Special places to stay are our passion. Recently, we were staying in a castle in France. During the weekend after Ascension Day we travelled to the French Jura and imagined ourselves lord and lady of Chateau Amélie for a few days.
How to get to Chateau Amélie?
The chateau is situated in Thoirette village, about 670 km from Brussels, and about 860 km from Amsterdam. That makes it easy to reach by car (if you live in Holland or Belgium)
If you prefer to fly, Geneva is the best choice as it is only 40 km from Chateau Amélie. Another option is Lyon, which is 80 km from Thoirette.
Renting a castle in France
Staying in a castle at Chateau Amélie
If you’ve always wanted to stay in a castle in France, then Chateau Amélie is just the ticket:. It's a beautiful castle manor in Thoirette in the French Jura.
Thoirette is a charming French village where everyone still knows each other. The castle is located on the banks of the 190 km-long river Ain, which flows into the Rhône, and it has fabulous views from the terrace.
The castle has 7 en-suite rooms. Five rooms have a double bed, and two rooms have bunk beds. The living areas provide two additional fold-out beds.
Upstairs you will find a large kitchen and large living room, and there is a small kitchen and a dining room downstairs.
There is a pool on the large terrace, but you can also dip into the river on hot days.
Jurgen, the operator, has many strings on his bow. For about ten years, he owned a successful gourmet restaurant in Turnhout and was a regular guest on regional television. While looking for a new challenge he found Retie, where he operated boutique hotel Villa Tilia. It whetted his appetite, and he eventually found this location in the French Jura.
What's the price for renting a castle?
Your all-in stay includes the following:
- Accommodation for 14 people
- Luxury breakfast
- Light lunch
- Gourmet dinner
- 24/7 access to a filled fridge with wine, beer, water, other non-alcoholic drinks,…
- Guide/escort (if required) for hikes, visiting wineries or cheese-makers in the area,…
- .During July and August, you can rent the castle by the week. The total price is 15,000 euros (1,070 euro pp). If you compare this to an all-in at an impersonal resort, then this is absolutely value for money.
- You can rent the castle by the day in the other months. The price is 2,000 euros per day.
- Would you like to stay here during the holiday season? Of course you can. From 21 to 28 December (or from 20 to 27), you pay 15,000 euros all-in. From 29 December to 1 January, the price is 10,000 euros. Your dinner on 31 December will include champagne, lobster, caviar, and fireworks. A particularly festive way to start the new year! (sold out for 2019).
Things to do in the neighbourhood of Chateau Amélie
Early morning walks
The early birds can enjoy a fantastic early morning walk with the host (or châtelain as they call him in the village). He takes you on a vigorous walk through the woods while the French Jura is waking up. The breakfast tastes even better after this walk.
The host will take you on an adventurous walk through the area. You pass by beautiful waterfalls, and part of the trail goes through the river. It is hard to believer you’re ‘only’ in France. If the weather is good, there are opportunities to swim or walk under a waterfall, or jump from the top of one. Our children thought this was the best thing that they did in years.
Unfortunately, it ended not as well for me. I stepped in a hole in the riverbed and broke my foot. So, I will regularly remember this special overnight stay in a castle in France over the next two months.
More fun for the adventurous among us. There is a bridge near the castle where the local youth comes to enjoy themselves. A tree leans over the river, with a rope attached. Young and old amuse themselves here for hours while trying to perfect their Tarzan techniques.
Visit a winery
Jurgen is happy to take you to a local winery for a tour and a tasting. The wines from the Jura are not so well-known, but that does not mean they are less tasty.
The ‘Vin Jaune’ is a specialty from the Jura. Vin Jaune, or ‘yellow wine’, is made from the savagnin, a grape variety that is not used much outside of the Jura. This special wine is only allowed to be bottled after 6 years and 3 months, and should in fact only be consumed 10 years after bottling. If the cork stays intact, the wine will still be a treat 100 years later.
Visit a fromagerie or cheesemaker
The Jura is also home to many cheesemakers. The famous raclette comes from this region. Many cheesemakers here offer a tour and a tasting.
Some famous cheeses from the Jura are Comté, Morvier, Bleu de Gex (or Bleu du Haut-Jura), Vacherin franc-comtois and many others. Of course, our host at Chateau Amélie has all these wonderful treats already available at the castle.
There is a charming cheese shop in the village so you can also bring those lovely cheeses home with you.
Things to do in the Jura Mountains
Bourge en Bresse
The inviting town of Bourge en Bresse lies about 30 km from Chateau Amélie. The 16th-century Royal Monastery of Brou is absolutely worth a visit. The façade is a flamboyant example of gothic art. Margaret of Austria commissioned the monastery to immortalise her love for her husband, Philibert the Handsome. The tombs of the couple and Margaret of Bourbon are in the monastery. The sculptures were created by French and Flemish artists.
This medieval town lies about 75 km from Chateau Amélie, and is declared one of the prettiest villages in France. As soon as you enter this well-preserved village, you find yourself transported to the Middle Ages. Cobblestoned streets, old facades, a church that looks like a fortification, … Even the tree on the market square dates to 1792.
Be sure to taste the local speciality, the galette de Pérouges.
Fifty kilometres further west, towards Mâcon, lies the region that is home to the Bresse chicken. A tourist trail, the Bresse Route, brings you through a number of villages. Along the way you will pass farms with Saracen chimneys, the authentic village of Bâgé-le-Châtel, and Pont-de Veule or the ‘Venice of Bresse’. Gourmets simply have to stop in Vonnas.
About 20 km past Saint-Cyr-sur-Menthon lies Mâcon. You are now no longer in the Jura, but in Burgundy. The town with its colourful façades, roofs with Roman tiles and a rich historic heritage is definitely worth a visit. And wine lovers will also find a lot to enjoy in the area.
Sixty kilometres from Thoirette lies the Dombes, a plateau with boulders and about 1000 lakes. It is a favoured location for wild birds. There are also plenty of opportunities to go fishing in this nature reserve.
.Ambronay Abbey lies about 40 km to the south. It is a Benedictine abbey dating back to the 8th century.
Twenty kilometres past Ambronay lies Saint-Sorlin-en-Bugey, also known as the rose village. This characteristic town lies between steep cliffs and roses grow abundantly against the old façades. Be sure to take the road to church as this alley was full of flowers. There is a wonderful view of the area from the square at the church.
Twenty kilometres north of Thoirette lies the 141-hectare Nantua Lake. Ideal for fishing, sailing, pedal boating, or swimming. You can visit the abbey church of Saint-Michel in the town. Local speciality: Pike quenelles with Nantua sauce.
Staying in a castle in France with children
You probably think that such a special stay in a castle in France is nothing you’d do with children, but there is nothing to worry about.
During the summer months, the children will enjoy the pool. There are no other guests that might be upset by the excited sounds of children playing, as this is your castle, and your home away from home.
They will enjoy the adventurous walks through nature where they conquer waterfalls and swim in mountain streams. We travelled with four teenagers, and they only needed their smartphones to take photographs and videos.
They are welcome to help in the kitchen at the chateau too. They can make their own pizzas, and bake them in the brick oven in the garden. Fantastic!
Small children can be put to bed while you relax on the terrace or near the fireplace. Nice glass of wine, some regional cheese on a platter and family and friends to talk with. It’s all you need.
Renting a castle in France?
Do you want to stay in a castle in France? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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