family holiday

by now i’m pretty sure i don’t have to introduce CHATEAU ST. PIERRE DE SERJAC to you anymore. if you’ve been following along for a while, you’ll know we spent our EASTER BREAK there last year, too. we loved it so much, we went back for an extended weekend LAST FALL, and we sort of started considering the domain our home away from home. we hadn’t really planned on doing much for easter this year because last time i was this pregnant, i wasn’t much fun to be around – let alone travel with. but this pregnancy i not only felt up to it – i actually craved some quality time with my two favorite people in the world. it was our last trip as a family of three, and so these memories will always be extra special to me. the fact that juliet starts knowing her way around the property and felt at home from the start also really helped us relax and enjoy our time together.

before we arrived, i thought to myself – i won’t be taking as many pictures this time. after all, it’s our third visit and how many more photos can you take of the same environment? but before i knew it, i ended up with more snapshots than just one blog post could handle. so with this first post i wanted to share a glimpse into our ‘daily life’ whenever we’re at our beloved ‘serjac.’ i hope that somehow these images can convey that even just arriving at the gorgeous domain, opening the doors to your private little home and fixing a simple dinner in the kitchen is such a beautiful and relaxing experience. we chose to stay at la grange #28 again, where we stayed last year, too, because we fell in love with its interior architecture, pretty L-shaped garden and cozy stove. even when the weather was hesitating between end-of-winter and full-on-spring, we were sure to have many little nooks and corners to hang out and chill – inside and outside.

we also took some time hanging around in the restaurant and bar – both sumptious and luxurious places where you can feel like a spoiled little princess and yet completely at ease at the same time. i’ve traveled and experienced a lot, and i can tell this is a difficult balance to strike in hospitality. properties either tend to feel too posh, or too relaxed to achieve this. we also took full advantage of the amazing cinq mondes spa on the domain. normally kids are not allowed in there, but during school holidays – if the weather is still too cold to enjoy the outdoor pool – kids can take a swim with their parents during the morning hours. juliet and her dad had a blast splashing around the jacuzzi, dipping in and out of the hammam and taking a swim in the indoor pool, while – you guessed it, right? – mom disappeared for a wonderfully relaxing massage. have i told you before how much i love cinq mondes spas? i think they’re the best in the world.

when i shared some memories from this trip on my INSTAGRAM, i received a lot of questions about the chateau and its environment, and since i can’t recommend both highly enough for your next trip – please don’t hesitate to ask me anything at all in the comments below! we also took a few field trips – nothing too far or too taxing in my state, but very fun little expeditions that i would love to share with you in my next post.

photos by stephanie duval

Zalig Aan Zee

February 13, 2017 • KnokkeTravel

two years ago, i first discovered ZALIG AAN ZEE when we booked their vacation home in the meerlaan in knokke. we spent such a lovely weekend there – four couples with our kids – that we vowed to rent one of their homes once a year. but then life happened and everyone was so busy that our brilliant idea went the way of most good intentions – it seemed impossible to get everyone together at the same time. until i got an email from the lovely kathleen cassiers, who runs zalig aan zee. it was as if she read my mind and she gave me the little push i needed to rally the troups – sans kids this time. my husband’s birthday was coming up and i knew he would love nothing better than to have his friends in one place to spend a lazy weekend together.

so in all secrecy i got everyone to cancel their plans, book their tickets to belgium and rent a car to take them to the belgian coast – because the wonderful house in the pannenstraat 120 in knokke-heist would be ours for the weekend. now all i had to do was find a way to get my husband to belgium, drop off juliet with her grandparents (which all involved a lot of white lies and awkward pauses before answering my husband’s questions) and drive him up to knokke without him getting suspicious. of course he knew something was up, but the look on his face when we arrived and he fully realized what was happening… well it’s something i’ll remember forever.

on to the house then! zalig aan zee has a very characteristic style – all of the houses feature a monochromatic color scheme, punctuated with lots of wood and other natural elements like leather and linen. all of them have been designed to be freakishly efficient. the homes really aren’t that big, but every room has been so carefully planned that everyone has ample wardrobe space and lots of places to put other stuff. the first year we brought everything with us to prepare some home cooked meals (the guys in our group are all more or less into cooking – we are lucky gals), but when we realized we needn’t have brought half of the stuff because the kitchen is so well-equipped, this year we just relied on the zalig aan zee amenities.

my favorite things about this particular house are the gas fire place in the living room and the swinging chair in front of it, the wood fire place in the cozy patio (which features a covered kind of outdoor living room – so cozy and ideal for fickle belgian weather) and the enormous attic which has no less than eight single beds. i love the design of that space – it’s any organization freak’s dream-come-true. every single inch of that space is put to good use, and i can just imagine the fun our kids will have in there when they’re all a little bit older. for our weekend, it was the perfect fifth bedroom to host two couples – even though it might not have been as romantic for them as for the four couples who had their own rooms…

as i was getting this post ready to publish, i noticed i hadn’t made a category yet for ‘knokke’, and that just won’t do. as a belgian from antwerp, my childhood summers were spent on its beaches – selling paper flowers for little shells. when i got a little older, i had some of the best nights of my life there – hanging out and partying with my friends who also spent a huge chunk of their summers there. knokke sometimes gets a bad rep because it can be kinda posh and snooty, but if you know where to go (and which places to avoid) it’s a fun place to go any time of the year. there are some seriously fun shops to discover – a peek into OBJET TROUVE is guaranteed to leave you inspired (and bankrupt). and it has some really great restaurants – CUINES33 has been one of my favorite foodie destinations for the past couple of years. but most importantly knokke is located right next to the beautiful natural park HET ZWIN, which is the perfect place to go for long walks and fresh air.

it’s only been two weeks, but i’m already starting to crave another visit…

all photos by stephanie duval • ZALIG AAN ZEE rental home at pannenstraat 120 in knokke • also, yes, i travel with three cosmetics pouches because i am high maintenance like that. in other news i have rekindled my love for KIEHL’S and i can now not longer live without their hydro-plumping retexturizing serum concentrate and super multi-corrective cream. insert all the heart eyes emoji’s for what this duo has done for my skin lately. #notsponsored #justareallybigfanoftheirstuff

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my name is stephanie duval, and i am a storyteller. this blog is where i share my favorite stories about design, travel, fashion and the nice things in life.

 

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