Our stay in a Chateau in France:
Like many independent Catholic travelers, we like to experience the local culture of the places we visit. For some reason, we don’t always seem that keen on B&B’s. Perhaps it is because we feel less privacy when staying in someone else’s house rather than a hotel. Or maybe it’s because our main goal is to check out various shrines or churches so where we sleep is not that important. We are not there to relax, which is a shame, but then that’s our purpose in visiting so many places: to give you an idea of what they are like.
But in this case, when planning a trip to Normandy, we did want some free time to just relax and not constantly be on the go. So, we decided to try a chateau just to see what it was like. We landed in Paris and hopped a train (our favorite way to travel in Europe) to Rennes in Normandy, where we picked up our rental car. From there it was a short drive to the Chateau de Bouceel, our choice for this trip.
As you can see, the setting was like something out of Downton Abbey (minus the staff & the British accent). The chateau itself was beautifully maintained and definitely had atmosphere. We were told that for a few months during World War II (the summer of 1940), the chateau was briefly occupied by German army officers. But they later moved elsewhere as the chateau did not have electricity at that time.
Our host, Count Régis de Roquefeuil, pointed out the front steps where his father, as a member of the French Resistance in World War II, was arrested by the Gestapo. He was due to be shipped off to the Buchenwald Concentration Camp, where he would no doubt be executed. However, the rail lines had been bombed, and since by now the Allies had landed on the Normandy beaches, he eventually was freed by the Allies. With all this history, and the beautiful surroundings, staying here was a unique experience.
Our host had a book of cartoons (in French) detailing his father’s experiences during the war. His father had dedicated the book as follows:
“To the brave young heroes from the U.S., Canada, England, Australia….who gave their life and without whom my dad wouldn’t have come back, this book wouldn’t exist….I wouldn’t be here to sign it.”
Let’s never forget!
We bought the book and brought it home as a memory of our stay here…..even though we don’t speak much French…you could get the meaning of the cartoons.
Since we had a car, we made day trips to nearby Mont St. Michel, the D-Day Beaches and Pontmain, among other sites. That was after breakfast at the Chateau, of course……can you get better croissants anywhere other than in France? Definitely not, in our opinion. These were the melt-in-your mouth, fresh-from-the oven croissants that just don’t seem to exist anywhere else.
People who prefer a chateau or B&B cite advantages to staying in them, such as individually decorated rooms, direct contact with the owners or the chance to mingle with other independent travelers.
Those who prefer hotels cite the advantages of more flexible hours (with a B&B, the doors are often locked after a certain hour in the evening), more anonymity, usually a restaurant on the premises. So I guess it is just a matter of taste.
Certainly, in our case, the chateau fulfilled all our expectations and then some.
You can read more about the history of Chateau de Bouceel here.
How about you? Do you have any experiences you would like to share with everyone?