Warning: this is a long and picture-heavy post about a fairy-tale surprise weekend getaway in the Charente region. Boyfriend had been organising this for a few months and although I had a pretty good idea of what was going to happen when we arrived (and if you've read the title of this post, so do you!), I had no idea where we were going until I saw this sign:
The Château de Gorce! (This will make a lot more sense once I tell you that Boyfriend's surname is Degorce. His dad was actually born 10 kilometres from this place so we've decided the château is his long-lost inheritance).
So this was our home for two days: a beautiful estate owned by a Swiss couple with buckets of good taste, who have slowly renovated it and turned the annex into luxury holiday cottages.
We arrived late afternoon and there were a lot of mysterious vibes from Boyfriend and Sonja, the landlady. We settled in and had a walk about, then Seb told me to get ready to go out to dinner while he went and fetched something from the car. 5 minutes later, Sonja came to get me and lead me into the château dining room, where (surprise) Boyfriend was sitting waiting for me at a beautifully set table.
I'll skip the nervous smiling and the tense pouring of champagne and eating of nibbles until there was finally some kneeling and asking (and answering) of the crucial question and hugging and more smiling and "I knew it!"s.
The owners don't usually cook for guests but they had found Boyfriend's idea so sweet and romantic that they agreed to serve us a meal in the Gorce château dining room.
It was delicious and I particularly liked the desert: Grand Marnier parfait with a lovely little message for us. It translates as "The happiness of Château de Gorce". Notice the "S" and the "C" in the hearts. Mark, the owner of the Château and our cook for the night, has a definite eye for detail.
So there you have it: we're engaged!! But in no hurry to tie the knot. I'm quite happy to sit and think about what, where, when, how, etc. for a couple of months before we even start trying to plan anything, particularly since it looks like two celebrations will be necessary (one in France and one here).
The ring Boyfriend proposed with is my Mama's engagement ring. According to French tradition he should have used his Mum's or Grandmas but they're no longer in the family, so he asked my Mama who was happy to oblige! I remember inspecting this ring when I was little, it sat in her jewellery box for years because one of the stones was missing. I recognised it straight away when I saw it! It's extremely old and deserves its very own post, hopefully coming soon.
Right, with the nerve-racking bit out of the way, let's have a look at our little paradise:
This was our gîte, on the edge of the property with a view of the horses in the field (errrm, currently not in the field).
The inside was stunning. Lots of different styles of furniture, modern bathroom and kitchen, high ceilings with more beams than you can count, and some lovely touches that made our stay extra special.
I particularly enjoyed the fresh flowers and the welcome basket full of local goodness including a bottle of extra special wine: we'll be saving that one for our wedding!
I tried shooting a few artsy pics of the inside of the house too. Every little corner was so beautiful and carefully put together. It almost made me want to live in total luxury on a permanent basis.
Our stay was very lazy and we only left the Château once to go and buy some food. The rest of the weekend was spent doing this:
As well as cuddling the cats and exploring the château and all its dependencies.
If you look closely at this picture you'll see that the cats have their very own bridge/catflap to get into their castle
Here's a better view for you:
Sonja explained that part of the château burned down several hundred years ago. The ruins make for a nice patio now.
At the back of the château was a big lake that must have been packed with frogs, judging by the amount of noise they made in the evenings.
It was also the home of a heron, who we thought was made of plastic because we stood taking pictures of it for 10 minutes and it never moved once, then the next day it was gone, so it either fell in or flew away. Who knows...
So there you have it: the story of an engagement fit for a princess. Thank god I didn't have to kiss a thousand frogs to find my prince!