The small village of Ermenonville could not come into view fast enough. My daughter, Raven, and myself had just completed an eleven hour flight from Los Angeles to Paris and we were both exhausted, albeit excited. I WAS FINALLY IN FRANCE AFTER A LIFETIME OF DREAMING!
Ermenonville, a small village home to just under one thousand souls, is located about thirty minutes north of the airport and offered me some excitement via the local chateau. I booked a night in the fifty bedroom former home to a marquis (high-ranking nobleman) because of its rich history. Some of the more notable guests included Emperor Joseph II of Austria, Queen Marie Antoinette, King Gustav of Sweden, Napoleon Bonaparte, Mirabeau, Robespierre, Benjamin Franklin, Victor Hugo, Jean Jacques Russo (who lived there for six weeks prior to his death), and skipping ahead to World War Two, the house was occupied by the German military.
Now, Giselle and Raven can be added to the illustrious list.
Once we checked in, Raven and I were provided with a key and directed to our room. It was on the back side and had a fantastic view.
Evening was setting and there was only one restaurant open in the village. I put my shoddy French-speaking abilities to the test and ordered meals for both Raven and myself. If you are ever driving though Ermenonville, please stop at La Creperie du Parc and treat yourself to pure bliss.
It was dark by the time Raven and I finished eating and we decided to stretch our legs and walk through the village. This proved to be, perhaps, more exciting than we bargained for. We came upon the entrance of the cemetery. Not wanting to be disrespectful but wanting to know how old the graves were, I decided to turn the handle to the gate and found it unlocked. I looked at Raven questioningly and she nodded in the affirmative. With a drawn out “creeeeeaaaaakkkk” the gate swung open and admitted us. Gingerly walking up to some tombstones, hoping to avoid tripping in the blackness, I was about to reach out and touch one when a flock of birds chose that particular moment to flap their wings and fly out of the tree above us. Needless to say, I grabbed my daughter in a moment of panic, followed by our nervous laughter and the decision to flee the cemetery. Below is a photo, not taken by me, that I was able to find online. Click here if you would like to see the original source.
Upon returning to our chateau, I noticed there were only two cars in the lot. I inquired in the lobby with the stunning and friendly Fatima if we were the only guests. We were! Imagine my surprise to learn that Raven and I were the only two people sleeping in a fifty room chateau! I asked Fatima if we could explore and she smiled and told us to have fun! Raven soon discovered that every room was unlocked! We did not want to be disrespectful to the kindness that Fatima had shown us, so we simply peeked into several rooms. After that, we walked through the ballroom, the dining room, and a few other interesting spaces. Fatima must have grown a tad bit concerned, or perhaps bored, so she joined us and gave us a tour. The present day bar was once the massive kitchen, and a small circular room with the deep red velvet wallpaper and curtains was once a boudoir!
Raven and I were truly drained of all energy when we returned to our room and let sleep overtake us. I commented as we were dropping of that we were living the perfect synopsis for a murder movie: two women sleeping in a deserted chateau for the night. Still, that was not enough to disturb my slumber and my dreams of sharing a house where many famous people before me had spent some time.
Morning was no less glorious than the evening before. Raven and I were seated at a table by the back patio and treated to a breakfast made in heaven. I found that, as much as I wanted to move on with my adventure in France, I was loathe to leave Chateau d’Ermenonville.
Two of the more formal rooms…
And one last picture of my beautiful daughter… The adventure continues!
If you are ever in the neighborhood, please, click here and arrange to sleep at the chateau!