Over the next year, I am going to be presenting my new monthly series on the best wedding venues in the south of France. The first one is a very special place called Château de Flaugergues, originally built as a beautiful country home located outside of the city centre, it is now an excellent place to hold a sumptuous garden wedding. The chateau was one of the original Folies Montpelliéraines and remains one of the most picturesque and beautiful properties, now an oasis located within the growing city of Montpellier.
Last October, I was able to visit the chateau with my husband and a dear friend, Kirsti from Canada. From the get-go, we were enamored with the whole place and kept talking about what an amazing place for celebrating a milestone moment in your life, be it a wedding or anniversary. Built around the 17th century, these precious little French chateaux or Folies Montpelliéraines are scattered like islands in Montpellier and the surrounding area. There are twelve original Folies, built by noblemen and wealthy merchants as summer homes. Most are built in the Renaissance style, complete with stunning manicured gardens and water features perfect for weddings. You can see my blog on the Folies by going here.
Having a wedding in the south of France allows you to stop worrying over the weather forecast that always accompanies planning a wedding in other climates. We have 300 days of sunshine per year, with mild winters and hot summers tempered by a light sea breeze. Along the Mediterranean coast, summer days enjoy 15 hours of sunshine and an average temperature of 27 degrees Celsius.
Château de Flaugergues is a family home, a museum, has a French and English garden, a vegetable garden, a winery, a top-restaurant and holds events throughout the year. The chateau contains vaulted stone rooms, a large shaded courtyard, French romantic gardens, backdrops like the Orangerie and the terraces for memorable moments. They have an impressive collection of Flemish tapestries, period furniture and collectibles on display within the chateau.
The chateau was built just after the wars of religion ended in France in the late 16th century, and today still has a substantial part of its original furniture and settings. The family De Colbert has owned Château de Flaugergues since it was built, and has remained in the same family for over 320 years and 10 generations. There 28 hectares of farmlands for the vines and spectacular gardens, which host events all year round. The gardens have changed over time to meet the individual needs of the generations of the de Colbert family, but the presence of vines and olive trees dates back to the Roman era. Today there is evidence that both the Grandmontine Monks made wine here in the 13th century, as well as the Romans, over 2000 years ago.
The most popular time to come is during the summertime when they also hold weekly cocktail parties outside on the terrace; complete with interesting food trucks on hand. They also specialize in group events and themed visits, followed by lunch, sampling local food and their wine at both the beginner and the expert level. Should you wish to visit the chateau, do note that it is open only in June, July and September for guided tours from Tuesday to Sunday. You can make special reservations for groups, year round to tour the house, but this must be done in advance by contacting the chateau directly.
Etienne de Flaugergues originally built the château, the terraces, the French garden, and the olive tree alley, in 1700. Later, around 1850 the Orangerie (a greenhouse for citrus plants) and the English garden were added with species of plants from all over the world. It remained like this for a long time until late in the 20th century, when current owners Henri and Brigitte de Colbert reworked the terraces and removed most of the flowers and began what is now there today, a re-created new garden with boxwoods, cypress trees, a large collection of the regional vases, thus giving the garden more of an Italian style. They also created new spaces like The Garden of the 5 Senses, a Bamboo garden and a green stream. The original belvedere is still there, as well as the front terrace and the olive-tree pathway, which is bigger that the pathway at Vaux-le-Vicomte (one of my favourite chateaux, located in the Loire Valley). They also use a very interesting plant cutting technique too called striking or cloning, in which the plants are propagated with cuttings and not from seeds.
Château de Flaugergues is a vineyard and winery, dating all the way back to the original owner, and today that reputation has continues. Pierre de Colbert and his son, Claude manage the 69 acres of vineyards and business. They work to keep a balance between tradition and modernity; while striving to maintain harmony and sustainability with the land. As a result, they have 8 vintages from younger choices, like their rosé to their more bold whites and reds. They produce roughly 160,000 bottles of wine per year which are available in 17 countries around the world. Today, you can tour the vineyards, and their modern state-of-the-art winery and sample some of the best wine in Occitanie on their terrace. To reach their wine site, and don’t forget when there to check out their new wines. After visiting all the gardens we were eager to sit on their beautiful terrace and taste their wines. It was enchanting, mid-October, 24 degrees, full sun, a light breeze, a covered terrace and wine with good friends. A perfect ending to a wonderful afternoon.
A another wonderful little secret is that Folia, their fabulous restaurant is also located at the château, situated in what used to be one of the old farm buildings, just in front of the terrace and chateau. It’s an ideal setting for having lunch, relaxing in their sleek and modern interior or in courtyard shaded from the midday sun. The chef, Damien Fourvel, serves simple but authentic Mediterranean food, and many of the items are grown in the gardens at the château. He focuses on local and regional produce including fresh fish, shellfish, lamb and duck always with a little touch of the Cévennes added! It’s always a hit! The Restaurant Folia is open weekdays for lunch only. Reservations are definitely recommended.
As a wedding planner, one of my favourite things about Château de Flaugergues is that it is the ideal setting for entertaining, like a wedding. There is a wonderful catering kitchen available as well as several large rooms, so you have a great combination of historical settings fused with modern infrastructure. You can have an affordable fairytale wedding at Château de Flaugergues in the near-perfect climate of the south of France with some of the best food and wine in the world. If you are looking to hold a grand event like a wedding, then look no further. Get in touch with me, and together, we can plan your big day! Remember, my first appointment is always free.
Vivre ma France,