Holiday Goddess Paris Handbag Guide editor Emma Killick thinks Chateau de Saint Paterne, near Alecon is a special find. And not only because Henry IV is rumoured to have spent a night there…

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Just outside Alençon, this family-run small hotel is one of those places that makes you feel like a modern-day princess. Reading a book in the salon or lying next to the pool and looking up at the postcard perfect chateau, for a moment your fantasy world runs away with you and you imagine this is all yours, not just a room for the night.

You know how a lot of chateaux have frou-frou traditional décor with oodles of fabric covering the windows and patterns that make your eyes hurt? Well, this isn’t one of them. The salon and library are gorgeously designed spaces packed with interesting detail and a smattering of elegant books and traditional games. It somehow manages to be simple but bold. Each of the rooms has a different feel.

While I wanted to stay in the smallest room on offer because it was where Henry IV allegedly stayed, it was booked so we couldn’t and so we just had to stay in a glorious room called Mystères. The name was deliberate: You entered the room through a secret paneled door in the library, climbed 52 stairs almost to the top of the turret, and then opened a heavy wide door to a richly painted landing.

Dining by candelight

With a silver keychain containing a subtle scent, you open the door to your room. Well, rooms actually. The bedroom was all dark browns and greys and reds, with bookshelves and niches replete with fascinating and definitely mysterious objects (dare I say objet d’art?) and then down a little hallway to the bathroom that made me squeal with delight. I could have spent all day in that bathroom – soaking in the bath and looking at all the gorgeous furnishings and jars and robes and taps and slippers and sculptures and . . . well, everything.

Later, we went down to the pool, after a stroll through the pretty and peaceful grounds. The pool was large and Caribbean-warm, with a few different seating areas around it so you had some privacy. And an honour bar, which always makes me feel grown-up.

The dinner was served after a drink in the salon. I don’t often stay at places where the diners all enter at once and I was a bit worried it might be like a cruise ship, but all ten tables were quickly seated and the tables were surprisingly private, given that the beautiful room was quite small. The dinner was wonderful and plentiful – guests were encouraged to have second servings of the main course.

You could keep the princess fantasy going by just visiting properties owned by the extended family: The de Valbray siblings seem to have a chateau each, with three of them within an hour or so of each other and all of them operating as hotels and they also have a great restaurant in the centre of Alençon called Rive Droite (see the Saint Paterne website for more details).

 You can enquire about dates at the Chateau by checking our hotel booking box (right).

Château de Saint Paterne

72610 Saint Paterne (proche Alençon-France)

Tel: +33 (0)2 33 27 54 71



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