Our whirlwind trip with cover star Aditi Rao Hydari to the French manor House of Grey Goose Le Logis in Cognac was surreal. It pays to experience ‘what money can’t buy’. By Aindrila Mitra

Le Logis
Hydari soaks up the sun at Le Logis in Cognac, France.

Producer Aindrila Mitra

Photographer Rahul Jhangiani

Stylist Divyak D’Souza

Assistant Stylist Gauravi Desai

Hair Keii Chirohirano

Makeup Cristine Dupuys

Location Le Logis, Cognac, France

Le Logis
Hydari takes in the idyllic beauty of Le Logis.

There are some things that money indeed can’t buy. And that’s what the creators and brand custodians of Le Logis, the spiritual home of the French brand Grey Goose, take pride in. Most of us still haven’t heard about this (read secret) château, because it’s not easy to score an invite. But if you are passionate about the French countryside and the traditional wheat drink, then you’ll find your way to this haven of tranquillity tucked away in the village of Juillac-le-Coq in the Cognac region, sooner than later. On a sprightly fall afternoon, my production crew and I make our way to the 16th-century manor house to shoot the cover and cover feature for this year-end party edition of Travel+Leisure India & South Asia. Hydari is bewildered by the immaculate beauty of the place. I cannot help but soak up the surreal vibe of the centuries-old restored château. The structure was purchased by Bacardi in 2013, and after a year-long conservation project, it became the home for their brand, Grey Goose.

Le Logis
Hydari strikes a pose in front of the Le Logis manor house.

When François Thibault, the Maître de Chai (cellar master) reputed to be the best distiller in the Cognac region, joined hands with Sydney Frank, a visionary businessman from the US, in 1996 to create a supremely luxe product, success was inevitable. “Success is great, but we needed our own house. Le Logis is authentic, like Grey Goose,” says Thibault. It was, in fact, Thibault, a Cognac local, who discovered the manor house. “I was looking for a place that was not in the city, or a castle… it had to be something authentic. As a local, I knew people and I knew all the exceptional places. So, in 2013, I negotiated a deal for Bacardi [and we took over this place].” There has been no looking back since. Having started from nine rooms, Le Logis has grown to accommodate 15 elegantly appointed bedrooms. It aims to provide an experience that’s steeped in the countryside lifestyle of France. The interiors are contemporary and chic, with vintage elements tastefully integrated into the 12 Executive, two Comfort, and one room for guests with special needs. The château also includes two living rooms with fireplace, a dining room, an open-house
kitchen, patio, an outdoor swimming pool with barbecue potential (especially if you’re visiting in summer months), and a state-of-the-art bar. There’s also a private cinema room in the works when I visit. Both, Thibault and Francisco Almeida, the brand home manager for Le Logis, are particular about the number of guests visiting the manor house. “We don’t entertain more than 1,200-1,400 people in a year,” Thibault tells me. This is not an ordinary B&B, after all.

Le Logis
The chateau walls have stood the test of time for centuries, and now infuse history into the house with every exposed brick

A timeworn limestone façade, picture-perfect manicured lawns, a 16th-century quaint kitchen equipped with a wood-burning fireplace and stocked with some of the most delightful cheese platters and fresh fruits—life at Le Logis (‘home’ in French) is unhurried and dreamlike. When you live in a house with centuries of history and plenty of stories waiting to be unravelled, you want to soak it all up instead of rushing out for explorations in nearby neighbourhoods. There’s no TV and a patchy internet connection at best, but when you’re at Le Logis, you’re in a beautiful, enchanting bubble—one that you don’t want to leave. And as Thibault aptly puts it, “This place evokes emotions.”

Le Logis
The studio at Le Logis welcomes guests with warmth.

Almeida, who has been with Le Logis for over two years now, is articulate about the vision. “Everything here is about having a personal touch. We don’t want to become a hotel. This is home, and we are proud to host people whom we invite.” With his ‘family’ of 12 staff members, comprising Chef Sebastian Gillard, cocktail master Emmanuel Plumet, and the Le Logis support team supervised by Yohan, Almeida makes your stay at this private haven an unpretentious, personal, and immersive experience of the French lifestyle—all under the able leadership and inspiration of Thibault. Whether it’s the produits typiques on the kitchen table, or the cycling tours that explore the friendly neighbourhood, stargazing evenings or hot air balloon rides that happen between May and October, each experience is tailormade to suit Le Logis’s discerning guests.

Le Logis
Hydari photographed in the garden of Le Logis.

However, a stay at Le Logis would be blasphemously incomplete if you do not try the classic experience that delves into Grey Goose history and flavour. Spend some time learning about the brand through the senses of sight, taste, and smell. Take a stroll around the grounds with Thibault, with a stop at the rolling vineyards that envelope the château, followed by a conversation in the atelier where the brand’s ‘crop-to-cork’ philosophy is on display. Here, you discover the origin of Grey Goose, learn how the flagship product is made from winter wheat grown in Picardie and spring water tapped from a natural well right next to the bottling facility in Gensac-la-Pallue, and get to know where the fruits are sourced from. All of this culminates with a tasting of Grey Goose’s most premium offering. Toss in a mixology session to be the star at the bar next time, and if you’re hungry for more, don’t miss the oysters and martini tasting as well as the caviar tasting sessions. Being a carb-binger, much to the agony of my yoga teacher, I had to sign up for a bread-making session. A coffee-roasting session, complemented by an espresso martini, was the icing on the cake!

Le Logis
Chilling by the poolside with a cocktail is the ideal way to spend a lazy afternoon at this chateau.

If your idea of a holiday is living in a place steeped in history, heritage, and storytelling, with a garnish of the French countryside, then Le Logis is a no-brainer. Whether you’re into the outdoors (this region is perfect to explore on a bike or on a leisure run), or have a penchant for gastronomy trails (the farm-to-table menu here is paired with the perfect drinks), Le Logis possesses a certain je ne sais quoi that makes it stand apart. The secret lies in the passionate tribe of people who live here and uphold the legacy of the château for all those who visit.

Le Logis
The poolside area at the mansion.

VISIT FRANCE

Getting There

Le Logis
Hydari goes for a stroll among the vineyards around Le Logis.

Le Logis is located in Cognac, France. It is close to Bordeaux (A10) and Angoulême (N10). The closest train station is at Angoulême, 45 minutes away (50 km). The closest airport is in Bordeaux (112.4 km), a 90-minute drive. Paris is 500 kms away and takes five hours to reach by road. There are multiple airline carriers connecting major Indian metros with Paris and Bordeaux (via connecting flights).

Stay

Le Logis
Nature at its majestic best at the French chateau

Le Logis is open for booking requests through the year except between December 15 and January 15. Minimum booking request accepted is of eight to 10 people. Le Logis Grey Goose, Domaine du Fresne, Route de Touche-Boeuf 16130 Juillac-le-Coq, France; [email protected]

Related: Explore These Five Lesser-Known Places In France Before 2020!