Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Chateau du Bosc - the Family Home of Henri Toulouse Lautrec

It was a mid-morning start and the sun was yet to shine as we drove out of Albi towards the family home of Henri Toulouse Lautrec. It was maybe no more than an hours drive but we managed to make it much longer by not knowing exactly where Chateau du Bosc was located. That didn't stop us from having a most delightful day with a few unforgetable experiences along the way to our destination.

The family with Henri to the left under the yellow arrow.

Chateau du Bosc - the family home of Henri Toulouse Lautrec.

We arrived after lunch at the family home of Henri Toulouse Lautrec and that in itself was a story to be told. We turned left on the highway instead of right and crossed a railway at Naucelle Gare and up a country lane to enter a quiet village at midday and of course nothing was open except the local eatery. The village was Naucelle. We wandered around for a little while taking in the architecture and atmosphere of this sleepy little hollow. I'm so disappointed that my photos of the village have gone missing because it was such a delight. I even found a building that seem to be the club rooms of the local Velo Club. (these photos have been stolen from Google photos - apologies and thanks to those who took them).

Naucelle Eglise
 Hunger was setting in so we looked for the local eatery that we saw on entering the village. The local workers were sitting around tables covered in white paper. Jugs of wine and locally baked bread sat on the tables. It was some a set menu as everyone seemed to be eating whatever was brought to the table.

The first course was calves head. It was truly disgusting. Very fatty, gelatinous lumps sitting limply on the plate. I had a go, but struggled. Leon managed. I was looking forward to the delicious looking casserole I could see arriving at each table, steaming hot and full of carrots and pork. But..we were served steak. Nice steak, but just steak nevertheless. A great potato dish came with it, but I think they thought we needed feeding up as there was a huge bowl of it, and they were concerned when it wasn't finished. Not sure why we got steak as casserole continued to come out all around us. This was a tiny village and all the other patrons in the restaurant were wearing high vis vests. I'm not sure whether they thought they were doing us a favour or not. It was funny, because when we were sat down, they immediately whisked the bread from the table next to us to put on our table, much to the indignation of the men at that table. Not enough French to ask, and no English at all there.
Yummy cheeses followed and then there was apple tart, but we had already had so much that we gave that a miss. We were just starting to learn the lesson that for a good meal, follow the local workers! (But avoid the calves head!) (Sue)

As we finished eating we walked from the dining room through to the bar when we asked if any one knew where we could find Chateau du Bosc. A friendly farmer enjoying a glass of wine said he lived nearby and if we wished to wait a little while, he would take us there.
After some time he emerged from the cafe/bar and waved to us to follow his dilapidated Citroen van. Trying to keep up, he finally waved us on pointing to the direction of Chateau du Bosc.

The eldest of Toulouse Lautrec's first cousins Raoul Tapie de Celeyran (1868 - 1937) inherited Chateau du Bosc and it his grand daughter Nicole Tapie de Celeyran who welcomes you at le Bosc.

Welcomed is an interesting choice of words. Grabbed and dragged would be more accurate. Lucky that it's what we wanted to do because we didn't have a lot of say in the matter.
Because the chateau is still lived in by the family, a tour is the only way to go through. Which is fine. It was interesting to see not just the state rooms, roped off and displaying wonderful and priceless heirlooms, but also the family eating areas and get a whiff of their lunch. It gave a feeling of continuity with the knowledge that the same family lives there and lives with their history in a very tangible way. If that makes sense.  (Sue)

Looking in towards the courtyard and stables.
As we drove into the property it had a lived in feeling needing a touch (or more) of TLC. 
We parked and walked towards what you might call a castle and were greeted by an elderly woman in a "dryzabone" coat and gum boots. Little did we know at the time that it was the current owner of Chateau du Bosc. She ushered us towards the entrance like a Kelpie dog rounding up sheep. There was another group, all non-English speaking tourists about to take the next tour. We joined them not knowing the procedure. The tour was all in French and one or two of the group continually asked questions making the tour a long drawn out experience for us. I'm sure if we understood the language, we would have found it most informative.

It had been a long day and we were looking forward to returning to our hotel to freshen up before dinner at a cosy restauraunt just around the corner. We had another day before taking off to the next leg of our journey towards the Dordogne for a week. This would take a few more days with a couple of interesting interludes along the way.


  1. Great post, but so far I have not been served calves head! Will let you know if that happens to me :-( Diane

  2. No need to rush the experience Diane.

  3. What a great post. I can almost smell your lunch and hear the endless drone of the French tour guide.

    What a wonderful day you had. We have also had many a scary lunch and several similar guided tours - following the owner around like shy little dogs !!

  4. Jean,
    Your comments made me giggle (knowingly).


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