THE VALLEY OF THE KINGS, FRANCE
Hi. I'm Grahame, Gray for short, and together with Pierre, my husband, we organize writers' retreats at Château de Détilly in The Valley of the Kings in France. Why is it called The Valley of the Kings? Because it was here, in the beautiful Loire Valley, where French kings chose to build their grand châteaux, and not just the French kings, but also families such as the Médicis who formed a strategic alliance with France. You might be wondering why they chose the Loire Valley. It is, apart from being the most beautiful setting in France ('The Garden of France'), right in the centre of the country where many battles were fought. The châteaux in the Loire Valley were either fortresses or royal residences that often began as hunting lodges. There are hundreds of châteaux along the Loire River, which include 42 UNESCO listed. The original Château de Détilly also began as a hunting lodge built by Joseph II, the archbishop of Tours, in the 10th century.
When setting out to buy a château, the Loire Valley wasn’t the first region we were interested in. Originally, we had our hearts set on living in the Dordogne. Inspecting châteaux was a strange experience. Firstly, entering residences where important or famous people once lived was indeed humbling. Sadly though, a lot of the châteaux were so run down, they required no further attention on our part. Just to cite one example, the first château we inspected initially swept us away with its grandeur and powerful presence. Then came the drawbacks that sent dollar signs flying through our heads, beginning with the condition of the roof that had only five years left in it, the decaying shutters, the rising damp in the walls, the barn that was about to collapse, but worst of all, the busy road that was literally next to the kitchen wall.
Finally, after many château visits, we came across Château de Détilly. The moment we walked through the door, we knew it was the one for us, but then what no-one had seen coming was Covid-19. Bank loans were held up for two months. The inventory was done on the day of the first confinement which meant racing back to Paris before curfew followed by months of waiting for the sale to go through.
On July 1st 2020, we arrived and began our bed and breakfast business three weeks later. In addition, we set up our writers’ retreats and welcome writers to spend time at the château with us where they can work in peace and quiet, socialize with other writers, enjoy the activities we have to offer, and explore Chinon and the local villages.