Every once in a while you should treat yourself. Everyone deserves it. Just every once in a while.

I had the chance to experience how the other half live, in a beautiful chateau along the meandering Dordogne river in the midi-Pyrenees at the beginning of April this year.

Chateau de la Treyne is a 14th century castle of outstanding character nestling in an area of yet more outstanding picturesque scenery in the Quercy region of south west France. They offer couples and families what might turn out to be the most relaxing and charming stay you could ever imagine and all this with the considerable benefit of Michelin star dining.

My partner and I decided to mix it up a little instead of flying to the nearby airport of Brive and fly in to Bordeaux, two hours of wine roads drive away. And then we chose Toulouse as the exit point, another two hours motorway drive due south. Both cities were well worth the extra effort but this article is to tell you about the chateau and the region it lays within.

From the moment the gravel crunches under your tyres and the manicured topiary creeps into the corner of your eye you know that you have arrived somewhere extra special.

As the driveway opens into a car park the pale stone and turrets exude a time long past when men wore armour and ladies awaited their knights to return from battle and sweep them off their feet. You are in ‘le vallee de la Dordogne’. A land of forests and villages clinging in gravity defying resilience to the cliff sides of towering plateaus.

Chateau de la Treyne is in the heart of the region and is the labour of Stephanie Gombert, a charming and confident lady, passionate about her hotel and passionate about the details. Her husband Phillipe is President of Relais & Chateaux and so there are serious standards to maintain.

There is an eye for the miniscule within the restoration of this ancient building which subtly blends the modern with the historic. Cobbles and flagstones, granite stairs studded with iron spikes and pitted walls and oak panelling are in evidence at every step.

Through the period windows you can see the broad and fascinating Dordogne river sweep ever onwards or enjoy the stylish gardens with their manicured paths and outbuildings. There are cedars over 100 years old and specimen plants and a rose garden. On our first walk the next morning we heard the snuffling and grunting of what must have been wild boar in the forest behind the grounds and enjoyed the scents of the many blossoms. As you would expect there is a heated outdoor pool and tennis courts. You can follow the path lined with Medici planters to a rose a garden.

Our suite was ‘La Favourite’ on the first floor and starting at 900 euros a night and dinner, at a further 150 euros per head without wine, it was going to have to be outstanding. To save any sense of anticipation it was very outstanding.

We had a a small lounge and an enormous bedroom (with an emperor sized bed) and simply the best bathroom I have ever had the pleasure of using. The centrepiece was a stand-alone gold bath in the middle of the room. Perfect indulgence, but if you are not fond of bathing then a door revealed a modern power shower and in our case with a view of the gardens while you were there.

The mixing of old and new were in evidence again with a medieval carved panelled ceiling juxtaposed with electric curtains and double glazed panels sealing (or opening) the room to the period shutter windows… and the views of the river. All the expected facilities were there from air conditioning to mini bar complete with a complimentary nut wine - delicious as an aperitif. The only thing a guest may miss would be tea and coffee making facilities although the staff were fast to respond to any request.

And this is a good point to move on to talk about the food. If you are a connoisseur of fine dining then you will be at home in the hands of the 16 years, resident chef Stephane Andrieux. He and his team were slaving endlessly to create magnificent dishes and delectables to ruin your diet and ensure the most opulent dining experiences. Most of the dishes used the local produce and delicacies from the region – foie gras, nuts, truffles and Quercy lamb to mention a few.

The head waiter, Erick, was redolent of all the stereotypes and at once both efficient, informative and exuding gallic good humour. He was also dangerous to be around as the wine list starts at about 38 euros a bottle and goes on to stratospheric levels of delight.

We ate far too much for dinner each night but what can you do when every mouthful is a new experience of flavours and textures you would never have imagined or ordered without the kitchen’s guidance. The dishes were too many to list but amazing seafood, local produce and a skill level I have not seen in many of the capital’s finest restaurants meant that after six courses the weeks of dieting in preparation was going to be worth it. There are plenty of photos on the website, chateaudelatreyne.com, that will spur you on to indulgence.

You don’t have to overdo it of course but I refer you to the opening line of this review.

You can stay at the chateau from 200 euros per night and there are many restaurants nearby worthy of mention. The valleys and myriad of roads allow the explorers to find (or lose) themselves in the timeless atmosphere of medieval France.

Whether it is from the precipitous stone walls of Rocamadour, canoeing down the Dordogne or marvelling at the grottos within the rock of LaCave there is much to do. And similarly there is just doing nothing and letting the region bath you a commodity that is so rare to find… peace and silence.

The hotel is blessed with terraces and seating in all aspects. You can catch the sunshine at any time of the day to gaze on the river or marvel at the gardens. Every member of staff is happy to serve you breakfast, lunch or dinner, inside or out, as the mood takes you, in a number of locations.

Log fires were burning in two reception rooms during our stay, the bar and a lounge with comfortable chairs for you to recover from your dining excesses. The attention to detail extend to the various crockery services and silver cutlery which were a pleasure to use.

We had an extraordinary break and there is no hesitation in saying to those who can afford it and to those who maybe need to save a little before going… go on treat yourself. You know you deserve it.


• Reservations: chateaudelatreyne.com +33 (0) 5 65 27 60 60 • Chateau de la Treyne offers double rooms priced from €200 (room only), breakfast is €28 pp •

Chateau de la Treyne offers double rooms on a half-board basis from €324 pppn

Chateau de la Treyne offers a new 2-night fly-fishing package priced from €582 pp to include ½-board accommodation based on 2 sharing and a ½-day fly-fishing lesson on the Dordogne. Suitable for all abilities from complete beginner to expert.

Prices quoted are subject to availability, based on two sharing and are valid for 2017 (open to November 12 + Christmas and New Year).