A Royal Stay at the Château d’Arc-en-Barrois in Haute-Marne

A Royal Stay at the Château d’Arc-en-Barrois in Haute-Marne

with 44 Comments

 

Are you sure this is the hotel you’ve just booked? Because this looks like a castle, a real Château ! Kerstin stopped the car at the entrance way, and looked at me. The wrought-iron gate was open, but we weren’t sure if we should get inside. I had typed in the address on Google Maps that was in my confirmation e-mail. Or was there another town called Arc-en-Barrois?

 

We both suddenly burst out laughing… I hope I didn’t make the same mistake as in San Francisco, I said. Because when all the hotels in the Bay Area were fully booked, I thought I found a studio at the American Extended Stay in Richmond next to Berkeley. Except that I called the one in Richmond, Virginia…

 

The entrance door in the center of the sandstone façade stood open. So, we both stepped inside, and gazed at the grand stone staircase. Next to an antique velvet sofa, we saw the familiar blue sign from Booking.com with a 9,2 score, neatly framed and resting on a carved oak sideboard. Do you see that sign? I smiled. This is definitely a hotel, or whatever you wish to call it… and the room I booked an hour ago is in here! The stuffed-out bear behind Kerstin seemed to smirk.

 

 

We climbed up the stairs carpeted in burgundy, to discover a grand piano and more antique furniture in an upper hallway. The high oak door on the right led to a sumptuous dining room with Venetian crystal chandeliers hanging from a carved wood-coffered ceiling. Behind that room, we spotted another lavishly decorated banquet hall. On the left of the main hall, a salon filled with Empire style chairs and other 19th century furniture lead to a more extravagant lounge, TV room, and even further a library and reading room.

 

Several ceiling-high windows were open and we could hear the chirping of the birds outside, but no one seemed to inhabit this charming château. Where’s the reception? I whispered, when I saw in Kerstin’s look that she was as mesmerized as I was.

 

 

Bonjour! Il y a quelqu’un? No answer. Hellooo-hooo? I called out again. Meow… we both turned around and saw a cat descending from the great staircase. It stopped, shot us a  question mark, with one paw in the air as if it wasn’t sure where to put it. Then it sauntered toward us. I kneeled down to pet it, and got another meow.

 

We finally decided to call the number that was sent to us per e-mail. Oh, I didn’t know you were already here! 2 minutes later, a man rushed down the stairs to welcome us. This place is really majestic! we exclaimed. And for a good reason!

 

He told us that the Château d’Arc-en-Barrois and its surrounding forest was owned by the French monarchy since the Middle Ages, but was destroyed during the French Revolution in 1789. When King Louis-Philippe restored monarchy in 1830, the château was returned to him. His sister, Princess Adelaide d’Orléans, who later owned the property, decided to reconstruct and renovate the castle that she wanted to use as a hunting lodge. Unfortunately, the king’s sister died before the restoration works finished.

 

 

The property then passed to the Orléans family until it was sold to private interests in the early 1970s. In 2001, the château was finally bought by a Dutch family, who converted it into a luxury hotel. It was entirely renovated with high quality materials, and some modern elements such as an elevator for guests, and another to carry food from the kitchen in the basement up to the 3rd floor.

 

After showing us the different dining halls on the ground floor, he led us to one of the castle’s 50 rooms. It’s the room of a Swedish banker, he said. We looked at him in confusion: you mean, it once belonged to a banker? No, it’s still the room of a banker now.

 

You see, he continued, the concept of this residence is that the property is shared by 50 owners. Each shareholder owns his own apartment or room, which is equivalent to 2% of the Château d’Arc-en-Barrois. And each owner can come to stay whenever he or she wants to throughout the year, and for as many days he or she wishes to. When a shareholder doesn’t want to stay here anymore, he can sell his apartment or room to whomever he wants, for the price he wants.

 

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Some of the shareholders rent out their apartment or room for a certain period of the year. Your room here for example is owned by a Swedish banker, who only visits during the summer. The walls of our room were upholstered in blue and white stripes, and the bed – rather small I must admit – covered with a blue flowered duvet.

 

When he noticed our perplexed looks, he asked if the room was alright for us. It’s a bit small, I answered. Unfortunately, the other rooms are currently not for rent. But you can use the library, the TV room, the reading room and also sit in the banqueting halls downstairs, if you wish too. And make sure to stroll around the garden down to the river Aujon.

 

But after a day-long drive through the Champagne Region, we preferred to have dinner at the brasserie next door before enjoying a good night sleep. The next morning, we were woken up by a powerful dinging. The church bells were swinging right outside of our window. When the bells stopped, we heard a scratching sound on the other side of the door. Can you hear that, I asked Kerstin? A couple of seconds later, we heard a meow… Kerstin crept out of the bed and got the door. The little cat sped inside without invitation. It directly jumped on the vintage chair. Meow! Oh, good morning, I replied. It pounced on the windowsill as if hunting a mouse and blocked our view.

 

 

I guess it came to escort us down for breakfast. So, you better hurry, Kerstin said. And indeed, it led us out of our room and down the stairs to the castle’s terrace. There, a woman ushered to greet us. She served us coffee, fresh orange juice, eggs, and homemade jam. Would you also like to have some cheese, she asked? When we said yes, she requested that we follow her to the kitchen. There, we saw a large display of French cheese, and we ended up tasting a little slice of each.

 

Sitting on a terrace all by ourselves, we suddenly felt like royalties. Can you believe this? All this for less than 50€? By Kerstin’s smile, I knew that she was thinking the same thing: our stay at the Château d’Arc-en-Barrois was turning out to be one of the weirdest sojourns ever! Probably even more eccentric than the night we spent in the secluded medieval village of Brancion

 

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A Royal Stay at the Chateau Arc-en-Barrois, France © Travelwithmk.com

Follow Mei:

Traveler - Storyteller

Mei is a 30-something Archaeologist, born and raised in Luxembourg. Besides traveling, she loves eating sushi and stinky cheese (although not at the same time), as well as listening to Kerstin's funny stories while driving on long road trips. She's afraid of heights, but adores panoramic views. Her favorite places are those she chose to live in: Paris, Greece, San Francisco.

44 Responses

  1. a mindful traveler
    | Reply

    Such a majestic piece of architecture….wow. And I can’t believe the price, I had to look twice! 😉

    • Mei and Kerstin
      | Reply

      Yep! The Château d’Arc-en-Barrois is such a hidden gem! 🙂

  2. Zoya
    | Reply

    Wow! This place is AMAZING! I couldn’t think of a better way to spend €50!

  3. Marvi
    | Reply

    less than 50€? wow.. That’s so cool. This sounds like a lovely place to stay in! The interior alone is pretty impressive for a hotel. 🙂

  4. Diana
    | Reply

    I’ve been wanting to stay at a chateau for ages!!! The first time we went to Paris we did a chateau tour and I didn’t know you could stay in them until after we got back!!

  5. kjaroundtheworld
    | Reply

    This place is stunning. I love the architecture and all the charm of the furniture. Definitely a place I would stay. It seems like a home away from home for sure.

  6. lukeandmeagan
    | Reply

    Good lord, what a stunning place to stay!! And I love that you were greeted by the resident cat — too perfect 🙂 It looks like you had a stunning visit, and on a budget, too!

  7. Kerri McConnel
    | Reply

    This ticks all our boxes. Firstly our absolute love of France and all things French and secondly our love of chateaux. To be able to stay in one is one of the best things anyone could ever do in France, and you have found a beauty. How wonderful that they are now privately owned and open to the public for this purpose. Noting this one down for our next French stay.

  8. Elijah Rodriguez
    | Reply

    What a dream! This looks straight out of a movie, or a French jazz album cover. So surreal, and I’m so jealous!

  9. Crystal
    | Reply

    This place looks A-mazing! Love that the property was once owned by the Royals, makes for an interesting stay!

  10. Rachel
    | Reply

    This looks like a beautiful place to holiday – what a location! I’d love to see these type of properties in their heydey!

  11. josh
    | Reply

    What a beautiful property, I think it would be amazing to see places like this a few hundred years ago with the original occupants!

  12. Bernie
    | Reply

    Beautiful and unusual, right down to the feline receptionist! We’ve had a couple of experiences like that, where you’re not sure if you’ve arrived at someone’s home until you see some kind of hotel/website signage. Definitely the kind of place I’ll keep my eyes open for.

  13. Jessica Carpenter
    | Reply

    What an interesting and unusual stay! I think it’s really fascinating that each room is owned by someone and rented out. What a unique and cool idea. Looks like the countryside is beautiful too! I would love the cat visiting me haha.

    • Mei and Kerstin
      | Reply

      Oh I’m sure one of the cats would come to welcome and visit you too! And yes, the countryside is lovely too and really perfect for a relaxing stay.

  14. Anja Ben
    | Reply

    We visited Bordeaux and Medoc reagion last spring and there where chateaus on every corner… I was constantly wondering how do they look on the inside. Your stay sounds just like a wonderful experience!

  15. Agness
    | Reply

    This place seems so charming and remarkable, Mei and Kerstin! Thanks for bringing it closer and inspiring us.When’s the best time of the year to explore Château d’Arc-en-Barrois?

    • Mei and Kerstin
      | Reply

      I think the best time would be between April and mid-June and then from September to October. 😉

  16. Kaylene Chadwell
    | Reply

    Wow, absolutely stunning! What a great find and such an affordable price! Staying in a castle is on my bucket list, so I’d definitely love to stay here! Fingers crossed my husband and I can visit this chateau soon.

  17. Martina
    | Reply

    OMG – this Chateau looks so beautiful! I have always dreamed about a castle vacation. Thanks for the fantastic advices :*

  18. Linda
    | Reply

    I love staying in unusual spots. A castle gives you an interesting look into life in another era. In Portugal we stayed in a Pousada palace – an old palace that we renovated but still left much of the common areas in the original decor. I will look for other castles in France to visit. Thanks for sharing.

    • Mei and Kerstin
      | Reply

      You’re welcome Linda! 🙂 And thanks for telling us about Pousada Palace in Portugal! We visited so many awesome palaces and castles in Sintra, and would definitely love to stay in a similar one next time we travel to Portugal. If you go to Germany or come to Luxembourg one day, there are also lots of palaces and castles to stay in!

  19. Davide Fancellu
    | Reply

    Woww, it’s so perfect!!! Amazing experience and love the history! Keep writing… 😀

  20. aniahalama
    | Reply

    What a stunning place, I was in France a few months ago and loved all the Chateau’s there, I would love to stay in one one day.

  21. tanamerarumbai
    | Reply

    Wow! How cool is that for you to stay in the chateau. To be honest, I felt like watching the opening of a mystery movie by reading your post. Great job!

  22. Constance
    | Reply

    Wow I love your photos! What a cool and fun experience to be able to stay in a castle! That’s definitely something I would love to try someday and what better place to do it than in France? Thank you for sharing!

    • Mei and Kerstin
      | Reply

      Thanks Constance! There are many castles in Europe where you can stay in. But you’re right: France is the best country for such an experience because of the delicious French food!! ☺️

  23. Liliane Fawzy
    | Reply

    Wow this place looks absolutely stunning! Such a great find!!

  24. Aisha
    | Reply

    This is PERFECTION! I want to stay here so badly! It’s so plush and the details are divine! Love it!

  25. Lonielle
    | Reply

    Oh my goodness…this place is beautiful! I would love to visit!

    • Mei and Kerstin
      | Reply

      I’m not sure if you can just go there just for a visit though. Probably have to book your room online and spend a night there.

  26. VInce
    | Reply

    What an experience! Love the history of the place. Sounds like a great place. I can’t believe the rate!

  27. Lisa
    | Reply

    Wow! You’re an amazing storyteller and what a dream to stay in this chateau! I’m jealous!

  28. Cynthia Norell
    | Reply

    These pictures are amazing! I would love to visit.

    • Mei and Kerstin
      | Reply

      You could ask if they let you visit it before booking, but it’s first and foremost a hotel/vacation rental. 😊

  29. Rachelle Gordon
    | Reply

    Oh wow, I can imagine what was going through your mind as you pulled up to the chateau. But then again, what a wonderful surprise to finally see where you’ll be staying! It looks like such a majestic location with such a fascinating history. I’m sure if the walls could speak, they’d share some interesting stories. What a place to be treated like royalty, and at such a great rate!

    • Mei and Kerstin
      | Reply

      Yes, the Château d’Arc-en-Barrois is such a hidden gem! And we keep looking for more places like this to stay in. Because who would trade this for a soulless contemporary hotel, right? 😁

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