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Le Chateau d’Origny, Ouches (Loire, France)

Every once in a while, a girl’s got to stay in a castle. And her room has to be the size of a small restaurant, with a jacuzzi in the bathroom.

And that pretty much describes the Chateau d’Origny.

Chateau d'Origny

It’s a labor of love by former butcher turned chef turned hotelier Werner de Clippel and his wife Melanie, both of whom moved here from Belgium with a dream: to restore a chateau and turn it into a bed and breakfast.

They’ve succeeded beyond their wildest dreams.

Chateau d'Origny before renovations

A photo of a photo of the chateau before…

Chateau d'Origny after renovations

And after the renovations. What a difference!

What is amazing is that they’ve done most of the work themselves (except the illegal bits, like plumbing and electricity). Seeing this young couple it’s relatively easy to imagine them hanging off the roof, tearing down walls and ceilings, or laying tiles.

“It was almost a ruin when we arrived,” de Clippel said. “No one wanted to buy it. Now we have five bedroom suites.” Five rooms is the limit for a bed and breakfast in France; after that it becomes a hotel, with more stringent regulations.

Chateau d'Origny jacuzzi in the bathroom

In case you were wondering about my bathroom… and it’s one of the more modest ones.

“What we haven’t done is made our own living quarters yet.” True, they live in a small apartment behind the kitchen but as soon as they’ve recovered from the renovation they’ll be back at building again.Of course you’d expect a salacious or scary story in a castle, wouldn’t you? Let me tell you one.

Every good castle has a story

Back in 1935, the then owner of the chateau, a certain Comtesse de Grassin, was found wandering the streets wildly claiming her daughter had been murdered. The police did indeed verify the murder but neither the culprit nor the weapon were ever found. The townspeople suspected the mother, as mother and daughter didn’t get along (and had been universally disliked). They were called ‘the vipers’ because it was thought they loosed snakes on their land at night to scare off poachers. They were also miserly, apparently living on their land’s berries and wild mushrooms rather than buying food.

The truth seemed to emerge a few years later when the groundskeeper, on his deathbed, confessed to the crime. There were other ins and outs to the story involving a shady sale, Polish nuns and a purported natural son, but little was ever elucidated and fact and gossip mingle to this day.

The castle apparently isn’t haunted but like all good castles its walls have tales to tell.

On the food front

Of course these grand surroundings require a grand dinner, which was served that evening with great flourish by both Werner and Melinda.

Chateau d'Origny dining room

Melinda de Clippel lights candles and gets the dining room ready

Having slept exceedingly well despite the tall tales of the castle I woke up hungry and since I often judge accommodation by its breakfast I can confirm it was filling and lovely and there’s something about having breakfast in the grandeur of a historic fireplace, copper pots and pans, French windows and an open kitchen.

Dinner at the Chateau d'Origny

Dinner, Part I. Much more followed.

French breakfast at the Chateau d'Origny

Try moving after a proper French breakfast

Things you should know

  • Visit some of the region’s unusual museums while you’re here.
  • The Château d’Origny is a lovely upmarket B&B. But it serves dinner if you can’t stay the night.
  • The Bâtie d’Urfé is wonderful chateau with an Italianate Renaissance influence – a lot of it, and well worth the detour.

This article is part of My Rhône-Alpes, a series in which I explore the stunning region in which I live in Eastern France. Thanks to Loire Tourisme and the Rhône-Alpes Tourist Offices for organizing this visit and hosting Women on the Road. Opinions are my own: I’m opinionated and plan to stay that way. Photos by Anne Sterck.

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