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The Real Life Spring Court: Why You Should Visit Château de Gudanes

(Image courtesy of The Château de Gudanes.)

In Sarah J. Maas's series, A Court of Rose and Thrones, protagonist Feyre Archeron begins her Fae odyssey at the Spring Court. The Spring Court contrasts the drab human world with its verdant landscapes and ever-blooming flowers. Perhaps a reason why Maas's work is so popular is because it is rooted in reality. When I imagine The Spring Court, I picture Château de Gudanes.

(Image courtesy of The Château de Gudanes.)

Saddled between the Pyrenees foothills, The Château de Gudanes is an 18th-century neoclassical chateau in the heart of southern France. Unlike other French estates, The Château de Gudanes survived revolutions and modernity. While exploring the property, visitors become a part of the story as guests can stay at a luxury accommodation and partake in a Class 1 Historical Monument restoration project. I spoke with Jasmine W. to learn more about the estate.

(Image courtesy of The Château de Gudanes.)

1. Why should someone visit Château de Gudanes? 

Each year, the Château opens its gates and heart to our "Château Experiences" stays. When a guest has a Château Experience, they can spend time within a historical working château hosted by the Waters family and a highly skilled team ( including our chef de cuisine and Le Cordon Bleu chefs de patisserie). A guest can learn and assist with the property's restoration with a focus on the 18th-century frescoes, 18th-century beams in Château's original dining room, and the chapel.

(Image courtesy of The Château de Gudanes.)

The French government classified Château de Gudanes as a Class I Historic Monument because Parisian architect Ange-Jacques Gabriel designed the property. Gabriel is one of France's most celebrated architects. Some of his works include Marie Antoinette's Petit Trianon, Opera House at Versailles, and Place de la Concorde in Paris.

Under the backdrop of the French sunflower-laden countryside, our guests can experience authentic French culture and cuisine. Throughout one's stay, one can enjoy music, partake in wine tasting or cooking classes, taste fantastic food at the candlelight banquets, explore medieval villages and castles, visit artisanal farmers' markets, and rummage for hidden treasures.

(Image courtesy of The Château de Gudanes.)

2. How does Château de Gudanes honor its past and embrace innovation?

We honor the Château by understanding that expert artisans meticulously created each stone, fireplace, and fresco. When the Waters family purchased the property, they understood there would be multiple phases of restoration. During the first phase of work, the Château's team worked to repair the fallen walls, ceilings, and floors. To accomplish this mammoth project, the team removed 500 tons of rubble and organized what was salvageable versus achievable. To our utter surprise, we recovered most of our pieces. Visitors can view artifacts ranging from medieval stones to Renaissance beams at our onsite museum.

(Image courtesy of The Château de Gudanes.)

As we look towards the future, we have installed high-quality bedding, plumbing, Wi-Fi, and more. Our rooms are a union between modern luxury and historic architecture.

3. What hidden gems should guests see when at the property?

We invite all guests to take their time while they explore the interiors and grounds. We discover something new every day. In a small, unassuming room on the ground floor, we uncovered a part of the Château's original history and its role as a medieval fortress. The 13th-century room served as an escape route to the local village. The room also served as the source of a local legend. During the War of the Demoiselles (1829-1832), the Château's owner hid himself in a wooden barrel and used the tunnel to escape the property. As the restoration team excavated the room, they found bone pieces, pottery shards, and 18th-century Venetian glass (which can be viewed at our on-property museum.)

(Image courtesy of The Château de Gudanes.)

4. What is the future of the property? 

When the Waters family first bought the property, they imagined the Château would become a private family residence. Yet, when restoration work began, they realized the scale of the project and its historical significance. Before the Waters family's involvement, the Château lay in disarray. Four of the ninety-four rooms had floors and ceilings. As we restore the Château, the team preserves its atmosphere, authenticity, and integrity. Ultimately, we see the Château as a keeper of memories.

(Images courtesy of The Château de Gudanes.)


Me on my first day of graduate school

Rachel Huss

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