November / December 2006
Member properties we visited in September
ACTIVE LINKS TO APPROPRIATE WEB SITES. JUST CLICK ON ANY ONE OF THEM!]
Château de Vaudezert
Very soon, the above-mentioned member will join our web site.
Château de Vaudezert is a grand and beautiful estate in the département of the Orne in Basse Normandie. Currently offering one spacious suite (three more suites and a pavilion will soon be available) and with a reception room able to accommodate gatherings of 60 people for weddings and other celebrations, the château will be a very welcome addition to our site.
Do visit our site again soon to take a virtual visit of the Château ~ and, perhaps, make a reservation!
French Quiz 67
find the correct answers at the end of this newsletter.
Villes et Villages de France
. . we hope to tempt you to visit these marvelous places
as peaceful as a September stroll along the walkway at
by Cold Spring Press 2006. All rights reserved.]
September in France . . .
We were fortunate to stay in or pay a visit to 11 au Château members this September ~ and as we've told many a traveler, no two properties on our site are alike ~ so, if you've stayed in one château you haven't stayed in them all! Burgundy was delightful, and Brittany and Normandy were once again rewarding destinations as were the Sarthe, Creuse and Vienne départements.
This newsletter would be far too long if we told you of each lovely surprise or special moment we experienced at the châteaux and manoirs we took in during our travels. So, we will provide some highlights of both the châteaux (and what visitors will find interesting in their neighborhoods) in the brief summaries that follow. We hope this information encourages you to make your 2007 reservations without delay!
de Chorey: Three friendly dogs
awaited us on a lovely sunny day, as did our most warm and delightful host,
François Germain, as we arrive at the gates of Château
de Chorey. In fact, we found that Monsieur Germain had been
busy in the kitchen putting up fruit jams and preserves, some of which
we were fortunate to sample at breakfast on the sunlit terrace the following
morning. The château, surrounded by its own vineyards,
has been a member of au Château for over four years,
and perhaps many of you may have already been its guests. Not only
were our accommodations spacious and comfortable (with a large modern bathroom),
but it was a very easy-to-find property. The grounds are spectacular,
with a meandering stream running through. It is only a very short
walk to the village of Chorey-les-Beaunes where Monsieur's grapes are made
into wine, bottled and then returned to his cellars on the estate.
You can find Château de Chorey
wines among the offerings of
some of France's best restaurants! Visit our Wine
Châteaux page to read all about the history of the vineyard and
where those wines can be found. Over the winter months, Monsieur
Germain will be renovating all the guest rooms, and come Spring he will
offer 3 queen guest rooms and 2 suites. We can't wait to visit
de Villette: The drive
westward to Poil for our stay at Château de
Villette was quite lovely, although we detoured somewhat to visit the
town of Châteauneuf, one of the 'Most Beautiful Villages of France'.
We must say it did not prove to be as spectacular as others on the list
that we have seen. It was our pleasure to meet the friendly couple,
Coën and Catherine Stork, who are proprietors of the château
that they share with their two young children. Château de
Villette is on about 500 acres in the Morvan hills of Burgundy and
creates a most peaceful retreat for its guests. The property is terraced
on different levels at the front of the château and is bounded by
forests at the back. The isolated swimming pool with a grand view
and exposed to the sun is quite inviting as well. In addition to
bed and breakfast accommodations, the château can be rented by the
week for large gatherings of family and friends. Our
guest room was cheerfully decorated in yellow striped wallpaper and
floral fabrics. It had a very comfortable bed and a handy writing
desk. A small, but efficient bathroom offered a wonderful hot shower, terry
robes, a hairdryer and lots of toiletries. We enjoyed a lovely dinner
that night with four other guests and our host and hostess, which began
with Champagne and hors d'oeuvres on the terrace. We then
were seated in the pretty dining room to enjoy a delightful dinner.
Each couple chose a bottle of wine from an extensive list provided by our
hosts. A stay at the elegant Château de Villette will
ensure that you come away with some wonderful memories of your time in
Le Petit Manoir des Bruyères: First impressions: flowers, fruit trees, that lovely patterned roof, exceptionally cordial hosts and birds, birds, and more birds! (Oh, yes, and two extraordinary resident cats ~ an elderly Norwegian and a youthful Abyssinian who finds itself in tight spots from time to time!). Le Petit Manoir des Bruyères was among our web site's first members back in the year 2000 - six years ago this month! We are thrilled that they are still with us, as we can't say enough about the charm, elegance and ambiance of this wonderful Burgundian manor. The rooms are intricately decorated by hand by Monique Jouillé, the talented hostess. Monsieur Pierre Jouillé and his wife are constantly making improvements and are planning to add more rooms in one of the lovely little buildings in the garden. Everything is so cozy and warm, you really don't ever want to leave! Our room was "La Vallière" (perhaps named for one of the mistresses of Louis XIV?) and can be seen on our web site ~ and the bed may be one of the the best we've ever slept on! Our bathroom (shown in this photo) was beyond description! Gold fixtures, fluted columns and marble everywhere ~ true elegance topped off by that lovely oval window with its splendid view of the gardens. The room was outfitted with everything from terry robes to cotton swabs! We enjoyed dinner with our host and hostess on our first night. She is a superb cook! We dined on sandre in a cream sauce, fresh vegetables and a peach gateau for dessert. Several fine wines were poured by our host. The discussion centered around their fantastic bird collection (all but two canaries are outside in enclosures), especially the white fantail pigeons and two different but brilliantly-colored pheasants. The ambiance, warmth and comfort of Bruyères, combined with the charm and friendliness of Monsieur and Madame Jouillé, make this truly one of the most memorable places one can stay in Burgundy. Add to those attributes the delightful gardens and colorful birds, and you will come away quite pleased with your decision to stay here!
For dinner the second evening at Bruyères we
The Vienne, Creuse & Sarthe:
During a week we spent in the Loire renting a delightful gîte, we made day trips to four members of au Château.
Château d'Alogny: It was off to the département of the Vienne and our second visit with John Cooke at Château d'Alogny and quite a change from two years ago! The gardens have been enhanced, a secret garden was discovered on one side of the château, there are several new bathrooms and, although we liked it very much two years ago, everything is now lovelier than ever! This time, the château was filled with guests, and we didn't want our visit to interrupt their activities ~ but it was a joy to sit with John in the garden over glasses of wine and take in the amazing countryside views. Alogny is available to rent in its entirety (bed and breakfasts are not offered at this time), and both Wellness and Writing workshops are scheduled during the year. Alogny is located in a very lovely part of the French countryside, yet not too far from Poitiers, Futuroscope, La Rochelle, the Benedictine Abbey of Fontgombault and an hour's drive to the great châteaux of the Loire Valley.
Château de Bournand: Also in the département of the Vienne, we paid a visit to Vicki and John Majors at Château de Bournand. As always, the properties are much more interesting in person than they appear on our web site, despite the enormous effort we make to ensure our pages are truly representative of each one. Bournand is no exception. It is very elegantly furnished, filled with lovely art work and carpets, and is the sort of retreat one would enjoy most the longer one stayed. Guest accommodations are suites with their own salons. The American owners will eventually make this their primary residence, so they are expending every effort to make it perfect. The serene landscape, twenty acres in all, including Celtic gardens and specimen trees, makes it so appealing. The tranquility and quiet belie the fact that it is actually at the edge of a village, making morning walks to the boulangerie or evening strolls into town very easy. A wonderful new restaurant, Jardin d'Antan, has just opened in Bournand and comes highly recommend by the Majors. And, for those interested in spending several days exploring the grand châteaux of the Loire, Château de Bournand is the perfect place to settle in.
Château de la Barre: Our final day trip from the little gîte in the Loire was to pay a visit to Marnie and Guy de Vanssay ~ the Count and Countess de Vanssay ~ at Château de la Barre in the bucolic Sarthe département. This château should be the destination for anyone seeking historical accuracy in design and décor ~ rooms that contain not only the right period furniture and artwork, but whose color schemes and fabric designs are just as authentic! The château, which is stunning in itself, has been in the Count's family since the early 1400s, and his knowledge of every inch of the château and its contents is without equal. The enthusiasm and devotion of both Marnie and Guy is contagious...one instantly falls in love with Château de la Barre! Of course, the landscape surrounding it is as impressive as one would expect. And, there is plenty to occupy your time at Château de la Barre. You can borrow bicycles to explore the lovely Sarthe countryside. Or, if you are interested in spending time in French language immersion classes, learning about wine appreciation or taking a cooking class, Château de la Barre is for you. Nearby guests can enjoy swimming, tennis, golf, a winery, Le Mans auto racing and the Musée de l'Automobile, Chartres and its magnificent cathedral, Vendôme, the River Loir, the city of Tours, the grand châteaux of the Loire and so much more. Do visit Château de la Barre on our web site today to get some in-depth information about all it has to offer.
Château des Tesnières: You will not regret staying at this grand château and enjoying the uniquely decorated rooms (some traditional; others quite contemporary) all en suite with exceptional modern bathrooms. Plush terry robes are supplied along with ample towels, hairdryers and slippers! There is a safe in the armoire for valuables, too! Guests who can't separate themselves from their email or who run businesses will be happy that a computer with ASDL and WiFi access is provided in a little alcove in one of the towers where you can check that mail! Breakfasts were incredible with ham, cheese, soft-boiled eggs, croissants, baguettes, melon, juice and coffee. Although dinner is not provided at the château, your friendly hosts, John and Siebren, are ready with restaurant suggestions. We had a great dinner one night in nearby Vitré (a medieval village not to be missed) at La Taverne l'Ecu and on another evening in Châteaubourg at Ar Milin, formerly a mill, and now a quite lovely restaurant in its own park. We were especially impressed by the expertise of the young lady who was our sommelier. We enjoyed our brief time in Brittany, spending lots of that time in Vitré exploring the medieval quarter and standing in awe of the enormous château at the edge of town. Château des Tesnières is well located for visiting the Brittany capital of Rennes, Le Mont St Michel, and the numerous gardens that dot this region of France. We hope you will consider staying there when you visit Brittany.
de Bellauney: We drove
to the Manche département on the Cotentin Peninsula to Manoir
de Bellauney ~ we were now in Normandy after a four-year absence.
It was so nice to be back! We were welcomed by Madame Allix-Desfauteaux,
the owner, who is reserved and very charming. The Manoir de Bellauney
is off a rather busy road, but the guest rooms (there are just two) are
at the far end of the house with their own entrance and our room, Chambre
[see photo on our web site], was exceptionally
quiet. The room itself was especially unique in that it was medieval
in style and décor. No detail was left to chance, and despite
the small television on a shelf near the fireplace, it truly felt as though
we were transported to another time. It
was comfortable, cozy and absolutely charming. The bathroom adjoining
our room was modern with a shower stall, hair dryer and towel warmer.
Breakfast was served in a lovely dining room near the guest rooms, and
we enjoyed conversation with a friendly couple from Wales who come to this
part of France quite often to shop (especially for wine) as they find the
prices better than in the UK. This was their second stay at Manoir
de Bellauney. The area is rich in sights to see, particularly
if you are fond of seaside villages with little marinas and great seafood
restaurants. We thoroughly enjoyed our two days here, exploring the
Cotentin from the west coast to the east coast and stopping or dining in
towns such as Quettehou, Goury, Barfleur and Quinéville.
Tardif: On our drive to Château
La Thillaye from Manoir de Bellauney, we were able to stop briefly in the
city of Bayeux, most famous for the Bayeux Tapestry depicting William the
Conqueror's battle of 1066. Following lunch in view of the magnificent
cathedral, we walked for a minute or two to the Hôtel
Tardif in the hopes of spending a little time with Anthony Voidie who
runs this lovely bed and breakfast with his charming mother. Unfortunately,
he was absent, but we were able to take a few moments to chat with Madame
Voidie and catch a glimpse of this truly elegant and lovely guest house.
A pleasant, sun-filled salon is to the left of the entrance hall where
this beautiful stairway led to the guest rooms on the first floor. Hôtel
Tardif is of a lovely, cream-colored stone set in its own quiet park,
yet guests are only steps away from the tapestry, cathedral and nearly
30 fine restaurants. Guests will also enjoy the large south facing
gardens behind the hôtel for relaxation and taking some sun. Don't
forget the Antiques Auction on November 11th in Bayeux, a major event for
which the Voidie's are offering a special package for guests: 2 nights
lodging for 2 in a luxury room, breakfast 2 mornings, a catalogue of the
big auction, and a list of the best antique shops ~ price:
200 to 240 euros based upon room. The auction itself features great
paintings of the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, decorative objects (mostly
Napoleon III), bronzes, Art Nouveau furniture designed by Majorelle, other
period furniture, and more! Contact
that you can visit each of the above member
in this feature are the property of and copyrighted by
Sponsoring this issue . . .
New Pricing for 2007 . . .
During the month of December, au Château's member pages will be updated with pricing for the 2007 travel season. If you contact any of our members for reservations for next year, please keep in mind that the room rates, dinner prices and rental costs shown on our site prior to mid-December may not yet be updated. It is suggested that you inquire about the room rate when making your reservation.
Also, when you visit the pages of a château or manor house that interests you and may be in your plans for next year's visit to the French countryside, look at the dates when the property is Open, located on each member's first page in the bottom left hand column. Most are open all year, but there are several who close as early as November first and don't reopen until Easter. These will be especially difficult to reach now to secure a reservation. Don't give up, however! Send them an email or phone them. Chances are, although they are not open for guests, they or someone else will be there to respond to your inquiry.
French Quiz 68
Winemaking in France
True or False?
(1) 'Blanc de blanc' means white wines from white grapes.
You will find the correct answers at the end of this newsletter.
Easy Recipe: Moules à la Normandie
Mussels are a most enjoyable treat in Normandy. We can never visit there (or in many other regions of France) without ordering a large bowl of moules (with or without frites!) at least twice during our stay! We are borrowing this recipe from Susan Herrmann Loomis' book, On Rue Tatin, so that you can make your own delicious moules (say mool) at home.
You will need 6 pounds/3kg mussels, 1 cup/10g firmly packed parsley coarsely chopped, 2 small shallots halved and then cut into paper-thin slices, 4 dried bay leaves, 1/4 cup/60ml cider vinegar, freshly ground pepper.
Before cooking the mussels, de-beard them (pull off the fine threads hanging from their shells). Rinse them well in cool water, and place them into a large pot. Add the parsley, shallots, bay leaves and vinegar. Shake the pot so that all the ingredients are blended, and bring the liquid to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium high and cover the pot. Cook until the mussels just open, shaking the pot from time to time so that they cook evenly. Once they are open, continue cooking for an additional minute. Check frequently and remove any mussels that are wide open so that they do not overcook. If after two or three minutes there are mussels that refuse to open, discard those as they are either dead or empty.
Serve the mussels in a large bowl seasoning generously with salt and pepper. Serve immediately with crisp French baguette, sweet butter and cider.
Serves 6 to 8. Bon appétit!
We thank Susan
Herrmann Loomis, chef extraordinaire at On Rue Tatin, for
As part of
the On Rue Tatin celebration of French life,
On Rue Tatin
will offer more Paris and Normandy cooking programs
We hope you
have enjoyed au Château News.