Château du Grand-Lucé, Le Grand-Lucé, France

Château du Grand-Lucé, Le Grand-Lucé, France

Decadent with a capital ‘D’, this Loire Valley French fancy dishes up a perfect marriage of old meets new.

story goes that Baron de Lucé dropped down dead on the steps
of this chateau on the day he arrived to inspect his finished
creation. No one knows whether it was from delight or despair, but
given that Antoine Arnault, of LVMH empire fame, booked it for his
summer holiday last year, our money is on it being the former.

The chateau was the creation of Baron Jacques Pineau de Viennay
III (otherwise known as Baron de Lucé), a close confidant of King
Louis XV, who had inherited the land, including a medieval castle,
from his father. In 1750, the baron tore down the castle and
replaced it with the neoclassical building that exists in all its
satisfying symmetry today. The chateau was passed down through the
family, used as a hospital for wounded British officers during the
First World War and, finally, ended up in the hands of the French
government, who restored the gardens and used some of the buildings
as tourist offices.

In 2003, the American interior designer Timothy Corrigan bought
and renovated the chateau as a private residence. His style and
influence can still be seen throughout the hotel, which reopened
under new ownership in 2020 to serve its original purpose: to host
and inspire the most discerning traveller.


There are 17 rooms and suites, 12 of which have been refurbished
under the new management and can be booked via the website, and
five of which are as Timothy Corrigan styled them, and can be taken
as part of a group booking. No two rooms are the same, although
they’ve all been designed with the opulent spirit of the 18th
century in mind: think limestone and French oak floors, original
boiserie panels, silks, fine art and furnishings from several
centuries, sconces, chandeliers, bespoke fabrics and Persian rugs.

What’s for breakfast?

Croissants from the local boulangerie, yoghurt from a farm just
down the road, biodynamic coffee, jam made from fruit growing in
the potager (kitchen garden) and honey from local hives, plus
continental and US options, crepes, pain perdu, scrambled eggs and
savoury tartines.

How about lunch and dinner?

Dinner is served in restaurant Le Lucé, which faces the gardens
and has a summer terrace. The chef’s three-course menu – not
counting the amuse-bouche, pre-entrée, cheese, pre-dessert and
petits fours – showcases modern French food based on classic
principles, including dishes like lobster-and-cherry carpaccio, and
chocolate-olive mousse.

Meat, fish and dairy are sourced locally from producers who
pride themselves on being able to tell you the name of the
particular animal on your plate, and the fresh produce – fruits and
vegetables – is grown on site by a team of eight gardeners. If you
order a verveine tisane to help you sleep, you can expect to see
someone sprint to the end of the gardens to pick the fresh verbena
for you. The chateau benefits from its location in the Loire to
offer a superb wine list comprising local wines, with a few bins
from further afield in France.

Dinner can also be served in the formal dining room – a
particularly luxurious option for groups to experience dining
18th-century-style under crystal chandeliers with portraits of
long-dead notables looking down on the heavily gilded and
upholstered chairs.

Lunch is also served in Le Lucé, but if the weather is nice, the
chef will make up a picnic hamper and bring it to you by the pool
or in the garden, or for you to take with you on the back of one of
the hotel bikes if you’re exploring further.

Is there a bar?

Yes, and it’s the only place in the chateau with a television. A
cocktail list in the pipeline, but, a good selection of spirits is
currently being served.


You can look forward to a pool in the style and location of the
original circular fountain, with a second winter pool planned,
pedal and electric bikes to suit any energy level, a valet service,
spa and fitness salon, Buly 1803 products and thoughtful touches
like the specially chosen book for bedtime reading and the wicker
basket crammed with local goodies to snack on in your room when you
arrive – perfect for swinging on your arm à la française as you
head for a swim.

Things you should know

The ground floor of the chateau is worth wandering around, to
take in the Petit Salon, Salle à Dinner, Grand Salon and Salon de
Thé, which is an excellent place for a morning coffee or an
afternoon snack, and, even if you’re not staying in it, see if you
can ask one of the impeccably dressed (top-to-toe cream, plus the
latest Stan Smiths) staff members for a tour of the Baron’s Suite
and private drawing room, the Salon Chinois. The hotel is also both
child- and pet-friendly.

What about accessibility?

The hotel is accessible to all – a lift has been cleverly
concealed within the original walls to allow access to all

And their eco-credentials?

While they’re not sustainability pioneers, alongside the
home-grown fruit and vegetables in the potager, all the food (and
most of the wine) is locally sourced. In addition, the hotel is
part of the town’s new energy initiative – a heating network that
relies on wood chips and steam instead of oil, which has been 10
years in the making.

Within a short walk you can find…

The chateau is set in 32ha of grounds surrounded by the original
medieval wall, and a short walk (or bike ride) will take you
through the potager, past the geese-filled lake and into the
white-oak forest to find the seven statues of ancient gods given to
the baron by his friend King Louis XV; replicas of those at
Versailles. In the other direction is Grand-Lucé village, with the
gates of the chateau opening into the tiny town square. The village
is home to two boulangeries, a beautiful 11th-century church, the
historic City Hall and a farmers’ market on Wednesdays.

In the unlikely event you want to leave the peace of the estate,
hot-air balloon rides can be arranged from the meadow, allowing you
to float over the Loire Valley, home to some exceptional French
wines, including its famous Sancerre, tastings of which can be
organised by the hotel. Le Mans, famous for its 24-hour racing
circuit and ancient walled city, is less than half an hour

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