LE CHÂTEAU DE LA MARINE

It reminded me of the house that Russell Crowe inherited in the movie A Good Year, where he was left an estate including a vineyard and mansion – it smelled old and musty, sounded creaky and decrepit, but it had decent bones and a nice garden.

Months ago when I was planning our trip, I found the Chateau de la Marine online, beautiful and attractive with hundreds of glowing reviews and just barely within budget, so it seemed the best place to make it the first stop in our French adventure. With our irregular weekend mini-breaks of late we’ve had relative success with hotels and  felt the reality we’d expect from the chateau would be just that. It turned out not quite.

The cheateau up close is more akin to a grand house, more Isobel Crawley than Lady Mary. As we were greeted by the owner and led inside the house, I smelled the familiar scent of oldness, a muskiness that belongs more in a museum than a stately accommodation, and the creaking stairway, though imposing, was a sign that repair isn’t far off into the future.

Lovely to look at from our large bedroom, and with the emanating sounds of peacocks from the neighboring estate giving it an ethereal feel, the grounds though are not estate-like, with huge swathes left to overgrown vegetation and lack of landscaping – a shame since the potential is there. We’re only here for one evening and with high hopes that a good night’s sleep is forthcoming, especially considering all the walking we did and with nothing but French channels on TV, it’s fortunately with a light heart that we’ll say a quick adieu to this the first chateau in our burgeoning adventure. If there’s ever a fourth time we’re in the neighborhood, which I’d say the chances are likely, I’ll be looking st Chateau de la Marine from an accomplished distance.

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