CHÂTEAU DE LA BARBEN

It’s A Night At The Museum times three. Welcome to three nights at Château de la Barben.

At 1000 years, our castle-hotel is the oldest in the region, and after driving over six hours from the Bordeaux region, I can’t say our introduction to Château de la Barben was at all relaxed. Even with two navigation devices, we still took a couple of wrong ways here and there, and when we finally reached our lodgings for the night, our poor little Ford Fiesta was almost no match for the concrete and cobble-stoned roadway leading to the entrance. They’ve certainly taken this medieval theme seriously.

There was no sign whatsoever where parking was nor the location of the actual hotel reception until I deigned to ask some people manning what looked like a gift shop on property. Luckily one of them spoke perfect English and was actually the unofficial bellhop. Dressed in an ill-fitting period costume, he was able to get us settled in but not after conferencing with the owner who didn’t bother coming out of his office – or was it maybe his bedroom – when he was told guests had arrived. After finding out which room we were to get, up three more flights of stairs we went until the fateful moment.

The room is cozy, with a bed a tad bigger than a twin, but has modern amenities much better than the ones in Wimille and Vergoncey. There’s a TV, air-conditioning, a decent view, and a respectable bathroom. The room decor isn’t scattered with dead people’s portraits, the floors don’t creak and I’m not afraid at all to sit on the furniture. There isn’t a bathtub for Teko and after asking whether there’s a room with one available, unfortunately we were told not. Evidently they’re booked solid for the night, and based on what we saw when we passed by the breakfast area it’s going to be yet another communal meal with strangers like in Boucéel. Guess we’ll just have to get there very early.

There was time afterwards to reconnoiter the property and what I saw wasn’t good  – it wasn’t good at all. The place is really a museum – the kind that charges tickets and gives tours, which would explain our instant bellhop’s appearance. There was a terrifying baby doll on a crib in one of the common areas and a feeling of Dracula’s lair all over the place.

The clouds parted and the sun came out as we drove into Provence earlier, and despite the uninspiring forecast I’m hopeful we can have the same pleasure tomorrow. Let’s see if I make it through tonight first.

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