B&B and Beyond: Château Le Thil, France

One of the region’s grape-growing families has given new life to an 18th-century manor house

When even the airport has its own vineyard, you know you’re in wine country. And for a truly fertile visit to the Bordeaux region, you can’t do much better than Château Le Thil, an 18th-century manor-cum-haute B&B that’s a 20-minute drive from the city and the latest addition to an impressive, grape-centric family operation. Run by Alice and Jérôme Tourbier, it’s a mile down the road from Château Smith Haut Lafitte, the renowned grand cru estate owned by Alice’s parents Daniel and Florence Cathiard. There, Alice and Jérôme run the luxury hotel and spa Les Sources de Caudalie. But the much smaller Le Thil, which they snapped up last year, offers a more intimate, retreat-style guest experience among the vines.

The bed

Alice has described her style as “buco-chic” – or, to translate, “bucolic chic” – which nicely sums up the rustic refinement of Le Thil’s interior. It has the high ceilings and stately dimensions you’d expect from a château, but also benefits from an eclectic decor which makes it feel entirely homely. The bedrooms are notable for fine wooden antiques and gorgeous patterned feature wallpapers. Meanwhile, the well-appointed en suite bathrooms have free-standing claw-foot baths, his and hers sinks, rain showers and a selection of products from her sister Mathilde’s renowned Caudalie beauty line. With eight standard rooms and one suite to choose from, however, each has its own quirky details.

Whichever you get, the views are spectacular: situated at the front of the house, each room looks onto the château’s rolling lawns, lake and woodland. If there’s a criticism, it’s that the king-size beds are, in fact, two twin beds shoved together, meaning you may want to be careful to avoid sleeping near the middle.

The breakfast

You can sit at separate tables in the wood-panelled ground-floor dining room and serve yourself from an extensive buffet spread, including granola and yoghurt, croissants and pains au chocolat, tomatoes, cheese and charcuterie. The star performers, though, is undoubtedly the tray of cannelés de Bordeaux: miniature, crème-brûlée cakes with a custardy interior and a caramelised exterior, they’re alarmingly moreish.

The hosts

After Alice’s parents bought Château Le Thil last summer, the Tourbiers did a complete refit of the house within just nine months. That speaks volumes of their expertise as hoteliers. As well as running Le Thil and Les Sources De Caudalie, they also have another boutique hotel/spa complex just outside Paris, Les Etangs de Corot. They are, says Alice, currently looking at a further site in Alsace.

The weekend

You can get to the neighbouring Smith Haut Lafitte estate easily by foot, via the oak-lined Allée Royale. There you can borrow a bicycle and explore the vineyards and surrounding countryside, then take a tasting tour of the winery (00 33 5 57 83 11 22; smith-haut-lafitte.com; €9.50). Rising up the ranks for both its whites and reds, it is a fascinating mixture of the hi-tech (a Bond lair-ish secret underground cellar with an automated trapdoor) and the traditional (its own cooperage or barrel workshop).

For a different kind of wine experience, there is the Vinotherapie spa (00 33 5 57 83 83 83; sources-caudalie.com) at Les Sources De Caudalie – one of eight around the world set up by Alice’s sister Mathilde. She has pioneered development of skincare products utilising antioxidant-rich grape extracts; a crushed cabernet body scrub costs €85 (£72).

Finally, it is certainly worth making time to explore Bordeaux’s historic centre. Since former prime minister Alain Juppé first became mayor in the mid-Nineties, he has restored the once run-down city to its former glory.

The stunning gothic cathedral (00 33 5 56 52 68 10; cathedrale-bordeaux.fr) and the cavernous Museum of Contemporary Art (00 33 5 56 00 81 50; capc-bordeaux.fr) are highlights.

The pit stop

You really should go to – and stumble back from – Les Sources De Caudalie’s Michelin-starred restaurant, La Grand Vigne. With starters and main courses around the €40 (£34) mark, and desserts at €16 (£13), it’s certainly not cheap, but chef Nicolas Masse’s intricate, delicate cooking is impressive. For a more casual meal, the hotel’s bistro-style restaurant, La Table Du Lavoir, is situated in a beautiful conservatory space. Three courses cost €38 (£32).

The essentials

Château Le Thil at Les Sources De Caudalie, 35B Chemin le Thil, Léognan, Bordeaux, Aquitaine, France (sources-caudalie.com). B&B doubles start at €240 (£203).

I travelled with easyJet (0843 104 5000; easyjet.com), which flies from Gatwick from £36.99 one way.

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

Sport
Lionel Messi pictured after reaching the final
world cup 2014
Sport
Lionel Messi and Thomas Muller have shone brightest for Argentina and Germany respectively on their way to the World Cup final
Sport
Brazilian fans watch the match for third place between Brazil and Netherlands
Brazil 0 Netherlands 3: Dutch pile on the misery in third place playoff
Arts and Entertainment
TV The follow-up documentary that has got locals worried
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
'Deep Breath' is Peter Capaldi's first full-length adventure as the twelfth Doctor
TVFirst episode of new series has ended up on the internet
News
Ian Thorpe had Rio 2016 in his sights
people
Arts and Entertainment
Original Netflix series such as Orange Is The New Black are to benefit from a 'substantial' increase in investment
TVHoax announcement had caused outrage
Life and Style
Swimsuit, £245, by Agent Provocateur
fashion

Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes

News
Monkey business: Serkis is the king of the non-human character performance
peopleFirst Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
Arts and Entertainment
Blackman: Landscape of children’s literature does not reflect the cultural diversity of young people
booksMalorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
News
One Direction star Harry Styles who says he has no plans to follow his pal Cara Delevingne down the catwalk.
peopleManagement confirms rumours singer is going it alone are false
Voices
Mrs Brown's Boy: D'Movie has been a huge commercial success
voicesWhen it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
Arts and Entertainment
Curtain calls: Madani Younis
theatreMadani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
Life and Style
Douglas McMaster says the food industry is ‘traumatised’
food + drinkSilo in Brighton will have just six staple dishes on the menu every day, including one meat option, one fish, one vegan, and one 'wild card'
Sport
Mario Balotelli, Divock Origi, Loic Remy, Wilfried Bony and Karim Benzema
transfersBony, Benzema and the other transfer targets
Life and Style
Once a month, waistline watcher Suran steps into a 3D body scanner that maps his body shape and records measurements with pinpoint accuracy
techFrom heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
News
Soft power: Matthew Barzun
peopleThe US Ambassador to London, Matthew Barzun, holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence. He says it's all part of the job
Sport
Joe Root and James Anderson celebrate their record-beaking partnership
cricketEngland's last-wicket stand against India rewrites the history books
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Sales Manager (Fashion and Jewellery), Paddington, London

    £45-£55k OTE £75k : Charter Selection: Major London International Fashion and ...

    Volunteer Digital Marketing Trustee needed

    Voluntary, reasonable expenses reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Are you keen on...

    Java Swing Developer - Hounslow - £33K to £45K

    £33000 - £45000 per annum + 8% Bonus, pension: Deerfoot IT Resources Limited: ...

    Corporate Events Sales Manager, Marlow,Buckinghamshire

    £30K- £40K pa + Commision £10K + Benefits: Charter Selection: Rapidly expandin...

    Day In a Page

    Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country

    How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over northern Iraq

    A speech by an ex-MI6 boss hints at a plan going back over a decade. In some areas, being Shia is akin to being a Jew in Nazi Germany, says Patrick Cockburn
    The evolution of Andy Serkis: First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

    The evolution of Andy Serkis

    First Gollum, then King Kong - now the actor is swinging through the trees in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
    You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial: Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried

    You thought 'Benefits Street' was controversial...

    Follow-up documentary 'Immigrant Street' has got locals worried
    Refugee children from Central America let down by Washington's high ideals

    Refugee children let down by Washington's high ideals

    Democrats and Republicans refuse to set aside their differences to cope with the influx of desperate Central Americas, says Rupert Cornwell
    Children's books are too white, says Laureate

    Children's books are too white, says Laureate

    Malorie Blackman appeals for a better ethnic mix of authors and characters and the illustrator Quentin Blake comes to the rescue
    Blackest is the new black: Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...

    Blackest is the new black

    Scientists have developed a material so dark that you can't see it...
    Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

    Matthew Barzun: America's diplomatic dude

    The US Ambassador to London holds 'jeans and beer' gigs at his official residence – it's all part of the job, he tells Chris Green
    Meet the Quantified Selfers: From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor

    Meet the 'Quantified Selfers'

    From heart rates to happiness, there is little this fast-growing, self-tracking community won't monitor
    Madani Younis: Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

    Five-star reviews are just the opening act for British theatre's first non-white artistic director

    Madani Younis wants the neighbourhood to follow his work as closely as his audiences do
    Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

    Mrs Brown and her boys: are they having a laugh?

    When it comes to national stereotyping, the Irish – among others – know it can pay to play up to outsiders' expectations, says DJ Taylor
    Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy: Was the otter man the wildlife champion he appeared to be?

    Otter man Gavin Maxwell's bitter legacy

    The aristocrat's eccentric devotion to his pets inspired a generation. But our greatest living nature writer believes his legacy has been quite toxic
    Joanna Rowsell: The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia

    Joanna Rowsell: 'I wear my wig to look normal'

    The World Champion cyclist on breaking her collarbone, shattering her teeth - and dealing with alopecia
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef gives raw ingredients a lift with his quick marinades

    Bill Granger's quick and delicious marinades

    Our chef's marinades are great for weekend barbecuing, but are also a delicious way of injecting flavour into, and breaking the monotony of, weekday meals
    Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014 preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more

    Anyone but Argentina – why Brazilians don’t love their neighbours any more

    The hosts will be supporting Germany in today's World Cup final, reports Alex Bellos
    The Open 2014: Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?

    The Open 2014

    Time again to ask that major question - can Lee Westwood win at last?