France: castles become luxury hotels
Spending the night of your dreams in Versailles, walking through the rooms of the Sun King and the gardens designed by Le Notre could soon come true: in order to save its historic heritage, France is thinking of turning a number of its royal palaces into luxury hotels.
This anti-crisis strategy would exploit the economic potential of protected buildings and ensure they are renovated free of costs for the State. The famous royal castle of Chambord, a Unesco heritage site, paved the way: two buildings of the prestigious residence in the valley of the Loire which hosted, among others, Francis I and Louis XIV, were recently converted into ”gites de charme”, deluxe apartments with a weekly rent of 1,000-1,800 euros.
Located a few metres away from the castle, they offer a breathtaking view and sometimes deer can also be admired in the park. The castle of Fontainbleau, near Paris, the residence of French royals from Francis I to Napoleon III, could follow the example: Its director, Jean-Francois Hebert, announced he wants to turn one of the buildings on the grounds into a luxury hotel.
The building, called Les Heronnieres, built between the 18th and 19th centuries to host the stables of King Louis XV, has a surface of 12,000 metres and is currently abandoned. A tender to renovate the building could be called by next year. A project to turn a secondary building on the grounds of Versailles into a deluxe hotel is instead being delayed.
Meanwhile, the opening originally scheduled by 2011 of a five-star hotel in the 1,700 square metres of the Hotel du Grand Control has been postponed. The residence dates back to the 17th century and is in very bad conditions. It was sold to a private Belgian company which was meant to pay for its conversion into a 23-bedroom boutique hotel, with some of the rooms overlooking the Orangerie.
”We have an agreement with an investor but so far the investor was unable to carry out the plan”, said the president of the palace in Versailles, Catherine Pegard, who is studying other options. Other potential ”castles-hotels” are part of the list compiled by France’s Centre of national monuments. Many projects have been halted either because the location was isolated and not touristy enough or for the opposite reason, because there were already plenty of hotels in the area.
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Source: France: castles become luxury hotels, ANSAmed http://www.ansamed.info/ansamed/en/news/sections/tourism/2014/02/19/France-castles-become-luxury-hotels_10102482.html published Feb 19, 2014. Viewed Mar 27, 2014.