This was actually a project in collaboration with an old school friend who has recently returned to Europe after many years living in the United States. Last year, she bought a French château in the Midi-Pyrenees region of France. Moving from San Francisco to the French rural countryside was always going to be an interesting challenge but my friend, Monique, is always up for a challenge. To add into the challenge, Château de Séailles with its glorious grounds was going to undergo a redevelopment project.
The first phase of this project was the renovation of some of the outbuildings into a gîte. I was there to photograph this newly renovated holiday cottage on the estate. Time was short as I was arriving on Sunday afternoon and then leaving again on Tuesday early afternoon. It would give me a little bit of catch-up time but also just enough to photograph the adorable rental property in this stunning part of the Armagnac country.
With tall windows that filled my bedroom with dawn light, I was up and awake early on Monday morning. I used this time to discover the château grounds on my own and of course with the camera on hand to catch the morning light. As walked across the dewy grass from the main courtyard and through the gates, I encountered a constructed pond dating from the Gallo-Roman period. Still in perfect condition with stairs leading into the water, I had an impressive view of the main house. Behind me, there was a little storage house standing on stilts and a bridge to cross.
follies and fancies
As I moved around the grounds, I came across an outbuilding that was constructed from wood and horsehair plaster; the well drops down behind this construction to a depth of 18m. Along from this storage building, I came to a back entrance to the château where the turret became fully visible. This part of the house dates back to the 11th/12th century and is the oldest part. In fact, the château seems to have been constructed (and deconstructed) in layers over the centuries.
Armagnac stores and an orangerie promise to be splendid constructions once the renovation project is completed. In the meantime, my imagination has been filled with plans and designs of such beauty that I am looking forward to returning again soon.
Colours of summer
Of course, I was there to photograph the gîte which is wonderfully renovated. With three bedrooms and large reception rooms, it is still cosy and intimate, just perfect for family gatherings. The beautiful rich colours that fill the gîte are inspired by the fabulous paintings of the South-African artist, Judith Stern. If you’d like to hear more about either the holiday rental property, the paintings or the château, drop me a line.