Images by Philippe Nannetti
For anyone who has been in lockdown for months in a small to medium sized apartment, it’s hard not to be envious of they whose bloodlines have left them in the situation of spending the duration of the coronavirus crisis in the, erm, family castle. It conjures fantasies, surely, of the Euro travel ban being lifted, and subsequently romping around the chateaux and wide-open vineyards of France’s fertile Loire Valley.
One of those, the rather storied Château de Chambord—third in size, stature and all around awesomeness behind only Versailles and Fontainebleau—saw a hotel open on its grounds in 2018, the Jean-Michel Wilmotte designed Relais de Chambord. And recently the hotel debuted a suite that seems purposefully designed for those who feel the urgent need to continue social distancing practices whenever possible. Indeed, built into a toue cabanée (a classic French flat-bottom boat), it floats in elegant isolation along the shores of the Loire.
Of course, its most prized amenity is the spectacularly humbling view of the 440 room chateau and the 5440 hectare estate that surrounds it. But inside, like the hotel that it is a detached feature of, there’s not sign of the 16th, 17th or 18th Centuries. Rather, the cozily modern, Stefania di Petrillo designed suite is done up in dignified tones of blue, red and white, with dark woods, rattan furnishings and wraparound windows.
In the morning, one can take breakfast on the suite’s private deck, with the Château as a lavish backdrop.
It’s also just 160 km from Paris, about an hour-and-a-half train ride. And admirers of pomp and outrageous opulence will want to spend several sumptuous hours just poncing about the château itself, with its magnificent French Renaissance architecture (said to have been influenced by none other than Leonardo da Vinci), fascinating double spiral staircase, and vast collection of paintings, tapestries and objet d’art.
Of course, located as it is in the middle of the glorious Loire Valley, make sure your stay includes a visit to the region’s finest wineries…where you can indulge like your favorite dissolute 17th Century aristocrat.