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STAY | in a French Chateau | Chateau les Merles |

Jul 17, 2016











Stay in a French Chateau - Château les Merles, Dordogne France
Have you ever dreamed of staying in a French château? This has long been on my bucket list and finally a few weeks ago my dream came true. Staying at this Château les Merles was definitely a one of many 'pinch me moments' from our recent trip to France - when I realised that what I had been imagining for months was actually right in in front of me. I felt a little like Rapunzel, sitting in our bedroom peeping out of the little loft window down to the pool and across the beautiful Dordogne countryside.  


Chateau les Merles is a beautiful 17th century château in Tuilières near Mouleydier and Bergerac, in the Dordogne region of France.  Just a short drive from Bordeaux, Château les Merles is the perfect place to explore this delightful region of France. Here you can soak up the surrounding French wine country, sample the local culinary delights, explore quaint French villages, or just simply relax with a book by the pool. The interiors are equally as stunning as the properties exterior, with polished black timber floors and woodwork, crisp white walls and contemporary lounges, with luxurious chandeliers, white orchids and ornate gold mirrors decorating the two beautiful parlour rooms. I fell in love with the pink chairs in the reading room.  





The staff at Château les Merles are incredibly warm and friendly and will have you relaxing with a local wine from the Chateau’s own vineyard within minutes of entering the fabulous dining room.  The Bistrot in the central courtyard is the perfect place for a post-golf Aperitif, while the La Bruyere Blanche is a place where couples can enjoy a romantic dinner, families come together for a special meal, locals meet for a jovial dinner and children are made to feel very welcome. The innovative menu serves excellent New Périgordine cuisine with a strong focus on seasonal local produce, real flavours and rustic heart warming dishes to feed the soul. All of the wines are sourced from the local Bergerac region too. While my husband and I enjoyed our soufflé out on the terrace, the kids loved to run free around the gardens. 

The owners were always close by to say a friendly hello, and the staff had some wonderful suggestions for day trips to the nearby Issigeac market and Château Bridoire. They were very patient with my poor attempts at speaking French too. It is all of those little things that make for a happy and relaxed stay and we loved every minute of it. Dining here every evening was something I will never forget.





All of the guest rooms and family villas have been recently renovated with contemporary style, while still maintaining the 17th century charm. The spacious villas are a wonderful option for families or group of friends travelling together each with their own kitchen, living room and terrace overlooking the swimming pool.




The property has a 9-hole golf course and golf driving range, two swimming pools, and the location makes it the perfect base to explore some of the regions finest vineyards, château and markets. You can also get married here, and let me tell you this would be the most incredible wedding location. And of course the pool is where it's at if you have little ones. The boys went crazy when they saw the diving board, and not even the rain could stop them from swimming. 






All Photos by Natalie Hayllar, Eat Read Love

If you have ever dreamed of staying in French château, then you must include a stay at Château les Merles in your next holiday itinerary. I recommend a minimum of three nights here to really relax and enjoy the surrounds, and of course to try everything on the menu. I won't forget our last morning before driving to Bordeaux - the château was covered in a soft white fog, and I secretly hoped that this wouldn’t be the last time we would drive down the beautiful tree lined driveway. Until next time Château les Merles, you were pure magic.

EAT: you must try the Poulet fermier du Périgord en croûte de sel, crème de morilles, fèves et mousseline de pommes de terre. And who could say no to a crème brulee or soufflé when in France? You just cant, and shouldn’t. Ever. 

READ: The Lavender Keeper by Fiona McIntosh provided the perfect poolside reading! And of course Marie Claire Maison is great for some drool worthy French interiors.     

LOVE: the view from my bedroom window seat as the dusk turned into night. We absolutely loved the local weekend market at Issigeac too. 

PLAY: Our two boys were in heaven at the nearby Chateau de Bridoire – a 12th century castle once abandoned and lovingly restored by the Guyot family. Kids can tour the castle and grounds, play medieval games, watch the horses training and plenty of outdoor games and space to run around. Fantastic place. 


When you stay in a Smith Hotel you know it is going to be special. After all they have done all of the hard work for you and only choose the best of the bunch, those hotels that just have that extra something special that is hard to define. Whether it be a feeling you get when you arrive, a special little feature in your room, amazing interiors, a truly unique local menu or just the wow factor.  Mr & Mrs Smith have some great packages when you book a room or villa package at Château les Merles with extras like picnic hampers, Champagne and spa treatments to choose from. For bookings go to Mr & Mrs Smith

*I was a guest of Château les Merles










All Photos by Natalie Hayllar, Eat Read Love




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SHOP | French Antique Market | Issigeac, Dordogne

Jul 16, 2016



Photos by Natalie Hayllar, Eat Read Love

French Antique Market - Issigeac, Dordogne
Issigeac Sunday morning market is your ultimate French antique market fantasy come to life. Issigeac is a stunningly beautiful medieval village in the south east of Bergerac, in the Perigord Pourpre region of France. The popular Sunday morning Issigeac market is one of the most wonderful I have ever seen. The town was largely built between 13-16th century but dates back to well before 10th century with romantic winding laneways, Romeo and Juliet style balconies and traditional 'colombage' houses. In Summer the local market grows to fill the entire village, with an amazing array of fresh local produce, French antiques and flowers. Swoon worthy is an understatement. The central courtyard comes alive with buskers and artists, you can enjoy crepes, sip on local wine, shop for fresh fruit and vegetable markets (I have never seen so many amazing strawberries). After shopping you can relax in one of the delightful tea shops or wine bars, filled with locals and their canine friends. 

The Le Salon de thé - Le Shabby Chic Corner is probably one of, if not THE most prettiest places I have ever had a cup of tea, which I stumbled upon purely by accident. Here you can sit in the sunshine with the cutest little black sleepy cat by your side, enjoy a cuppa or hot chocolate with scones, and shop for French Shabby Chic antiques next door.

We spent hours wandering through this tiny village, the entire time I spent wishing I could carry everything home with me. Sadly my photos were the only thing to fit in my suitcase from this market visit.  And of course the drive to the market is hard to beat – we had to keep stopping to take photos of the fields of poppies!! Issigeac is one of the highlights of our drive through the Dordogne region and definitely worth a visit on a Sunday. 

STAY: A wonderful place to stay to explore Issigeac and the region is Chateau les Merles - beautiful 17th Century boutique Hotel-Chateau in Tuilières near Mouleydier, and a short drive from Issigeac. Mr & Mrs Smith have some amazing packages at Château les Merles. Read all about our recent stay here



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