I’ll never forget the first time I saw Chateau Dumas. It was a sweltering day in July 2005 when my Mum and I turned into the driveway. At first we thought the Coach House was
the Chateau - it’s the first building you see - and I remember my heart sank. Only temporarily, though - that first sight of the Chateau as you pass through the Coach House completely takes your breath away. Even now I can’t quite come to terms with its scale and the fact that the exterior is rendered in a subtle soft shade of pink.
We were met in the courtyard gardens by the owner Madame Constantin. Monsieur C, a talented painter, had died and she was planning to move to Paris. She led us inside to a square room with polished stone tiles. It felt like entering a cave. The entire room, including the ceiling was painted deep orange and the walls were hung with huge painted canvases. Classical Doric columns had been skillfully painted on the walls at regular intervals around the room and pieces of Napoleonic-style furniture had been arranged between them. We picked our way by the light of table lamps.
The dining room was equally impenetrable. It was painted a deep red (ceiling too) with a head of Julius Caesar painted on one wall, huge paintings on the others and a life-size marble statue in the chimney recess. The salon was no different except it was stuffed full of Biedermeier style sofas upholstered in acid lemon fabric and the curtains and shutters were drawn against the intense heat. This pattern of closed shutters, dark walls and ceilings, trompe l’oeil wall art and huge paintings continued and by the time we reached the first floor the only difference was that deep greens and turquoises had also been added!
Two hours later and all we’d managed to view was the Chateau. We still had the Coach House, swimming pool and barn to go! By the end, Mum and I were totally overwhelmed but utterly exhilarated. That evening was spent planning, plotting and working on a strategy to convince my husband that we simply had to buy Chateau Dumas.
Guest Post by Lizzie Ezekial, owner of Chateau Dumas