Legend has it Joan of Arc stayed the night at the Chateau St. Julien shortly before being captured in 1431. But even if the martyr never set her foot inside the gates, the atmosphere at the 12th century French castle is still abundant with magic.
Nestled within the walls of an estate in the village of St. Julien L’Ars, about three hours south of Paris, the Chateau St. Julien is a quiet respite from a busy world. There are no phones or televisions in the bedrooms. Instead, you’re greeted with crisp sheets, a nightstand with fresh roses from the garden and the sound of birds when you open the windows in the morning.
The castle’s internal details are a tribute to the current owners’ artistic sensibilities and relaxed style. Seattle architect Nash Gubelman and artist Linda Softing have decorated the property with furnishings that honor the castle’s history but also embodies comfort and livability. Dark four-poster beds with Moroccan-style silk throw pillows are paired with vintage velvet armchairs in earthy colors. Kilim runners in soft brown colors grace the hallways, while Persian rugs in rich, bold reds make a statement in the castle’s living rooms. The result is a unifying sense of elegance and panache.
But it’s the Chateau St. Julien’s history that embraces you and remains with you once you leave. Given to the de Cleret family in 963 as a fiefdom, the castle started out as a medieval tower that was expanded upon for 700 years. In 1356, the French king Jon le Bon stayed in the chateau for a night before being captured by England’s Edward “The Black Prince,” who was leading a chevauchée from Bordeaux to the French Mediterranean coast. And in the 20th century, it was closed off to the world for 40 years when it became a Benedictine monastery.
When you realize you’re in a place that’s seen almost a thousand years of history, your own life suddenly comes into focus. All the little things you worry about, or that irritate you, or keep you up at night, or prevent you from living your own version of happiness, seem trivial. You become present. And that is magic.
Location courtesy of Elizabeth Messina and A Lovely Workshop.
Photographs by Ulrica Wihlborg ©2013.