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

Friday, 30 April 2010

The end of an era

Don’t you just dread goodbyes? I do, because you never know whether it’s not a final farewell. During nine of our eleven consecutive visits to the Loire Valley we stayed at the Château de Belmont in Tours. Over the years we developed a home-coming feeling every time we arrived at the hotel on Sunday afternoon. And every year we felt sad when we left on Friday morning, looking in the rear-view mirror of the car, whispering ‘Goodbye, we’ll be back next year.’

We always wondered what it would be like to say our last farewell … if ever that day came. We’ll never know however, as things didn’t turn out the way we'd expected.

On our arrival in 2006 we were surprised to find a little notice at the reception saying that the swimming pool was closed. Although we are not keen swimmers, we felt slightly disappointed as the weather was extremely sunny and warm and we had taken the habit of taking a dip in the pool every night after a long and hot day of castle hopping. That year we spent one depressing hour in the deck chairs overlooking an empty pool, wondering why they hadn’t taken the trouble of cleaning and filling it before the summer season started.

The pool as it used to look in May 2001

Later, during that same stay, the proprietor of the hotel told us that, due to new national safety regulations, important investments were required to make the pool accident-proof. And he wondered whether it was still worth it. This somewhat alarming news made us nervous about the future of the hotel.

The next year, I won first prize in an internet competition. It included a night in a lovely B and B near Amboise. You can read all about it here. We therefore spent the first night of our 2007 stay at the Château de Pintray, followed by four nights at Belmont. By then the swimming pool had been adapted according to the new regulations. Unfortunately the alterations were not very aesthetic, spoiling the original charm of the pool. Apart from that, everything had returned to normal and we were quite confident about the future when we left Belmont on Friday morning.

The same 'accident-proof' pool in 2007

Little did we know that it would be the last time that we were to see the beautiful house and the lovely gardens.

In February 2008 we received an e-mail saying that our reservation for the month of June had been cancelled as the hotel had been sold. The chef would cook his last meal at Belmont on February 27th, 2008. The e-mail also recommended some hotels in the area. Knowing that we would never find the same home-like feeling in another hotel, we decided to change our way of travelling and to book a room in a B&B in the area. This is how we ended up in Vouvray, where we will be staying again this year.



Nadege said...

The fence around the pool ruined the pretty landscape. I am not sure about hotels but I know for sure restaurants never last that long in Los Angeles.

Leon and Sue Sims said...

Litigation and lack of common sense by the public tend to bring in regulations that cause changes just like the pool fences etc. I guess its for our own safety and certainly we need to protect the young. Australia seems to be highly regulated by rules set by councils and government that it just makes the simple tasks difficult. Ooops, I think I just turned into a grumpy old man.

ladybird said...

Nadege, This hotel was built in the second half of the 80-ties by the same couple who sold it in the beginning of 2008. At one point the chef had three Michelin stars. When we were there he still had two stars. I suppose the restaurant was the reason for the success and long life of the hotel.

Leon, I guess some people need to be protected against themselves. Hence all the rules and regulations. However, it's a pity that the whole community has to 'suffer' because of them.

Carol D. said...

It's pretty sad that they had to sell the place. I know it will never be the same having a different management but is it still available for reservations? And I'd have to agree that the grills around the pool area is ruining it aesthetically. However, if it is for safety purposes, I'd take it. Although I'm pretty sure there are more ways than one to make it safe yet beautiful at the same time.