tumble, wisteria scrambles up the walls, there’s a poplar grove, fruit gardens and an orchard; a stone bridge takes you over the lavoir (washing pool), trees dip branches into the water along the canal, squirrels scamper on the lawns. Sound perfect? Well it is.
And what an entrance; a bridge over a dry moat takes you to the front door; push it open and you’re greeted with a distinctly 19th century feel; warm Chestnut parquet flooring and eclectic antique furnishings. The ground floor is all French rusticity; on the top floor it’s more modern, but do you know what? It all works to perfection, so unique and stylish; it’s gorgeous.
We were imagining a day in summer at Chateau La Chuteliere; waking to birds twittering, an early morning swim in the saltwater pool and then breakfast on the terrace (coffee and croissants of course). Then maybe you’d find a quiet spot to sit and chat or read, and have a game of French cricket, or a stroll along the canal; you might linger a while on the bridge by the lavoir, just taking it all in, the peace, the serenity. Maybe a late morning walk along the shady lane into the village to buy freshly baked bread and take it back to the chateau for a picnic lunch on the front lawn.
We thought of an afternoon trip to the ancient fortified town of Parthenay, to Poitiers to take in the gothic spectacle of the church of Notre Dame la Grande, or to France’s ‘Green Venice’, the Marais-Poitevin, near Niort, a reclaimed marshland where you can drift along the waterways on a punt, or wander the towpaths on foot, on bike, or in a horse drawn carriage. When evening comes, imagine a big dinner together in the dining room, or a barbecue on the terrace, and drinks as the sun sets; some might sit beneath the stars and natter ‘til the small hours, others might fancy a game of pool in the Coach House, or a late night movie in the home cinema room at the top of the house.
You see, there’s so much you can do here, and it’s all so relaxing; if you have any musicians in your group they can entertain you whilst you sit back in the 19th century colonial style armchairs in the Music Room. Put some old jazz on the gramophone and dance together, have some family time in the playroom/sitting room. You could easily while away a whole afternoon just wandering around the house looking at all the interesting artefacts from around the world.
You could go and create culinary delights in the huge kitchen – what a room! Flagstone floors, original doors, and a great big stone fireplace where the Aga sits. Mind you, if you’re not into it cooking for a large group can be a chore, so opt for full or half board catering to make things easier; you’ll have the most delicious food, prepared for you by accomplished chefs who use local produce and fruit and veg from the garden. You might just want something one off, particularly if you’re celebrating a big birthday or an anniversary, or just being together; so go for it – have a banquet, canapes and champagne; a big lunch on the terrace, a picnic on the lawns.
You might not feel the need to go out anywhere, but if you do there’s oodles within easy reach and, you know, sometimes it’s nice to have a day out. Families with young children might like Futuroscope Science Park near Poitiers, Monkey Valley at Romagne, the Falconry and Wildlife Park at Chauvigny, or Palmyre Zoo at Royan. Soak up some history at Angers Castle, Royal Abbey at Fontevraud, or the Roman Amphitheatre at Saintes; for something different try the Museum of Stained Glass at Curzay-sur-Vonne, Lighthouse of the Whales at Ile de Re or the Underground Church at Aubeterre-sur-Dronne.
Getting here is no bother, it’s only 6 hours from the Eurotunnel terminal in Calais and 3.5 hours from the ferry port at Caen. Why not fly and hire vehicles whilst you’re here – Poitiers Airport is only 40 minutes away and La Rochelle and Tours are both around 90 minutes. However you get here, one thing’s for sure; once you’re here you probably won’t want to go home.