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                         Special Edition                                    July 2003


France  +   Romance =

 Château de l'Isle-Marie

Did you ever consider honeymooning or celebrating a wedding anniversary in a French château?  We often mention how lovely, luxurious and filled with history our member properties are, but we seldom mention how romantic they can be!   Naturally, you might view what we write as simply our opinion -- but what if we were to tell you that a prestigious magazine, Travel & Leisure, selected the member we are about to introduce as one of the "50 Most Romantic Hideaways" in the world? 

Château de l'Isle-Marie is that hideaway, nestled in a hundred-acre park in the midst of a regional preserve in the Manche of Normandy.  It is open for guests from March 1 through October 30th and at Christmas,  with other dates upon request -- and incredibly romantic at all times!   We welcome this celebrated château to our web site.

Château de l'Isle-Marie

The château is so enchanting that Isle-Marie has been featured in numerous interior design and lifestyle periodicals including Laura Ashley Home, Residence, Colonial Homes, Nouveau, More than Classic, Living, Textile Decor, Côte Ouest, Country Homes and Interiors,  Victoria and Travel & Leisure.  Often, the cover photos were those of rooms in the château.  The book, Country Houses of France, by René and Barbara Stoeltie (published by Taschen) features Château de l'Isle-Marie on its cover.  Beautiful photos and interesting text describe some of the restoration work undertaken by Comtesse de La Houssaye on the estate.
Island in winter
Why the name Isle-Marie?  An interesting phenomenon takes place in winter as flooding transforms the lush meadows surrounding the château into a luminous lake --  the château's elevated position creates the illusion of an island floating in a dreamlike mist.

The estate is perfect for your next bed and breakfast destination in Normandy.  Rooms have either four-poster or canopy beds and are furnished in fine antiques incorporating textiles rich in color and design.  Each has its own spacious bathroom with a grand claw foot tub and walk-in shower.  Large windows make all rooms bright and cheerful while permitting guests to enjoy views of the pastoral gardens.

Luxurious bathroomGardens at Isle-Marie
Le Petit Déjeuner

A delicious breakfast of croissants, yogurt, honey, and homemade preserves is served in the château dining room.  In the summer months dinner can be taken in the "La Ferme", the 16th century farmhouse known as Château aux Epaules, another of the prominent buildings on the estate.  It was built in the late 1500s by Bernardin Aux Epaules next to an original Viking fortress.

Perhaps an extended visit to this beautiful region is planned.  In that case, the Manoir de Bellefonds, the manor house on the estate,  may be ideal for you as it offers three fully equipped apartments:  La Marquise (sleeps 2), Le Chevalier (sleeps 2 - 4 persons) or Le Maréchal (sleeps 6 to 8 persons).  Beautifully appointed en suite guest rooms, elegant and comfortable salons,  and modern kitchens combine to create a perfect home away from home for your Normandy stay.  Each apartment has its own private garden area, furnished for outdoor dining, and guests are invited to play croquet or picnic on the communal lawn.  Although Manoir de Bellefond's guests have complete privacy, they are welcome to take breakfast in the château,  enjoy drinks in the drawing room or have dinner in the farm house when it is offered.

The beautiful Château de l'Isle-MarieGuests will appreciate the tranquility of the estate, and may be interested in a little of its history.  The architecture will especially be pleasing.  The château itself is neo-Renaissance in design and was built on the site of the aforementioned Viking fortress.  The beautiful Italianate chapel was designed by Mansart, architect of Versailles, for the Maréchal de Bellefonds when the Maréchal retired to Isle-Marie.  The Maréchal was an illustrious ancestor who was one of Louis XIV’s (the Sun King) most trusted companions.    Unfortunately, the interior of the chapel suffered severe damage in June of 1944, but the exterior escaped unscathed.  The façade is currently undergoing some restoration and the interior is planned for use as an exhibition space.  And, of course, both the Manoir de Bellefonds and the Château aux Epaules are excellent examples of sixteenth and seventeenth century architecture.

As you know, Normandy is a very popular tourist destination in France, especially the D-Day Landing Beaches, Le Mont-St-Michel and such attractions as the Bayeux Tapestry, the copper center of Villedieu-les-Poêles, Sainte-Mère-Eglise and the Peace Memorial at Caen.  All of these and more are convenient to Château de l'Isle-Marie. 

We invite you to visit Château de l'Isle-Marie on our web site for further information about the estate, to see more photos and to obtain pricing and reservation information.  Your host and hostess, the Comte et Comtesse de La Houssaye are waiting to welcome you! (Special offer for Americans:  €  1 = $ 1 - that translates into more than a 16% savings! - updated exchange rate 10/28/03)

Of course, if you have questions or need help with reservations at any
of our member properties, don't hesitate to contact us at

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[Photographs from the au Château web site and courtesy of each member represented.]

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