Joie de vivre is quite literally the joy of living and I can’t think of a more fitting description for my stay at Chateau Prieure Marquet. Once a neglected château and vineyard nestled between Saint-Émilion and Libourne, it has been lovingly restored under the ownership of Bernard Canonne. Now it’s a luxury boutique hotel that can intimately accommodate guests in its five gorgeous guestrooms. Only recently opened (they had their very first guests in May 2016), I was invited to come stay and experience the lovely château.
Located just a 40-minute drive from the center of Bordeaux, Chateau Prieure Marquet is set on 100 hectares of land in the village of Saint-Martin-du-Bois. Close to the many châteaux of Saint-Émilion and Libourne, the château makes a stunning base for exploring the wines of the Right Bank.
The château was built in the 15th century and changed hands several times throughout the centuries. It suffered the effects of wars and was left neglected for many years. Bernard Canonne, who is from the Alsace, came to fall in love with the château and could envision what the place could be again. Under his ownership and with the help of the architect Guillaume Aubel, Bernard Canonne’s vision was brought to life. The result is a marriage of traditional with contemporary that creates a space that feels elegant, yet cozy and welcoming.
Immediately, you feel right at home. It’s like being welcomed by lifelong friends who just happen to have a gorgeous French chateau and vineyard, rather than checking in to a hotel. There’s not a reception desk, and there’s no need for one. Palmira and Sergio, an extremely kind couple from Portugal, are the caretakers of Chateau Prieure Marquet and greet guests to get you settled and show you around to the common areas.
There’s a gorgeous piano lounge where you can read or just enjoy a glass of wine and relax. The shelves hold a small library of books you can borrow from during your stay. And the grand piano is one of those smart pianos that can play from a library of over 1,000 different songs.
So far, I’ve discovered the swimming pools are pretty rare but Chateau Prieure does have a small one located close to all of the guest rooms. Best of all, its heated and can be enjoyed year round.
Aside from the charming interior, the estate is set on this sweeping piece of land with vineyards rolling gently downward toward a forest. If you’re lucky you’ll spot the deer who regularly come right up to the château, or stop for a drink from the two small lakes. And you’ll definitely want to step outside for some stargazing at night. The city lights of Bordeaux and Libourne are far enough away to give the perfect opportunity to spot some shooting stars.
The château is built in the style with four buildings embracing a central courtyard. All five guest rooms are located in one wing, and on the occasion that you rent out the entire château, there are a few more available just across the courtyard.
All of the rooms, fittingly named after various grape varietals, are spacious and beautifully decorated. It was the Muscadelle, a gorgeous room on the ground floor with high ceilings and windows looking directly out to the beautiful vineyards, that I called home during my stay.
A nice, hot shower with good pressure is as essential to starting out my day on a positive note as coffee is to some people’s ability to function. I definitely got that shower at Chateau Prieure Marquet. My bathroom was equipped with a fabulous rain shower with three functions. It also had one of those Japanese toilets that can do basically everything but pack your suitcase for you. And you’ll never understand the sweet, sweet pleasure a heated towel rack can give you until you’ve lived in Europe in winter.
Sometimes it’s the little things.
Each room also has an electric kettle, which is an amenity I always love since I like to enjoy a hot cup of tea before bed.
Some rooms can interconnect to others, which is convenient if you’re traveling with your family. There’s also the possibility of booking a small room for kids with three really cute beds and a play area along with some of the rooms on the first floor.
The Wine Cellar
The vineyards were in pretty bad shape when Mr. Canonne purchased the château and some have been replanted, which means yield from those new vines is at least five years away. Even so, he’s producing a Bordeaux Superior and a rosé, which already sold out entirely from 2015.
The wine cellar itself is one of most unique I’ve seen here in Bordeaux. Most of the wooden beams are the originals from when the château was built in the 15th century. Some beams have had to be replaced and others are being salvaged with supports. In the barrel room, the new beams have been painted a striking red, easily distinguishing them from the originals that are in amazing condition considering that they are centuries old.
I’m always fascinated how people come to decide to buy a chateau, especially when the family business wasn’t always in wine. As we sat sharing a bottle of 2014 Chateau Prieure Marquet Bordeaux Superior, I asked Mr. Canonne how a man from Alsace came to buy a run down château in Bordeaux. He swirled his glass and gave me the most fitting response: “Because I like Bordeaux wine!”
D’accord, Mr. Canonne. This is precisely the reason I live in Bordeaux.
The Antique Cars
One of the most fun and unique amenities at Chateau Prieure Marquet is the collection of antique cars. But these aren’t just cars for you to admire like in a museum.
I loved the little Fiat 500s since we moved to Italy. They’re just iconic! It really wasn’t a surprise that I was taken with the “Fiat 500 room”. Magnums of Chianti adorned the fireplace and wheels of Parmigiano-Reggiano sat stacked up inside it. The piece de resistance is the 1973 Fiat 500, which was Mr. Canonne’s first car. It still runs and he’s never wanted to part with it, but now the fluids have been drained and it sits for all who stay at the château to enjoy. You can even request dinner in the Fiat 500 room and you’ll be served a Mediterranean inspired menu paying homage to France’s Italian neighbor.
Unfortunately, we woke up to a dense fog and couldn’t see 100 feet. The fog also didn’t lift before I had to return to the city, which was a shame because I was going to go on a tour of the grounds in the 1957 Willys Jeep. It sounded like a lot of fun!
You can also arrange for the 1969 Rolls Royce to pick you up in style from Bordeaux Merignac Airport or from the train station. Or there’s an English double-decker bus (that isn’t available just yet) that functions as a room that up to four kids can stay in instead of inside the château.
Know Before You Go
Breakfast buffet is included and there is free wifi throughout the château. There is also a car park on site. Note that there is not an onsite restaurant for lunch or dinner, but you can book a dinner. It’s a home cooked meal prepared with seasonal, local ingredients by Palmira.
My stay was provided by Chateau Prieure Marquet in order to bring you this story. However, Luxe Adventure Traveler maintains full editorial control of the content published on this site. As always, all thoughts, opinions, and enthusiasm for travel are entirely our own. This article contains affiliate links. When you book on Booking.com, Oui SNCF or RentalCars.com through our affiliate sites, we earn a small commission at no additional cost to you.