Friday, August 01, 2008
Certainly one of the most memorable events of my family's visit to Europe this summer was our stay at Chateau de Matval, a castle outside Vendome (45 minutes south of Paris by TGV). The castle (oh, chateau I mean) has been restored over the past 30 years through the efforts of Bob and Claude Mitrani. The result is truly amazing -- they have made the castle into a home, but kept intact medieval architectural details (including a low stone doorway arch that I conked my head on).
A highlight of our visit was the treat of having pizza inside a 6th century cave, in the original oven and dining room. This room was already old when in the 1700s people were scratching their names and dates into the limestone arches holding up the ceiling. The fire must be built 10-12 hours before you expect to use the oven but once going can cook an enormous amount of food. In fact this oven was used during World War II to cook bread for the neighboring village of Bonneveau.
Sitting inside caves that have been inhabited since the Chateau was founded in 524 AD is an incredible experience, but the rest of the castle is just as amazing as well. The tower is one of the few that exist from the 12th century - many having fallen or been destroyed. Originally this castle likely had four towers and was a traditional square. Other details from the 13th and 14th century including beautiful stone arches have all been restored by the Mitrani family.
Of course the 20th century pool was also nice during the hot afternoons in central France -- all in all a most amazing experience. Bob and Claude have now decided to make their home available for rent during a few weeks of the summer so if you are interested in a chateau for rent at the top of the Loire valley with two of the most wonderful hosts you can imagine - let me know or contact them directly and mention my name. You will have the time of your life!