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Review: The Stables, Chateau de la Fuye, Chinon, France

Apr 1 2024


This is the Versailles of gites.

Within the shadow of the fifteenth-century Château de La Fuye sits a romantic tower for two and a luxurious three-bedroom gite sleeping six. Imaginatively converted from the chateau’s former stables, this historic and stylish self-catering gite captures the very essence of the Loire.

Dressed in white tuffeau stone, so typical of Loire chateaux, the rose-clad gite’s interior design recalls aristocratic elegance. Booking both tower and gite is a popular option for family or friends gatherings looking to sleep eight.

But the Chateau de la Fuye is as much a state of mind, a blissful escape to a French idyll, as a physical location of silver candelabra, statement mirrors and Kashmiri rugs.

Super-host owners, Rowena and Simon Michaels have searched auction rooms for antiques and textures to bring a homely Cotswold feel to a quintessential French scene. For them, as they have worked on their project, it has been more “A decade in Touraine” than “A year in Provence.”

On the gallery-like walls, art slips from hefty oils reminiscent of Old Masters through lighter water-colours to the contemporary avant garde. Imagine an eclectic Soho House look exported to Touraine.

Set in a 10-acre truffle orchard of some 800 oaks, five acres of private woodland and walled gardens, La Fuye is a songbird rural retreat.

Yet, debatably, La Fuye’s greatest charms are subterranean. Black gold. Come late Autumn, dogs sniff out truffles bound for Paris’ finest restaurants.

The welcome

Marie, the guardian of La Fuye, has set a fire for us and prepared a welcome hamper. A baguette, cheese, a taster pot of La Fuye honey, eggs gathered from the estate, a fine bottle of red and an immaculately layered, glazed pear tart.

Everything has been thought of: butter, milk, Nespresso coffee capsules, balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil … even dishwasher pods.

The bedrooms

Beds in the three bedrooms are adorned with fine linen. The walls of a king double, double and twin-bedded room are decorated with vintage canvases and fabrics.

Every room features a desk. Super-fast optic WiFi makes this an idyllic WFH (Work from Holiday) destination.

The bathrooms

Two bathrooms have Lefroy Brooks showers, Bioderma products and Fine Scottish Soaps.

The facilities

Dark olive-green cupboards, in the ultimate farmhouse kitchen, contain everything you need to bake, cook and create. Even a row of cookbooks, if you are in need of inspiration before you get hands on with the retro red Kitchen Aid.

Above the reclaimed tomette floor tiles, shades of terracotta weathered by the centuries, is a chef’s paradise. An opportunity to work with foods and wines sourced from the local boulangeries, boucheres, fromageries, markets, patisserie and vineyards all within a 10 kilometres. La Fuye is a gourmet heaven.

Through the kitchen door, a timbered loggia hosts a grand al fresco table for eight, next to a BBQ. Beyond the loggia is a boules court framed by lavender. That leads into a pretty wild flower meadow bordered by the old stone boundary wall, heavy with espaliered soft fruit trees, including apricots and peaches, and vines which have been trained over an old oak doorway entrance to the Truffle Orchard.

Come Spring, it is time to head for the sun-loungers surrounding the pool or enjoy a game of croquet.

The location

La Fuye, as one of around 300 chateaux dotted through the Loire and its tributaries, is strategically placed for exploring one of France’s favourite regions.

A seven minutes’ drive takes guests to Chinon. By the wide River Vienne, a substantial black statue reminds visitors that 16th century Rabelais is the town’s poster humanist. A prose writer of wit and satire who veered between the devout and the anti-clerical.

Take a half hour drive to feel the weight of history at L’Abbaye Royale de Fontevraud, the final resting place of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Henry ll and Richard the Lionheart. Stripped of its wealth and furniture by the French Revolution, Fontevraud became a prison before its final restoration as a grand Abbaye. For a spectacular day out, buy a combined ticket for the abbey and its surprisingly modern art gallery.

Fairy-tale towered Usse is the nearest chateau to La Fuye. Azay-le-Rideau, its grandeur reflected in a mirror of a lake, once home to Catherine de Medici, epitomises Renaissance influences. Whilst, Villandry provides the finest example of extensive formal gardens. Trivia note, its owners once owned Chateau de La Fuye for weekend getaways.

Or for the ultimate day out, combining car and rail, get to Paris in around 90 minutes.

Other nice touches

If you’ve taken the tower as well as the gite, there are tables for eight in the kitchen, in the lounge and under the loggia too. The kitchen with dedicated drawers for both wooden spoons and kitchen knives has everything you need from expresso cups through a nutcracker, forks for snails and of course a truffle shaver.

Guests can purchase local organic wines, from a hamper that includes a Chinon rose, a Vouvray white, something sparkling, plus a Beatrice and Pascal Lambert Les Terrasses red. That comes with opulent hints of summer soft fruits.

There’s always someone around to help out. If Rowena and Simon, who sometimes live in the neighbouring seven bedroom chateau, are not in residence, then La Fuye guardians Marie and Des are on hand

The cost

For a typical stay in the gite for October 2024, minimum stay of two nights, rates begin from €375 per night.

Whilst the tower, available for single night stays, begins from €130 per night.

The best bit

At La Fuye, the sheer adrenaline inducing lottery of truffle hunting, finding the black gold that could be worth €2,000 per kilo, becomes a dramatic spectator sport between November and January.

Even after working the land, coupled with laborious pruning, truffle prospecting is always more chance than science. Three generations of ladies, arrive early morning with their dogs to sniff out truffles growing amongst the roots of the oak trees. There’s neither rhyme nor reason to when the ladies will arrive. Nor whether or where the truffles will be found.

The final verdict

La Chateau de la Fuye is the ultimate French leave getaway, set in a bucolic landscape of rivers, vineyards and woodland. Whether guests explore by bike, car, traditional flat-bottomed boats, kayak or are guided through the wine terroir by a private guide, the Loire is magically irresistible.

This is an uber-stylish hideaway whether it be for a blissful long weekend, a week’s holiday or a longer spell as a digital nomad.

Disclosure: Our stay was sponsored by Château de La Fuye.

Michael Edwards

Michael Edwards is a travel writer from Oxfordshire, UK. Although Michael had his first travel pieces published nearly four decades ago, he is still finding new luxury destinations to visit and write on.

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