Chateau de Bagnols – Beaujolais, Rhone-Alpes, France

Stepping into History in One of Europe’s Most Exquisite Châteaux Hotels

Everyone hopes to find an authentic corner of France overlooked by tourism, and here it is. The little-visited niche of Beaujolais is often compared to Tuscany, with vineyard after vineyard cloaking folds of rolling sunlit hills.

And lucky are those few who drive over the drawbridge to the magnificent Château de Bagnols, France’s premier country home and a designated historic monument, one of some 150 baronial châteaux scattered throughout this viti-cultural backwater. English owners have painstakingly brought Bagnols back to its former glory with the help of more than 400 craftsmen and artisans.

The walls are once again extrava­gantly decorated with Renaissance-inspired paintings, and the canopied beds are hung with period velvets and silks, the sumptuous fabrics that made nearby Lyons famous. The antique beds are the château’s tour de force, each a the­atrical work of art from the owner’s personal collection.

To choose among the twenty spacious rooms, museum-like but relaxed and cozy, is nearly impossible. In the morning, make a foray into la belle France, or head for Sunday lunch at the Auberge du Cep in nearby Fleurie, for Beaujolais cooking and wines at their best.

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