8 May 2016

A French Chateau in North Carolina

Asheville NC

A nice short drive of fifty miles took us to Asheville in North Carolina. We couldn’t take the Blue Ridge Parkway route as it has a number of tunnels that are too low for us. Steve and Caroline took this route though so they were able to tell us what we missed out on. The parkway is 80 miles of very windy road and doesn’t seem to have been much different from the first few miles that we travelled at the Great Smokies end.

Biltmore Lodge

Biltmore Lodge

The Biltmore is the largest privately owned house in America. It was the Vanderbilt’s 250 room summer house and is currently owned by their descendants. Built in the style of a French Renaissance Chateau, the living space covers four acres. To say this place is huge is an understatement - there are currently 2,000 employees needed to run it. We weren’t planning on going to the Biltmore on our first day in Asheville until we dropped into the visitor centre. Lindsay had wanted to ask them where he could get real bread. When we told them we were going to the Biltmore they said they could sell us tickets for a $10 discount. Not only that but there was a Mother's Day special of a free ticket to all ladies. The normal closing time had been extended for this popular day and we got into the last time slot at 5:15pm. It was only 3pm, so we had time to go back and get my camera. At $53.50* a ticket, it made sense to change our itinerary to get two for one. While they give you a specific time to tour the inside of the house, they don’t enforce it. People had been turning up a couple of hours late all day and as our time slot was the last one of the day, it was extremely crowded.
* Normal price is $60+tax

Main Staircase

There was a special exhibition of gowns from movies such as Pride & Prejudice, Out of Africa, Sense & Sensibility, Emma, Hamlet, Mansfield Park, Howard’s End to name a few, scattered throughout the house. Many of the books to these films could be found in the library.

Bowling Alley

One of the Kitchens

The Family Dining Room

In the main hall near the staircase

Not only did we get to see the main living rooms, family bedrooms, servant’s bedrooms, library (23,000 books), the 70,000 gallon indoor pool and a number of change rooms for the swimmers, a bowling alley, a billiard room, smoking room, gun room, various sitting rooms, guest retreats, bathrooms (there are 43 – the ones we saw didn’t have basins which was a bit weird), various dining rooms, 3 kitchens (main, pastry and rotisserie – which could fit a whole animal), 2 pantries (kitchen & vegetable), walk-in refrigerators, main laundry & drying room, and a gymnasium. There are 28 staircases, 35 bedrooms and 65 fireplaces, some were so large I couldn’t fit them in my lens.

The Conservatory

Flowers in the conserv

While waiting for our allotted time we walked through some of the gardens close to the house. The weather couldn’t have been better, the sun was out and it was warm. There were a number of conservatories with lots of orchids but I was surprised that we didn’t see any vegetable gardens.

the Lake

The lake had a waterfall and boathouse.

Walled Garden

If I had to use one word to describe this place it would be – impressive.

The Grounds
The grounds are like driving through the country, it was a ten-mile drive just to exit the property.  We only had to drive two miles to get there, but coming out we had an eight-mile drive home. The government had asked them to open it to the public in the 1930’s for tourism, which sounds like it was a profitable move for everyone.


  1. Wow, that was a deal that you couldn't refuse! If/when we go, I'll try to be there on Mother's Day! Thanks for the photo tour -- nice selection of images.

    1. thanks Laurel, yes, it was lucky indeed.

    2. thanks Laurel, yes, it was lucky indeed.

  2. Impressive indeed that you got the deal too. The Biltmore is impressive but if you get time or a date back in California, try to tour Hearst Castle in San Simeon. The rich people in the olden days never spared a dime for their mansions or castle.
    Your pics are bringing good memories of our time there. Did you do wine tasting?

    1. We went to Hearst Castle in 2012, it is amazing what people will spend money on. I actually had a free wine tasting ticket but by the time we got to the winery we decided we were too tired