28 April 2014

Chapitres

Amboise, France
By Haleigh In Non classé

In February I wrote to my friend Claude at Chateau du Portail. It had been a while since we last spoke and something told me to send news and say bonjour. It turns out, Claude had some news for me too. He had just sold the chateau to two Americans. They fell in love with it and made him an offer he couldn’t resist. I was devastated, I hate saying goodbye to places, I’ve done it nearly twenty times in my life as my parents were always moving us into new houses growing up, and I moved so much on my own my first years in Paris. In my family we have a whole roster of past addresses we refer to only by the street name “the Mandeville house…the Dillon house…the Park Lane house” and so on we use when we talk about memories that happened there. Here I was so upset and this house wasn’t even mine. That’s what was so special about the Chateau du Portail though, I think everyone who visited all left feeling like a tiny part of it belonged to them: memories there they could cherish forever and could return to. When the longing became too much for this home away from home Claude shared with his many guests over the years, it was as easy as booking a stay and going the distance. I suppose Claude was ready to move on to a new chapter though, as people do. He told me he had bought a new place which he described as a great undertaking and invited me to hop on the train down to the Loire Valley to discover what was going on. I accepted his invitation and booked an early morning train from Paris to Amboise. I got up before sunrise and packed my backpack with my camera, gloves, my journal and pen. I took the Line 5 to Gare d’Austerlitz, watching the last hour of the night over Paris as the metro crossed the bridge of the Seine to the station on the left bank. I took a seat alone on the train and watched the sunrise over the countryside. It reminded me of another chapter of my life, working at the agency in Paris and taking the train to Geneva many early mornings for meetings with clients, I felt like such a kid then. Only twenty-one, hopping between countries I didn’t know for the day meeting with big marketing execs that scared me, my first internship turned into my first job. Surrounded by old business men making commutes, I felt like that kid again. A twenty-five year old kid trying to look like a grown up, a little person in a big world just trying to get around without getting lost. In a whole new chapter of my life and finding that strange feeling on a train again that always hits me when I travel alone. I sat looking out the window for an hour and a half, falling in and out of sleep, watching the sunrise, wondering if my whole life I could fool the world into taking me for a grown-up.

at Claude's new place in Amboise

at Claude's new place in Amboise

at Claude's new place in Amboise

at Claude's new place in Amboise

at Claude's new place in Amboise

at Claude's new place in Amboise

I guess I was a bit ambitious with my timing that morning as I arrived before Claude was free to come get me from the station. I know Amboise a little so I found my way on foot to the center of town. I had never seen the Loire in winter…it was quiet, cold, and misty like something from a storybook. A croissant and two café cremes later Claude found me in the centre ville and showed me the way to his new place. “It’s really a construction site! You’ll see!” made me even more curious about what he had taken on. As we entered through the gate of the property the dogs greeted us, Adrien older than I remember, and Cléo no longer a puppy like she was when I had seen her last. At the end of the dirt road is Claude’s beautiful cloister that is slightly in ruin, a renovation no one is more suited for than Claude. The space is different from the chateau, but special in it’s own right, certainly once it’s filled with some good memories soon enough. Simpler, yet grander in some ways, Claude took me through three or four levels of rooms, for each of which he already has plans that workers were underway on, preserving some and replacing the rest. Behind the house is a beautiful bois, or small woods as we say in English. The dogs seemed to like it and I wandered off a bit on my own as Claude took some calls. The many friends that ring him throughout the day reassure me that the rooms of his new house will be frequently occupied by visitors, even though Claude decided not to open another bed and breakfast.

the woods behind Claude's cloister

the woods behind Claude's cloister

the woods behind Claude's cloister

goodbye to Chateau du Portail

goodbye to Chateau du Portail

goodbye to Chateau du Portail

goodbye to Chateau du Portail

We had lunch in town and Claude told me stories about living in Los Angeles back in the day, sharing meals and tables at benefits in Hollywood with the likes of Grace Kelly and Elton John…or maybe it was Marlon Brando? I can’t remember but either way the stories were just the kind I like…always with a punch line. I really treasure the various friends of other generations I have accumulated in my life. They teach me things friends my own age could only learn with me as we go. After lunch we stopped by the old chateau, so Claude could take care of a few things for the new owners before they arrived from the US to settle in. I walked around a bit on my own to say goodbye. I visited the old swing, and the garden that was dormant in the middle of winter. I noticed the puppies still seem to feel at home here, scratching at the doors to get inside. It would probably be the last time I ever go there. It’s always strange knowing something is the last time. Something makes me feel safe knowing I can go back to places, like we’re moving forward but time isn’t passing, like nothing ends, nothing is gone…I’m just away. But life can’t always work like that. Some chapters come to an end and new ones begin again. Looking back, I think I’ve grown the most between those pages. So in the train on my way back I took out the journal I brought with me and filled them up.

goodbye to Chateau du Portail

goodbye to Chateau du Portail

Comments

  1. Leave a Comment

  2. Rona 28 April 2014

    Cutest jack russel! Loving the photos!

    Dress To Cook

    Reply
  3. Piaf Vintage French 28 April 2014

    Woooow! What a stunning property!! I really love the first photo of the bank in the mist, very conducive to daydreams.

    I thought I was the only one who felt like a child pretending to be an adult…it can be intimidating but I think life is funner this way! Plus it’s probably easier to see and experience la magique come ça. Have a great week!

    Reply
    • Haleigh 29 April 2014

      glad I am not the only one that feels that way 🙂

      Reply
  4. Constance 28 April 2014

    Those pcs are so beautiful, it makes me want to make a movie out of them….

    Reply
    • Haleigh 16 May 2014

      Constance…I too would love to make a little movie in this spirit! XOXO

      Reply
  5. Nathalie 28 April 2014

    you bisous always bring something magical in your post
    thks for sharing

    Reply
    • Haleigh 29 April 2014

      thank you for finding the magic here Nathalie 🙂

      Reply
  6. What a beautiful, gorgeous and special place! The one for dreaming… x

    Reply
    • Haleigh 29 April 2014

      so happy you stopped in to enjoy it Natalia and it is always such a pleasure to read your comments 🙂

      Reply
  7. Sara 28 April 2014

    This post read like a beautiful fairytale, with magical pictures to accompany it. So so lovely, and a bit bittersweet and as always I’m leaving your blog feeling inspired.

    Reply
    • Haleigh 29 April 2014

      thank you so much Sara for appreciating my stories here 🙂

      Reply
  8. Xandra ★ 28 April 2014

    Normally, when I see a post with so much text, I skim through and focus on the photos. Something magical about your storytelling made me want to read every word, so I hit play, and read slowly 🙂 A sad, beautiful story. I suppose one good thing about having to say goodbye is that you look around and reflect on what you have had all along. I hope that a new enchanting place will find you soon!

    Reply
    • Haleigh 29 April 2014

      Thank you so much Xandra, it means a lot to me to know you stick around to read the stories I write in addition to the photos 🙂 they are dear to my heart…like each and every one of my readers. XO

      Reply
  9. Vire-tue-elle 28 April 2014

    BEAUTIFUL PICTURE ! 🙂

    ♥♥♥ http://tienstoiacaroline.wordpress.com/ ♥♥♥

    Reply
  10. maria 28 April 2014

    i had a wonderful break whilst reading your new post haleigh!
    such pretty pictures and as always such great writing! thanku so much! x

    Reply
    • Haleigh 29 April 2014

      glad to hear it Maria. You are welcome on makingmagique during your breaks any time!

      Reply
  11. Anna 28 April 2014

    Haleigh, thanks so much for sharing this! I visited the Chateau last year with my boyfriend after seeing it on your blog. We arrived in the middle of the afternoon, in the pouring rain. I felt wretched and so sick—I couldn’t even handle sightseeing nearby, which was absolutely horrible for this history lover. Claude made us sandwiches and we just rested and it was my favorite place in the world. We only stayed one night, but we’ll remember it forever. I was heartbroken when I heard the Chateau was being sold, because I knew it was the kind of place I’d want to visit every few years, maybe bring my parents or future kids too. It’s great to know Claude has a new project, and that the puppies are doing well.

    Reply
    • Haleigh 29 April 2014

      So glad you got the chance to experience it and meet Claude and Cléo and Adrien. Such an amazing place and amazing people. you must return to the Loire again and see Chenonceaux at least…it so beautiful 🙂

      Reply
    • Haleigh 29 April 2014

      Oh just visited your Paris posts too! So cute and such a darling couple you and your beau!

      Reply
  12. shani 28 April 2014

    What a lovely, thoughtful, well-written, beautifully visual post!

    Shani x

    Reply
    • Haleigh 29 April 2014

      Thank you for taking the time to read it Shani 🙂

      Reply
  13. Faye 28 April 2014

    Such a touching story to read, I am not surprised why you’re going to miss it so dearly it looks as though you made some beautiful memories there from your older posts – I can just imagine you settled down somewhere like that with Ron and a family of your own one day! Lots of love Haleigh often thinking of you

    Reply
    • Haleigh 16 May 2014

      Faye! I would love to move to the country…who knows…I might just do it! Lots of love to you sweetie and see you when I get back to Paris end of next month. XOXO

      Reply
  14. What a gorgeous post. I completely understand how you feel about saying good-bye. I live in London. My entire family is in New Zealand. It never gets any easier…. x

    Reply
    • Haleigh 29 April 2014

      Glad you can relate Charlotte and thank you for taking the time to read and comment 🙂

      Reply
  15. Teresa 28 April 2014

    Claudes new place looks achingly beautiful and enchanting. One could only dream of living in such a place. x

    Reply
    • Haleigh 29 April 2014

      He is a lucky man to own such a treasure!

      Reply
  16. Laeti 28 April 2014

    So many ends and beginnings in your story… It shows how much life can be various !
    Bisous Haleigh !

    Reply
  17. Glory 29 April 2014

    I love a little weekend away 🙂
    I had one myself, a dear friend and coffee can heal almost everything <3

    Reply
  18. Melissa Cuentas 29 April 2014

    What a lovely property and pictures.

    XO

    Reply
  19. Elissa 29 April 2014

    My husband and I will never forget our weekend stay at Chateau du Portail. We still laugh about our bike ride to Chaumont. We used the bikes there in the garage. My husband kindly let me ride the rather nicely padded seated one and he took the other. He still says his bum is bruised and that’s been 3 years ago! We’ve also tried to recreate the kugelhopf like pastry that was always served for breakfast, but can’t seem to make it come out right. Many good memories to cherish.
    Sad it has now become a private residence but happy to know Claude has new adventures in store. It must have been a bittersweet visit.

    Reply
    • Haleigh 29 April 2014

      So glad you share the love of this place that I do Elissa. We will both be missing it very much 🙂

      Reply
  20. Carolina Chavez 29 April 2014

    “I took the Line 5 to Gare d’Austerlitz, watching the last hour of the night over Paris as the metro crossed the bridge of the Seine to the station on the left bank.” I got chills when I read this. I strongly remember that view as well.

    Reply
    • Haleigh 29 April 2014

      So glad that it touched you Carolina. That is what is beautiful about Paris and travel in general…these experiences we each keep close we gather out on our own, just somehow all share that can draw us together 🙂

      Reply
  21. HelloWonders 29 April 2014

    What a beautiful place! It’s like in the movies, I love it.

    Reply
  22. elodie 29 April 2014

    Great text and pictures, its a wonderful place. I really recognize myself in this post. I am from Canada and I’ve move a lot with my parents in my childhood. And then recently, i decided to pursue my dreams and i moved to France. I lived in Lyon for my studies but in june i’ll be moving to Paris for an internship. I know i’m moving forward but yes sometimes it scares me to have no “repère”, but i know i’m growing up by all these experiences.

    Loving your blog

    Elodie

    Reply
    • Haleigh 16 May 2014

      Hi Elodie! So glad you related to this story. I know that Paris will welcome you with open arms! Sometimes Paris can be difficult at first but stick with it and it will give you everything you ever dreamed of. Happy to hear of you chasing your dreams and I am dying to go to Lyon! Can’t believe five years in France and I have not been yet. XOXO

      Reply
  23. Beautiful photos, I like your nostalgic and unique style!

    Reply
    • Haleigh 16 May 2014

      Thank you Lisa! I’m off to discover Paint With the Stars now!

      Reply
  24. Alexius 3 May 2014

    a beautiful post with beautiful pictures <3

    Reply
  25. josephine 3 May 2014

    Looks like an amazing place, beautiful pictures!

    Reply
  26. […] Chapters on Making Magique is an enchanting photo story of Haleigh’s bittersweet last visit to Château du Portail near Amboise in the Loire Valley. Too bad that I only find out about this picturesque château now that it’s been sold and closed for the public. (Which means that I will have to find another French château as my secret getaway.) […]

    Reply
  27. […] Chapters auf Making Magique ist eine zauberhafte Foto-Story über Haleighs wehmütigen letzten Besuch des Château du Portail bei Amboise im Loire-Tal. Schade, dass ich erst jetzt von diesem malerischen Château erfahre, jetzt, wo es gerade verkauft wurde und für die Öffentlichkeit nicht mehr zugänglich ist. (Was heißt, dass ich mir ein anderes französisches Château als meinen geheimen Zufluchtsort suchen muss.) […]

    Reply
  28. Mai Report - Eirys X 26 June 2014

    […] Chapters auf Making Magique ist eine zauberhafte Foto-Story über Haleighs wehmütigen letzten Besuch des Château du Portail bei Amboise im Loire-Tal. Schade, dass ich erst jetzt von diesem malerischen Château erfahre, jetzt, wo es gerade verkauft wurde und für die Öffentlichkeit nicht mehr zugänglich ist. (Was heißt, dass ich mir ein anderes französisches Château als meinen geheimen Zufluchtsort suchen muss.) […]

    Reply
  29. Bruce Meyer 25 December 2016

    We have been friends of Claude for a number of years and have spent wonderful visits at both Chateau du Portail and Clos des Cordeliers. He is a master host and wonderful bon vivant, not to mention the best at making an old maison come alive.

    Reply

Follow me on Instagram for my latest updates...



Not Now