Amidst the barren plains of Champagne there lies a little moated castle surrounded by lush woods, where waxy-leaved orchids tumble through the trees and woodruff flowers in the shade. Every morning we woke to find our windows clouded with a dense grey mist that rose up from the waters and settled over the formal gardens. As it began to clear we could see blossoming apple trees in the distance; up close they were laced with dewy spider webs.
Breakfast was an array of fruits and cheeses, with coffee served out of china cups. Days were spent beneath the vast canopies of the ancient trees on the lawn, or reading on the daybed in our old room. In the evening we dined in the Orangery, the candlelight all the more glowing for the champagnes and company, as we made the most of our then-rather-rusty French to discuss that favorite Gallic topic: the nature of love.
When all was said and drunk, we meandered up the worn, winding stairs and through the empty halls, feeling, for a moment, that the whole place was our own.