AS I gaze out of my window on to the sprawling grounds, carpeted in the colourful blossoms and bushes that lead up to the elegant entrance to my digs for the weekend, I feel a bit like Marie Antoinette in the Petit Trianon (the less flashy palace she had built in the grounds of Versailles).
Granted, the building doesn’t look much like your typical image of a fairy-tale castle but more like the French definition — a multi-storeyed, honey-stoned château. To the right are the former stables, which now house the two restaurants — the casual Bistro de Montcaud and the more formal Restaurant de Montcaud. Wisteria covers most walls and the thick branches of chestnut trees hang protectively over a series of outdoor tables where, up until September, they hold Sunday brunch to the sounds of live jazz. Nice!
Today, the château is a blend of nature and design, renovated with a lot of taste by charming Swiss couple Andrea and Rolf Bertschi, but back in 1848 it was the home of Alexandre Collain, a prosperous silk merchant. Several original details have been kept, including four family portraits of the Collains in the inviting Grand Salon where velvet, pearl-grey sofas and raspberry-pink chairs nestle beneath the 19th-century frescoed ceiling.
Despite its aristocratic heritage, the feel is relaxed, staff batting not an eyelid at my very British request for cold milk with my tea.
The room: The 25 rooms in the main chateau (there are four more in the restaurant building) pick up on the silk theme with a bold, primary-coloured swathe of raw silk on the wall above each bed. My bathroom features a range of vanilla-scented toiletries by French brand Codage. The hotel also produces its own candles and fragrance with its newest inspired — aptly — by the Silk Road.
The tribe: French families head here for laid-back lunches, while fellow guests include a smattering of loved-up young couples and Brits using it as a base for day trips around the area.
The vibe: There are dozens of beautiful towns and villages less than two hours’ drive away. On Saturday morning I head to picture-perfect Uzès to enjoy its market. Alternatively, you could check out the city of Arles or Grotte Chauvet, a Unesco world heritage site. Being France, vineyards abound: try family-run Domaine la Réméjeanne (domainelaremejeanne.com) to learn about its grenache and syrah grapes.