It’s still cold in New England and we’ve managed to get another light coating of snow this week. When it’s this cold, there’s really nothing else to do but daydream of warmer times… in France. Remember when I did that last month? I shared my little trip to Mont Saint Michel, where I was amazed by the towering abbey on the ocean.
This time around, my thoughts are drifting further south, way south, down to a tiny town near the coastline. This time, I didn’t just SEE the towering almost-other-worldly structure in the distance. This time, I got to LIVE there. Erica, the founder of this very blog and my very favorite company (where I also work), whisked her team away to the Chateau de Raissac in the small city of Beziers, just a short drive to the Mediterranean, to unwind, do a bit of brainstorming and meet the fabulous couple who own the chateau and run a local vineyard of the same name.
What do I remember?
I remember getting to know the friendliest little dogs who stood watch over their enormous home. The structure was astounding and unlike anything I had ever seen. I’m typically not a chateau sort of lady, but as I kept whispering all week to my colleagues, “I could adjust to this.”
My bedroom was up in a little tower with soft blue shutters that miraculously and without my knowledge were opened each morning and closed tightly each night. All of the rooms were fantasy-like, as if I had stepped back in time, into the most classic of French interiors. I’ve always thought of myself as quite modern at heart, but I guess I finally connected with my inner chatelaine because I felt absolutely content in every nook and cranny, especially my quite blue room (pictured below).
Oh, and especially at cocktail hour. I loved cocktail hour. I want this sort of cocktail hour each and every night until I die. It involved local white wine, candles, bits and nibbles, plush, deep and ancient green sofas and too many interesting baubles strung across the room. There were vintage statues and aged books and furniture and artwork older than everything else.
The cocktail hour treats were delicious; I hadn’t had olives that good since Italy years ago. But…
The meals at my chateau – I love calling it my chateau – were really amazing.
Perhaps there is better pasta in Italy or more authentic paella in Spain (just 2 hours away), but the group of us enjoyed every single morsel so much and learned so much about each other after three, four, five glasses of wine. The highlights were the cheese courses at the end of each meal (mais oui!) and the paella, filled with fresh gems from the sea, that we made by hand and with heart with the charming chef and owner, Jean.
I guess there was one thing that rivaled those cheese courses. Not just dessert – which was delicious each and every time – but our daily tea with cake every single afternoon. There was always lots of whipped cream to go around. This tea break was extra special because it was taken outside, nestled within the beauty that is the Chateau de Raissac. The trees, the flowers…
… the garden, the green house, the entire lush landscape was just so green. I skipped about during our breaks to snap photos, to admire the gorgeous tropical plants that couldn’t possibly grow outside in New England, and to simply find a bit of quiet time among the stone statues, billowing hammocks, vintage urns and green, green grass.
I had an amazing time in Beziers… it really cast a spell on each of us and we were so sad to leave! But the indulgent life didn’t transpire just inside this heavenly chateau, which you really must visit the next time you’re nearby. The heavenliness continued when Erica pulled out a map and piled us in a car toward the sea. Where did we go? What did we do? Well, that’s another post which I’d be happy to remember aloud with you very soon. Would you like to hear about it? Just let me know in the comments. Until then!