You take a 16th century medieval fortress (which is classified as a historical monument) and turn it into a four star golf hotel. The result? Chateau de Chailly in the heart of France’s #1 wine region, Burgundy. But how’s it really like staying at a ancient castle? And why was it turned into a hotel anyway? Here’s my review.
An ode to the good life
France is home to numerous beautiful castles. Some of them are abandoned, but most of them are still in use; either by families or the state. Many of them are still connected to wine production, and speaking of wine… if you’re a fan, you simply must visit Burgundy! You either love French wine or you hate it, but no matter what, a trip to this region should be on anyone’s bucket list. If not for the wine, then for the stunning nature (vineyards for miles!), stunning historical sites (castles older than you could imagine!) and the food. Oh, the food. We all know French cuisine, but Burgundy takes the prize for delicate and fresh ingredients. It’s “from farm to table in an instant”, so to speak. But let’s get back to the castles.
The one I’m going to talk about here is called Chateau de Chailly, and ever since it opened its old gates as a hotel back in 1990, golfers, nature enthusiasts and ordinary mortals have been visiting (and coming back). Don’t expect extraordinary luxury; Chateau de Chailly is merely an ode to savoir-vivre, which literally means ‘understanding to live’. We could also say ‘the good life’. The 18-hole golf course is nestled in a beautiful, peaceful landscape, but even if you’re not an avid golfer, there are plenty of things to do and see here. The wellness area is located in the basement – it’s small yet very cosy – and there’s an outdoor pool with a view to the golf course. This one is only open from May-October, though. In addition, there’s a tennis court, and guests can book massages and treatments with one day’s notice. I would’ve liked to give my golfing skills a try, especially since the Chateau offers lessons and training, but that’ll be for next time.
A gastronomical treat
Chateau de Chailly’s gourmet restaurant, L’Armancon, deserves a chapter for itself. Chef Jean-Alain Poitevan and his team serves classic French dishes with a playful twist, of course accompanied by carefully selected regional wines. There’s also a somewhat more casual bistro as well as a bar serving coffee and cake during the day and drinks and spirits at night.
Breakfast at Chateau de Chailly should also be mentioned, since it contains lots of regional specialities (jam, sausages, cheeses, pastries etc.) and there’s a nice selection of fresh fruit. In summer, it’s an absolute pleasure to enjoy breakfast on the terrace over-looking the chateau. In winter, it’s recommended to snuggle up in front of the fireplace.
And now to the history, which – in my opinion – is still one of the main reasons to visit this particular castle. Yes, there are plenty of castles in the area, but Chateau de Chailly stands out for its age and well-preserved buildings. This lady is more than 800 years old and as striking as ever! Back in the 12th century, it was merely a simple ‘house’ fortress, but that all rapidly changed in the beginning of the 15th century when Jean – a nobleman – bought the place and turned it into an actual fortress with four towers and a suspension bridge. His grandson, Hugues, turned it into a Rennaisance castle. For many years, Chateau de Chailly was in decay until the current Japanese owner, Yasuhiko Sata, bought it in 1987. He carefully restored it and turned it into the 4-star hotel we know today.
If not for the beautiful surroundings, then visit Chateau de Chailly for its location! Perhaps next time you’re heading to France – or even further south? The castle is conveniently located just 5 minutes from the A6 motorway, which is the main way to the south of France, Switzerland and Italy.
For more information, go to www.chailly.com. Chateau de Chailly is closed between December and March.