19 February 2020


Just over the hill from us, beyond Descartes, is the gorgeous château at Les Ormes.

We have visited before, the first time being a few years ago, during one of the patrimoine weekends that occur each September.  On that occasion, the entrance fee was minimal and the place was heaving with visitors.  Last year we went in the middle of June when my brother was staying with us and had the place virtually to ourselves.
When we arrived there was only one other car outside in the car park which was probably owned by a member of staff.  The place seemed completely deserted.  We stood around in the fabulous entrance hall for a few minutes, wondering what to do, until a man appeared from a doorway.  He took our money, pointed us in the direction of the salon and disappeared again.

This is the kind of château visit that we like.  Free to roam by ourselves and better still, no other visitors to get in our way.  There are several lavishly appointed rooms to see on the ground floor.  Drop dead gorgeous yet cosy at the same time.

Mantlepieces are adorned with busts of previous owners, family members and other important people.

Even though the house was deserted, we were never far from the gaze of someone from days of yore keeping an eye on us.
The house is full of interesting doors, locks and windows.  For someone like me who is fascinated by such things it's pure delight. 
There is even a display of old knobs, locks and knockers from around the property.  The reflections from the glass case made it difficult to photograph but you get the idea.  Lovely!

And, not only that, but, joy of joy, it has two kitchens!  One a century or two newer than the other but still pretty ancient and therefore full of wonderful old equipment, the purpose of which can be debated for hours.

The kitchen is always a favourite part of any château visit for me.

All those lovely old pans, ancient pots and baskets.

I realise that life in these kitchens was probably pretty terrible for the people that worked there.   Hard graft, long hours and dangerous to boot.  Noisy too I expect.

Even something as mundane as a tap is fascinating.

There isn't much in terms of outdoor space to see at Les Ormes, especially compared to other châteaux a bit further away.  No elaborate gardens or ponds.  No tea room either.  But well worth setting aside a morning or afternoon for. 
Back here in the UK we find ourselves "orming about".  That's a north of England expression that means wandering aimlessly, killing time.  With February coming to an end and the worst of the winter hopefully behind us we can't wait to get back to France.  To the sunshine, the châteaux on our doorstep and the peace and quiet of country life.
It has been, yet again, a long and horrible winter here.  Rain upon rain and more rain.  A couple of weekends ago we had a deluge on a Sunday. The toilet and shower were gurgling, there was water gushing from our drains, a lake at the bottom of the garden and outside the front door.  The water was a couple of inches up the car wheels.  For more than a moment I wondered if we were in real trouble.  Luckily the rain stopped, the water drained away and all was well.  Many thousands of people in the UK have not been so lucky.  My heart goes out to them.  Dealing with the filth and stench that floodwater leaves behind must be heart-breaking, more so if your insurance company is tardy in responding to your claim.
Maybe we all have to endure winter every year so that we can really appreciate Spring when it finally, thankfully comes along.


  1. You always have the option of moving to France on a permanent basis. We are glad we returned to the UK despite the wet and in recent years it has been just as wet in France in the winter. Happy orming about... You are most welcome to visit and admire our new lake!!

    1. The winter we spent in France the weather was definitely hardly better than in the UK. Spring seemed to arrive and gear up earlier though.
      Thanks for the invite, we may well turn up with our fishing rods!

  2. I agree with Colin and Elizabeth. It has been an awful winter here in France too. Very very wet. Not to cold, but muddy everywhere.

  3. We feel like one or both of us has had a cold or bronchitis for the whole winter -- very unusual for us, even for Simon.

    The big 19C (early 20C) range in your picture is identical to Chenonceau's. That's a fantastic example of a potagere as well. I drive through Les Ormes quite often (several times a year) but have never visited the chateau.

    1. Susan, Les Ormes has the wow factor of many other châteaux but there's less of it to see. Well worth a visit next time you're passing. The kitchens are wonderful. It could be fitted in as an add-on to one of your tours perhaps.

  4. If I had a house waiting for me in France, I know where I'd live. ;) I think, apart from the weather, there are enough reasons to leave the UK. But of course, things may be different for you. I've just read an article on the BBC site about Pet passports and wondered if you'd seen it? If not, here's the link: https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-41969672?intlink_from_url=https://www.bbc.com/news/uk&link_location=live-reporting-story

    1. Elgee, our main reason for keeping a house in the UK is that my elderly father is still with us. He's independent at the moment but the time may come when we have to spend more time here if he needs us. Other than that, until we are tax resident in France (which is looking very likely) we have to spend six months here. Voilà!
      Thanks for the info about the pet passport scheme. We already did the blood test process this time last year, (at huge expense) in anticipation of leaving the EU last March. It's a once only thing I believe unless the rules change again. Our vet here and Eurotunnel have been very good at keeping us up to date.

  5. What a marvelous place; I wonder what it was really like to live in a place such as this.

    1. Michael, I once read somewhere that life was uncomfortable even for the wealthy with all their privileges, in houses like these. Draughty rooms, uncomfortable and bug infested beds, heavy clothes and lack of plumbing, sickness and bad food all conspired to make life difficult, apparently. And ten times worse for the servants and peasant folk.
      It would be lovely to live in one now though!