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                    Autumn in France . . .         November/December 2002




If you are planning to be in Paris this October, you may find yourself celebrating Paris' first annual "Sleepless  Night", sponsored by Paris City Hall.  Everyone is invited to participate in this first ever "official" sleepless La Tour Eiffel - dusknight, beginning at nightfall (7:22 PM) on October 5th and continuing until dawn on Sunday, October 6th. Officially named Nuit Blanche,  it promises to be quite a night!   Concerts, film shows, spectacles and "happenings" throughout the night at what the tourist office calls "mysterious and unexpected locations throughout the first through eleventh" arrondissements.  The museums, public libraries, monuments, houses of worship, gardens, parks, movie theaters, hospitals, universities and other centers will be open to the public and will be hosting special events.  Paris' City Hall will present piano music and song; the Garde République headquarters will present a concert; and the Louvre will host a salute to the Mona Lisa at 3 in the morning!  For more details and schedules of the events planned click on or  We hope that many of you will have the opportunity to experience this event!

                  [Photo credit:  Cold Spring Press  © 1993-2002]

 Paris Théatre  -- en Anglais

One World Actors Productions will open their first Paris season on September 9th -- the city's only English language theater!  They will reside at the prestigious Théatre Espace Cardin on 1, avenue Gabriel at the Place de la Concorde.  Productions will include works by Shakespeare, Neil Simon, Edward Albee and others.  The last Monday of each month will be set aside for productions in French.  To learn more and obtain a program schedule click on

Nantes and le Château du Breuil

Nantes is the principal city of the Loire-Atlantique - a city on the River Loire with a grand cathedral and a Château des Ducs de Bretagnechâteau in the heart of town surrounded by a moat -  le Château des Ducs de Bretagne, birthplace of Anne of Brittany in 1477 and where the Edict of Nantes (giving Protestants freedom of religion) was signed in 1598 by Henri IV.   Yes, Nantes was not long ago part of Brittany.  After the boundaries were redrawn, Nantes became part of the region known as the Pays de la Loire, but some say its heart is still in Brittany.   It has remained an important river commerce center and much can be learned about its shipping history with a visit to one of the château's two museums, the Musée Salorges.  Also at the château is the Musée d'Art Populaire, focusing on Nantes' Breton heritage including folk costumes and furniture.

Nantes is a lively city, filled with culture and history.  Jules Verne was a native son, and a museum devoted to him is at 3, rue de l'Hermitage.  The Musée des Beaux Arts, with works by Ingres, de la Tour and Perugino,  is worth your time and the Cathédrale de Saint-Pierre et St-Paul is inspiring. Construction began on the cathedral in 1434 but it was over 450 years before it was Interior of Nantes' Cathedral de St-Pierrecompleted.  It sustained much damage in 1944 and then suffered a fire in 1972.  Perhaps it does not have the most beautiful exterior, but the cathedral pleases every visitor with its marvelous interior.   It is said that it was the first cathedral in France to have the interior restored to its original beauty --  centuries of smoke and grime scrubbed from its walls .  This was accomplished by the early 1990s, and the pale golden glow of its interior is simply beautiful.

One more significant site to visit near the city is Le Château de Clisson and the town of Clisson southwest of Nantes.  During the Vendée Uprising of 1793, the town was destroyed.  It was subsequently rebuilt in an Italian style with neo-classical villas and lovely red-tiled roofs (quite unusual for this region of France).  Overlooking the River Sèvre are the ruins of the 13th-century château, now being partially restored, open to the public (except Tuesdays) and only closed during Christmas school vacations.  To learn more, phone from outside France.

Oddly Nantes has something in common with the Périgord:  Nantes is known for its duck!  It is also in the western Loire region which produces marvelous Muscadet wines -- the very popular white wine is described as light, fresh, very dry and enjoyed when it is young.  Since Muscadet is now almost "overproduced",  it is recommended that a little higher price be paid to obtain a good Muscadet.  We must be honest, however.  Nantes has grown rapidly in the past decade and today may seem daunting when first approached by automobile.  Parking is not easy, a ring road around the city convinces you that there are reasons to avoid it, and traffic during rush hours is irritating at best.  We do recommend a visit, though.  Arrive there before 10 AM and head for the part of town just north of the River Loire and the railroad tracks eastward from  rue de Strasbourg.    Here you will find the cathedral, the château, the Musée des Beaux Arts, and the lovely Jardin des Plantes.  Further north, following rue Sully in front of the cathedral, you will come upon the Japanese Gardens and Maison de L'Erdre on the Île de Versailles in the River Erdre. 

Château du Breuil
All this is leading to our visit to the marvelous Château du Breuil, one of the most recent additions to our web site.  The château is a mere 28 miles southeast of Nantes and just seven and a half miles north of La Roche-sur-Yon, the nearest small city. Chambre Jaune

Château du Breuil has been recently renovated by its owners to welcome guests in 19th century splendor.   Pierre and Monique Maestre provide large guest rooms with spacious and modern en suite baths, yet the guest rooms are furnished in period style appropriate to the château's age.  You will find prices very reasonable for the luxury and ambiance offered.  Open from Easter to All Saints Day (and at other times by special request), the château guest rooms with breakfast are available for your stay.

But, if you find yourself in the region during other times of the year, Château du Breuil offers four gîtes accommodating from five to sixteen persons.  Completely self-catering and having been awarded three "epis" by the respected organization Gîtes de France, an independent existence can be enjoyed while still living the "château life".  Beautiful grounds will encourage long, peaceful walks, and day trips to Nantes, La Roche sur Yon, the sea coast, and many more attractions will keep you busy. Or, perhaps you are interested in staying close to home to try your hand at  fishing or hunting.   Whatever you choose to do, you will find yourself immersed in the tranquil countryside, enticed by the warm Atlantic beaches and enthralled by the historic sites and stimulating cities of this part of western France.

[We regret that Château du Breuil is no longer a member of our web site - Summer 2004]

[Photo Credits:  Cathedral de St-Pierre - 
Château des Ducs de Bretagne: tourisme, culture et loisirs en France
Château du Breuil photos courtesy Pierre Maestre] 

French Quiz 17

Match these French kings with their wives:

                                                 1.  François II          A.  Marie Antoinette

                                                 2.  Henri IV             B.  Mary Stuart

                                                 3.  Louis XV            C.  Marie Leszczynska

                                                 4.  Louis XVI           D.  Marie de Médicis


You will find the correct answer at the end of this newsletter.

The Michelin Red Guide  . . . 

Although you may find yourself dining each evening at Château du Breuil, when visiting Nantes or La Roche-sur-Yon you may discover your appetite cannot wait for your return to the château!  Should that be the case, the Michelin Red Guide has named several restaurants for your consideration.

  • In La Roche there is the very reasonably-priced Auberge de la Borderie, which can be reached by phone at or fax at from within France - from outside France add 33 before the number and omit the zero. 
  • If you are looking for a highly-rated Michelin restaurant in Nantes, this year's guide has a single one-star establishment in the heart of the city, L'Atlantide,  on quai E. Renaud.
  • In the north part of the city Châtaigneraie also rates one star and can be found at 156 route Carquefou.  Their phone number is and email is Châtaigneraie occupies a 19th century manoir and sits in a park on the edge of the River Erdre  -- a lovely setting.
  • In the southeast are the one-star Manoir de la Comète at 21 avenue Libération ( and the Manoir de la Boulaie located in a vineyard (02.40.06,15.91). 
Whatever you eventually choose, bon appétit!

Village View: Collonges la Rouge

Collonges la Rouge

Once you have visited the wonderful red village of Collonges la Rouge,
you will fully understand why its mayor back in the 1980s decided to 
create the association of the Most Beautiful Villages of France -- naming
his own village, of course, the first with such a designation.  This lovely 
place is not only spectacular for its unique red stone, but the 
architecture is splendid and the winding streets simply enchanting  -- a different 
surprise around every corner.  Located in the Corrèze département of the Limousin
about halfway between Brive-La Gaillarde and Beaulieu-sur-Dordogne 
along the scenic D38, a visit to Collonges can easily be included in
any drive through this beautiful region of southwest France.

[Photo Credit:  Cold Spring Press © 2002]

What's New on our Web Site? 

It has been a busy Summer at au Château. Three more properties have been added to our web site, each offering guests an opportunity to experience château living in different areas of the beautiful French countryside.  First, Château de Chorey in Burgundy came aboard -- an inviting bed and breakfast on a renown wine estate.  Château de Chorey's wine labels appear in many of France's top restaurants, and, as their guest, you can sample these wines and visit the vineyards while enjoying a peaceful stay in their chambres d'hôtes.   In July, beautiful Château du Breuil became a member of au Château -- you've just read about this splendid estate earlier in this newsletter.  And one week ago, we were very pleased to have the romantic  Château de Vaulogé  join us, allowing us to showcase our first member in the département of the Sarthe -- a truly lovely part of France. 

Château de Vaulogé - SartheChâteau de Chorey - Burgundy
Château de Vaulogé                                          Château de Chorey

We hope you will pay each of them a virtual visit on our web site and then, perhaps, make reservations to stay at one or all  -- they would each make excellent bases for a thorough exploration of their respective regions of France.   Other luxurious properties will soon appear on our web site,  increasing your chances of finding the perfect château accommodation wherever you travels in France take you. 

[Photos courtesy of each château]

See Paris with Your Own Personal Guide . . .

Wouldn't  it be great to take walks through interesting Parisian neighborhoods in the company of your own personal guide -- someone who really knows a neighborhood's history, unique attributes and 'personality'? Île St-Louis Stroll with Arthur Gillette Well, you can -- and at a reasonable cost!  Eleven walking tours, each lasting about two hours,  are offered by Arthur Gillette for about $40 for the first per person, with a progressively decreasing per-person rate for groups of up to six, maximum. Choose from strolls in the Marais, the Île St-Louis,  Notre Dame Cathedral and many more.   If you have a special interest, you might want to experience "Smiling Architecture:  Parisian Art Nouveau" or "A Medieval Sampler" which includes a visit to St-Germain des Prés Abbey and the 15th century Cluny abbot's museum.  For a complete list of insightful, delightful and comfortably-paced strolls or to reserve a date and time for your personalized walk, please contact Arthur Gillette at  Paris Through the Ages  by telephone at or by Email at 

[Photo Credit:  Cold Spring Press  © 2000-2002]

French Quiz 18

To what discipline were the following Frenchmen important contributors?

René Descartes
Pierre de Fermat
Jules-Henri Poincaré
Evariste Galois
Gaspard Monge


You will find the correct answer at the end of this newsletter.

 Foolproof Soufflé au Fromage 

Soufflés are recipes we all try to master...hoping that,  as they are served to our friends or families,  they will remain high and beautiful, but often finding that they collapse and look rather awful.  This cheese soufflé is an exception -- easy to prepare and remaining gorgeous as it is served.  Best of all, those enjoying it will ask for more because it is rich and delicious, so don't count on leftovers!

You  will need 6 eggs, 6 tablespoons butter, 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, 6 tablespoons of flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt, a little cayenne pepper, 1 1/4 cups of milk, 1/2 cup shredded Gruyère cheese,  1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar, a soufflé dish (must have straight sides),  and waxed paper.  The first thing to do is separate the egg yolks from the whites and let the egg whites come to room temperature (about an hour).  Use one half  tablespoon of butter to grease the inside of the soufflé dish.  Take a piece of waxed paper 26" long and fold lengthwise into thirds.  Butter (another half tablespoon) one side of this paper collar.  Wrap the waxed paper around the soufflé dish so that about 2" extends above the dish, buttered side facing the dish.   Tie tightly with string.  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Melt remaining 5 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan and remove from the heat.  Stir in flour, 1 teaspoon salt and cayenne until smooth.  Gradually add milk, stirring until blended.  Return to heat and bring to a boil, stirring all the while.  Reduce to simmer and stir until the mixture becomes thick and separates from the sides of the saucepan.

Beat egg yolks with a whisk and gradually beat in the cooked mixture.  Add Parmesan  and Gruyère cheese and beat until well combined.  To the egg whites, add remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt and the cream of tartar.  With an electric mixer at high speed, beat until stiff peaks form.  Fold a third of the egg whites into the warm cheese mixture until well combined.  Carefully fold in the remaining whites until combined.  Pour gently into the prepared soufflé dish.  Bake for 40 minutes until it raises and is golden brown in color.  Remove waxed collar and serve immediately.  Bon appétit!

We hope you have enjoyed au Château News.  If you have,  please forward it to friends and encourage them to subscribe.  It's FREE!

(The answer  to Quiz 17 is  1B, 2D, 3C, 4A and to Quiz 18 is Mathematics.)

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