Prince welcomes visitors to restored chateaux

By Ernest Blum

MONTLOUIS, France -- Prince Louis-Albert de Broglie restored the Chateau de la Bourdaisiere here, setting aside 20 guest rooms as a bed and breakfast.

De Broglie, a banker and a nephew of Nobel Prize-winning physicist Louis-Victor Prince de Broglie, purchased the Loire Valley castle built by Francois I with the aim of reviving its 125-acre park and gardens.

The property is situated in the "Valley of Kings," where most of the renowned chateaux of the Loire.

La Bourdaisiere boasts a ceremonial portal, purportedly designed by Leonardo da Vinci.

Le Chateau de la Bourdaisiere, the Loire Valley castle built by Francois I, is located about six miles from Tours. De Broglie said the average length of stay at la Bourdaisiere is three nights, with most visitors arriving by rental car from Paris and continuing to Bourdeaux or the Riviera.

Daily rates at la Bourdaisiere range from about $135 to $225 per person, including breakfast for two and VAT. Agent commissions range from 7% to 15%, depending on volume, he said.

De Broglie said that 11 rooms and three apartments are situated in the main castle, along with luxurious breakfast and sitting rooms for guests.

Six of the rooms are in the attic of the palatial royal stables adjacent to the main building.

"We've set up the atmosphere of a private home," de Broglie said of the hotel operation.

He said the guest rooms combine modern amenities with furnishings dating to the 18th and 19th centuries.

The estate features greenhouses that grow exotic vegetables, including more than 500 varieties of tomato.

Guests also may sample bottlings from the estate's vineyard, which produces the Montlouis wine that the prince claims is similar to that of nearby Vouvray, a famous wine center.

Other facilities are a pool, a tennis court and stables. Balloon rides and horseback riding are available.

Although there is no restaurant on the property, two are within walking distance in the village of Montlouis.

In addition, guests dine in Tours, six miles away, he said, in some of France's top restaurants, including Jean Bardet and Charles Barrier.

For additional information or reservations, phone (011) 33-2 4745-1631; fax (011) 33-2 4745-0911; e-mail [email protected].

About 36 chateaux and mansions in the Loire Valley offer accommodations.

A directory of these properties, Bienvenue au Chateau, is available from the Western France Tourist Board in New York.

To obtain a copy of the directory, call (212) 745-0974 or e-mail [email protected].

JDS Travel News JDS Viewpoints JDS Africa/MI