In Colette’s Boudoir: At Home in a French Chateau

Article and images available about various Relais Chateaux luxury hotels.

“Love: the food of my life, and of my pen.” “Colette

On my way back to Paris after visiting friends in the Dordogne, someone mentioned to me that I’d be passing by Castel-Novel, the thirteenth-century castle where French writer Colette had lived with her second husband, the Baron Henri de Jouvenel des Ursins. Just east of Perigueux, near the town of Brive, I turned off the main highway, hoping to spend the night at Colette’s chateau.

This was the fourth of Colette’s homes I have visited over the years, including her birthplace in the small village of St. Saveure in Burgundy, where the excellent Colette Museum opened a few years ago. In Paris, I’ve stood outside her apartment at Palais Royal, and wandered through her home and gardens in the hills above St. Tropez. Colette’s passions for love, sensual pleasures, and writing make her one of my favorite authors–and role models. One of the most famous and honored French writers of the twentieth century, she was first female member of the prestigious Academie Goncourt, a holder of the Grand Cross of the Legion of Honor, and the first woman in French history to be granted a state funeral. She published more than 73 books, including The Vagabond and Gigi. Perhaps better than anyone, Colette’s writing helps us to relish the temptations and intoxication of love.

A small sign announced the entrance to the chateau, and I turned my rented Citroen into the long tree-lined driveway, which wound through twenty-five acres of exquisite gardens. Just ahead, like something out of King Arthur and Guinevere’s lives, were the crenellated towers and steep walls of a medieval fortified castle. Once I was inside, the chateau’s current owner came out from behind a burnished wooden desk to welcome me….