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Top Team Building Activities

So you have decided that your team is in need of a little boost?

Maybe morale is at an all time low, or maybe you just want to reward your team after a well done project?

Well, now is the time for a team building course.

At Chateau Fengari, we love to host team building courses and corporate retreats and see disparate teams leave us energised and raring to go. Team building isn’t all about doing trust falls and listing things you like about each other!

To help you plan your best ever team building exercise, we have rounded up some of the best ways of helping build confidence and cooperation between the different members of your group.

  1. Learn a new skill

A new skill could be either physical or intellectual, and could range from a new language to learning how to cook the perfect souffle. The key here is to find a skill that no-one in your team is already skilled at. Put all of your team on the same level and get them to work together to help each other to improve.

We find learning a new language to be a very popular new skill!

2. Escape from the room!

Turn your team into budding Sherlock Holmes and John Watson and lock them in a room. Not literally, of course! Give them a challenge or series of challenges to solve in order to ‘escape’. This could take the form of a treasure hunt around the chateau and its grounds, it could be all based in one room; the choice is yours depending on how likely your team are to run around like Challenge Anika.

3. Play silly games

Our favourites are hands-on activities, like the egg drop!

4. Teach each other something new

Ask each member of your team to prepare something that they do well that they can teach the others. This doesn’t have to be work related and is a great way to get the quieter members of your team to shine and show their best sides.

5. Just let them be

Give them a new space, reduced work load and just let them be. You’ll find co-workers find new ways to work, talk to each other differently and are more productive than you can imagine, just by being somewhere new and with less pressure on them. Find the perfect venue where your team can relax and work at the same time (hint: Chateau Fengari hosts wifi throughout the chateau and onto the terrace, has a swimming pool, swimming lake, trampoline and tennis courts and is in the area declared ‘sunniest in France’).

Whatever you choose for helping your team, be sure to pop us a message and see how we can help you make it run smoothly and luxuriously!

Victoria x

St Valentine's Day in France

Valentine's day is perhaps the best day of the year to tell that someone special ‘je t’aime’ - I love you...

Maybe you’re thinking about a last-minute trip to la belle France to celebrate you love or even to propose, well, here’s a little round-up of some of our favourite facts about Valentine’s day in France.

First a little fact. It’s not LE St Valentin, but LA St Valentin. Why is that? Well, it’s la fete de St Valentin we’re celebrating and not Monsieur Valentin himself...

Valentine’s day in France is very different to in some English-speaking countries (I’m looking at you, USA). We don’t give cards to everyone in our class, only to the person we truly love with all of our heart, which as a parent makes my life much easier!

A recent poll showed that a whopping 71% of the French population took part in Valentine’s day last year, so don’t fret, there is hope!

As with most other countries, Valentine’s day in France has become somewhat commercialized, with shops displaying great swathes of hearts and offering ‘romantic’ wares for the big day. Florists are very busy in the run up to the big day with 70% of flower sales being red roses.

So, if you’re planning on popping the big question on Valentine’s day, make sure you get in touch to book your wedding as soon as possible because you will be in good company; in 2013 an astonishing 14 million proposals were made in the USA alone!

Whatever you choose to do with your loved ones on Valentine's day, we hope it's a special day to remember surrounded by people that love you.


Victoria x

Getting Married Overseas

So, you’ve settled on getting married in France, you’ve even found the château venue of your dreams, and now you’re back home and wondering what next?

So, you’ve settled on getting married in France, you’ve even found the château venue of your dreams, and now you’re back home and wondering what next?

Well, I’m not going to hide it but planning a wedding is hard work. That’s nothing you don’t already know. Planning an overseas wedding is intimidating but there are a few simple steps that you can take to help make sure that your big date goes without a hitch.

1. Hire a planner

I know, it’s obvious and it seems really expensive but a good planner will make all of the difference and will take the strain off you, leaving you free to concentrate on the really important stuff, like where Great Uncle Bernard is going to sit.

A great wedding planner is like a conductor in a great orchestra – everyone takes their lead from them, everyone knows their role, when to do it and when to pause. Everyone works together as a great team, and a wedding planner will be the one to bring that team together. Your wedding planner will have a good knowledge of the local area, will know which suppliers to work with for the wedding style that you want (and more importantly, which ones to avoid!)

Some of our favourite planners (in no particular order!):

Julia Hatton – Chateau Chic Events

Samantha Bottomley – The Best Events Co.

2. Plan a visit

Plan to come back over to France wherever possible – it gives you a chance to try the caterer’s food, to check the venue nearer the right season, to take the photographer to see a few areas that you know you want photographed. If however your wonderful planner has already sorted all of that, a weekend away à deux will do you both no end of good.

3. Speak the Lingo

If you’re trying to track down suppliers you either need to find English speaking suppliers, which limits your choices slightly, or you need to speak the language and be able to communicate directly with suppliers. Put everything in writing and you can use google translate to double check meanings.

4. Stay organised

Now is the time to whip out that wedding themed bullet journal you saw on Pinterest. Have a section for each supplier, have a section for due dates and payment dates and make sure that they are filled in and followed up. Make a list of the parts of the wedding that are important to you both, and what you need to do to make them happen. Double check that your wedding insurance covers you for an overseas celebration.

5. Check the details

You need to double check flights, passports and visas (where needed). Make sure that you double check the expiration dates for any passports to be sure that there are no nasty surprises for those trying to get a last-minute identity document. Make sure that any guests coming have checked theirs too, especially the important ones!

Consider whether you might need pet-sitting or house sitting for whilst you are away too.

Be sure that you understand the legalities of the country where you are getting married – for example in France, your church service would have no legal standing, and getting married in the local Mairie requires residency, so you’re best getting legally married in a registry office at home and then having a ceremonial service at your French venue.

6. Enjoy the ride

Getting married overseas is different to getting married in your home country. You might find that some of your friends and family cannot join you for your big day, but the ones that can will help make it an occasion that you will never forget. The day will pass quickly, so make the most of any extra days that your property offers to get to see friends and family properly!

Local area Clérac

Today sees us visit the village in which Château Fengari is situated; Clérac. Home to around 1000 inhabitants, Clérac village is within walking distance of the château and has a small supermarket, a party shop, post office and small restaurant / bar...

The village Mairie is centrally located, next to the village primary school. The school itself hosts children from 3 to 10 years, split amongst 4 mixed age classes.

Although Clérac is situated in the south of Charente-Maritime, its enviable position means it is close to Charente, Gironde and the Dordogne, and easily accessed from all. Almost 75% of the territory of Clérac is covered by trees, making it a beautiful area for walking, bike and horse riding.

The centre of Clérac is also renowned for its blue lakes - an intense blue colour, these lakes get their colour from their white clay banks which then allow the water to reflect the brilliant blue skies and lend their name to the local restaurant! There are several wonderful walks around the lakes that are listed here: https://www.ville-clerac.fr/en/the-hikes/

The village also houses a small museum, dedicated to recording rural life as it was. The museum off jobs and popular traditions was started by a local tool collector, and is open during the summer months. A visit can be prepared by visiting the museum’s website: http://www.musee-clerac.fr

Visitors with a car might like to visit other local towns, including Montguyon. The maison de la forêt at the Montendre / N10 junction is also well worth a visit (http://www.maisondelaforet.org/accueil-mdlf)

A Shaky Past

Château Fengari was built in the early 19th century for the Nau family. Jules Nau and his wife Marthe Delhuile. Jules was mayor of Clérac between 1884 and 1919...

He decided to help the town become more prosperous and created a dairy, a distillery and of course, a wine shop at the château! As the house gained popularity around 1880, the two side wings were built and a large kitchen created. In 1911, he asked Georges and Marie-Therese Nau to live at the château, and due to a lack of cooling water for the stills, the distillery was transferred to Teurlay du Lary.

In 1925, the wine business was closed with the death of Jules. Later during the second world war, Château Fengari played host to refugees from the “Depreux filatures du Nord” factories. German troops had other ideas and the refugees abandoned Château Fengari for five years. Suzanne Nau had inherited the castle, and left Clérac after her wedding, but came back with her three sons after the death of her husband Jean Roi in 1976.

At this stage, the château was still named Château de l'Espie. The Nau family sold the property in 2002, and in the years that followed, it fell into disrepair.

The Houstoun-Boswall family purchased the château in 2014 and set to work lovingly restoring it. Their hopes are to continue the work of restoring the chateau and protecting it for future generations. Symbolic of their wishes for the château, the name was changed to Château Fengari.

One of the biggest goals for the Houstoun-Boswall family is to make the château self-sustaining, thereby protecting it for future generations. In order to do this, a retreat centre was first created. 2019 marks the first summer of the château hosting weddings and events as well.

If you want to help support the château and protect it for the future, book your retreat place or event venue now.

Meet the Team

Welcome to Château Fengari, a beautiful Napoleonic era château in sunny Charente-Maritime, just 40 minutes from Bordeaux...

Built in the nineteenth century for Jules Nau and his wife Marthe Delhuile, Château Fengari has a varied and interesting history; it was run as a distillery, wine shop and dairy. These days, Fengari makes a sanctuary for retreats, corporate breaks, weddings and events, as well as for those looking for a peaceful property for a holiday.

The Houstoun-Boswall family purchased the property in 2015 and work began in earnest to turn the derelict building into a beautiful château, complete with period paintwork and wallpaper. Ensuring that all work done reflected the original château was an important goal of the renovation and all work has been carried out in a sympathetic manner.

About the team

Alex - Alex is the owner of Château Fengari and is the vision behind the overall venture. He is also the owner of Hampton Court House School, and the Fengari Events group. He has an amazing artistic eye, and knows exactly which tone of paint to mix to complement the antique wallpaper. In his spare time, Alex loves music and art, and has two children.

Victoria - Victoria manages Château Fengari. You are most likely to be in contact with her, whether you are booking a wedding, a retreat or a holiday! Victoria keeps the team organized and is a whizz with list making. Victoria manages the marketing side of things too, and has her fingers tapping away on a variety of social media sites. In her spare time, Victoria bakes and knits, and has two children.

Anne - Anne is the cleaning demon of the château. She is our housekeeper and does an amazing job at keeping us on the straight and narrow. She can clean a room and change beds faster than you can say ‘dirty’! She works tirelessly behind the scenes to keep everything ticking over. In her spare time, she loves animals and trying out local restaurants.

Jon - works part time with the château, stepping in when we have retreats or guests that need catering. He is a registered private chef, and is fantastic at catering for dietary requirements, especially gluten free, vegan and vegetarian. Jon is married to Victoria, has two children, and in his spare time likes to cook!