Alastair Sawday’s Special places to stay
Castellanes built Esparron in the 1200s, both have been pivots of Provençal history. The superb stone stairs lead to vastly luscious bedrooms : plain walls and fresh flowers, tiles and gorgeous fabrics, family antiques with tales to tell. The garden is small but perfect. Slender Charlotte Anne and her three beautiful children come straight from a Gainsborough portrait. She attends to everyone : family, staff, guests. Bernard, a mine of information with suntan and real manners, adds a touch of 1930s glamour. Wonderful family, splendiferous house, vast breakfast in the cavernously cosy kitchen.
Travel & Leisure
Maisons d’hôtes owners like Bernard and Charlotte Anne de Castellane de Castellane are the last of their kind. To them, « French country » is the meadow in front of their château, not a style of gobbledygook decorating.They have no interest in contemporary design (« Qui c’est, ce Philippe Starck ? »), preferring instead the look of old, inherited furniture, of foggy pier glasses, dog-eared engravings of Madame de Sévigné, and walnut armchairs with mellow flame-patterned needlework.
Bernard is to the castle born, and for as long as you are in one of the five guest rooms, you are too. …
The bed was a pretty half tester, the writing table placed before open casement window with hand blown panes….an anteroom made me think I would be comfortable not just spending the night at Esparron, but living there..
..Across the (breakfast) table was a former high-court judge from Hong Kong, who explained that while he always booked reflexively at Alain Ducasse’s inn in nearby Moustiers when visiting the region, now that he’d discovered Esparron, he couldn’t imagine staying anywhere else. « What makes the place special is the owners » said the ex-judge. « What makes this place special is the guests » said the châtelain. Noblesse oblige.