Or: A Touch of Old World Charm (Complete with Tarnish)
We have arrived safely in Charles De Galle Airport, just outside Paris in France. After collecting the car, we head out into the wilds toward the tiny town of Ermenonville. It is a good thing there was a sign pointing the way, because the turn off from the motorway was far sooner than expected.
A short drive through evening countryside and we reach our destination.
I can’t help but gasp in awe at the sight. We are staying here? It looks like a palace from the Loire Valley! It even has a moat!
Jim warns me, “Don’t get your hopes up. It is pretty run down.”
Too late! I am already transported back to a different time and place.
Have you ever read a book called, “Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie” by Alan Bradley? It is a murder mystery where our precocious 11 year old detective lives in her family’s down-on-its-luck mansion, Buckshaw Manor in England. Tonight, in my mind, I shall be sleeping (in the good sections) of Buckshaw Manor!
Chateau Ermenonville is a remarkable place, full of old world charm. The tiny elevator (thank goodness there is an elevator) creaks and moans and shakes its way up to our top floor room. The rooms are lovely, if I may say… a bit antique, old wood and old scratches. There is a wonderful feature where a large flat area, complete with lots of cushions, is set in front of the window with a wonderful view of the grounds and the river and a beaver (Yes, I said beaver. Didn’t even know they hade beavers in Europe!) . What a place to read on a sprinkly morning!
At dinner that night there was another surprise: There were no prices on “madame’s” menu! I have heard of such things only in old movies, never actually come across such in real life.
But for one night, this is not real life. We have been transported back to an older, gentler time. Even when I turned the cold water handle in the washroom a little too vigorously and the ivory covering comes off in my hand, I just put it back and laugh, saying, “That’s what you get for staying at Buckshaw Manor!”
I could see that if you were battling jet lag or had an early connection in the morning, you might rather stay closer to the airport in one of the cookie-cutter, sterile hotels but for my money, I’ll risk the drive through the woods and stay the night in an old world chateau.
Besides, the beds are wonderful and the pillows devine. Who could want more?