Candes Saint-Martin, my favourite spot in La Touraine.

Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Sleeping in a Fortress

During our many trips to France we’ve stayed, in hotels and ‘chambre d’hôtes’. Sometimes these ‘chambres’ are located in the strangest, yet tastefully renovated buildings. We’ve slept in an old boat house that had been turned into a spacious loft, an 11th century donjon, a troglodyte (cavern) room, an 18th century manor, an early 20th century villa, an old farmhouse, a former garden shed, …

As far the hotels are concerned, I suppose the Château Fort de Sedan was the most unusual place ever.

In September 2006, we spent our annual Lorraine-Alsace trip in a hotel near the town of Lunéville in the Meurthe & Moselle department. The Château of Lunéville, which was badly damaged by a nightly fire on January 2nd 2003, is also called ‘Little Versailles’. You just have to look at the Château to know why.

In the centre of the main courtyard stands the statue of the castle's most eminent resident, the former king of Poland Stanislas I, who in 1737 when he became the Duke of Lorraine, moved into the castle. The statue and the square courtyard are an almost exact replica of the world famous castle of Versailles and the statue of its illustrious creator, the Sun King, Louis XIV.

On the way back home we checked in at the Fortress of Sedan where we had booked a room during a previous exploratory visit. You can read all about it in yesterday’s post. The first thing we did on arriving in our room was to check out the little private terrace that came with the room. It was located on top of the ramparts and offered a magnificent view of the town and the surrounding countryside.

Can you imagine this being a former ammunition room?

Unfortunately, the hotel had only been open since a few months and there was still some unfinished building work to be done. Our little ‘terrace’ was nothing more than a square metre of pavement and some wild growing grass that led all the way up the edge of the rampart’s wall. There was no outdoor furniture and to make thinks worse, it had started to rain rather heavily. That definitely meant the end of the little evening picnic that we had planned to have on our idyllic private terrace.

The hotel’s restaurant being closed on Sunday evening, we decided to walk into town to see if we could find a nice place to have a light supper. It was still raining and we felt uncomfortably cold although it was only early September. The town proved to be a disappointment. We found one ‘brasserie’, where we had a drink before hurrying back to our warm hotel room. We decided to have our picnic after all … in our room. We had to improvise a table. This involved using one of the shelves of the wardrobe. Although it somehow spoiled our trip and certainly our last evening, the memory of that picnic still makes us laugh.

We spent the rest of the evening in one of the little cosy alcoves on the ground floor. The waiter who served our drinks was very friendly and talkative, so – in spite of our disastrous picnic adventure - we had a very pleasant evening after all.

Last week friends of ours spent New Year’s Eve at the Fortress. They had booked an ‘overnight stay + dinner package’ and were absolutely delighted. The building work is completely finished and dinner on New Year’s Eve was excellent. So maybe we should try it again … sometime … soon.



Jean said...

The fortress certainly looks huge and as if it means business !!

We have had a few hotel experiences that have turned out to be disappointing over the years. We had a similar picnic dinner in a pokey room in Paris once on New Year's Eve. We couldn't afford the extortionate prices being asked for dinner so we "borrowed" cutlery and plates at breakfast, bought lots of tasty bits and pieces from the markets during the day and had a bottle of champagne - it was great fun and all the more memorable because we were perched on the bed and a stool to eat!

Equally, we once stayed in a chateau-hotel in the Dordogne which was fabulous and very reasonable. Now there's an idea for another post while I'm languishing on the sofa.....

I am enjoying catching up on your "back issues", too.

ladybird said...

Hi Jean, Thank you! It's funny how bad experiences can become fond memories, isn't it? Each time we find ourselves in a tricky situation, we look back upon it with a lot of fun and laughs!

Except perhaps that one scary time when we found ourselves knee-deep in quick sand in the Seine estuary in Honfleur. I still get shiffers down my spine each time I think of it!!