A little over 50 kilometres south-east of Paris stands Château de Fontainebleau - the birth place, residence and regular hunting haunt of number of kings, the site of Napolean's public abdication in 1814 after his failed invasion of Russia two years earlier and also where the concepts of the Renaissance were initially introduced to France.
Surrounded by impressive wrought-iron gates and boasting the galleries of Francis and Diana, Napolean's Throne Room, the Stairway of the King and the Boudoir of Marie-Antoinette among the other grand apartments, grottoes, museums and gardens, the palace is simply magnificent and steeped in history.
But it's also where Ex-Services' Tennis Club's Chris Doucas ended a forced 18-month sabbatical from real tennis with a win in last month's prestigious Kressman Trophy Tournament.
It's not every day you get to a play in a tournament in a castle in France, in a facility that dates back to the 1600s.Kressman Trophy Tournament champion Chris Doucas
The sport, originally known as jeu de paume because it was played with the palm of the hand, was another favourite of the aristocracy and the Fountainebleau Tennis Club was established in 1601, the court is tucked away and only found through a tiny, inconspicuous door but is the world's largest.
"The history is just incredible, and it's not every day you get to a play in a tournament in a castle in France, in a facility that dates back to the 1600s, let alone win that tournament," Doucas enthused.
The 2019 Kressman Trophy Tournament welcomed players from England, France and, of course, Australia, with Doucas prevailing despite his lack of genuine preparation.
"I wasn't been able to play prior to this tournament for 18 months, with no courts nearby and no time to truck off to Hobart or Melbourne I practiced at the squash courts. I'm not as fit as I have been but for four weeks it worked. It screwed up my squash game completely, but that was a fair trade off," Doucas laughed.
"The last [win was convincing] was, the second last was a ringer in from England and I don't think he was too happy (when I beat him)."
Along with the tournament victory Doucas also played a friendly game against Paul Boulter, originally from Cambridge, at the Paris club which, since the Revolution, has shifted across a number of different venues.
"He and I were equal in terms of handicap so we could just play our game, it was fantastic, I actually think I played the best I ever have," Doucas explained.
"We both raised each other's games and ended up playing for three hours, I was more stuffed from that than I was from the whole [Kressman Trophy Tournament]."
He has been invited back to next year's Kressman Trophy Tournament, although with it moving to the courts of Bordeaux he's not certain whether he'll return to defend his title. He said he does plan to contest a tournament in England though, another he's been invited to.
"I'm thinking more of going to England to play in that tournament and then doing a tour of the castles, playing on those different courts - Sandringham Castle, Queen's Club, Oxford, et cetera," he said.
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