Recently, we were introduced to two very inviting and appealing château bed and breakfasts in Normandy. In this issue we will tell you about the first, in Calvados ~ Basse Normandie ~ a delightful château of unique architecture from the 16th century. Château de Bénéauville is stately, exuding elegance and grace both inside and out! Read about the second one in the June issue.
Lower Normandy is famous for its apple brandy (Calvados), cream and cheese. . .and, of course, its historic coastline. Whether you want to visit the beaches made famous by the D-Day landings of 1944 or you seek a peaceful vacation among friendly people in seaside villages, this is the place to be. It is the land of pear and apple orchards, dairy farms and special villages. Many of you know the taste and quality of French butter, cream and cheese. Free-grazing dairy cattle are the source of some of the best dairy products in the world ~ Livarot in thisdépartement is the cheese capital of the region.
Apple orchards are abundant in this part of France as well, and their fruit perhaps is most famous for use in cider and the French apple brandy known as Calvados, named after the département where it all began. Enjoy, too, delectable apple desserts such as Tarte Normande or Tarte Flambée au Calvados, an oyster dish simmered in a sauce made with apples cooked in Calvados brandy. And, with an immense coastline from the Baie du Mont St-Michel to the channel port of Le Havre in Basse Normandie, there is seafood of all manner to be found and excellent restaurants to prepare and serve it.
Normandy is also the land of châteaus and castles. Many of them offer travelers exquisite luxury accommodations filled with comfort, history and country charm ~ at prices more reasonable than one would expect. From imposing Norman architecture to breathtaking views perhaps from your bedroom of the stunning Le Mont St-Michel, you will be amazed at where you can fall asleep and dream in Basse Normandie.
A listed historic monument for over fifty years, Château de Bénéauville is situated on 25 hectares of parkland and forest and dates back to 1589 when it was constructed by a builder from Amblie, a small village northwest of Caen. It was completed in 1592, only three years later, just as the wars of religion were drawing to a close. The fireplaces are testaments to the taste of the people at the time ~ inscribed with ancient literature, mythology and sacred scripture. The dining room and bedroom fireplaces, for example, depict Hercules slaying the Hydra. The hand-painted family crests and baskets of fruit and flowers on the library ceiling are magnificent and dated ‘October 8, 1636′. The dining room ceiling is painted in beautiful landscapes. Their amazing freshness and crisp colors lead one to believe they were done quite recently!
The history of the château continued with its purchase in 1782 by Pierre-Bernardin Victor Housset de Catteville, treasurer of wars, who lived in Caen. It was bequeathed by later owners, the Duquesnes, in 1897 to become an orphanage under the auspices of famous women artists including Sarah Bernhardt. Over the years its ownership changed hands many times until its eighth and current owner, Philippe Augais, purchased the château.
The architecture of the building remained consistent with the exception of two small pavillons added in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries that flank the façade. At the same time, there was the addition of fireplaces on the second floor and wood paneling in the reception rooms. Guests will notice the fireplace mantel in the library which came from Château de Sully sur Loire. Once you visit Château de Bénéauville, you will know why it is considered unique and quite special in the Pays d’Auge of Normandy.
Today the château is the much loved home of Madame and Monsieur AUGAIS who are happy to welcome bed and breakfast guests. There are two lovely and spacious en suite guest rooms. As mentioned before, the hand-painted ceilings are extraordinary, and guests will thoroughly enjoy them and will appreciate the serene and refined quality of the common rooms such as the salon, dining room and library. They will find their time at the château unforgettable and will succumb to its charms.
If you live in Normandy, you might find that a weekend or a few days at this château will be a welcome getaway; if you are seeking an interesting and memorable place for your visitors to France to stay, this is a great choice. You or they will appreciate the beautiful grounds, the heated swimming pool and even a spring fed pond where everyone can enjoy some fishing! Or, after cycling on the nearby country lanes, come back to take advantage of the sauna!
[Photo credits: All photos of are courtesy of the château owners. All rights reserved.]
Château de Bénéauville: http://www.au-chateau.com/Beneauville.htm
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