The Château de L’islette
With what seems like an endless stream of visitors after our brief holiday in the Dordogne and a flying visit back to the UK last month I now find it’s more than a whole month since my last post!
I WILL post more about our holiday at some point but on the whole it was not a huge success. The gîte was horrible, utterly charmless, uncomfortable and right next to a very noisy road. The weather was not great and when it’s raining is when you need a nice gîte to relax in – either that or you drive around in the rain. We didn’t last the whole week and gave up on the Thursday – returning to our own lovely home in France and to better weather too. Hey ho.
One of the good things about having visitors is that in order to entertain them we visit places we haven’t been for a long time or ones that are completely new to us. So it is that we went to the Château de L’Islette.
It’s not far from Château de Azay-le-Rideau along the road in the direction of Langeais and although we must have driven past it dozens of times it’s only recently that we noticed it was there.
There is a reason for this – that it has only been opened up to the public in recent years and I think it was probably previously hidden behind tall hedges and trees. The family that have restored it now live in it for seven months of the year, moving out to the farm on the estate over the summer months so that visitors can see it.
It is truly delightful, obviously a family home as judged by the furnishings and the kitchen. It seems both funny and charming to see Ikea furniture and other bits and pieces amongst antique furniture and fittings. So normal yet truly grand at the same time.
The bathroom is heavy on wow factor and utterly fabulous. In fact the whole house (or the bit you are allowed to view) is just gorgeous. Everything you would like your own château to be if you were lucky enough to own one.
You can only think that the owners must be very nice people indeed. Everything for the visitor is provided thoughtfully and carefully, even down to the little pieces of prickly holly placed tactfully on the chairs you should not sit on and very comfy cushions on the ones that you should. So much nicer than the stern notices in other houses declaring that one should not place one’s bottom here or else!
As a day out it is very worth the €9 entrance fee AND it offers the free visit as well as the dreaded guided tour.
We thoroughly enjoyed our time there and will go back again for a second look before long. There are always things you don’t take in on the first visit. We went on a blisteringly hot day and it was lovely to spend time inside where it was cool – next time we might feel more like exploring the outdoors too.
Back at home we are pleased that the fields that surround our house on three sides (all four sides if you include the fields across the road) have been harvested. We dread the actual day that it happens as the noise and dust are intense. We shut all the doors and windows as well as the cat flap and the house vibrates as the machine comes right up to the back wall. In reality Daisy usually heads for a hiding space under a bed or in the wardrobe as soon as she hears the tractor coming and shows no sign of wanting to venture outside until well after it has gone.
Our famer – that’s how we think of the farmer who owns the land which surrounds the house – alternates between corn and rape (colza) crops and this year has been rape. It’s an unattractive plant. Bright and cheerful briefly when in flower but untidy and smelly afterwards. It grows to about shoulder height and smells like boiled cabbage when damp – and damp is something we have had a lot of this year.
It takes the farmer less than a full day to get the whole lot in, finishing off by emptying the black seeds into another tractor which then takes them to the grain store. He leaves behind a thick layer of dust which lies between the rows of dry stubble but the view and the smell are dramatically improved. As are the reduction in the number of flies and the increase in Daisy’s supply of mice – they must be easier to catch when she has no thick undergrowth to fight her way through!
And so life in rural France goes on. The harvest is in, the grass is growing slowly due to the heat and needs only occasional mowing and the day to day business of shopping, cooking, eating and entertaining visitors continues. The summer is flying by.