Tout est calme en hiver (All is calm in winter), and Château de Moissac, a restored 17th-century castle near Aix-en-Provence, provides the ideal backdrop for a quiet Christmas spent with close friends and family.
After the frenzied summer months, a calm sweeps over the South of France. With the tourists long dispersed, there’s a tangible slowing down – a need to recharge the batteries and return to basics.
The countryside is surprisingly joyful in l’hiver. As the temperatures drop, each day brings a new take on nature; the landscape changes, and with it, the color palette.
Shorter days mean routines are dictated by the sun: rising with the early morning light and hibernating in the afternoon, as it begins to fade.
At Château de Moissac, the winter is gentle. There’s a simplicity found in passing the time both outdoors — bracing country walks with happy dogs, stopping to forage pine cones and foliage to decorate the dining tables — and in. A cozy throw, a roaring fire and a good book are sufficient for a contented evening. Elegant stone walls and hexagonal tomette floor tiling (modernized with underfloor heating), so cool in the height of été, adopt a warmer cloak at the year’s end.
Exquisitely aged walls are the perfect canvas for antique candlesticks, chandeliers laden with crystals and wooden furniture — all lovingly reclaimed. Regal staircases lead up to expansive bedrooms, sparsely but elegantly decorated, while the banquet dining room table is watched over by discerning faces in oil paintings.
A beautiful palette of colors — desert rose, ochre, sandstone, milk bottle, dusky green — creates a soothing envelope in which to do little but talk, read, feast, and finally, sleep… humble pleasures the holiday season was made for.
Photography © Joanna Maclennan
This text originally appeared in the Nov/Dec 21 issue of My French Country Home Magazine