CASTLE LOCATION: Officially called Chateau Marouatte, Grand Brassac, 24350 France. The castle is in the commune of Grand Brassac village which is about 5 KM from the castle but the village below the castle is actually St. Vivian on route D2. The official department is the "Dordogne" but it is also known as the Perigord. The castle is located in the North West part known as the "Perigord Vert". The wider region of South West France is known as the "Aquitaine" .
CASTLE STAFF: We have a full time “guardian” - Samantha Read and her chef husband Chris. They live on site near the entrance to the outer bailey. They are British, speak French and are on hand to answer questions and deal with issues that come up. Prior to taking the position at the castle they ran a restaurant in a nearby town for 7 years. Chris will be the chef for all the Art at the Castle retreats.
WATER: Tap water is safe to drink though we supply bottled water on request. The local Dronne River is clean and safe to swim in. You will see people fishing, swimming, and canoeing on the River.
ELECTRICITY: French power is 240 volts. Use of USA electrical devices such as hair dryers which ONLY operate on 110 volts will fry. Most modern computers, shavers, battery chargers now operate on either 110 or 240 volts. We keep a few converters for US or UK items but it is advisable to bring your own. We supply hair dryers.
CASTLE ANIMALS: We have a guard dog “Coco” and a pig “Kumba”. The pig remains in the fenced field where we also put the dog when guests are at the castle.
SPORTS: The Swimming pool is heated. Our very private Tennis Court is a 5-minute walk from the castle gate. We have a supply of racquets. Balls can be bought at our cost (about 5 euros for a pack of 3). We have Badminton, ping pong, boules plus pool and table football in the game room. We have many jogging paths on our 270 acres (110 hectars).
WEATHER: The winter can be quite cold, but snow is rare. April & May are changeable, hot one day, raining the next, so advisable to bring warm clothes, raincoat, etc. June warm, July and August HOT. We do not have air conditioning, but the walls are thick so not needed. The inner castle is centrally heated, the outer castle uses electric, odorless paraffin heaters and/or fireplaces.
WILDLIFE: The castle is in the countryside so it is no surprise we have wild boar, deer, bats, owls and the like. Leave windows open at night and a bat might fly in. Harmless but irritating. The most irritating however is the Loire – They are small cute squirrel-like creatures with big eyes and bushy tails. They are harmless, but they make noise at night as the run around the rafters. We set traps to catch them then set them free far from the castle. They hibernate in the colder months and come out in the warmer months. There are no dangerous spiders or snakes, but it is advisable to buy mosquito or insect body spray to avoid bites especially when walking in the woods.
GHOSTS: Sorry to say we have NO ghosts.
CAR RENTAL: Best bet is to rent a car in the city of Angouleme near the train station.
Europcar, Hertz, Avis are represented. Car rental is also available in the city of Perigueux near it's train station.
GAS STATION: The Nearest gas station is in Tocane St. Apre at the Intermarche grocery store. Open 24/7 with a credit card. A 10-minute drive from the castle. However, we keep both stock of unleaded petrol and Gazole at the castle for emergencies. Diesel = Gazole. Unleaded = sans plomb
TRAIN STATIONS; Angouleme (50 mins from castle by car) is nearest TGV station with fast trains to Paris, Bordeaux, Charles de Gaulle Airport. Perigueux (30 mins from castle) has local trains to Bordeaux.
AIRPORTS: Bordeaux, Limoges about 2 hour drive, Bergerac about 1:20, Toulouse 3 hour drive.
MAJOR FRENCH HOLIDAYS:
May 1st - Labor Day
May 8th - Victory in Europe Day,
May 30th - Ascension Day
July 14th - Bastille Day (Akin to the USA's 4th of July).
CLOSING TIMES: Some major stores are open Sunday morning. Shops that are open on Saturday are often closed on Monday. Showing up for lunch at 1:35 or dinner at 8:35 can mean the kitchen is closed. Some major shops and most smaller ones observe the French tradition of closing for lunch between 12:00 and 2 PM.
MEDICAL: France has excellent medical facilities, & doctors will actually come to the castle. A visit to the local doctor will cost 25 Euros. Perigueux is the nearest hospital about 35 minutes from the castle. Medicine is much cheaper in France.
LOCAL FOOD & DRINK: The castle is in the heart of truffle territory, but just outside of commercial wine areas. Local wines from the Dordogne are in the far south of the Department in the Bergerac region, about an hour drive south of the castle. Walnuts are to the region what olives are to the areas further south & many walnut groves can be seen as well, as mills along the Dronne River make walnut oil. The region is well known for its duck & duck products, especially Foie Gras.
Usefull French Words
Demi Ecreme = Half Fat (Is the French equivalent of low fat)
Lait Ecreme = Skim Milk
Sans Lactose = Lactose-Free
Sans Gluten = Gluten Free
Art Store Information
CAMERA PERIGUEUX: A well-stocked camera store. Figure a 30 - 35-minute drive from the castle.
Address: 41 rue de President Wilson, 24000 Perigueux
Aux Fines Couleurs: A well stocked art store with artist paints of all kinds, including brushes, easels, canvas, etc. A 1 hour drive from the castle.
Address: 26 Place Marengo 16000 Augouleme
Tel: 05 45 95 01 49