Discover Benelux | Castles & Estates | Historical Heritage in Belgium
Ancient and modern Behind the weathered stone of what would have been the manor’s stables and stores lie flexible spaces that can be transformed to accommodate everything from product launches – Volvo cars were one recent client – to fashion shows, and of course business conferences, team-building gatherings, and corporate hospitality events. The charm of the place has been retained, evidence of which are the fabulous beams in one of the conference rooms, while the latest presentation and IT equipment has been added along with stylish modern decor and 21st century comforts. The buildings and their beautiful gardens offer fine settings for the meals created by the high-quality traiteurs who provide the catering service at Domaine de Graux. “We offer superb ‘bio’ – that’s to say organic – food. That organic aspect is very important to the owner’s philosophy. Our chefs create top-quality, imaginative and interesting organic dishes, whether it’s for a formal meal indoors or an outdoor buffet.”
A family affair The domain’s 15th century founders would struggle to understand what was going on at one of the high-profile product launches that the team of Domaine de Graux facilitate for their clients. But they would recognise instantly the joyous family affairs that take place in and around the old manor.
“Five hundred years of history and hospitality add something intangible to the atmosphere of a wedding celebration or a big anniversary party,” says Bolsius: “It’s beyond the practicalities, however important they are. Yes we have great parking, our food is excellent, and it’s a very professional service. But there’s a special feeling to the place as well that comes from half a millennium of human habitation.” Perhaps we find comfort in the implied security of the manor’s moat, and the permanence of such solid stone structures.
Photography in a photogenic setting There is a third and fascinatingly artistic part to the Domaine de Graux’s current life. “We hold an exhibition here every year dedicated to a specific photographer. In 2015 it was Marc Lagrange, in 2016 we’re showcasing the work of photographer Thierry Dubrunfaut.” Dubrunfaut is a fitting choice, as he was born in nearby Tournai, though given his stature it is not unreasonable to expect exhibition visitors from Brussels or Bruges, just an hour away by car, or maybe even Paris, where the photographer is now based. “He had a 30-year career in advertising and fashion photography, but for the last ten years or so he has devot-
ed his skills to art photography, though within that he works in a wide variety of fields.” Dubrunfaut is known now for his artistic images of industrial sites, his lens capturing the architectural forms or the visual surrealism of steel and glass, of engineered technology; but his work embraces other strands, among them the nude and street scenes – his camera giving a voice to the voiceless. It is extraordinary that an ancient farmchateau could host such a range of events, but the elegant simplicity of its buildings and their natural surroundings offer not a neutral canvas, but a living space. domainedegraux.com THIERRY DUBRUNFAUT EXHIBITION By invitation launch event 10 March Open to the public 11 March to 10 April Times: Mondays and Fridays 2pm-6pm, Saturdays and Sundays 11am -6pm
DOMAINE DE GRAUX IN NUMBERS - 120 hectares of fields - 3 linked reception rooms (2x 200 square metres, 1x 100 square metres) - Conference capacity: up to 250 people - Product launch/expo capacity: 500 people - Exterior event capacity up to 750 participants - Catering for 280 seated indoors, or 500 ‘walking diners’ indoors and outdoors - Parking for 230 vehicles
Issue 27 | March 2016 | 57
Promoting Belgium, The Netherlands and Luxembourg.