Follow us on an epic road trip, from London to the magical Château du Grand-Lucé.
If you set off at dawn, you will arrive just in time for a glorious lunch in the sunshine at Château du Grand-Lucé. To cross the channel from England to France, you can travel via Ferry or the EuroTunnel; we recommend the Eurotunnel, which is slightly more expensive but significantly more efficient, enjoyable and only takes 35 minutes.
Book the EuroTunnel in advance and choose the earliest crossing available for a more affordable rate and to ensure congestion is minimal. On the day, arrive early to avoid queuing or missing your slot.
When you arrive in Calais, remember to drive on the right side of the road. The drive from Calais to Château du Grand-Lucé is perfectly picturesque and pretty straight all the way. Stop in charming cities en route such as Rouen, the capital city of Normandy or go via Paris, the City of Lights which is only a two-hour drive from Château du Grand-Lucé.
Remember to have cash or a card to hand for the French tolls that can be surprisingly pricey.
We recommend renting a spacious and fuel-efficient SUV for the journey. We drove the innovative Jaguar F-Pace Portfolio in corris grey, the pinnacle of elegance and style with a myriad of avant-garde technology.
We loved the panoramic roof which enabled uninterrupted views of the powder blue cloudless sky and the Torque Vectoring technology which provides controlled independent braking to maximise capability, even in the tightest of corners, perfect for navigating the winding country roads with ease.
Located in the heart of the Loire Valley, Château du Grand-Lucé is a French national treasure and one of the finest examples of neoclassical French architecture. It was constructed by Baron Jacques Pineau de Viennay between 1760 and 1764 and has hosted prominent figures in high-society, such as Voltaire, royalty and profound philosophers of the Age of Enlightenment.
In the Summer of 2019, Château du Grand-Lucé will be unveiled as an opulent hotel but we were given a sneak peek of Baron Jacques decadent vision of unimaginable splendour, translated for a new generation.
Château du Grand-Lucé is situated in the centre of the quaint village of Grand-Lucé. The chateau has held a place in the hearts of locals for centuries. In 1781, a fire coursed through the village, which was then primarily constructed from wood. At that time, Baron Jacques Pineau de Viennay’s daughter, Louise had inherited the chateau and in the wake of a tragedy, she acted fast and not only welcomed the locals into the chateau to take shelter but she also paid for the entire village to be reconstructed in the same limestone as the chateau to prevent a repeat catastrophe.
Her acts of generosity were not forgotten, eight years later during the French Revolution, the locals loyally protected both Louise and the chateau from the Nazis. To this day, it remains one of the few structures to survive the French Revolution completely intact.
The chateau was constructed on the site of a former medieval castle, the original wall still surrounds the sprawling 80-acre property. As you arrive in the heart of the village, small but bustling with life and you approach the vast walls and gates, there is little hint to the treasures that lay beyond. As the gates creak, as they close behind you, it’s as if you’ve entered a new world full of charm and wonder.
Château du Grand-Lucé is as intricately decorated as a wedding cake. The 45,000 Sq Ft Chateau has 17 bedrooms and suites, including the Master Bedroom, which was built for the Baron and boasts its own private library filled with French literature.
Each room is a work of art, but none more so than the Salon Chinois which has canvas covered walls that were painted with chinoiserie murals by Jean Baptiste Pillement, court painter to Marie Antoinette at Versailles in 1764. Later, the walls were covered and protected from Nazi pillaging; to this day they are a spectacle that will leave you speechless and are deemed as a profound example of 18th century fine art.
The Château du Grand-Lucé has been carefully preserved so that its illustrious history is perfectly intact yet there are new additions such as a stunning new ballroom complete with a stage for a band and a new luxury spa and fitness salon.
The 80-acre property’s pièce de résistance are the private walled gardens. You can spend days exploring the gardens with childlike curiosity and fascination of their beauty. A composite of the formal and sauvage: manicured lawns framed by trees illuminated by glittering chandeliers lead to a petit maze, but down the balustrade stairs a riot of purple flowers explode, assaulting the senses to a soundtrack of birdsong.
Adjacent to this delight is an organic vegetable garden with pumpkins, beans and tomatoes which would later be harvested for the chefs potage du jour. A variety of delicate rainbow-hued butterflies dance around the exotic garden, complete with a circular heated swimming pool and orangerie. Look out for the clique of white geese that glide effortlessly across the surface of the lake.
The private historic White Oak forest is refreshingly cool. Seek the statues hidden in the foliage that were commissioned by King Louis XV as exact replicas of the statues at Versailles and gifted to the baron. Watch out for the Ha-Ha Wall, a deceptive and dangerously deep ditch below the wall which was designed to thwart invaders during the French Revolution.
Château du Grand-Lucé has survived wars and revolutionaries. It has hosted royalty and French aristocracy. It is a place filled with true opulence, charm and magic, beyond your wildest dreams. It must be seen to be believed.
Château du Grand-Lucé, 9 Place de la République, 72150 Le Grand-Lucé, France