Karina: Before venturing to the Pyrenees, I had barely left the 9th arrondissement of Paris, except for a day trip to the Palace of Versailles. But I found the both the architecture and history to be magical and alluring.
We decided to explore the possibility of spending more time in France, when our children were at the stage of finishing school, and my mum, the last living member of my birth family, had died. It was the catalyst for perhaps the first time in my life, thinking what was it that I wanted to do. We had no ‘bow-lines’ to cast off, that had happened, and it was up to us where we would sail from now on. That, put together with a French property newsletter landing in our inbox, set the idea in motion. Before we knew it we were driving down to the Midi-Pyrénées, captivated by the snowcapped mountains and fields of sunflowers of rural France.
Life here in the Midi-Pyrenees, at the Château, has opened a door to a world both real and imagined. I never imagined being here a few years ago, doing what I’m doing, and now I can’t imagine ever being without it.
(click on photo to start the slideshow)
Karina: There is nothing quite like being here. The Château really is the fairytale, and part of a serenity to which we aspire. When people come to visit, sitting on the front steps mesmerised, they always remark how it is even more beautiful than the photos. The feeling and vitality you receive, surrounded by the mountains and the stillness, can’t always be felt from the pictures. Writing about the invigorating energy felt, also does not always fit neatly into words. The Aston Valley, with its lofty mountains and fertile plains, is so vast and restful. Here, the sound of the torrent merges, day and night. Nightfall, with its splendid evenings, are calm and peaceful. There are moments when the moon suddenly appears from behind a nearby peak, lighting the darkness.
And of course there is the history, almost palpable in the walls of the Château. The whispering of the voices in the corridors, and the eight hundred years of strong hands opening the heavy iron gates, which all emit an energy of their own.
Each person who has spent time visiting the Château over the past months, from travellers passing by, to soulful restorers, to the fearless workers, have felt just how captivating the Château and the region is. It has a way of getting under your skin – impossible to forget.