Chateau de Fleury La Foret: Worth a night’s stay!
by Ian Blackshaw
My wife and I have just returned from a few days in Chartres, where, naturally, we visited its fine Cathedral with its magnificent medieval stained glass windows. We were fortunate to be there on the first evening of their ‘son et lumiere’ season and it was most impressive and well worth seeing!
On our way back, we visited the beautiful ‘Pays de Lyons Foret’ in Haute Normandie (Departement de l’Eure), at the centre of which is the finely-preserved medieval village of Lyons la Foret, which claims to be one of the most beautiful villages of France, a claim that is well justified, with its typical colombage houses and fine timber market hall, which dominates its main square. It is a relaxed place, where time seems to have stood still!
Our trusty Guide Michelin pointed us for our overnight stay in the direction of the Chateau de Fleury la Foret, about 3 miles from Lyons la Foret situated in verdant countryside, typical of Normandy. The Chateau offers 4 authentically-furnished rooms on a bed and breakfast basis. All the rooms have en suite facilities and have views on the extensive park surrounding the Chateau, which was built in the sixteenth century.
The Chateau offers a copious breakfast, which is served in the fine and extensive Normandy Kitchen, dominated by some 170 copper pans and utensils of various sizes, all gleaming and polished. Apparently, they are cleaned twice a year and it takes a month to do so.
The present owner acquired the Chateau in 1978 and has restored most of it to a very high standard, following its sacking by the Germans, who occupied it during the Second World War and used it as a youth training camp! The Chateau is now a ‘Monument Historique’.
Amongst its period furniture and paintings, the Chateau boasts a fine collection of period dolls and dolls houses.
Guests staying there are offered, after breakfast, a free visit to the main rooms of the Chateau, with a very good written guide in French and English of its artefacts and contents, which are well worth seeing, much of which has been collected by the present owner, as the Chateau was looted at the end of the War.
The rooms on view include an office, which contains a very fine Napoleon desk; salons with fine furniture; a dining room with a fully set table with fine porcelain and glass ware; and also several bedrooms. It is interesting to note that the four-poster beds are quite small, as the people at the time were generally smaller than today. They also slept sitting up, as lying down was the death position – obviously to be avoided!
Pierre Caffin, the present owner, is a very good ‘mine host’ and also a very amiable and enthusiastic guide to the Chateau. He is also into horses, which are kept in the Chateau’s extensive stables, and has won many trophies at events around France, which are proudly on display in the Chateau.
The Chateau also has a small Chapel and one can also visit the ancient washhouse with its paraphernalia, including old stone sinks and flat irons.
There are many good restaurants in the area including ‘La Licorne’ in Lyons la Foret.
Just two and half hours’ drive from Hesdin, this Chateau is not only well worth a visit, but also merits a night’s stay! As Pierre says: be the owner of an authentic French Chateau for a night!
More information is available on the Chateau’s dedicated website at www.chateau-fleury-la-foret.com.