Season 2 – Episode #2 – I am a Princess : News from our Album shoot
Season 2 – Episode #2
I am a Princess
Bertrand and Séverine
Listen the “I am a Princess” playlist
Château de Craon, nicknamed the “little Versailles of the Mayenne”, is home to Bertrand, Sévérine and their five children aged 5 to 13 years. This happy young family are all members of the Fermobpeople community, just like you. But with one difference: they live on an 18th-century estate inherited from Bertrand’s grandfather! When we paid them a visit for a photo shoot, it was like stepping back in time. Welcome to the Kingdom of Craon…
Thank you for welcoming us into your home. What made you want to take part in our Album shoot?
We love Fermob and we already owned some pieces. My wife Sévérine was looking for some outdoor furniture for our self-catering properties and she saw the casting call advert on the Fermob website. As for me, I’d always wanted to see what goes on behind the camera. The logistics side of things was fascinating! The kids had great fun getting their make-up done and acting the part.
Can you tell us a funny story about the shoot?
To be honest, it almost never happened! The train was cancelled, and when the team went to collect the hire car in Angers, it was no longer available. I had to jump in my big car and go and pick them up! The shoot itself was a great experience. The Fermob team stayed in our guest rooms and we ate together.
What does this château mean to you?
It takes a lot of time and energy! But it means a lot to us as a family. My father was born here, and I grew up here with my five brothers and sisters. I inherited it in 2018, but it could just as easily have gone to any of my siblings. It holds a special place in all our hearts. My parents were keen proponents of family unity and values. They started the guest room business and they still help us out by running the occasional guided tour. My father picks fruit from our kitchen garden and makes all the jams and preserves we serve our guests for breakfast.
Séverine, what does it take to run a place like this?
A level head and plenty of patience. You have to be able to act quickly in an emergency, but you can’t rush into things. It’s important to be sensitive to the history of the place and do everything to a high standard. This is our legacy to future generations, after all.
How do you go about modernising a château?
We can’t alter the listed parts of the building and the grounds. But, like the generations before us, we’ve added a modern touch to the place with sculptures, paintings and other artworks. We’ve also cut back and reshaped the tress and planted some species that weren’t here 300 years ago. Oh, and we’ve installed some Fermob furniture in the garden, of course! With the self-catering properties, there’s much more creative freedom.
Running a château must have its ups and downs…
I never get tired of opening the shutters and looking out over the grounds in the morning. It’s so peaceful. And I love bringing up my children in the countryside, in an environment like this. Of course, there are times when we’d rather have the place all to ourselves. But we enjoy sharing this magical setting with our guests. Here we are, in this little corner of France, yet we get to meet people from all over the world. Sometimes we even have celebrities staying with us. The children get very excited!
What’s your relationship with colour?
Our château was built in the 18th century, which was an extremely colourful period of history. When we’re doing renovation work, I sometimes end up arguing with the builders about adding some splashes of colour here and there rather than sticking to shades of blue, grey and white. I often turn to the Farrow & Ball colour chart for inspiration. I love the natural, pigmented tones. I’ve learned about the history of the château and the 18th century more generally. I also look at what’s happening at Versailles for fabric and colour ideas. This place is modelled on Versailles, after all. I have a special affinity for colour. I enjoy painting in my studio tucked away in the attic.
How to you go about injecting life into the château and its grounds?
People who spend a night in our guest rooms are staying in a living, breathing house. That’s the mindset we adopt when we welcome guests and visitors into our home! We’re also keen to open up the building to the public and show people what life was like in the 18th century. We have a team of four staff who help us organise weddings and concerts, and we use the income from those events to maintain the building and grounds.
We knew what we were signing up for! And we’re determined to honour our promise to bring Château de Craon and its grounds to life.
Good reasons to visit Château de Craon:
- Visit a historic monument with original 18th-century features, including a wash house, a cold store (the precursor to the fridge) and a dovecote.
- Stay in a guest room or self-catering property and experience château living.
- Take a stroll around the listed 116-acre grounds. Take your pick from the landscaped garden, the formal garden, the kitchen garden… or all three! Each one is as impressive as the next.
- Explore almost 4 miles of alleys and discover idyllic romantic spots, or come face-to-face with deer along one of the many paths.
- Sample the incredible home-made jams and preserves made with fruit picked from the kitchen garden by Bertrand’s father, Loïc de Guébriant.
- And if love is in the air, you can even get married in the former stables!
Le Château de Craon
53400 CRAON, FRANCE