The Château de la Bourdaisière and the land on which it sits has lived many lives, and witnessed important historical events, sheltered some of Frances past Kings and Queens, soldiers, and noblemen. It’s walls have seen and heard the faces and voices of the past that so many historians, politicians, and leaders would eagerly give anything to be privy to, yet these walls will never reveal their secrets.
The original Château de la Bourdaisière dates back to the14th century when it was a fortress belonging to Jean Meingre. In1520 King Francis I arranged for construction of a new castle on the site. Built for his mistress, Marie Gaudin, the wife of Philibert Babou, Superintendent of Finances for France, after her death, the property and the castle remained with the Babou family. Oddly enough, Marie Gaudin’s granddaughter, Gabrielle d’Estrées, who was born in the château, would herself grow up to become mistress to another King of France, King Henry IV.
After seeing a succession of owners up until the turn of the 20th century, the castle was occupied by the Nazi’s during the Second World War, and then finally turned into an old age home just before it was bought by its current owners and turned into a hotel.
Today, the Château is a small paradise, which boasts endless walking trails, a spectacular flower garden, herb garden, dahlia garden with 205 dahlia varieties, and tomato garden where over 650 varieties of tomatoes can be found. The « tomato bar » open seasonally welcomes guests and visitors for tastings.
During the weekend that I spent with my family at the castle, we felt as though we had stepped back in time. Meals were prepared with fresh ingredients from the gardens, the hypnotic twisting flames of a roaring fire replaced the television screen, and we without distraction we were able to actually spend time together – speak to each other, listen without interruption. Instead of retreating to our own virtual worlds that our cellphones so easily allow, we played chess together, went on walks through the forests, and played with chickens, sheep, and pigs at the castle farm.
What I took from this experience is something that I actually don’t need to be in a 14th century castle to achieve, it is the realization that turning off, and disconnecting from our phones, laptops, iPads, and so on is vital in order to reconnect with the people that matter most to you. Sitting with my family and feeling that I was truly being heard and that I could without interruption listen to them knowing that there was no technological device around to distract not only helped us connect, but it honestly made us all feel incredibly less stressed out! I don’t know about you, but when I have my phone near me I feel obligated to check it constantly and for no reason at all. Not having the feeling of “responsibility” to check my messages, emails, and twitter updates is a breath of fresh air that I didn’t even know I needed.
Disconnect and reconnect!