Chateau de Sinistere…

an impossibly cheap deal on the booking site, some impoverished Australian long term travellers..…what could go wrong?

 

Facebook kindly reminded me that it was a year ago today we were excitedly heading toward a Chateau…

We had wanted to experience an authentic French stay on a frankly disturbing Australian budget, and the booking site lead us to this gem.

Looked the goods on the website, only five rooms, large private bathroom, and a chateau, no less.   Somewhere with an open fire to quaff the local drop in front of.  Somewhere to eat quiche, fromage, baguettes and Yoplait. Sorry, Ill stop that now.   There was never going to be any escargot.  For me anyway.

The French countryside was wintery.  Dried autumn leaves still colouring the hillsides, but their ageing splendor was fighting a losing battle with the cold.  Sleet made a few appearances throughout the journey.  How good would an open fire be to retreat to, with the abovementioned accoutrements – (We were in France).

We had telephoned the Chateau a day or so prior to departure, as we had not received any response to our booking communique.  A guttural voice grunted into the phone after only 20 rings, but could not understand me, nor I him.    I had mentioned in the booking information we should arrive around 3 pm as that information seemed to be of absolutely vital interest to any place we booked.   “Pah” was the response. 

With only a small amount of navigational issues, we found a potholed driveway with a sign in disrepair and a different phone number to the one in the booking site.  A wrecked car was parked along the driveway, but that was the only sign of life.   Overgrown Gardens and gnarly trees surrounded the building, but otherwise it was surrounded by empty fields and forest.

We parked, approached the Chateau, knocked on the door.  Nothing.  We tried the door.  Nothing.  We went around the back and knocked on the door.  Nothing.  There seemed to be a coach house which had a television on.  We knocked.  An hysterical dog launched itself at the door from the inside and snarled ferociously, but otherwise…nothing.

We drove away and went into town. Slightly more life, but not much. It was a Sunday afternoon/early evening by now, and getting dark.  We had telephoned by this time around 20 times, just messagebank, or the French equivalent, which is “Go away.  We don’t want to talk to you.”  We asked locals if they knew of the Chateau, but alas, no one knew of it.    We were met with shrugs and …well just shrugs really.

We returned to Chateau de Sinistere and peered forlornly into the windows.  By this time I had envisaged mein host having collapsed on the floor somewhere, possibly being eaten by cats,  but ….nothing. 

At this point,   5.30 pm and darkening, we pulled the pin and sourced alternative accommodation.  Not so fancy but at least manned and the creepy factor was missing thankfully. 

At 6.30 we received a call from Mein Host, who was apparently now home after enjoying a family outing and having such a wonderful time that he could ignore the twenty or so calls to his mobile and the fact that he had some guests arriving.    I imagined more shrugs and everyone around the table having a damn good laugh.

So, we didn’t get to stay in that Chateau, but we did stay in a different Chateau and were entertained immensely by our new host entering into a spectacular argument in French with Booking.com on our behalf as to the prepaid accommodation for Chateau de Sinistere.    We also got out alive.  Winning.

Feel free to comment or share, I am a needy soul…..

 

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Is it too late to have a gap year in your late 50s? To take back some time from our day to day working life to travel - unplanned, unescorted, unfettered? To take that leap? It was a defining year - liberating, challenging, humbling, scary. It was many things, but it wasn't a holiday.

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