chateau de colombieres

Photos courtesy of Château de Colombières

 

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A thousand years ago, a watch tower stood sentry over the surrounding lands—subject to rising tides from the nearby sea—to thwart frequent invasions of the Bessin area.

In the 11th century, the fortress was home to William, Raoul, and Baudoin of Colombières, associates of William the Conqueror, shortly before the Norman invasion of England.

The fortress was rebuilt in the 14th century by Bacon du Molay, who faithfully reproduced the medieval architecture: a quadrangular form, thick walls, towers with arrow-slit windows in each corner, a moat, and a drawbridge. Much of this still survives.

For 300 years, a noble Norman family, the Bricquevilles, presided over the castle estate. They added two new Renaissance towers and enlarged the windows. The chapel, which had been desecrated by a family member who had converted to Protestantism, was restored.

In 1759, the Girardin family took possession of the castle, and the present owners, the Maupeou d’Ableiges family, are related by marriage.

During World War II, the château was liberated from the Germans two days after the D-Day invasion. It became the American press and radio communication center as well as the headquarters of General Omar Bradley.

Pamela’s Perspective

It would be impossible for me to be too enthusiastic about this wonderful château. Everything is here that I love: authenticity and history. The openness and passion of the Maupeou family allow you to feel part of the continuum of the château’s history.

Remember, the château is not a hotel but a private residence. If you need the full services of a hotel, such as 24-hour room service, restaurant, and valet car park, this is not the place.

 

Château de Colombières

A 14th-century castle

Contact

14710 Colombières
Tel: ++33 (0)2 31 22 51 65
Fax: ++33 (0)2 31 92 24 92
Hotel website

Fast facts

3 rooms

Double rooms: 180–200 euros
Breakfast extra

Open: mid-April to mid-October; contact castle for exact dates

Getting there

Colombières is about halfway between Carentan and Bayeux. Look for route D5 just south of the N13. The castle is well signposted. You’ll need a car to best enjoy your stay.

What to do

On site: guided tours of residence; walking paths on the adjacent Marais Regional Nature Park
Nearby: Landing beaches and museums of Normandy; Bayeux; Caen; Mont-Saint-Michel; golf; horseback riding; tennis; fishing; water sports

Weddings

Yes. Small chapel on site, but Mass cannot be held. Inquire castle for details.

 

Normandy is dotted with wonderful family estates, stately manor houses and châteaux, offering visitors unique, historical accommodations.

If I were to pick just one that tops the list in authenticity and romance, the Château de Colombières is it.

Two things strike you when you drive up: the stunning architecture—complete with towers, drawbridge, and moat—and the sense of calm. The layers of stress peel away immediately; there’s nothing urgent you must do except step into a world of charm and elegance.

The château is not a hotel but the private residence of the Count and Countess Maupeou d’Ableiges and their family. Nowhere will you find a more genuine and warm welcome, and nowhere will you find such enthusiasm and passion about the history of their château.

There are only three guest rooms: the Louis XVI Room, the Watchman’s Suite, and the Tower Suite. Each is unique, and it’s hard to pick a favorite. You’ll find each room offers unusual features such as a medieval stone fireplace, original beams, and arrow slit windows.

All of them have fine antique furnishings, fresh flowers from the gardens, and views of the moat and grounds. One room is suitable for wheelchairs. Rest assured, too, the rooms are completely private.

A substantial breakfast will set you right for the day. There is no evening meal offered, but the family can recommend many fine restaurants in the area, as well as sights to see (you’re close to Normandy’s best attractions) and tours to take.

Something special

curlicueThe hospitality of the Maupeou family.

curlicueThe château is listed as a historical monument of the 14th and 15th centuries.

curlicueMuseum quality rooms, which give an insight into daily life of 100s of years ago, are open to the public by guided tour (small charge).