Wednesday 22 September 2010

Château de la Villatte, near Laval, Pays de la Loire

Majestically situated on a hillside overlooking rolling green countryside near the Mayenne river, the nineteenth century Château de la Villatte has a handful of lovingly-furnished guests rooms and several acres of picturesque grounds. Well cared for, the chateau has a grand, stone hallway with a billiards table and a white marble staircase with a black wrought iron banister. The landing above the stairwell has been turned into a cosy little hideaway with a pleasant window seat. Tastefully decorated in period-style, the guest bedrooms have high ceilings, tall original windows, fine wooden floors and venerable antique furniture.  They have their own bathrooms also boasting large windows and plenty of light and space.  Two of the bedrooms have a small linking corridor and can be booked as a family suite, but you can't lock your doors.

Timeless farmyard
The simple, but good quality, breakfast is served on bone china in a refined dining room with large windows, grand mirrors, extravagant cornicing and marble fireplaces. When you sit down, you'll find dishes of warm croissants and bread waiting for you, along with butter, jam, coffee and orange juice. Classical music plays in the background.  Although the chateau was built with rough stones, they are framed by smooth blocks and topped with a classic French tall slate roof. On the other side of the small gravel car park, there are aged, timber-framed farm buildings and stables separated by a timeless farmyard from an impressive gatehouse with its own conical tower. Partly enclosed by rambling stone walls, Château de la Villatte's grounds slope steeply down to a farm set in peaceful, lush countryside. In the gardens, you'll also find a big pond and some neatly-tended flowerbeds. Your hostesses are discreet, while the atmosphere is homely and far removed from that of a commercial hotel. 8/10