The Dordogne is often called the land of a thousand and one Castles. Its landscape of rolling green hills and lush river valleys will take your breath away.
Attracting Humans for 450,000 years
It boasts ten of the ‘Most Beautiful Villages in France’ and has an underground maze of crystal caves. This area of south-west France has been attracting humans for 450,000 years. You can visit the most famous of them, the Lascaux, nicknamed the prehistoric Sistine Chapel. Rocamadour has been a pilgrimage route for thousands of years and is in France’s top five most visited attractions.
Châteaux de la Treyne is a four-star luxury hotel in Lacave. Walnut groves, vineyards, and acres of open fields surround it. My fairy tale becomes a reality in this small corner of south-west France. If the walls could talk, there’d be tales of Lords, Knights, and Maidens in distress. The Château stands on the site of the original 14th Century property, reduced to a pile of ashes during the Wars of Religion. It was rebuilt in 1553; it’s owned and run by the Gombert family, who’ve transformed it into a modern-day haven of peace.
Each of the 17 rooms and suites has a unique French style. Some offer fantastic views of the Dordogne River, others of the formal perfumed garden. I stay in two Rooms, La Tour and one of the suites, Louis XIII, and feel like Rapunzel with all the mod-cons.
A courtesy tray is overflowing with local products, from chocolates to seasonal fresh fruit, and a handwritten welcome note from the owners.
Bathrooms have multi-jet showers, thick fluffy robes, slippers, and orange-scented toiletries by Hermes.
It’s hard not to be seduced by the food from Stéphane Andrieux’s kitchen. He’s held a Michelin star since 2001. It’s a classic formal experience eating in the wood-panelled Grand Louis XIII Salon, less so on the picturesque cliff terrace.
Try the pan-roasted Foie gras with a walnut and sesame crust, green apple jelly, and a Granny Smith apple sorbet. There’s a varied selection of local wines to complement the dishes, including the famous Black Wine from nearby Cahors. You’ll need an empty stomach and deep pockets for this experience, but food lovers often pay for this service. Meals are a marathon, not a sprint; you can spend three hours eating and drinking from anywhere between four and six courses. Amuse bouche, palate cleansers, the main course, cheese, and dessert; it’s not for the faint-hearted. Should you have room after dinner, breakfast can be taken in your room, or the Green Salon with views to the French formal garden.
A heated outdoor swimming pool is surrounded by 120 hectares of gardens and woodland. Perfect for chilling out with the soundtrack of nature for company.
The Hotel has beehives hidden away in the meadow. You’ll taste it during your stay, and you can buy a jar to take the memory home with you.
Although the Dordogne is inland, where it lacks in the sea department, it makes up for in freshwater swimming and fly-fishing. If relaxation isn’t your thing, then the Hotel’s owner, Stephanie, will organise the itinerary for you.
A 2-night fly-fishing package is on offer (€582 to include half-board accommodation based on two sharing and a ½-day fly-fishing lesson on the Dordogne). Suitable for all abilities from complete beginner to expert.
If you’re planning on tying the knot, you may want to consider using the Chapel. The Châteaux can accommodate your guests, and the booking would be for sole use. They can cater for 40 guests. They can cater a seated dinner for up to 70 cocktail receptions. If your burgeoning list keeps growing, you can rent a marquee, tableware, and silverware; they’ll take on up to 150 guests.
The family also owns and runs Château du Bastit, which overlooks a nearby hamlet. It’s a private residence which sleeps ten adults and four children. It has all the exclusivity of a private home with the benefits of à la carte hotel services.
Chateau de la Treyne offers double rooms priced from €300 (Room only, based on two sharing. Breakfast is €28; add €124 to upgrade to half-board. Price is subject to availability and valid for 2017 (open from March 25 to November 12 and Christmas and New Year). All prices correct, July 2017.