All good things must come to an end. As I sit on a plane from Paris via Stockholm to New York, I am reminiscing about the great memories I have made, the people I have met and how incredibly amazing and generous my friends are that hosted me, while I was running around Europe. It has been a great three months and I would not change a thing. So with that, I decided to save the best for last in my final post.
As some of you may know, for close to two years now, I have been following the renovation of a chateau in the south of France. Given my background and interest in design and renovations, I started to look into The Chateau de Gudanes, and over time the more I read, the more my interest grew for the project. I am constantly following Facebook and Instagram posts, reading articles in the press and learning about the family, whose love for this chateau would bring life back into it, after it was left to decay and ruin.
I learned that an Australian couple purchased the chateau in 2013 and started the renovation process. They had plans to recreate this once fairytale chateau in the mid-Pyrenees, reusing as much of the existing materials as possible, which is time consuming, yet, worth it to preserve the warmth and magic that made this chateau what it once was. I knew I just had to see the chateau in person and meet the wonderful people behind its rebirth. I started communication with Karina and Craig Waters, explaining my background and interest in their chateau. As luck would have it, while traveling through Europe, my timing was perfect, and I was able to visit the chateau and meet Karina in person.
Well-known in his time, Parisian architect Ange-Jacques Gabriel, originally created the chateau for Louis Gaspard de Sales, Marquis de Gudanes, back in the 1700’s. However, before the chateau existed there was a medieval fortress on the land, including two towers. What a grand statement this chateau makes as you drive through the wrought iron gates. The lines of the front facade are fascinating, and I just sat there staring in awe. I finally pulled myself together and tried knocking on the large doors. When there was no answer, I peaked my head over the sidewall, and saw several people and a couple of Jack Russell’s trumping around in the mud.
For the next couple of hours, I joined the group planting rose bushes, that will one day climb the chateau walls, ushering in gentle aromas as you walk through the future gardens, while enjoying the view overlooking the town of Ariege. Over the next few days, I spent time at the chateau, and in the surrounding areas, getting to know Karina, learning the rich history of this grand chateau and meeting all the wonderful people that have come into her life. I was invited to spend the day with Karina and her brocante buddy, David Clark, searching for rare treasures at surrounding broncantes. We found many items; antique fabric head and foot bed frames, glass cases to store items that will be sold in the chateau’s store, and David can never help himself and bought several rugs and other items, even though he already has at least three of everything, but as I learned, David is a master at renovations, and owns several properties that he renovates himself, so these items will come in use, or so he claims.
It was a sheer joy to spend time with Karina, and this was one of the highlights of my European adventure. We shared a lot of laughs, pictures and stories about life, in the somewhat warm kitchen, as we took turns stoking the fire, and making runs down to the fortress part of the chateau, where the wine is stored. Karina is such a lovely, generous and warm person, and I am beyond thrilled to have met her. I am hopeful to someday be invited back to the chateau and have the opportunity to work in this incredibly beautiful and magical place!
For my next adventure, I will be turning 49 while in New York visiting family and friends, and for those who know my friends Bunnie and Mark, I will spend my last week with them in Maine, where life is always an adventure with them, but, what happens in Maine, stays in Maine, so I am signing off until my next adventure. Thanks for joining me along the way!