06 February 2008

Le château du Moulin, suite

The first time we went to the château du Moulin, then, in October 2000, we had spent the day on the road and le Moulin was our last stop before heading back to the gîte in Vouvray for the evening. We had had a busy day, and we didn't arrive at the château until 5:30 p.m.

The château du Moulin seen from the gardens.

To get to the château, you drive a few miles on a narrow country road off the main highway, through a typical little Sologne village (Lassay-sur-Croisne). Then you turn off onto an even narrower paved lane that goes back several kilometers into a forest and you park in the woods in a kind of field at the end of that road. There's a gate at the edge of the field protecting the end of the foot path that goes to the château grounds. The Michelin guide calls the setting « un joli site champêtre » — and it is. There's a 400-year-old oak tree, and there are horses grazing in the distance.

It's just slightly forbidding, wouldn't you say?

It was a cloudy afternoon and it felt like it was already starting to get dark, but we walked on down the path to the château anyway. We weren't likely to make the drive back this far from Vouvray again on this trip, and I really wanted to see the place. I had no inkling that we might one day live just 20 miles away, of course.

The gardens do help to cheer the place up.

The two men working at the ticket window were just standing around smoking, probably waiting to go home at 6:00. We said we wanted to go into the château. They told us it was by guided tour only, and that it was really too late. I talked them into giving us a tour, however. As I said, I was determined.

So there were just the three of us — Sue, Walt, and I — and a young guide. He asked if we spoke French and he said he spoke some English. The tour turned out to be informative, interesting, and a hoot at the same time.

A lot of buildings in the Sologne are built of brick.
It's a region of sandy soils, forests, and small lakes.
There isn't a lot of stone to build with.

The château is — or at least was, just a couple of years ago — still in private hands. The story was that an old woman from Paris still came and spent a good part of the year living there. One of the most interesting things was that I think we saw her, or caught a brief glimpse of her. We followed the tour guide upstairs to see a big reception room stuffed full of 16th, 17th, 18th, and 19th century furniture, porcelaine, and paintings. It was dark and mysterious.

And each time the young guide did his spiel in French about a French Renaissance table, a painting from Holland, or a big porcelaine platter from Rouen, he would point to it with a great flourish and say, just to make sure we had understood: "seventeen centchureee!" or "eighteen centchuree!" We loved it.

A later visit: you can see the group of people on the bridge
waiting for the guided tour to begin.

Then we went to see the chambre du roi — the king's bedroom, reserved for him in case he should pop in some day and want to stay over. As we exited the reception room and stepped onto a landing in front of the bedroom door, a hand reached out from behind the door right next to it and quietly pulled it shut.

I felt like an intruder. In fact, the woman who lives in the château uses the king's bedroom as her own, I read later. I think such a late tour caught her by surprise. She thought she had the place to herself for the night.

3 comments:

  1. Surprise! I didn't know there would be a "suite." I really enjoy it and it brings back memories. Thank you.

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  2. I'm surprised they didn't try to tell you it was a resident ghost....

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  3. Claudia in Toronto07 February, 2008 16:33

    As I wrote, late last night, in the previous post, it looks like a fortress. It's hard to understand why anyone would want to live there even if you own it. The garden does cheer up the place, and maybe la chambre du roi is very comfortable!

    Fun to visit and imagine le château filled with people and activities.

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