Staying in a working vineyard is always a treat and in Bordeaux you are spoilt for choice. Between luxury hotels on, or associated with, vineyards (think Les Sources de Caudalie, Hostellerie de Plaisance and Cordeillan Bages) and more low key but often just as luxurious B & B’s think Chateau de Mole and Chateau Grand Faurie Larose (more of which soon to follow in another post). You can even privatise a Chateau for your guests and live like a chatelaine at Chateau La Lagune or live like a local in a self catering gite such as Chateau Biac
Somewhere in between the 2 is one of my favourites. Chateau Franc Mayne is a classified growth of St Emilion, owned and run by Griet Laviale. On the eastern slopes of the limestone outcrop at the heart of the appellation the Chateau overlooks the vineyards not just of saint Emilion but also Pomerol with views of the Tertre de Fronsac in the distance. The chateau is the perfect location for a boutique hotel, only 5 minutes from the village by bicycle (which they provide).
Griet has used the site beautifully with the 9 bedrooms in the main chateau, where her artistic flair and familiarity with high-end hotels has been put to good use. The sumptuous living room with its honesty bar and oenomatic wine selection leads to the onto the terrace and natural swimming pool overlooking that view. The pool reflects the eco concerns of the owners, as do the agricultural practices of the estate and the complete recycling of all water used in the winery as well as the hotel.
Close by are the redesigned winery cellars with the latest oak and stainless vats and the 9th century quarries used for ageing.
Never one to stand still Griet is just putting the finishing touches to 2 new guest rooms in the 18th century post house situated on the very top of the property along side the old roman road leading from Libourne to the heart of Saint Emilion. This road was used by the pilgrims on their way to Saint Jacques de Compostella in the middle ages and it is now dedicated to more modern hedonistic pilgrims in pursuit of fine food & wine.
The two rooms in the post house are a perfect getaway for a family or friends, slightly away from the main house. For obvious reasons the Oxbridge room, with its private terrace, speaks to me. Both rooms have what must be the biggest showers in Saint Emilion, if not Bordeaux, where you can sing under the shower with a view over the vines.
You are not limited to supping Saint Emilion while you are in residence, Griet owns 2 other properties in the region; the spectacular Chateau de Lussac in the heart of the satellite appellation Lussac Saint Emilion and Château Vieux Maillet in Pomerol and are available for tasting, and drinking, at the property.
Keep on eye on the Relais Franc Mayne as they are currently redesigning the tour in the underground quarries and, in keeping with their eco philosophy, they will be building a tree house in the famous Cedars (the name of their second wine) for the next season.