They are officially listed under ‘chateaux’ on the exclusive property site Belles Demeures, but they range from medieval castles to 19th century extravaganzas for the lord of the manor, and the prices are far more reasonable than in England (the scenery often far more beautiful too). My conclusion after closely examining every single property on the site is that not enough people make use of all the space they have to create wonderful libraries…
[Apologies for the watermarks on the pictures, since Belles Demeures is an aggregate site for a collective of estate agents in France].
I gather there is a film currently on one of the streaming services featuring a popular novelist who can afford to buy a Scottish castle just in time for Christmas, so I couldn’t resist combining two of my favourite topics: castles/palaces/manor houses and snow. Of course, not all of these are ‘chateaux’ strictly speaking, but ‘palaces in the chalices’ or ‘castles for the passels’ just don’t quite have the same rhyming resonance, do they?
Not that we need any excuse to show beautiful mansions or palaces, but, following the Canadian novel about musicians that I read earlier this week, I was inspired to find a bit of a musical theme to the following gorgeous pictures.
Something a little bit different for this Friday Fun post. Josephine Baker achieved her greatest success outside her country of birth, the United States. She moved to Paris when she was still very young, and it was there that she became idolised as the Black Venus of cabaret performance in the 1920s and 30s. She was also active in the French Resistance during the war and in the civil rights movement in the US in the 1950s and 60s. Part of her activism was her well-intentioned but rather misguided ambition to raise a Rainbow Tribe. Unable to have any children of her own, she adopted a total of 12 children of different ethnicities to prove they could grow up together in harmony. She also deliberately raised them with different religions. At her magnificent estate in the Dordogne Chateau de Milandes she created something of a theme park, including a hotel, a farm, rides, and the children singing and dancing for visitors, included in the price of admission. That sounds to me horrendously like a zoo, and she certainly was not beyond typecasting the children to ‘represent’ their ethnic group, but she no doubt meant well. She later had to sell the chateau as she got into massive debt, and was taken in by her friend Grace Kelly, by then Princess of Monaco. The chateau is now open once more to visitors.
Who am I kidding? English country mansions are all very nice, but my heart beats faster when I see a French chateau – or even a ‘humble’ maison de maitre. And, who knows, maybe in the region Bourgogne -Franche-Comte, it might even be affordable? My ‘retirement’ plans are to acquire one of these and organise writing, reading and thinking retreats. Any takers?
This week, a group of women writers whom I am honoured to call friends, L’Atelier Writers, are having their annual retreat in a French chateau. I joined them one year and it was magical. You bet that I am extremely envious. So I’ve found some additional chateaux to make them envious too!
Yes, a majority of them are French, but I am including a few from other countries as well. This time round, small and compact are the keywords. Well, for chateau standards at least.
Some grand old manor houses look good by day or night, and here are some which would make a great backdrop for a film or a book. Any additional suggestions of appropriate films or books would be much appreciated.
Yes, I know I said there were some beautiful palaces all over Europe (and I haven’t even gone to other continents – that’s a thought for future posts!). But I still dream of that perfect little chateau somewhere in France… Perhaps because there are so many of them to choose from, something for every taste.
There are other countries that have beautiful chateaux, you know, even though they may call them Schloss, vár, palat, hrad and so on. Here are a few lesser-known favourites, some of which may even be for sale.