Recently we decided to check out the Chateau de la Bourdaisière in Montlouis sur Loire. It's owned by one of the Princes de Broglie and is run as a hotel. The grounds serve as his laboratory and conservatoire for his gardening and sustainable farming passions.
Prince Louis Albert de Broglie is an intriguing character. He bought the chateau 25 years ago almost on a whim, because he loved its romantic atmosphere. He and his wife have refurbished the building using eco-friendly and sustainable techniques and materials, and turned it into a hotel that feels like a grand but friendly family home. The atmosphere they have achieved here is relaxed, luxurious and egalitarian.
The current chateau is a 19th century building, but the original chateau on this site was built for one of François I's mistresses, and the childhood home of Gabrielle d'Estrées, mistress of Henry IV and mother of Césare de Vendôme. The original was demolished in the 18th century by the Duke of Choiseul to provide stone for the Pagoda at the Chateau de Chanteloup. The lovely 19th century renaissance revival building that replaced it is not the only piece of romantic French heritage that the Prince has saved. He is also the owner of the extraordinary taxidermists Deyrolle in rue du Bac, Paris, and is responsible for saving Deyrolle first from financial ruin, and then from a devastating fire.
You don't have to book a room at the hotel to enjoy the lovely surroundings. Visitors can come and pay an entry fee of €7.50 to wander about the park and gardens or stop for a cup of coffee or a tomato treat at the charming café or quirky bar on the site. We were very kindly given permission to drive up and park right in front of the hotel so we could take these photos, but normally visitors park down at the gate and walk up, whilst hotel guests park behind the stable block.