Creativity at Chateau Dumas

A man should hear a little music, read a little poetry,

and see a fine picture every day of his life,

in order that worldly cares may not obliterate

the sense of the beautiful

which God has implanted in the human soul.
                                                             ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe 

(Note: There are many spectacular images capturing the amazing beauty of Chateau Dumas. Allow enough time for your computer to load the images so that you don’t miss any. This is the third in the series on a millinery masterclass held in southwest France. Won’t you follow along with me?)

looking upward

Discovering  Chateau Dumas in the tiny village of Auty, France is a study in creativity, beauty and inspiration. My travels to Chateau awakens my slumbering senses with panoramic views of the French countryside and villages. The colors, fragrances and rustic beauty of this Mediterarean region are mesmorizing. It is hard to take it all in.

chateau northeast side fav

Arrival at the 18th-century chateau feels as if I am tranformed into a French Impressionistic painting. My spirit is renewed with the expansive vistas, tranquil gardens and the country elegance of Chateau Dumas. How I wish I could linger long into the night in the gardens.

Everywhere there is a vignette, art or indoor and outdoor beauty that makes me pause and catch my breath. This journey to Chateau Dumas is what is needed for reflection and the rediscovery of creativity that has grown fallow.

Even the 300-year-old marble stairs to the second floor are amazing. I leave my sandals off at the bottom of the stairs and feel the cool, time-worn marble underneath my feet as I climb to the second floor. I wonder if horses raced up the stairs during the upheaval of the French Revolution or the Napoleonic Wars.

main with shoes3FAV

main with shoes fav

The elegant second floor hallway is stunning and is accentuated with several examples of neo-classical trompe l’oeil–a style of painting that gives an illusion of reality. I look several times above the doorway as the corbels appear nearly realistic and three-dimensional. Wait. Do the doors appear as if they are paneled? It is amazing how the contrasts of light and dark create an illusion of something that is not.

Contrasts in shape and texture abound on the second floor. The gorgeous striped French linen ticking frames the double French doors at one end of the hall and  luxurious, elegant red silk drapes the paned windows on the east side. Subtle nuances of pattern continuance mingle throughout the hall–the highly polished antique terra cotta floor tile laid on the diagonal, the illusionary diamond-shaped panel inserts on the doors and the antique flax linen heart with red embroidery set on a diagonally-placed terra cotta marble plant stand. Brilliant. The hall so creatively reflects balance and order that it feels quite tranquil.

second floor hallway FAV

tile floor second floor FAV


above door second floorFAV

linen heart on marble table FAV

There are four guest rooms on this section of the second floor–each unique and beautifully appointed. My breath is taken away by the beauty of these rooms. The guest room that I have is superb with a dramatic black chandelier, black marble fireplace, cameo-inspired border, gorgeous khaki green silk drapery–like a fine lady’s ball gown–that  frames the extravagant views of the French countryside in the valley below. A lovely antique French chair in the corner is tailored with finely-crafted handspun flax linen. There is a tasteful white French writing desk in the other corner. I think I shall become a permanent guest in this room–at least for the remainder of the summer…then into fall…or perhaps, until Christmas. Dream.

handle and key2

 bedroom view FAV

writing desk bedroom 1

writing desk bedroom 2

Bedroom Window FAV

bedroom window and view fav

An ensuite bath is the perfect ending to the day with the deep-soaking claw foot tub set on a golden marble floor. Windows to the east let in the early morning sun, and the customized chandelier designed to look like rain drops provides subtle lighting in the evening. What more could a woman want?

Bathtub FAV

Bathroom chandelier FAV

curtain finial FAV

Bathroom window FAV

Additional guest rooms are to the north on the second floor, too. The circular stairs to the third floor leading to more individually appointed guest rooms is exquisite. The wood banister amazing. I wonder what kind of wood was used on the banister.

Third floor stairs FAV

third floor stairs close FAV

millinery atelier

Across the manicured gardens is the Chateau’s expansive coach house–the second floor of the west wing is the dedicated millinery studio. The north lower level of the carriage house features a lovely little Chateau shop filled with vintage French linens, white-on-white embroidered sheets, pieces of machine and handmade lace, antique fine cotton night dresses/slips and rustic linen shirts, aged-silver and many other vintage French items. Local artisans’ jewelry, lavender sachets made with vintage ticking and linen, and fine French bath products are beautifully displayed throughout.

Carriage House FAV

carriage house climbing roses

carriage house shop FAV

Exterior wall hugging stairs provides one entrance to the millinery atelier. Under the portico is another example of neo-classical trompe l’oeil opposite the teak garden bench. Clever.

carriage house north wing FAV

carriage house window FAV

west entry to carriage house

carriage house through portico to east carriages FAV

portico with teak bench FAV

portico trompe l'oleil

potico trompe l'oleil FAV 2

southeast carriage house stairs FAV

I sneak a peak at the upstairs studio to catch a glimpse of what is to come in days ahead as we learn under the expert tutoring of Dillon Wallwork–a Royal Milliner– in a millinery masterclass (hatmaking). My anticipation for the masterclass grows–there are inspiring sample hats on display on four to five foot high antique carved wood hat stands, black and white striped hat boxes for our creations, sewing machines old and new, wood hat molds for crowns and brims and hatmaking supplies.

green hat

straw hat

studio hats

 cupboard with hat box FAV

Frister Sewing Machine FAV

Fister Sewing Machine Close FAV

Singer Treadle FAV

Hat molds FAV

Hat brims FAV

Hat molds and feathers FAV

straw hats materials FAV

Off to the right on a display table is a brochure about the International summer straw hat festival held in nearby Septfonds–Estivales du Chapeau. Tomorrow. Septfonds is the heart of French straw hat making.

Hat Festival Ad FAV

More about the millinery masterclass, one of the world’s great Estivales du Chapeau, a visit to a 1824 French hat factory and other sights of  a dream trip to France in the days ahead as they unfold.

à bientôt mes amis!

Read more at French Dreams at Chateau Dumas.

Read more at Inspiring Beauty at Chateau Dumas.

Today I am hooked on everything French. Find out what other people are hooked on.

Visit The Inspired Room for others’ inspirations about creating a beautiful life.


Filed under France, Gardening, Sewing, Travel, Vintage

10 responses to “Creativity at Chateau Dumas

  1. Francesco


    The tones and moods you set by your writing bring to the Chateau Dumas to life. reading your words I can envision the hallway, the painting techniques used by ancient artists and smell the scents of today and days long gone.

    It is wondrous to think about the days and events that the Chateau have seen through its many years of existence, and wonder if indeed horses climbed those steps……

    You have set a scene of peace, restfulness and tranquility. It is no wonder that you are rediscovering your creative gifts gone fallow. (The way you are able to set a scene with your words now, it is incredible)

    Best regards,

  2. Hi Debbykay!
    Your tour of the Chateau is beautiful! I would love to have one of the ‘chapeaux’!
    Thanks for visiting me at The Pantry today. You asked about the tuna ~ I ordered 75 pounds which produced (51) 1/2 pints and (9) 3/4 pints ( I couldn’t find any more 1/2 pints ~ guess I gave them away, filled with tuna, of course!) and 4 nice “loins” I put in the freezer for ‘smoking’ a little later on. I still have 36 1/2 pints left from last year when I ordered 100 lbs.

    My Mother~in~law does the ordering,(she orders in the spring) but I have the name and number of the people we get the tuna from if you or your daughter is interested. There are many in Westport that catch the fish. It is a fun little day trip to go pick it up ~ all bled and filleted for you!

    I don’t can as much as I used to with just the two of us, but some things I just ‘must’ can! I love home grown/canned green beans! There is nothing like them. I fix them like my grandma did ~ home canned green beans, bacon, garlic and onion! I can make a meal out of just that!

    Do come by and visit me again at any of my 7! blogs. (I can’t believe I have that many ~ what was I thinking?!)

  3. Dear Debbykay,

    As your trip unfolds I become more and more captivated with this beautiful place! Your photos are gorgeous and your writings so beautifully descriptive, I feel as if I am sharing in your dream trip with you! I love the beautiful quote you shared!

    The colors of the Chateau Dumas are amazing. I can only imagine their brilliancy seeing it in person, and the gardens, and the countryside! What a delight for both the eyes and the senses. The 300-year old marble stairs are incredible. I would not be surprised if horses did race up those stairs during those times. What an interesting thought, Debbykay! The room you stayed in is magnificent. I love the colors, so rich and warm. The bath tub looks heavenly and what an incredible view you were able to enjoy! I agree, the wood banister is amazing. It is really something to ponder the architecture of these old buildings, they were constructed with beauty and utility, and were built with such brilliancy and care to ensure they lasted for generations.

    Oh, I love the old sewing machines… such beauty and usefulness! The wood hat molds are as beautiful as the hats themselves. I am sure you enjoyed your millinery classes and I look forward to seeing more!

    Much love,

  4. Rebekah

    I must echo the sentiments of other posters- the way that you are able to capture the Chateau with your writing is truly amazing! It is fun to read along with your adventures as you step into a world so different from our fast-paced American culture.

    What a gift to be able to step away and live amongst such beautiful expressions of Beauty and Art.

    C’est bon!

  5. I am speechless!

    Your words, the pictures, the sewing machine ~my favoriate pictures :~) are just wonderful.

    Thank you for sharing such an amazing place with us.

    Thank you also for stopping by the cottage…I so enjoy when people stop by 😉


    lady m

  6. I’m glad we had that brief chance to meet at the Chateau, so that I knew to come here to enjoy your wonderful photos added to my memories. Thanks for taking the time to share them and wrap them in lovely descriptions.

  7. Oh the shutters! I am visiting via Hooked on Houses. It is such fun to see your treasures.

    Please drop by and enter my giveaway.

    Have a blessed weekend!

  8. Pingback: The French Straw Hat « rose cottage gardens and farm

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