In the heart of the Loire Valley stands a real jewel of fine hospitality and gastronomy, in persona of the Domaine des Hauts de Loire.
Ideally located between the royal city of Blois and the legendary Loire castles, among them we may enumerate the flowered Chaumont-sur-Loire and its inspirated Festival of Gardens, without forgetting the Cheverny and Chambord castles that we would have a further look below.
Regarding this charming labelled Relais & Châteaux resort, you would be surely amazed, already from the impressing entrance of the domain, full of rows of trees. Indeed this former hunting lodge, dating back of the 19th century, is surrounded by a wide private property of 70 hectares, mainly composed of a huge oak trees forest, where deers and swans welcome you at every corner. By Alex Plato
It’s not a secret that in this haven of peace, you would live the typical castle life, while appreciating all the assets provided by this luxurious Domaine des Hauts de Loire, after a noble and large entranceway through a gigantic green central lane, bordered by incalculable trees, as tall as each other.
Thus, progressively visible behind the groves, inducing an ineffable visual effect, whose facade is sometimes flooded from the early hours of the day, within a rising sun that, slowly announcing the morning dew on the Virginia creepers leaves. Once in the reception hall, the parquet creaks under your footsteps and the smells of waxed wood, from the recently cleaned old furniture, slowly but surely rise until your nose (photo credits : Alex Plato).
Therefore, this hospitality structure pursued the original spirit, step by step completed by a couple of renovations enhancing the smallest nooks, within contemporary details.
For instance, the entire decoration of the hotel has been redesigned by the interior designer Natalia Megret. Thanks to a strong experience in interior design, within private homes, restaurants or spas for almost twenty years, this Russian artist brought a wind of modernity to this classic entity, while maintaining the initial soul of the estate.
In the large reception hall, situated on the ground floor, high ebony colored libraries came to dress the blue-gray toned walls. Thereafter, each of the 31 rooms and suites’ decoration has also been refreshed, through replicas of vintage furniture or even the employment of some premium Nobilis fabrics, used here as curtains, wallpapers and tapestries.
For your information, Nobilis offers many original designer furnishing fabrics, since 1928. This luxurious upholstery manufacture propose a chic and unique spirit, notably expressing the sensitivity of contemporary artists. Their wide selection has already been enabled them to acquire an international reputation, also recognized for their creativity, the richness and the variety of their materials, their patterns, their colors and above all, by their technical innovation.
In fact, once in your room, you would particularly enjoy the wedding between tradition and modernity, especially regarding the high-tech devices available, such as the Bluetooth speakers, air conditioning, and sometimes a massage shower!
You would undoubtedly appreciate the recently refreshed vintage furnitures and the quality of the bed, which would surely fulfill your needs of comfort and sleep! Whatever the size of your room, each one is unique and deserves to spend time inside for a drink or for work in the classy table, or even for a long bath in the convivial corner tub!
Organized between the original edifice and a more recent building with its typical Sologne architecture, located just 30 meters away from the castle. This charming residence offers rooms and suites up to 70m2 and in both of them, you could enjoy the same ranges of room, all offering a smart view on the park, and even some privileged guests could also benefit from a private terrace, overlooking the garden where notably melt roses and sculptures.
Conveyed by a white luggage cart with the gracious help of a baggage handler, you would reach your apartments.
From the classic or superior rooms, you would have the choice among several ambiances, in a timeless cocoon full of comfort. It’s not a secret that these elegant interiors hold a certain by-gone charm mingling with some modern comfort. A good occasion to let yourself seduced by this cohabitation.
Then came a couple of family rooms, ideal for large tribes, consisting of two separate bedrooms. The view above the park or the vegetable garden is really a green asset, while he two bedrooms are communicating and have a private terrace.
Furthermore, the prestige suites are decorated with care and elegance, these suites could easily seduce you with their spacious rooms and their terraces overlooking the green and prosperous countryside. Everything has been imagined to reserve you have an exceptional moment, thanks to very special attentions.
Finally in the suites, an atmosphere of yesteryear floats through this space of refinement and clarity. As you would notice, everything is bright and wide, enough to take possession of the place and take some time to relax on one of the balconies or terraces overlooking the park, while admiring some curious statues…
Indeed, since spring 2018, the sculptor Pierre Yermia has installed some of his monumental artworks, spread in the wide park, property of the Hauts de Loire.
This renowned French sculptor mixes strength and the fragility in his statues of thick humans colliding with typical forestry animals. Their copper composition brings a touch of curiosity and elegance in this green nature scenery, covering in and around this real artistic mansion.
For example, you couldn’t miss the imposing deer, throning at the parking roundabout (where you could charge your electric car in one of the three slots), or maybe the astonishing lazy bull, laying on the floor near the Spa entrance. These amusing artworks correctly fit into this living environment, conveying a contemporary touch to this ensemble.
Concerning this Spa center by Clarins, fitted with an honorable surface of 150m2, inaugurated in April 2018 in the recent house next to the castle. Supported by the ancestral beauty expertise of this French brand, which offered its know-how to the Domaine des Hauts de Loire, and especially its customers willing to live a relaxing moment.
Also decorated by Natalia Megret, who desired to recall the emblematic brand colors, already identifiable in their home cosmetics, as well available at the beauty bar. For your information, the Spa is accessible every day from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. only for treatments and by appointment.
Thus, a minimalist but luminous atmosphere dominates the three cab-massage rooms (including a double), each of them overlooks an outdoor terrace where you may recover of your treatment, on some cosy lounge chairs, made of rattan. On the other part, you may count on the sauna and the hammam, contributing to evacuate toxins away from your skin. This space, full of relaxation, is meanwhile turned towards the charming priest’s vegetablegarden, visible at the rear of the building.
Sport and relaxation are favorite moments for this. An outdoor swimming pool, open all summer, awaits you for a few lengths or a refreshment when the temperature invites you to swim. You could also benefit from the nearby club house, for any shower or just to leave your clothes in the locker room.
A few meters away, in another typical club house, invite your children to play in the Kids Club, whether inside or outside, while you kill your calories in the front fitness room. A facility equipped with several modern gym machines, able to permit anyone to exercise and thus bring many benefits to their body. For studied comfort, an adjacent cloakroom is as well available to these athletes.
As a last rejoicing, discover the typical bocce game at the ball court, in front of the Guinguette, where you could have a fresh drink and maybe meet new friends, propping up the bar!
You need other kinds of delights?
You’re undoubtedly at the right place… since these Hauts de Loire have been luckily associated since 1988 with a talented Chef Rémy Giraud, ravishing all the passing epicureans.
His symbiosis with this gourmet restaurant became so quick that their collaboration got even awarded by 2 stars by the Michelin Guide, in 1993, while cherishing this quiet and rural region, where numerous good products can easily found. Recompensing a high-level gastronomic programming, mainly relying on seasonal and local products, extracted from nearby farms, such as some goat cheeses made by the Cantinette but also fresh cantaloupe, used there for making delicious veloutés.
These precious elements muchly depend on the maturity of vegetables, fish or meats availability, and of course the inspiration of this Chef, native from Vendée, who varies then, as much as possible, his menus regarding these parameters.
For your information, his asparagus grow on a plot located in the neighboring village of Veuves, while many other of his vegetables come from la Touche farm, in the Chitenay village, along most of the fish caught in the Loire river and the privilege to cook with regional caviar, bred from Sologne.
About this large choice of delicious alternatives, the team proposes you three different discovery formulas. These options give you the opportunity to taste some emblematic homemade specialities, as well with the possibility to pair each one with a specific suitable wine.
Always developed with a certain surprising sense of associating unexpected savors, you would definitely be convinced by each culinary artwork imagined by Rémy Giraud, assisted by the Chef Baptiste Gournillat. For instance, you may explore two appetizers, such as this legendary duck foie grasenhanced in a sweet support of gingerbread crust and cherry chutney (pictured on the right), completed by a Texture of artichoke, emphasized with an incredible smooth harissa sorbet.
Following this gargantuan diner, so representative of a certain French tradition, you would either couple a tender pollack fish, cooked at the Japanese Ikajime manner, for a softer flesh, perfumed with a selection of confidential vegetables : kohlrabi, whelk and some caviar ersatz, the tunaroe.
Suggested with a local Chardonnay, you would be obviously ready to face the Guineafowl, carely selected by two passionate farmers Guylaine and Damien Leroux. A tasty and digeste assortment, highlighted with some Tourainetruffles.
Cherry on the cake, the sophisticated but refined Raspberry dessert (pictured above), balanced with its lemon basil sorbet and its related jammy raspberrycoulis.
All these jewels are delicately served with the help of a crockery full of golden reflections, stamped Raynaud Limoges and a finely chiseled Ercuis and Voglux silverware, notably for the butter dish.
In case of good weather, you would enjoy each second of this memorable moment, in the panoramic terrace in front of the castle, time would stop just for you, expressly when you focus on a random decorative wood fire or the swan pond, just arising over the horizon.
For simpler decisions, why not choosing the Bistrot?
Newly launched in 2018, it reveals its warm brick walls and still succeeds to welcome you in a scenic framework, whose walls are dressed in still life paintings or portraits, belonging to the estate and re-framed just for this dining room. Ideally nestled in a square courtyard, filled with themed vegetation and water fountains.
Conforming to the high quality gastronomic offer of these Hauts de Loire, again under the leadership of Rémy Giraud. Influencing this time a rather terroircuisine, proud of the past and of the forestry environment, rich in game meat, either grilled on a spit, or in the charcoal wood oven. There, it’s announced some veal crepinettes, pork knuckles, stuffed quails or lamb shoulders, in this intimate room, topped with imposing brown beams.
Moreover, you would also be grateful to take your continental breakfast, possibly in the terrace of the Bistrot or inside, during winter time. Full of timeless elements, such as viennoiseries, homemade honey, fresh fruits, delicatessen and scrambled eggs with bacon. You wouldn’t feel so much disoriented!
If you would like to deepen your culinary knowledge, don’t hesitate to ask for the upcoming planning of the hotel’s cooking school, l’Art des Mets. You could also become a Chef!
Last but not least, we are pleased to invite you to discover this huge stretch of nature through this forest, surrounding the resort. Only accessible for the guests, several pedestrian itineraries are proposed, whose longest is about 45mn! You may pass through a couple of curiosities, like the water tower turbine or even the helicopter airstrip.
During this promenades, you would empty your mind due to the calm ambiance of this return to nature, where you could stride and hide in the alleys of massive oak trees.
By chance, you could have the opportunity to meet some typical but gentle animal citizens, such as roe deers, bladgers, hares… Unless there are plenty of these specimens around you, the hunting is not allowed.
Furthermore, close to the two other artificial lakes, where a canoe may be at your disposal, stand three hives providing the necessary honey needs of the hotel. A production supplied and protected by the expertise of the apicultor David Delaporte and his Api’Planète structure. Don’t hesitate to ask at the reception when he would be available to show you some secrets about bees, of course protected in a dedicated protective beesuit.
This homemade honey, is mostly reserve for the hotel guests for breakfast, but also for the preparation of the Chef‘s dishes and for anyone interested to bring a liquid souvenir at home!
Likewise, the team as well cooks their own chocolate, thanks to the talent of their pastry master Tom Duclos, who takes time to offer fine pastries and other gourmet desserts designed around cocoa, faithful to his inspirations of the moment.
Starting from this prestigious hotel base, you can’t miss the exploration of the Loire Valley of the Kings and its hundreds of fairy castles! In fact, all these wonders of French architectural and historical heritage are located less than an hour’s drive from the estate.
The Loire Valley is also a renowned for its wines. It could be parcels of Chenin, Gamay, Cabernet Franc, these famous grape families are even planted around this hotel and constitute the Touraine-Mesland vineyard. For example, you may reach and visit the Domaine Cocteaux, the Clos de la Briderie or the Domaine de Rabelais, accessible in a few minutes (photo credit: Pierre Mérat).
If you feel like exploring further this topic, the Loire Wine Route waits for you, stretched over 800 kilometers along the river, and as well aligned along the vineyards of Bourgueil, Chinon, d’Esvres and Vouvray. But the more adventurous of you could probably sail on the Loire in a gabarre (local rowboat), embark in an ULM, a helicopter or even in a hot-air balloon to admire these endless vines and these Châteaux of the Loire (Loire Valley Castles), surely from another angle.
An other option would be to follow the second edition of the hiking organized around the vineyards of the Côteaux du Vendômois, already established on this territory since the 5th century (photo credit: an authentic Norbertgabarre, pictured nearby).
Starting from Thoré-la-Rochette, all the wine enthusiasts would be glad to walk through various vine plants; at the occasion of a promenade launched by a bunch of winegrowers, eager to share their patrimony, know-how but above all their landscapes to admire, from many small appellations. Of course while tasting some wines, you would be lucky to discover, in a privileged natural setting, a selection of vines and biodiversity, situated 40 km north of Blois. Consequently, this is an opportunity to discover the history and the present of this rich region, listed on the UNESCOWorldHeritageSites.
For your information, the AOP labelled Côteaux du Vendômois appellation covers 125 hectares, spread over 28 municipalities, between Vendôme and Montoire. The next trekking edition would happen on 6th September 2020, more information on the official website.
Regarding these legendary Loire Valley Castles, the closest famous one from the Domaine des Hauts de Loire is castle of Chaumont-sur-Loire, reachable by ten short minutes by car. This magnificent medieval fortress, builds a bridge with the Renaissance period, while overlooking the river. The castle park is famous for hosting the magnificent International Garden Festival which takes place every year, from April to November.
Not so far and from pretty different styles, we find the Domaine of Cheverny is a unique Loire Valley, in a way that it’s a family property which has been held in the same heritage of the Marquis De Vibraye tribe, for over six centuries.
Indeed, this Cheverny Castle has always remained inhabited and each generation tends, with passion, to maintain and magnify this charming timeless edifice and its immense park, recently added by vine plants, where you could have a boat or a shuttle tour. Different transport ways to appreciate the natural framework of this domain, and even admiring the statues adorning the Garden of Love (photo credits: Alex Plato).
For your information, Cheverny has been the first French Castle to have opened its doors to the public from 1922.
Since then, all the visitors may have got the chance to appreciate all the splendor and the delights of this Chateau. From the Botanical Garden to the splendid interior of the mansion and its hunting kennel, a certain yesteryear is waiting for you.
Moreover, since this place inspired the Belgian comics artist Hergé for the imagination of the Château de Moulinsart of his Tintin character, you could get to know more about his adventures at the 3D museum and its permanent exhibition, called “Les secrets de Moulinsart”, visible in a specially nearby edifice dedicated to this cause.
Inside the chateau are featured very unique pieces of furniture from different styles and remarkably well-preserved interior fittings, such these monumental firehouses.
For example, children would be amazed by a specific wedding dress standing in a memorable room, but also a pair of wooden horses, all kind of games and music instruments and eventually the huge collection of weapons and armors.
Then, explore the other private apartments located on the first floor, as real witnesses of a certain French lifestyle, such as the birthing room, the children’s room, the private dining room, among many other surprises…
Although this Cheverny architectural masterpiece conceals many other treasures, such as a 17th century Gobelins tapestry presented in the Salle d’Armes or even the Louis XIV period chest of drawers, by the time manufactured in Boulle style.
We invite you to come and discover the entire refinement of this interior decoration ensemble before visiting the wide park, the apprentice garden, the vegetable garden, the tulip garden (visible during their season) and eventually crossing the labyrinth.
Also located upstream of the Loire river, just like the Castle of Cheverny, you could admire the masterpiece of the King Francis 1st in Chambord.
In 2019, was recently celebrated the half-millennium of the beginning of the extended and long construction, occurred from 1519, of one of the largest Renaissance castles of the world, baptized the Castle of Chambord.
Placed on the first list of the historical monuments in France back in 1840, along the Louvre Museum or the Versailles Castle, also listed in the UNESCO World Heritage, this majestic edifice is obviously regarded as a mysterious royal palace, playing false symmetry and several surprises.
This enigmatic monument went through ages, thanks to cautious efforts in the conservation of the entire and wide domain, combining a large area of French styled gardens and many precious architectural masterpieces (photo credits : Alex Plato).
Nowadays Chambord still inspires a certain admiration and fascination among the thousands of regular visitors, admiring the artwork founded by Francis 1st, who commissioned the supervision of this basically hunting lodge, by one of his most inspiring architects, the Italian artist Domenico da Cortona, apparently assisted by his Leonardo da Vinci.
Once inside, you’re invited to explore the fairy spirit of Chambord, as an incredible avant-garde construction, full of symbols and legends, reminiscent of the power of a passionate sovereign deep into arts and letters, following his victory in the Battle of Marignan in 1515. Since its construction, the castle has been hosting many centuries full of many illustrious hunting sessions and parties, as long as Francis 1st was renowned for his taste for events planning.
You would undoubtedly admire the revolutionary double-spiral staircase, as a central nail of the castle. It is supposed to have been conceived by the genius spirit of Leonardo da Vinci, this ingenious structure is organized in a way that any visitor may ride on each side without ever meeting the other row.
The surface is enough large to serve more than 440 rooms, 84 staircases and no less than 282 fireplaces, where you could also admire more than 4,500 art objects, in the superbly preserved and decorated apartments. A real feeling of grandeur, enough to compete with Versailles!
If you pay attention to the details, you would easily notice the omnipresent salamanders from the walls to the ceilings.
Indeed, this emblem of the King Francis 1st, is visible more than 300 times, reflecting the popular belief telling that his supremacy may withstand from the flames, and a related motto: “I felt out of the right fire, I pass the bad one.”.
In the other hand, his French gardens are also rich with 600 trees, 800 shrubs, 200 rose trees and more than 15 000 plants delimiting the borders of an honorable surface of 5 000 hectares of lawns. In fact this large park nearly holds the same size as the city of Paris, surrounded by 32 kilometers of walls!
Thus, this green area is home to exceptional wild and free fauna and flora, worth to discover in the mean of horseback, bicycle or just by walk. In the beautiful days, more than 20 kilometers of trekking paths are available to sink into these enchanted woods.
Furthermore, if Chambord may also be visited with the help of some technological tools, highlighting all the facets of this Renaissance jewel through the miracles of technology. Consequently, in order to discover Chambord in higher reality and 3 dimensions, you may use one of the histopads, an interactive digital tablet, offering a spectacular immersive experience, with comments proposed in 12 languages.
Regarding the legendary but undeniable participation of Leonardo da Vinci in this project, Francis 1st invited him to stay at the Court of France as many qualities of first painter, architect and engineer of the King, working on many innovations for that period.
Don’t miss to admire the panoramic breathtaking view from the terraces, situated on the rooftop from La Tour Lanterne, the highest tower of the castle. The beauty of this situation and the magic of the sculpture on stones is so amazing that even the French poet Chateaubriand admitted that “a woman whose wind would have blown in the air, her hair”, to describe Chambord and these terraces. It’s not a lie that walking through its flourishing and mysterious dormers and sharp fireplaces, adorning the sobriety of the facades, reveal the surprising personality of this ensemble.
Last but not least, you may sleeping inside the domain of Chambord, since March 2018, through Le Relais de Chambord Hotel. Just located 50 meters from the castle, this classic edifice is able to host his guests among its 55 rooms and suites. This project would have been possible, thanks to three years of renovation, this formerly called Saint-Michel Hotel would then offer you a brand new facade, completely rethought by the famous French architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte.
Chambord Castle / 41250 Chambord / Open everyday from 9am to 6pm.
Further south we discover Chenonceau, the most famous of the Loire Valley castles which seems to float on the calm waters of the Cher river.