“Wherever you go, go with all your heart.” – Confucius
When Paris inevitably becomes too much for you – too bustling, tourist laden and too confined – spoil yourself with a 2.5 hour (comfortable as hell) train ride towards the South of France…to the village of Dirac, Charente.
You have likely never heard of this lush area of southwestern France, nor the French city and villages within it – intricately blending haughty European tradition with slight modernity, into a heady mix of divine murals and outlandish cartoons bound to building facades.
You are in for a treat.
Get off at the Angoulême station, and taxi yourself to a 4-star hospitality wonderland standing suspended in isolated natural beauty.
Welcome to Domaine du Châtelard.
Architectural Style: 9/10
Guests driving into the property get a taste of what it means to live in the humble opulence of old, as the extensive driveway, straddled by the most healthy-looking green grass on either sides, hides the châtelard’s prized secrets.
One might smile at their good fortune, for getting to experience the beautiful 18th Century manor house, built further upon in the 19th Century; and transformed by each owner, into the charming abode it was unveiled as in June 2009.
The ivy-coated manor house could almost be mistaken for the Neo-French | Neo-Eclectic architecture.
However, the hotels deviation manifests in: the solid white wooden shutters, and time-honored French countryside tradition of stones showing up everywhere from drystack stone fences, to outhouses, and the manor house’s pillars & load-bearing walls.
The view from any side of the luxury hotel, stretches out towards calm and glittering turquoise waters, or unending gyrations of greenery.
The floor-plan of the manor house doesn’t reach out to the landscape, feeling more contained and intimate; but you can embrace the world beyond through the large windows of many of the manor house’s rooms, or by making your way through the picturesque ground-floor patio doors.
Decor & Character: 8/10
Domaine du Chatelard has an interior design with liberal character.
One can already see from the foyer, that this hotels history, is not used as a remnant or gimmick here, but as functional aesthetic.
‘Confidence’ is a word that comes to mind when gazing upon the tasteful customized furniture pieces, like: the leather cushioned brass chair in the reception area, the stout horse-inspired sculptures about, the sentimental warm colors splashing across textiles, and the bold dark wood which oozes sturdy durability, a bit of regal French style, and universal country comfort.
The Junior Suite room was, honestly, my favorite part of the hotels interior decor.
The high-thread count, white linen-laden bed of dreams I lay in upon my arrival, eased me into the most divine rest.
The room is in very traditional Chateau style, with the bed and its frame carved deep into the bedrooms wall, and each side of the bed frame containing a small cupboard storage space (previously used for lighting systems of old, I assume).
I slept feeling like a French aristocrat on vacation, surrounded by a Louis XV gilt bronze commode, delicate crystal & glass light fixtures, gilded Rococo furniture, and absolute silence.
Visit the châtelard on your own, or with others, and you’ll be able to choose from 12 subtly themed rooms facing the lake, gardens, or the pool – with no one missing out on an amazing hospitality experience.
When you stay here you get access to their: terrace, private suites and their queen-sized bed (twin convertible beds available too), dining quarters inside and outside, a lounge coffee/entertainment nook, wireless internet access, and an entire village to explore.
There are no cooking facilities here for you, because there is one of the finest chefs in the country, in-residence at the châtelard.
I enjoyed the colorfully tiled and glossy finished bathrooms…mostly because the bathroom window in my room also faces the lake, and one can bubble bath with that panoramic view a glance away.
Need a massage?
The hotel has a masseuse one relieving phone-call away.
Need to swim? …maybe play some tennis?
Need to impress business associates?
Fully equipped conference facilities are available for your professional needs.
Need to wash your hair? Call some family members? Plan a fun activity? Decide what to watch?
A hairdryer is available in each room. Telephones are fully functioning in the rooms. There is a dossier of numbers, codes, menus, and more, to help you decide what to do with yourself.
Happiness is Wi-Fi, and the hotel has perfectly functioning wifi.
The facilities at Domaine du Châtelard are suitable for tourists, nature folk, newlyweds, friends, small families, and wine lovers.
Food & Drink: Yes, 10/10
Gourmet Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner can be experienced, with decadence, from: ones room, the renowned in-house restaurant (listed in the Michelin guide), from the hotels fine terraces…or for the utterly daring diners: lake-side, or in a canoe.
Creativity being in perfect harmony with fresh ingredients, wondrous taste, particular dietary requirements, and capable technique (by award-winning head chef Ivan Gotfredsen), is why a 10/10 was necessary for the hotels food review.
Seriously, Domaine du Chatelard can make unique dining experiences happen for their guests, including sundowners on repurposed manufacturing equipment.
Eat it all.
“Ivan’s cuisine is cosmopolitan and open-minded by a spontaneous chef who has made an international career, and enjoys sharing the best local products.” – Domaine du Chatelard
Disability Accessibility & Comfort: Yes, 7/10
*Revised Rating (13 November 2018)
Domaine du Chatelard owner, Pascale, welcomes differently-abled guests to the hotel, with an accessible room on the ground floor. Hotel facilities are testified to be functional and of-standard, with Handicap accessible labeling given to the restaurant and hotel.
If you are arriving for the restaurant, you should be comfortable to dine well.
Do make sure to inquire about whether other necessities for your optimal hospitality experience, could be provided though, before you book.
Family Friendly: Yes, 7/10
Under the supervision of family, children visiting the châtelard could frolic in nature, to their heart’s content. All that lush nature and glittering lake, seem very conducive for enjoyment at all ages.
However, within the hotel there are a fair few sharp corners to look out for. Take heed!
West in France means green.
West here means less cluster.
West in France means more variety of architectural property styles.
The châtelard is comprised of 80 acres of untamed woods and undulating meadows, which I had the honor of experiencing first hand during a most energetic horse-cart ride through what was once an agricultural area.
Did you know that the châtelard has many special paths for you to roam?
There are 7 different paths listed at the reception, in addition to local interests listed, such as animals, history, trees etc.
City of Arts | City of History | Comic-Strip Capital
Angoulême has medieval castles like the Cathedral of Saint Pierre(a Romanesque-Bryzantine structure), intact ramparts from one of France’s more turbulent times, 12th Century religious architecture, covered markets, a paper museum, and more.
130 kilometers from the world famous Bordeaux wine region, visitors are encouraged to explore the city, and the neighboring areas.
Depending on your timing, you may also be able to catch the annual ‘Circuit des Remparts’ Car race, or the International Comic Festival hosted in Angoulême .
It may seem far for some, Paris being 2.5 hours away, but it is a worthwhile road(or rail)trip towards the South of France.
Surely anything so well hidden, is a gem – right?!
Value for Money: 9/10
Domaine du Châtelard is not just a gem. This 4-star hotel, represents every single star it is awarded, in the best way possible.
You get what you pay for, in: the views, the incredibly warm staff, pristine facilities, lovely decor, comfort, and the horses.
The charismatic owners, Pascale Erni and Ivan Gotfredsen, offer up warm greetings and service, insights into French life, and valuable recommendations for guests keen to hear them.
They had me trying new outdoor travel experiences, diving into one hell of a French taste adventure, and almost ending up rowing around the lake.
One gets their value for money also due to the sheer size of the interior sleeping spaces, stocked amenities, and proximity to nature.
Catch your breath, with adrenaline coursing through your veins, when gazing upon the hotels main 2-storey building every day. It is precious, sublime, and breathtakingly picture perfect…the beds alone, are a dreamy cloud worth gushing about.
“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page” – Saint Augustine
Domaine du Châtelard
1079 route du Châtelard, 16410 Dirac, France
Tel: +33 5 45 70 76 76