Château du Jonquay in Normandy - just like a chocolate box!
Guest: Jane Hiscock
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Jane Hiscock and her husband Steve have both always loved France. They originally travelled there every couple of years before starting their family many years ago. Then in 2010 they went to Paris to start a search for a Paris apartment, but before commencing that task, they travelled to stay with friends in Normandy who invited them to a party at a place they called the “chocolate box château”. It was a beautiful place renovated by a New York interior designer who threw wonderful parties. They went to a luncheon that continued through into the night. By the end of the evening it became apparent that the château was for sale and that was it! They were both sold!
So from that point Château du Jonquay became a significant part of Jane’s and her family’s life. Built in 1635 probably as a manoir or hunting lodge originally, it had 2 towers added at either end of the château in the 1850s-1870s. Over the pre-COVID years Jane took on 3 further renovation projects installing a number of bathrooms as well as a new kitchen and a conservatory. During these works they uncovered some hidden secrets under the house, some cellars which were likely a cellar and also a hidden floor which still contains a secret of what is underneath! Jane isn’t sure if they will open up the hidden time capsule. Given the proximity to the WW2 Normandy beaches, it is possible the false floor of the cellar could be hiding wine or artwork hidden during the war. I don’t think I could be patient enough to not proceed with an investigation of what’s underneath! Jane thinks it might be a job for the next custodian of the château.
Jane feels a connection to the former custodians of the château mostly through the garden. There are so many trees that would have been planted in 1635 when the house was built. Touching the trees and feeling their shade above her, or even just touching the walls of the house helps her to feel connected to those who have gone before her at Château du Jonquay.
To me even the pictures of the château convey the feeling of being warm, that the château is going to open its arms and wrap you up with love. Returning after COVID Jane said it was as if the château breathed a sigh of relief when they arrived. As if “she” was saying, “it’s ok, they’re here, they’re back”. Old châteaux do not cope well without constant maintenance, so there was much to do to bring the château back to full glory after the 2 year COVID absence.
Back in 2013 Jane bought the farmhouse next door which was originally part of the estate of Château du Jonquay. When the opportunity arose to bring it back together with the château, the family grabbed it, then renovating it to add to the accommodation creating Petit Jonquay. At one point through the many renovation projects Jane has undertaken at the château she realised she was going to be there doing the work on her own. None of the family was available to join her so she put out a message to her networks and 10 girlfriends came to stay and assist! Her request stated that if they wanted to come and experience French food, French wine, French men and were happy to pick up a paintbrush then this was the (working) holiday for them!
Jane loves connecting with the locals when at Château du Jonquay. Only an hour and ten minutes from Paris to Rouen on the TGV, the château is only a 20 minute drive further from there. When she arrives Jane loves to open up the big house and throw back all the cover sheets, helping the château to “wake up”. She feels like she’s coming home every time she returns. She goes to the market and connects with the friends she has made there. I love how Jane says she is never bored there, even when spending 6 months a year at the château as there is so much to do in the local area. I have always wanted to go and explore Normandy but now I am placing it at the top of my list! Jane’s list of things to do ticks all my boxes!
Jane has recently made a scented candle of the smell she feels wraps her up when at the château. Lighting that when she’s back in Melbourne takes her right back there. Perhaps Château du Jonquay never really leaves her anyway and is always in her heart.
Nouvelle Vague & Vanessa Paradis – Week-end à Rome
Nouvelle Vague featuring Camille – In a manner of speaking
Jane’s own escallops of turkey in a creamy mushroom sauce, with apple jelly.