Chateau de Villette
As of mid-June, 2021, France will be open for tourism
STEEPED IN HISTORY, dotted with centuries-old villages that are tucked into valleys, and cradled among undulating hills and low mountains, is Autun, a commune in the Saône-et-Loire department of the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region of France. Here the Roman city of Augustodunum was built by, and named for, Augustus, the first Emperor of the Roman Empire, who ruled from 27 BC until his death in AD 14. Here, too, stand the ruins of Bibracte, one of the most strategic hillforts in all of Gaul, where Julius Caesar defeated the Helvetii in 58 BC on his march to conquer Western Europe and the British Isles. In this locale stands the glorious French chateau, Chateau de Villette, a 19th-century Neoclassic manor house of significant heritage, erected upon a foundation that dates back to the reign of Emperor Augustus.
Chateau de Villette is in proximity to the Côte d’Or, home of some of the most celebrated vineyards in Burgundy, such as Gevrey-Chambertin, Clos de Vougeot, Meursault, Montrachet, and Côte de Nuits in the northern half and Côte de Beaune in the south, appellations of some of the most desirable wines in the world. Vintages that you, too, can enjoy as a guest at Chateau de Villette.
Enter the estate’s gates and follow the winding lane past the barnyard and pond, then gradually rises under a forested canopy that opens to rolling lawns. Suddenly she appears: Villette, beautiful Villette, sheathed in fine-grained, pink-tinged Convolvulus stone from the famous nearby quarry of Pierre de Comblanchien. Warm, inviting light shines through the tall, mullioned windows that overlook a splendid courtyard. Your hosts come out to greet you as your car pulls into the stable yard and ushers you inside to a realm of gracious living.
Here time ticks at a relaxed pace. Your personal haven is an elegantly appointed bedroom replete with comfort, fine linens, and a sleep-inducing, custom-made mattress on the antique bedstead. Indescribably delicious gourmet dinners are prepared for you by five-star chefs, each of the four courses are paired with fine wines especially chosen by your host, Coen Stork. You can take country walks at your leisure, swim in the pool or play tennis, tour the Burgundy wine country and historic sites, shop, or simply doze in front of a blazing fire in the lounge, or read, or chat with friends, old and new.
Discerning guests from all over the world come to Chateau de Villette to experience the tranquil countryside of Burgundy and all that the region has to offer.
YOUR HOSTS, COEN and CATHERINE STORK
Their determination to purchase and refurbish a French chateau came about with their marriage in 2000. When Coen and Catherine Stork first laid eyes on Chateau de Villette, they knew they had arrived home. Renovations to upgrade the structure and modernize utilities and plumbing took two years. Each step was carefully planned so that nothing would compromise the character and originality of the historic building or its marvelous gardens, attributed to André le Notre, the royal landscape architect, and designer of Versailles. Soon after, they welcomed a son and shortly after that, a lovely daughter. Assessing their priorities, they arrived at the decision to close the chapter on their busy, professional city lives and devote themselves to their new life as custodians of a great heritage — and to share Villette with only a very few paying guests at a time, in the manner of an intimate luxury boutique hotel.
ACCOMMODATIONS & RESERVATIONS
Villette offers four elegantly appointed bedrooms in the chateau itself: Meursault, located on the first floor, with a king-size bed, private bathroom, and a breathtaking view over the woodlands; Cambolle-Musigny, a first floor, a two-bedroom suite that can accommodate six with a charming view of the gardens; Volnay Santenots, a second-floor suite with two bedrooms and two bathrooms for up to five people; Chassagne Montrachet, a second-floor suite with two bedrooms and one bath that can accommodate up to six people. On the grounds is Escargot, a 17th-century cottage designed for a couple, though the sofa bed can accommodate two others; and La Grenouillere, a lovely, large cottage with two double bedrooms and one single, a large bath, open kitchen with fireplace, appointed for the family who desires privacy and complete independence. The 500-acre estate has a swimming pool and a tennis court. A full breakfast is included and, depending upon the time of your visit, one of three tiers of seasonal rates apply.
HOW TO GET THERE
Chateau de Villette is located in the southernmost section of the Regional Parc du Morvan in central Burgundy, near Poil, an ancient, sleepy commune in the Nièvre department in central France. It is 200 miles south by southeast of Paris and, depending upon the route you take, a five-hour drive. Conversely, you can board the train from Paris Gare De Lyon to Le Creusot Montceau Montchanin and from there, hop a bus to Luzy, where you will be met. Or, you can fly to Geneva and then drive a distance of 170 miles west, about three hours by car. Lyon is closer, about 120 miles due south.
In short, Chateau de Villette in one of the most beautiful, rural, unblemished parts of France is not a direct shot from anywhere. And that is exactly what you want if you seek a bygone day in a timeless place to visit, to shoot, and to refresh your soul.
All images are courtesy of Chateau de Villette