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On the way out of Vouvray, heading north, a small road bordered by mansions winds its way along a hill surrounded by vineyards. Behind high walls and a majestic gate adorned with two lanterns, this house is all about discretion. With a tufa stone overcoat and a slate headdress flanked by skylights giving it a classical feel, Le Gaimont nevertheless has many surprises in store for visitors. With a variety of buildings and levels built into the stone, traditional architecture blends into troglodyte rooms, and single-storey gardens lead to suspended terraces. The meticulous renovation carried out at this beautifully diverse ensemble has imbued it with the soul of a generous family home. Large groups can gather to enjoy a glass of Vouvray, "the trouble with which is that it is neither a table wine nor a dessert wine; it is too generous, too strong", as Balzac once wrote.
We have been lucky enough to live all over the world, in large cities open to culture, nature and a certain art de vivre (namely Paris, Brussels, Buenos Aires, Mexico, Yaoundé, and Berlin). When looking for a family house, guest house, and a place to invite friends, it felt as though we were attempting the impossible. We wanted to live in the middle of nature and vineyards, in a mild climate, in a region with a rich cultural life, and for it all to be within easy reach of Paris and London where most of our friends live. La Touraine stood out to us. What was initially a sensible choice became a passionate one. During our research, we fell under the spell of Touraine and the Loire, the wild nature, the rich architectural, historical and cultural heritage, the lush gardens and majestic chateaus, the wines and the gastronomy. Life here is gentle yet dynamic.
Le Gaimont is a small wine-making chateau built on a hillside. The wine production dates back to the 15th century. It is a large enclosed plot with terraced gardens and high stone walls. The property's singularity lies in the intermingling of the frame, the vegetation and the volumes carved into the rock. Together they form a maze of universes suspended between rock and sky. The preserved materials give pride of place to noble and natural materials: patinated terracotta tiles, oak floors, cabochons, cut stone, ceramics and ironwork. Once through the large entrance gateway, a proud dressed stone and brick facade built in the 19th century introduces the large display cellars and the wine-producing vocation of the estate. These impressive stone vaults lead directly to the ripening galleries on the upper floor via a long spiral staircase that cuts across the rock and climbs up to the vineyard fifteen metres above. The old dovecote, now converted into a summer kitchen, features a remarkable exterior stone staircase that leads to a bedroom. Around a French-style flowerbed, the sober and classic 18th century façade of the vast tufa stone house adjoins the orangeries built into the rock that open onto the garden. It is easy to lose your bearings. The house itself contributes to this joyous confusion by rolling out a series of lounges around a secret patio which can be accessed via a glass conservatory or the large kitchen/dining room. A monumental stone staircase leads to a terrace where two houses carved into the rock during the 18th century have been transformed into suites. A second flight of stone steps leads to a hanging fruit garden, a vegetable garden and a cave that houses a fermenting room. Past the remains of an old wrought iron greenhouse, a mysterious gate built into the wall opens onto a small wood on top of the orangeries that leads to the vineyard.
The Clos du Gaimont, and its closerie, have existed since the 15th century. The wine produced here has always been one of Vouvray's premier grands crus. In 1784, the estate became the property of Count Charles Isambart of Medina who received a gratuity of 1000 pounds out of the Royal Treasury from Louis XVI "in consideration of his services rendered" during the American War of Independence. An original member of the Société des Cincinnati de France and promoted to vice-admiral under the Restoration in 1814, he was made Grand Cross of the Royal Order of Saint Louis and Peer of France. On his death in 1819, Le Gaimont passed into the hands of his son, Charles Édouard Isambert, and then to his grandson Count Henri Louis Albert in 1848, who decided to settle here and make many changes. Henri Louis Albert de Médine is an illustrious figure who was buried in Vouvray. He became known for having painted L'assassinat du Duc de Guise (The Murder of the Duke of Guise), exhibited in Blois, in 1857. When he died in 1899, he passed Le Gaimont on to his granddaughter, Marie de Metz, whose family kept it for nearly a century. The estate was then bought, dismembered and abandoned in the 1990's. Since buying the property in 2017, we have been working as a family to bring it back to life and reopen it to the world.
Le Gaimont is an estate characterised by simple, authentic and rustic refinement. It is perfect for lovers of beautiful stones, contemporary art, gardens, the pleasures of life, gastronomy, good wines and great encounters. The estate allows us to welcome our guests as friends, in a relaxing and privileged setting, all the while providing them with private spaces in order to preserve their tranquillity and a sense of exclusivity. We serve homemade breakfasts and dinners made with fresh, local, and seasonal products. We make sure to showcase the work of food artisans and winegrowers who are passionate about our region. We advise our guests and help them to organise their activities. They have access to a summer kitchen and a relaxation room with a selection of board games, books and DVDs. The swimming pool is heated in season and a gate opening onto our small wood invites guests to take a stroll around the vineyards.
Le Gaimont is a great base for discovering the endless treasures of the Loire Valley region. The chateaus of Brézé and Gizeux or the village of Chédigny are places we encourage guests to visit. The International Garden Festival at the Domaine de Chaumont, the Tomato Festival organised by the Prince Jardinier at the Château de la Bourdaisière, and the Jazz en Touraine festival in Montlouis-sur-Loire are not to be missed. Vouvray is home to talented craftsmen, food shops and small producers: La Maison Hardouin, butcher and caterer; Rivero, an excellent baker/pastry chef/chef/chocolatier; Le Jardin Vouvrillon, a delicatessen and wine merchant; and the covered food market on Friday mornings. Discover the Chenin Blanc, a favourite of ours, with the winemakers of Vouvray: the Domaine Nicolas Brunet, La Maison Huet, Philippe Foreau, Aubert, Vincent Carême, Mathieu Cosme and Jacky Blot in Montlouis-sur-Loire. Some good restaurants are also worth a visit: the Gueules Noires à la cave Martin, the Hautes Roches and the Part Belle in Rochecorbon.
The estate has a variety of spaces. Three adjoining lounges opening onto the gardens (with guest toilets and a dining room) are located in the mansion. A 40m² orangery under a rock vault opens onto the garden. It features a bar and can accommodate twenty seated guests or forty for a drinks reception. Large, adjustable reception areas (with a total surface are of 300m²) under a rock vault are located in the former cellars of the estate. They are equipped with high-standard guest toilets, a kitchen and a stage. The large garden, with a lawn and swimming pool, is ideal for drinks receptions and garden parties. There is also a private car park with seven to nine spaces at the entrance of the property and a public car park two hundred metres away. Sixteen guests can be accommodated on site and further accommodation is available in neighbouring establishments.