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  • Writer's picture5 Senses CulinaryTours

The Duchess is Coming

Updated: Aug 17, 2020

The Chateau Courcelles Le Roy is a sophisticated oasis of calm situated in a large garden park with a canal, its steep slated roof and elegant cream stone mansion was very welcoming bathed in the late afternoon light.

Ah, to have slept in the Chateau and perhaps in the bed that Austrian Duchess Marie-Louise first met Emperor Napoleon. One can dream. As it turns out Napoleon himself ordered that the young eighteen year old Duchess must have a French retinue after crossing into Strasbourg to meet him north of Paris….one, he thought that was more palatable for his people and two, the Emperor was in a rush to consummate his new wife whom he had wed by proxy. So he chucked the idea of meeting her in Soissons and impatiently rushed to met her at Courcelles a short distance north.

Napoleon's marriage to Marie-Louise, was triggered by his desire to have an heir, which she produced for him and marry into a major royal European family. Unfortunately, she was only Empress of the French for four years before he was sent off packing to Elba.

But the chateau has had many stories through the centuries before and after Napoleon. Originally six hundred hectares, now 23, it sits on the edge of a village, a feudal residence built in 1690 for Baron Jacques de la Grange, an advisor to King Louis XIV. Even back then, it was lucrative to be a politician and advisor.

Both during WWI and WWII Germans generals moved in to occupy the lovely chateau and luckily the estate survived intact. There is a story about how the floors suffered under their harsh boots. After the war, the property was purchased by Mr. Bonjean, an art dealer and collector and in the years after he acquired it, he welcomed famous and illustrious guests, such as fashion king Christian Dior. It’s also rumored that artist Jean Cocteau drew the main staircase during a visit, a tale that highlights the meticulous attention to detail in the Château’s design and furnishings.

In 1988 Bernard Anthonioz acquires the property from the wealthy Jarvis family, owners of Jarvis Estate Winery in the Napa Valley. And then extensively renovated it, transforming it into a luxurious hotel without compromising its historical features and design.

Upon my arrival I was welcomed by Morgane Anthonioz personally and allowed to choose my bedroom from several lushly decorated rooms at the top of the stairs. The family owned and run hotel reaches every level of bespoke comfort and service. After wondering the property which offers separate accommodation in the Orangery, Guard House and former Stables to augment the 18 rooms in the Chateau, I settled in for the evening aperitif of Champagne in the main lounge by the fireplace. Following a gourmet dinner of six courses, my favorite the cheese trolley, where the chef has procured Maroilles from La Ferme de la Fontaine Orion of Haution, I was beyond sated. I slowly make my way upstairs and looked to see if there is was a duchess flitting down the hall. Then climbed into bed fit for an Emperor or Empress. Bon Soir!

Chateau de Courselles

Relais & Chateaux


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