My wife Brenda and I were recently wed in the church at Lencloitre and celebrated our wedding with our family and friends at Chateau de Picol. A party of 13 adults and 3 children, we found plenty to keep us occupied, both within the Chateau and in the surrounding area in the lead up to the wedding day. The village of Lencloitre is a charming place quietly humming with people popping in and out of the boulangerie for fresh loaves, or dropping into the local café for a Kir Royale. The warmth and friendliness of the inhabitants of Lencloitre is very welcoming, they are quick to offer a smile and inquire about your holiday. Nearby, Poitiers is a breathtakingly beautiful city approximately 35 minute drive from the Chateau, while the even closer town of Richelieu, of Cardinal Richelieu fame, must not be missed. The entire area is unspoilt and when explored reveals a rich tapestry detailing its past; the French aristocracy, the Templar Knights, Joan of Arc. Aside from the history, there is plenty to see and do, Poitiers has a bubbling nightlife, and we enjoyed the restaurants and bars there during our stay.
The Chateau; A swirling entrance through a mature parkland brings you into your first view of the house. An imposing tower is the first feature which captures the eye, followed by the remainder of the chateau, a beautiful building constructed of cut limestone. The style of the building is truly unique, I have never seen anything similar in my travels through France, and this belies its alleged origins as a home commissioned for the dressmaker of Queen Victoria of Great Britain. The grounds and trees have been magnificently landscaped and both chateau and woodland serve to enhance the beauty of the other. The effect is one of serenity and harmony. As a city-dweller, the resounding sensation is one of peace, and quiet. Taking a moment, one can hear a cuckoo softly calling across the parkland, accompanied by the occasional croaking of frogs in the nearby private ponds. These ponds were originally kept stocked with carp for the kitchen of the Chateau, and if one offers a loaf of bread to the still waters they shortly become animated with the descendants of those original fish.
Inside, the important features of this historical home have been retained throughout, furnishings and wall coverings give one a sense of comfort and grandeur. Bedrooms are large with ample storage and en-suite; we took a room on the top floor and slept soundly. Amazingly, the depth of the walls and doors means that even with a house full of life for the week of the wedding, once the doors are closed, all that reigns is silence. The historical features of the house have been perfectly married to a modern firetruck-red kitchen, fully kitted out to accommodate a large party. This is fitted with a dishwasher and washing machine / dryer. Slipping through a concealed door from the kitchen into the living room, one can prepare a snack and prepare to really relax in a cavernous room, replete with handcrafted wall furnishings, a small bar tucked into a recess, and a yawning fireplace which is stocked with bone dry timber hauled in from the grounds. A widescreen television is lost in the proportions of this hall, which comfortably accommodated our large and boisterous party. As we travelled to France in June however, most of our days were spent by the adjacent pool which is a short amble from the front door each morning.
Chateau de Picol is cared for by an Irish couple, Laurence and Marian Clarke, who have brought their Irish charm and hospitality to the place. Their incredible efforts in maintaining the grounds and keeping the chateau in pristine condition are evident in every detail. Their help and advice, is readily available when sought to ensure the stay is comfortable and enjoyable. For us, they proved fundamental in ensuring our wedding went smoothly, using their extensive networks in the local area to source all manner of help, from the vintage Jaguar to transport the bride to the church, through to the caterers on the wedding day, who work locally in Lencloitre. A thoroughly enjoyable week was had by all, and I can wholeheartedly recommend Chateau de Picol as a destination for a family holiday. The house is a perfect mix of grandeur and comfort, while it is all too easy to fall into a reverie with Lencloitre and the surrounding areas.
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