Welcoming Two New Members
Château de Vaulogé
We can never quite explain our attraction for and love of the Sarthe département of the Pays de la Loire region of western France. Words escape us. So, as we introduce one recent addition to our web site from the Sarthe, Château de Vaulogé, we will include several photos to illustrate the château's and the region's allure and captivating calm. We all know a picture is worth a thousand words!
The Sarthe is a pleasant drive west of Paris and only one hour from Paris by train. It is probably best known for the city of Le Mans and auto racing -- but all the little places and attractions found there add up to a very rewarding destination. Forgotten by guide books, département 72 is never overrun by tourists, which is to all our benefit. Perhaps most memorable and enjoyable about the Sarthe is the river which gives it its name -- a river that gently meanders through the département in a southerly direction, gurgling under beautiful stone bridges, gaining width and volume north of Le Mans and traveling nearly to Angers meeting the Mayenne River as they both briefly join the River Maine -- then all three get lost in the mighty Loire. But it is what happens north of this convergence along the banks of the Sarthe that make both the river and the region a great place to vacation.
[The photos are large files and may take a little time to open - we ask your patience.]
The Abbey Church at Solesmes and an interior detail of the church at La Ferté Bernard
Not far from the département's western border with the département of the Mayenne, along the south bank of the Sarthe, is the absolutely inspiring village of Solesmes and its not-very-old but quite notable abbey, ,Abbey Saint-Pierre de Solesmes. If you don't make it to the scheduled (and world-famous) morning chants, be sure to buy the CD in their gift shop. Don't miss La Crêperie d'Or for lunch. Try the galettes (buckwheat crêpes) filled with Gruyère cheese and eggs or those with saumon fumé. Delectable! Farther north along this same western edge of the Sarthe you will come upon what is known as the Alpes Mancelles, definitely more hills than mountains, but beautiful nonetheless. It is here you will discover the village of Fresnay-sur-Sarthe, a beautiful town of stone buildings along the river. Somewhat northeast of Le Mans is the substantial town of La Ferté Bernard -- a visit to its beautiful church is worth your time. Enjoy lunch across the street at the crêperie and wander the side streets where you will find very interesting little shops selling French fabrics, tableware and fine gifts.
View of the bridge crossing the Sarthe at Solesmes
[Photo Credits - Cold Spring Press © 1999-2002]
Château de Vaulogé is an elegant castle dating back to the early 15th century. Situated in the heart of the Sarthe, it benefits from lovely surroundings, its position on the little River Gée, and strong ties to the region stemming from its history as a place of pilgrimage and a judicial branch of local government. On the edge of its moat stand both a chapel and a prison, indicating the diverse purposes Vaulogé has served in centuries past.
Château de Vaulogé, its Salon and Dining Room
[Photo Credit: Château de Vaulogé]
The château is located in a region offering visitors an abundance of activities: day trips to the grand châteaux of the Loire Valley, auto racing at Le Mans, visits to the lovely villages we mentioned above and just wandering around the amazingly beautiful countryside. You may notice the absence of a lot of other traffic on many of the Sarthe's roads -- one feature we can all appreciate. Open all year, Château de Vaulogé will accommodate guests in six double en suite rooms, four of which can be found in the romantic towers. Breakfasts are served in a lovely dining room, and your hostess will be happy to advise guests about outings in the region and local fine restaurants for dinner. A stay at Vaulogé will be long and happily remembered.
Château de Saint-Loup
At some distance from the Sarthe, we now travel to the Deux-Sèvres (département 79) of western France in the region of the Poitou-Charentes. It is here that we find the remarkable and romantic Château de Saint-Loup. This château, also open year 'round, offers guest rooms in the château and the Keep -- and for those so inclined, the Keep is available for rent by the week. If you would like to read about the restoration of the beautiful gardens and five-acre potager, try to find a copy of House & Garden Magazine, October 1999, for a delightful story about Comte Charles Henri de Bartillat and his work to restore his beloved Château de Saint-Loup.
south of the Loire Valley, the château still allows easy access to
the grand châteaux of the Loire, as well as local spectacles such
as Puy du Fou and the wonderful
theme park, Futuroscope
-- its crystal cinema "Kinemax" has the biggest screen in Europe!
You will find easy drives to the Atlantic beaches and the
Île de Ré. Moreover, for those who would like
to stay close to home, horseback riding, biking and fishing can all be
enjoyed right on the château grounds.
[Photo Credits: Château de Saint-Loup / House & Garden Magazine]
Several interesting cities dot the area around Château de Saint-Loup, not least of which is Poitiers, the place in 732 where hero Charles Martel (grandfather of Charlemagne) halted the Arab invasion. Centuries later, in 1431, the doors to its university opened, making Poitiers one of the early centers of higher education in France. As the regional capital of the Deux-Sèvres, Poitiers is a thriving, modern city with a fascinating historical past. When there, you will want to spend some time at Notre-Dame-la-Grande, a church famous for colorful geometric designs on its interior pillars and a magnificent façade complete with sculptures of the twelve apostles of Christ. Another worthwhile visit is to the small medieval city of Parthenay, quite near Château de Saint-Loup. Its ancient center of winding streets will hold your fascination. Parthenay is known as a sleepy town except on Wednesday mornings when the weekly livestock market takes place, so be forewarned. Parthenay also recently held the distinction of having the highest per capita number of personal computers in France - due to action by local government to introduce computers into the schools and homes of this medieval town. There is also the town of Thouars with a Romanesque church displaying a Gothic rose window, and Niort, capital of the Marais Poitevin -- an area of marshes turned into navigable canals and known as the Green Venice. This is only the tip of the iceberg of the interesting pastimes that await you in the Deux-Sèvres if you become a guest at Château de Saint-Loup.
[Photo Credit: Cold Spring Press © 1995-2002]
This well-loved château wants to welcome you! Your hosts offer a wide selection of accommodations both in the château (nine guest rooms) and in the Keep. They would love to give you more information about bed and breakfast accommodations or perhaps renting the entire château -- it is available as a bed and breakfast. The Keep, however, is available to rent as a gîte -- a self-catering accommodation complete with salon, a kitchen and other facilities. See our web site for price information and booking details. Sumptuous dinners of regional cuisine are available at a very reasonable price including wine. As a guest you may be served dinner in the romantic pavillon that is pictured above -- complete with candles!
Whatever you are seeking on your next visit to France, we are sure that you will be well pleased by a stay at Château de Saint-Loup -- off the beaten path, deep in the beautiful Deux-Sèvres countryside. Make a reservation soon -- Château de Saint-Loup and its owners are waiting for your knock on the door!
hope we've encouraged you to visit the idyllic Sarthe and the peaceful
(Remember - all underlined phrases above are active links to informative web sites.)
hope you have enjoyed au Château News.
Cold Spring Press, au Château© and/or any persons associated
with either organization do not take any responsibility for errors and/or
omissions in any edition of au Château News© and no guarantees
are given or implied with regard to any statements made in au Château