Morning lovely readers, how are you all? So it is Autumn and I love the changing colours of the trees, but if you are anything like me, you are day dreaming of travels and far off places. Not to fear as today’s post with Belle Bride Mademoiselle Slimalicious is just the ticket, as she takes us to the South of France on her wedding planning adventures and THE wedding venue is booked!
Let’s catch up with Mademoiselle Slimalicious aka Cyndie and find out all about their venue research trip to France.
Cyndie: “In my last post I told you how excited I was about going to France for a three week holiday. Well I’m back to Sydney now and relieved. One of the main objectives of this year trip back home was to find a venue for our wedding. I’m pleased to announce that we’ve ticked the box!
After many months of research on the internet, we headed off to France with a list of a dozen of places to visit in the department of Aude, south of France. I had contacted each venue via email to enquire about pricing and availability but hadn’t made any appointment to arrange visits.
As you can imagine, once in France, I faced some challenges to obtain appointments because we were in August – the month where half the population of France is on holiday!
Anyway, we manage to quickly arrange an appointment to visit Le Chateau de Pech-Redon, located in the small village of Pezens, 7km from Carcassonne. This venue was part of our top 3, so we were glad the owner was willing to receive us on the same afternoon that we phoned. My mother and my five year old French nephew accompanied Chris and I in our first expedition. It took us a little while to locate the Chateau, it is situated outside of the village in a very quiet and greeny area, surrounded by the Canal du Midi and the vineyards of Cabardes (AOC wine).
As soon as we arrived I could tell Chris was under the charm of this mini Versailles-like chateau. Chris had high expectations about our wedding venue. Because his family is travelling to France all the way from Australia, some of them for the first time, he wants their experience to be magnificent. Built in 1861, le Chateau de Pech-Redon has been transmitted from one generation to the other. Its owners still live there; they occupy the left wing of the property, while the right side of the building and park is available for weddings and events.
The main room, L’Orangerie, has a capacity of 130 sitting guests (125 m2). We are expecting 70 people so it should be plenty enough for about 8-10 tables and a dance floor. The room has large tiles, commonly found in the Mediterranean regions. The walls are a pale yellow which gives the room a warm atmosphere.
In addition to the Orangerie, there are two smaller rooms that communicate directly with the Orangerie. One of the rooms could make a great playground for kids (70 m2) and the other one, which is about the same size, could have a table with the guest book, the wishing well and maybe a few seats for older people to relax etc. To be determined.
The Orangerie was renovated a few years ago, but its original wooden ceiling has been conserved. It gives the room a lot of character. The ten large French doors open onto a beautiful terrace (500m2), overlooking a very spacious park. The park would be ideal for the Vin d’Honneur (cocktail hour), with shaded areas from the trees for the tables of drinks and canapés.
Finally, at the back of the building is a large covered space for the caterer. The Chateau is a popular wedding venue in the region and most of the local caterers are familiar with the installations.
Quickly we decided that we liked the place and could easily project ourselves there one year from now, on our big day. The room is large enough to accommodate our guests comfortably. In case of rain, we could even use the two smaller rooms to have the Vin d’Honneur inside instead.
What seduced us:
- Location and proximity to Carcassonne: with guests travelling from all over France and from overseas, picking a location not too far from the main town was important to us. The drive between the legal ceremony in my parents’ village of Malves en Minervois, and the reception should be of about 20 minutes. Guests staying in hotels in Carcassonne will only have a short 7 km drive.
- Quiet surroundings: with no neighbours around, there is no curfew for noise restriction. We can party all night long if we like!
- Leafy and flowery: I love the feeling of space and freedom you get when you are there. It is relaxing. The owners make sure the park is flowered all year round.
Little challenges we may have:
- Difficulties to locate the Chateau: despite the directions we received from the owner, we spent about 20 minutes driving around in circle looking for the Chateau. It is not very well indicated and the venue has no street address (only the name of the village). I’m planning to manage this by:
- Sending a detailed map to the venue with the wedding invitations
- Positioning wooden signs on the day nearby the village.
- Having my brother in law’s mobile number on the wedding invitation’s information card for ‘lost guests’ to phone. (My brother in law is familiar with the area. He also works in the hospitality industry so he is used to giving directions to lost tourists!)
- Indicating the GPS coordinate on the information card too.
- The path leading to the main gate and the terrace are covered with gravel: this may make it difficult for women wearing heels to walk on. Nothing much I can do about that. I know it will be a problem for me too, I’ll just have to be extra careful and try stand on the grass or tiles (inside) instead.
- No accommodation for the bride and groom for the wedding night. This means we will either have to drive or have someone drive us somewhere. With my parents, sisters and many friends living only a few kilometres away I feel awkward to book a hotel room (especially that my sister owns a hotel and a B&B). To be decided.
- One bathroom for 70 guests. I’m hoping this will be enough. If women want to touch up their makeup it might create a bit of a queue outside the door…
- Decoration restriction: the owner refuses to have us pin or tape anything to the walls. The ceiling being so high, I do not see how we can have hanging decorations.
Overall we know we made the right decision and are very excited about our wedding venue. It suits the style we want our wedding to be.”
How stunning is that venue! I am terribly excited to see the venue on the wedding day, hurry up 2014! Be sure to keep up to date with Cyndie as well as fellow Belle Brides Sophie, Cassie and of course Hollie.