Driving along the small country lane in the heart of Burgundy, the Chateau came into view in front of us. We had made it! This was to be our home for the next week and the scene of my 40th birthday celebrations. We hadn’t dared hope the Chateau would live up to the photos we had seen online and it didn’t disappoint.
Chateau de Mercurey sits overlooking the small village of Mercurey, an hours drive south of Dijon – the capital of Burgundy, France, and renowned the world over for mustard. The front of the chateau looks out over vineyards and is the perfect sun trap in winter, basking in sunshine all day long (when there is sun!). Luckily the day we arrived was a glorious, if not cold day and Christophe, the owner, welcomed us out of the cold and into the warm chateau. I think our mouths may have collectively dropped open when we walked into the lounge and realised the scale of the chateau that was to be ours (2 of my friends actually spontaneously hugged each other). Four large couches sat comfortably under a chandelier in a room surrounded by forest scenes painted onto paper stuck to the walls. Christophe explained to us this was the forerunner to modern wallpaper and dated back to the 1850’s.
He then proceeded to show us through the rest of the chateau – in all, 8 bedrooms with ensuites each restored and uniquely decorated by Christophe and his wife. The bedrooms all vary in size and shape with 3 larger master rooms on the 1st floor, and a further 5 bedrooms on the second floor. Being the birthday girl, my friends generously allowed me to choose first. I couldn’t go past the room in the heart of the chateau that has a beautiful old stone balcony looking over the vineyards, heaven!
Christophe then invited us into the lounge for a glass of wine with him while he explained more about the chateau and things to do in the region. I was barely paying attention as the wine he opened was delicious and was from right next door to the Chateau! It was a Chardonnay (which I usually avoid like the plague) made from the grapes of vines that were 60 years old – very unusual as older vines don’t produce as much fruit so winemakers generally replace these older vines well before they reach this venerable age. We learned that there was also a Pinot Noir made from the fruit of vines over 100 years old! We weren’t going to have to go very far in order to sample some incredible wine!
We sat chatting with Christophe for quite some time (3 bottles later!) and learned he had taken over his fathers camping ground and turned it into a thriving 4 star site, then expanding into a successful chain of sites across Europe. He sold the business and he and his wife decided to buy neglected chateaus and renovate them for the holiday rental market – more a labour of love and a side hobby than a business.
I discovered the chateau whilst searching online for likely destinations to celebrate my 40th birthday with a group of friends. Renting a chateau in France had long been on my list of things to do and even though I knew the weather in February was going to be cold and potentially miserable, I decided to bite the bullet anyway, and 8 hardy family and friends bit with me! Funnily enough, Chateau de Mercurey was the very first chateau to catch my eye and even though I was looking at others, in the end I came back to the first one I’d seen and I’m certainly not regretting it.
You can see more on Christophe, his wife and their chateaus on their website.