Hotels in France

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Le Chateau de Brecourt
Pacy Sur Eure, Normandy

by Sarah Shuckburgh

This is a four star hotel with a difference. Le Chateau de Brecourt, built in 1625, reflects the dignified elegance and calm of a less hectic age. Bedrooms have no TVs, minibars or other mod cons. The plumbing creaks, bathrooms are dimly lit, furnishings are sparse, and 17th century doors may stick, but the result is a rare and wonderful combination of authenticity and charm.

The moated Chateau de Brecourt is a fine example of Louis XIII architecture, with its patterned brick and stone, its steep slate roofs, and its symmetrical wings enclosing a formal courtyard at the front. Inside, despite Nazi occupation and wartime bombardment, and later years of lying derelict, the chateau retains many original features. Downstairs, salons have flagged floors, oak-panelled walls, beamed ceilings and stone fireplaces. The wide staircase has carved dark oak banisters. Bedrooms are large and airy, with shiny floors of hexagonal terracotta tiles and high beamed ceilings.

On the first floor, the formal 'Grand Siecle' restaurant has tapestries hanging on walls covered in red silk. Twenty-foot French windows overlook the courtyard gardens at the front and open parkland at the back. M. Langlais, the chef, prepares superb food, including traditional Normandy dishes. Service can be slow if the hotel is full, but the meals are worth waiting for.

The hotel has 30 rooms, all different, but all spacious and uncluttered. Room 10 has scarlet walls, terracotta floor and a stone fireplace, and is the size of a baronial hall. Room 11, similarly cavernous, has deep blue walls. Both rooms open on to a small staircase which leads to the mosaic-walled indoor plunge pool and Jacuzzi. Even more enormous is Room 32, with a vaulted and beamed ceiling, and (unusually for the chateau) a fitted carpet.

The chateau is surrounded by woods and parkland. A stone portal, standing among the trees, is all that remains of the family chapel. Mown paths lead through meadows of wild flowers. The muffled drone of the A13 autoroute unfortunately reminds one that it is no longer the 17th century, but the proximity of this fast road makes excursions very convenient.

A visit to Giverny is a must - Monet's house, gardens and water lily ponds are just five miles away. The 18th century Chateau de Bizy is even nearer, on the edge of the attractive town of Vernon, and many other lovely chateaux of the Vexin region are nearby. Fifteen miles north, les Andelys and Chateau Gaillard perch on a high bank of the Seine. Versailles is an easy excursion - 45 minutes on the A13. Paris is less than an hour away.

First published by Travel Intelligence Ltd

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