When we first dreamed up the idea for Moveable Feast, we KNEW that we had to launch in the south of France. Ah, the olive branches! The patina! The laid back and artistically vibrant history! And most importantly, the chocolate croissants.
The hunt began for the right castle (that’s a normal thing to do on a Wednesday afternoon, we think). And this is when the dream of France got a little dicey: do you have ANY IDEA how hard it is to find a castle with interior design that doesn’t look like your storybook worst nightmare of Grandma’s suburban rambler? We’re talking terrible 1970s duvet covers, bad art, and more questionably upholstered sofas than I care to sit on in one lifetime. It’s amazing, actually, how many bomb old castles in the world have shitty decoration.
We looked at dozens and dozens of places before we found our unicorn:
The Chateau de Goult. A 12th century fortress overlooking the remote town of Goult (basically the town Belle from Beauty and the Beast lived in, but smaller. And quieter. And no Gastons in sight). This place is an entire city block, with antiques from the last 8 centuries dotted thoughtfully throughout. There’s medieval armor and modern wifi. Comfy mattresses and 13th century swords. We booked it almost as soon as we laid eyes on it, and it didn’t disappoint. We wanted to share with you what it was like for our MFers (teehee) to land in Goult that first day. Start by imagining Tim doing a happy dance at the Marseilles Airport, and then drive straight into the countryside…
As you wander up the winding streets of Goult, use the olive tree as a landmark. The castle is just up the road. Stop for espresso if you get weary. There are only a couple of options in town, and Cafe de la Poste is where the local old men in sheepherding hats gather for long hours as the fog breaks in the morning. When you happen upon the Rue de Chateau, you’ve made it. The castle has its own street, and stands as a benevolent guardian over the little village.After you’ve pushed the wrought iron gate open, you’re home. This pool is yours. The courtyard is yours. The rooftop decks are yours for gazing wistfully out over the rolling hills of Provence and pretending you’re Belle locked in the castle (okay, can you tell what my childhood dreams were?!). I actually collapsed a little when I saw the staircase for the first time. It’s the largest spiral staircase in the south of France, and did you know: all castle staircases are counterclockwise, so when the castles got invaded, the soldiers on the inside could run down the stairs with their right hands first (ie, sword-holding hands). Genius. And fun to reenact. And the views. From every single window. We are firm believers that the spaces you exist in inform how you feel, how you think, and how you behave. Being surrounded with genuine objects that have stood the test of time– and are all the more beautiful for it– it creates space for more depth of thought. It’s not for pretentiousness’ sake that we seek out the most thoughtful and lovely spaces in every country we go to; it’s because rooms that speak to the local culture in an understated and intelligent way give you far more depth of experience than a slick and modern space that could be in any country in the world. This is a good corner. You know how to make it even better? Insert a steaming cup of tea from Paris’ oldest tea shop, a pain au chocolat straight from the boulanger’s oven, and an ancient, faintly musty copy of Baudelaire’s “le Spleen de Paris.” This skylight space connects the original chapel to the rest of the castle. And it’s the bombest spot to have dinner under the stars but still stay warm. Gorge by day or by night. And have we mentioned that the quality of light is just as important as the things the light lands on? Provence sun and happy hour with local liquors. What else would we do at 5 pm?
Moveable Feast will certainly be returning to this castle because we just can’t get enough of this place. Get yourself on dat mailing list over at Moveable Feast Retreats, amis!
But in the meantime, there are so many gorgeous and thoughtful spaces in the world, we had to try a different continent for this year’s round. Join us on the Yucatán Peninsula this autumn and find yourself in a 200 year old hacienda: different kind of light, different kind of space– but just as well-curated as this round, we can promise that. We can’t wait to see you there. Cheers to thoughtful living.