Helping to make newly wed couples’ dreams come true is an honour and a joy for Erin Choa..
Summers in France are filled with a glorious energy. Cool mornings rapidly give rise to hot sunny days. The gardens are in bloom and in the warmth of the midday sun, indolent bees daydream among beds of lavender as birds soar over matchless blue skies. At night, there is the scent of roses in the air intermingled with hot hay and we catch glimpses of shooting stars across an inky midnight sky to an orchestra of cicadas and chirruping crickets. It is a busy season for us too, turning over our four large holiday cottages and four swimming pools, welcoming 42 new guests as we say goodbye to the last holidaymakers while we try to capitalise on the glorious weather to tackle exterior château maintenance before winter sets in.
Even though summer is a working time for us, the holiday spirit is infectious: there is a buzz in the air as our guests enjoy long French lunches in the dappled shade. Notes of silvery laughter and the chink of glasses, filled with chilled local rosé, tinkle on the breeze and children run full-throttle into nature, building secret dens in our woods, chasing butterflies, hunting for fairies and splashing in the pools.
Their enjoyment is a heartening reward for all the work we put into the estate and it reminds us of how lucky we are to live in such a beautiful place.
And, of course, summer is also our wedding season when we have the honour of welcoming happy couples to exchange their vows in the rose garden or the romantic ruins of the 19th-century orangery. Gorgeous floristry, happy tears, pops of champagne corks and music fills the summer air as they share their special moment with family and friends. These honeyed walls have had the privilege to bear witness to hundreds of weddings over the decades and our oldest wedding photographs date from a fine summer’s day in 1908 when the daughter of the house, Denyse de Fontaines, married Baron Jean-François de Meyronnet de Saint Marc. Since then, it has been a local tradition for Bourneau couples to have their photograph taken in front of the château, which we are honoured to continue.
One château open day, I was so touched when many of our neighbours came to visit us bringing with them their own wedding photos and those of their grandparents and grandchildren to show me – four generations of Bourneau couples photographed in front of our home.
It was strangely emotive seeing this thread of common history stretching through generations of local families, inextricably linked with this historical place I call home.
I feel honoured to be the guardian of Château de Bourneau for this generation and it is wonderful that it is still at the heart of our local community and has meaning to so many. It is a privilege to continue this charming Bourneau tradition and to welcome more couples from near and far to add their love stories into the château walls.
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London-born hospital doctor Erin Choa is the 6th châtelaine of Château de Bourneau, where she lives with her French fiancé Jean-Baptiste and bossy cat HRH Oscar. Read her regular column in French Property News magazine and follow her as she blogs about their château-life on Instagram @theintrepidchatelaine
Lead photo credit : (c)- chateaudebourneau.com