A Night in a Castle

I thought a visit to the Chateaux capital of France wouldn’t be complete without spending a night in a castle. This seems like a reasonable thought, right? As I browsed possibilities, Chateau de la Treyne caught my eye.

A castle that seems to float right on the verge of the river, with a terrace overlooking the water. A nice park for our daughter to run. Not overly expensive. And perfectly located in the region of Dordogne to break up our drive southwards. I decided this was the one!

Dordogne is a rural region of France which is overlooked on the more popular tourist itineraries, but is a romantic and quaint place to visit. Full of wineries, chateaux, and villages perched into green cliffs. A great place to explore by car.

This is just what we did – driving from Loire and slowly making our way to Toulouse. Arriving at the Chateau de la Treyne was a treat after a few hour road trip.

Apart from the modern glass doors bringing you into the front lobby, the rest of the castle feels like a journey back in time. Ornate wood panelled ceilings, tall French windows, and a mix of elegant and worn furnishings. You are greeting by the smokey smell of a recently burned fire as you walk down the main stone hallway adorned with well-worn rugs.

As we ascended the stairs to our room, we noticed there seemed to be extra floors squeezed in between each platform, headed this way and that. Topsy turvy walls with doors that go in all directions. Chambers with slanted roofs and walls, and rooms that seemed to get smaller and smaller as you traversed through each creaky door. Exactly what I expect construction would be like in the 17th century!

Other highlights? Each room is unique in decor, though all true to the style of the time. There is a heated swimming pool in a large patch of grass. And a pebbled French garden with patio furniture to enjoy a meal or picnic.

This place photographs spectacularly, as I must say the gardens were somewhat unkempt during our arrival. We weren’t sure where the gardener had gone. But we had it to ourselves, and our baby girl loved roaming the grounds (and at least any gravel she flung about was lost in the tangles of roses and overgrown bushes).

The terrace over the river was also beautiful, though unfortunately we arrived on the only day of the week where dinner was not served. The staff were kind enough to offer us a light snack to give us an excuse to sit on the terrace into the evening. However, given we were the only two people out there as the sun went down, the castle turned from fairy tale romantic to a perfect scene out of Dracula. Dark skies, a full moon, and bats circling the castle turret above our heads. A two faced castle if there ever was one!


Marqueyssac Gardens

One of the most pleasant surprises in Dordogne are the remarkable Marqueyssac Gardens. These must be the most unique gardens I’ve ever seen – perched up in a rocky hillside and overflowing with bubbles of boxwoods.

Over 150 000 hand-pruned boxwoods make up these gardens, creating whorls and orbs that seem to effervesce from the earth. Among the topiaries are lemon-coloured buildings which nestle right in, and beyond the garden is a panoramic vista of the valley below.

We only had the pleasure of seeing the Marqueyssac Gardens by day, but apparently at night the garden paths are lit by candles – which must make for a most romantic evening!