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                                  At Winter's End . . . March /  April 2003


A Château of Your Own

Many of us have rented a house in the country or a city or village apartment to spend a week, several weeks, a month or more in France.  These long-term rentals permit a certain amount of assimilation into local life and certainly provide a great deal of freedom  -- freedom from packing and unpacking, freedom from too much time on the road, and freedom to get to know one area really well.  Such vacations almost seem the most restful and rewarding of all.

Well what if you took it one step further?  Let's say you are planning to have a family reunion or travel to France with a large group of friends  -- you want to make the visit very unique and special.  Often, it is difficult to find a country house that can accommodate many couples with complete comfort and their own private bathrooms.  Sometimes the kitchen and cooking facilities are less than spectacular in these rental properties, often with mismatched dishes and utensils and a kitchenette tucked into a windowless corner in the larger living / dining room.  Although many rentals are delightful,  and we certainly have fond memories of those we have enjoyed, wouldn't it be great to have a château all to yourself?

Several  of our member properties offer just that!  You can rent an entire château or, at the least, a significant part of a château, if you plan enough in advance. Aside from the advantages of lovely, large and landscaped grounds for your group to enjoy, there is the additional privacy of being on an estate.  There will be  ample room for parking many cars, for example.  There is always a nearby village for shopping necessities, and perhaps a bit farther will be a large town or small city for the occasional dinner out, a museum visit or a shopping trip.  And, as with all the properties on our web site, each château is set in a region with its own unique attractions, including outdoor activities for groups to enjoy together for both children and adults.

The following will introduce you to five members of our site who provide delightful bed and breakfast accommodations (with the exception of one) as well as offer their entire property for rent.  Once you have read about them, please return to their web pages on our site to find information in greater detail about their rooms, location and prices.
Château de Saint-Loup

  • Château de Saint-Loup -   This is an exquisite property in the Poitou of western France whose owners will, on occasion, make the entire castle available for rent  -- this comprises 15 double rooms, two single rooms and the Keep. (See our feature on gîtes below to learn more about renting only the Keep.)  Check directly with owners for the prevailing rates to rent the castle.  Click here to visit their page on our web site where you will find more information and contact numbers.
Château de Crazannes
  • Château de Crazannes - With a view of the River Charentes and very near Saintes and Cognac, this "château of Puss in Boots" accommodates guests in two suites, two double rooms and a twin room, all with private bathrooms.  There are three doubles in the Keep with en suite bathrooms, and the Cottage has two doubles and two twins.   In combination, you can rent all three -- the château, the Keep and the cottage -  for a total of thirteen guest rooms.  Each building has its own kitchen and common rooms.  Click here to visit their page on our web site where you will find more information and contact numbers.
Château de Canisy
  • Château de Canisy - Historic Normandy is the location of this large and magnificent château which, on occasion, can be rented in its entirety for groups of as many as 40 people.  Please read our feature article below which provides an in-depth look at all the possibilities of a stay at Château de Canisy


Château Rhodes

  • Château Rhodes - This beautifully decorated château in the lovely Ariège with a view of the Pyrénées will sleep up to 18 people for weekly rentals.  A fully-equipped kitchen, maid service, linens and breakfast service are included.  In May, the new gourmet restaurant at Rhodes will open, which is an added feature for both renters or bed and breakfast clients.  Click here to visit their page on our web site where you will find more information and contact numbers. 
Château d'Alogny
  • Château d' Alogny - This charming and historical property in the Vienne of southwest France is only available in its entirety, as it is not a bed and breakfast like our other member properties.  Alogny offers five double bedrooms and four additional beds, to accommodate ten to twelve people.   From the large swimming pool there are remarkable views over the countryside.   Click here to visit their page on our web site where you will find more information and contact numbers.

Imagine the experience of waking each morning in a château -- the only other people there are your family and friends -- sharing meals at a grand dining table in an impressive formal dining room, gathering together in one of several magnificently decorated salons or, perhaps, at poolside in a beautiful French garden.  After a great day exploring the region or visiting pretty villages and historical sites, you return to your private room and fall asleep in an antique canopy bed in the silent countryside.  This dream can easily be a reality, and the members listed above are waiting to hear from you! 

[Photo Credits:  Member Properties ©  2003]

Adieu . . .

few days ago,  France lost one of its most dedicated and famous chefs, Bernard Loiseau.  Perhaps, what makes his death most sad (and to many, incomprehensible) is that he died by his own hand.  The reason for his suicide is believed to be his total despair after having his restaurant lose two points in its Gault Millau standing.   Yet, no one can prove that theory, and Gault Millau's own André Gayot is first to say so in his article, "Death of a Modern Hero".  Further, another interesting article on the Gault Millau web site makes the point that this guide no longer has the influence it once did and refers to the demise of the company's magazine last December and how the guide no longer has any real industry clout.

Gault Millau produces Gayot's  FRANCE, The Best of Gault Millau Guide France, that says on the cover, "More than 7,000 frank and witty reviews of restaurants, hotels, gourmet shops, wines and sights..."   At this time, we are not sure that "witty" would be appreciated by those serious French chefs who feel their livelihoods and reputations can be made or destroyed by a critic or two.  The Guide is known for its "toques" (chef's hats) and a rating of 19/20 is excellent.  Bernard Loiseau's restaurant,  La Côte d'Or in Saulieu, Burgundy,  had this top rating -- otherwise known as "Four Toques" -- since 1990.   The guide recently reduced that to three toques or 17/20. 

But,   if Loiseau was devastated by his loss of two numbers in his rating (he still retained his more prestigious 3 Michelin stars), many will say it is ridiculous to allow the critic's rating of your restaurant to become that important.  Others will say there must have been more to it than a simple deduction of just two points by a fading body of critics.   Yet others, particularly his fellow chefs in France  -- and those millions of French who understand the absolute seriousness surrounding superior French cuisine that motivates people like Bernard Loiseau to excel -- will understand.   Those close to him said he was exhausted and under great stress.  It is reported that he only opened the hotel at La Côte d'Or because he was financially strapped and needed the income.  Others said his expansion into marketing frozen foods and managing his other restaurants and enterprises put him deeply in debt.  Whatever else was on his mind, perhaps what others may consider insignificant was more than he could bear. 

Here is the news release: Bernard Loiseau died on February 24, 2003 at the age of 52 in his home in Saulieu, France. Initial indications are that he committed suicide. The celebrated chef started his culinary career with the Troisgros brothers in 1968, but he went on to make a name for himself with his multi-award winning establishment La Côte d'Or (also located in Saulieu, a small town in Burgundy). He developed into a true entrepreneur, with a hotel, a boutique, a line of frozen foods, several books, and even three restaurants in Paris (Tante Louise, Tante Marguerite, and Tante Jeanne). Loiseau is survived by his wife Dominique and their three children. 

Most visitors to France rarely dine at a restaurant that they don't  find superb!  But, certainly for the French and even more so for the French whose lives and livelihoods are dedicated to haute cuisine, there are enormous differences between our view of excellent fare and service and the high standards to which they aspire.  Bernard Loiseau will be greatly missed by his young family,  friends in his industry, and loyal patrons of his restaurants who sensed his passion to be among the best.

A Special Offer to our readers . . .

If  you are not already a subscriber, please visit to learn more about the illustrated quarterly newsletter, FRANCE On Your Own, written especially for the independent traveler to France.  From articles by people living in France to a new behind-the-scenes look at French wine estates,  this newsletter provides something unique for both first-time visitors and avid Francophiles.

The writers are not travel writers visiting a place for the first and only time, often culling information from other sources,  but they are regular contributors and experts in their respective fields and experts on things French. 

Readers will vouch for the quality and quantity of information in each issue.  It is a sophisticated, sixteen pages of advertisement-free content with original illustrations and photographs accompanying well-written, thoughtful text designed to encourage independent travel. 

As FRANCE On Your Own begins its seventh year of publication, subscribers can look back on a wide variety of articles and information on transportation,  women traveling alone, visiting wine country, French life and culture, currency updates, book reviews, health and safety tips,  historical sites and architecture, reviews of château bed and breakfasts,  recommendations by well-traveled fellow subscribers, feature articles on shopping in Paris, visits to the small cities of France, glimpses into French village life and dozens of other topics.    Regular features include Paris Enigmas (a quiz on little known facts about Paris), an in-depth review of a département or region of France in every issue, and a calendar of cultural events with everything from museum exhibits in France to French musical productions in the US.

FRANCE On Your Own is not a superficial summary of a brief visit covering places one can read about in any guidebook nor is it a newsletter simply listing hotels and restaurants with their phone numbers.  Instead,  it is intended to encourage readers to plan their own vacations, to make their own reservations, to stay in inexpensive but perfect little city hotels, to venture out into the countryside to explore quaint villages and towns, to be pampered guests in country manors and châteaus, to meet and mingle with the French people in village shops and street markets, and to do it all with confidence -- even if they only know a word or two of French.  FRANCE On Your Own's  title says it all.

An  offer exclusively for readers of  au Château News is good until March 31, 2003 they can subscribe to this high-quality, print newsletter at a special rate of  6 issues for the price of 4!   To read excerpts from past editions, learn more about the newsletter, or find out how to subscribe, just visit their web site at

All you have to do to avail yourself this special offer is pay on line by credit card and mention you heard about them from this newsletter.  Remember, this opportunity will expire on March 31, 2003.

French Quiz 23

The swan is the emblem of what French royal?

Anne of Brittany
François I
Napoléon Bonaparte
Louis XIV


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

Village View:  La Roche Bernard

A crêperie in La Roche Bernard

Brittany is a delightful place to visit.  Quaint villages filled with tempting
 patisseries and crêperies, and undulating green landscapes that
make your vacation days special.  It's a place of warmth
and charm.  One of the most charming of its villages is 
La Roche Bernard,  located in the Morbihan of southern Brittany 
just northwest of St-Nazaire and Nantes and directly north of the
vast Parc Regional de Brière and the walled town of Guérande.
Walk through La Roche Bernard's winding streets to peer into the lovely 
shop windows, take time to enjoy a restaurant or two, or drive down the hill
 to enjoy the River Vilaine on its way to the nearby Atlantic Ocean. 
We especially remember our exploration of the small winding
alleyways lined with well-kept village houses -- their tiny porches 
filled with pots of flowers. Directly north of town along the D774
is our member property, Château de Talhouët, a great place to stay
to experience the richness and beauty of this region .

[Photo:  Cold Spring Press © 2002 - 2003]

Château de Canisy - the ultimate in elegance

In the département of the Manche is the little village of Canisy, just southwest of St-Lô, a town made famous during the D-Day landings of World War II.  The Manche (it means 'sleeve') shares its name with the nearby English Channel, known to the French as 'La Manche'.  It is a place of wonderful towns such as Coutances and Villedieu-les-Pôeles, historic Valognes,  coastal villages such as Barfleur and St-Vaast-la-Hougue, and the famous port city of Cherbourg.

Lake and Park at Canisy

Landscaped Park and Lake at Château de Canisy

Canisy is home to a château of the same name that offers visitors a warm and friendly welcome -- visitors who will be entranced by its 1000 year old history and awed by its vast forested and agricultural domaine of over 740 acres, a landscaped tenth of which surrounds the castle.  The lovely small lake behind the château is home to a variety of birds, and the estate's lands are rich in wildlife. The atmosphere is cheerful and yet quite refined. Château de Canisy is often host to intimate recitals in its beautiful music room.  The salons and dining room are warmed by crackling fires which create an inviting and relaxing atmosphere for guests throughout the year.

The château has seventeen spectacularly designed guest rooms, each with unique large bathrooms, many with copper tubs, marble floors and walls and clever faux painting.  Exquisite fixtures and mirrors enhance the already elegant spaces reminding guests that they are truly in a palatial home.  In the dependencies (only used when the château is completely occupied) are two twin rooms sharing a bath and five double rooms with en suite bathrooms.  The château can quite comfortably accommodate over forty guests while the family is in residence in their own quarters.  Despite its size, Château de Canisy never feels like anything other than a 
cozy and inviting family home. 

Antique Copper TubKitchen Copper
           Elegant copper bath tub               Copper cookware on the kitchen wall

As guests of the chambres d'hôtes,  you will enjoy superb French breakfasts in the grand dining room, but you can request eggs if you would like and they will be prepared in the style of your choice.  Late afternoon drinks and hors d'oeuvres are provided for guests.   Dinners are available with advanced reservations and will include excellent wines, cheeses and desserts.

If your group is seeking a château to rent, Canisy can be made available for groups of 24 persons for 4000 euros per day or groups from 25 to 40 persons for 4500 euros per day.  After the third day, a 20% discount is offered on these rates. 

Whether  you are looking for a place of timeless elegance in the Normandy countryside for just you and your partner, or if you are planning a large gathering of friends and family,  Château de Canisy will meet your every expectation and then some.   Attention to detail in all aspects of the accommodations, meals and hospitality make Château de Canisy a very special destination for your next visit to France.

[Photos:  Cold Spring Press  ©  2002-2003]

Walking Tours of Paris

Keep  Paris Through the Ages Strolls  in mind when you plan your next week in Paris.  Whether it is your first trip to the City of Light or your twentieth, we are confident that you will benefit from a few hours with Arthur Gillette to learn Paris's historic secrets and see neighborhoods and monuments in the city with a new perspective.

Arthur Gillette is no newcomer on the scene -- he has lived and worked (for UNESCO) in Paris for over four decades.  Not only is he familiar with the city, he knows about its exciting and varied past.  He is an expert, and you can avail yourself of his knowledge (peppered with interesting vignettes and amusing anecdotes) quite easily.  The strolls are for small groups to allow participants to ask questions and receive personal attention unavailable from most tour guides. 

To schedule your stroll or ask for more information, just drop Arthur an email at,  and let him know when you will be in Paris.  Together you can plan a walking tour from the eleven strolls in his repertoire -- about two and a half hours of interactive, comfortably-paced walking through historical, wonderful Paris! 

French Quiz 24

Which French author was involved in the 
Romanticism literary movement?

Emile Zola
Victor Hugo
Gustave Flaubert
Jean-Paul Sartre


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

Pack your bags and rent a Gîte or ...

A gîte is, as the English would say, a "self-catering" accommodation in the country that you rent by the week or longer.   For those of you who don't need to rent an entire château but who want to be at a château --  eager to take complete control of your time in France to cook your own meals and enjoy your own quarters with just family and friends around you  --  a gîte or other living quarters on the grounds of a beautiful château might be a perfect solution.  [Pronounce it "zheet".]  Here we are presenting true gîtes as well as Keeps and Cottages available on château grounds

Gîtes of all descriptions can be found in France, from converted bergeries in remote hill country with barely the basic necessities to small houses near town that are nicely decorated and provide modern conveniences.  But, if you find a gîte or other independent quarters on the grounds of a splendid château, you have found something special.  You will have access to the knowledgeable château owners who can be invaluable when you have questions about what to do and see in their region.  If they have a swimming pool or tennis courts, you will have use of those just as their bed and breakfast clients do.   You will share the château's landscaped acreage in the peaceful countryside, but will never feel isolated or remote.  There are many other advantages, of course, but you will discover those for yourself!

Our web site members operate bed and breakfast accommodations, and those we indicated above also offer their entire properties for rent.  We will list below those who offer accommodations outside of the château itself.    Please be sure to click on the links provided that will take you to their pages where complete information on pricing, capacity and other details are provided. 

  • Château de Crazannes Keep at Château de CrazannesWe were fortunate enough to stay in the Keep at the château, so we know first hand how comfortable and charming it is.  The owners of Crazannes offer two lovely separate lodgings at Crazannes:  the Keep and the Cottage.  If you rent the Keep, for example, you will find three en suite bedrooms, a grand salon, a completely equipped kitchen, a laundry room and a large but cozy dining room.     In addition, the delightful roof terrace with ample seating is a very pleasant getaway!    The Cottage is also fully equipped and has four bedrooms.  Both have use of the swimming pool. Click here to read more.
  • Château du Guilguiffin Gardener's Cottage at GuilguiffinIn the spectacular Finistère of Brittany the Château du Guilguiffin awaits you at its bed and breakfast.  But, perhaps  your family is looking for a lovely Breton cottage to call your own -- Château du  Guilguiffin has three!  Each is unique in its design, and all representative of Breton architecture.  All are fully equipped,  and there are two bedrooms in each cottage.  They are available eight months of the year, and prices vary by season.  Click here for more.
  • Château de GarrevaquesFarmhouse Gîte at GarrevaquesIn the dramatic Tarn not far from Toulouse is a farmhouse on the grounds of Château de Garrevaques.  Recently opened as guest accommodations, this carefully decorated retreat has five bedrooms, three bathrooms, a laundry room, an office, two salons (one with a fireplace) a large kitchen and a dining room.  It even has a computer hookup and satellite TV.  Renters can share the pool with château guests.  Please click here for more information.
  • Château du BreuilChâteau du Breuil In the heart of the Vendée is this beautiful fairy tale château.  The cordial owners offer wonderful bed and breakfast accommodations, but they also provide a gîte that will accommodate from two to ten persons on a weekly rental basis.  It is conveniently located to the château in an annex, and provides a total of five en suite guest rooms.  Guests will be warmly greeted by their cordial host and hostess who will be happy to tell them about their part of France.   For more information, please click here.
  • Château de Saint-LoupSaint Loup Orangerie Courtyard This is an outstanding château property with romantic rooms and gardens.  The owners of Château de Saint-Loup will rent their medieval Keep by the week -- it accommodates up to sixteen people and has all the necessary facilities for a self-contained residence including an equipped kitchen, a salon and a large dining room.  The fifty hectares of parkland add to the enjoyment of staying on the grounds of a magnificent château.   The photo is from a House & Garden magazine article written a few years ago.   Click here for more.
  • Domaine des CastellesCozy Gîte at CastellesVery near the walled city of Carcassonne and the tranquil Canal du Midi,  this lovely, vine-covered dwelling is a charming bed and breakfast.  But, a spacious gîte is also available by the week.  It accommodates five to six people, with heat, electricity and linens provided.  There are two double bedrooms, a modern bathroom, and complete kitchen facilities.  The weekly rental price is extremely reasonable.  Click here to learn more.

When you visit the members' pages on our web site, be sure to follow links to our Special Offers page and past editions of au Château News which provide additional information and photos of some of this unique lodging.  We know you will be very tempted to take advantage of these options in the future, and, whether it is a familiar experience for you or your very first time, you are sure to find it a perfect way to visit France.

 [Photo Credits:  Member Properties ©  2003]

Government Web Site with Travel Updates

You can keep up to date on the latest airport security measures and baggage restrictions or inspection policies by visiting the federal Transportation Security Administration's web site which oversees the baggage screening process at all of the U.S.'s 429 commercial airports.  The web site is

 EASY RECIPE: Poireaux Confits au Miel Côte d'Azur

We love leeks!  This recipe is otherwise known simply as Leeks in French Honey Sauce, and is a wonderful side dish to serve with any dinner menu.    It is best if you can purchase the honey from a French grocery or gourmet shop -- a honey that is collected from bees who make their honey from the lavender of southern France, particularly in the area of Grasse, France's perfume capital.

You will need 12 small leeks, washed very well and trimmed, 2 tablespoons French honey, 2 ounces of butter, juice from one lemon, one tablespoon of white wine vinegar, 2/3 cup of sweet white wine, sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

Tie the leeks into two bundles of six and boil in salted water for 12 minutes.  Drain well and gently squeeze out excess moisture.  Place untied leeks in an ovenproof dish and set aside.

Melt butter in a saucepan and stir in the honey.  Cook gently for about 15 minutes to make a rich caramel.  Stir in the lemon juice, vinegar and wine.  Bring to a boil and cook for four more minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Pour the sauce over the leeks in the baking dish and bake in a 400 degree oven for 15 minutes.  Serve immediately.  Bon appétit!

[Recipe courtesy of The Flavors of France by Jean Conil and Fay Franklin ]

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 23 is  Anne of Brittany and to Quiz 24 is Victor Hugo.]

Disclaimer: Cold Spring Press, au Château© and/or any persons associated with either organization do not take any responsibility for errors and/or omissions in any edition of au Château News© and no guarantees are given or implied with regard to any statements made in au Château News©.  The disclaimer on the au Château © web site at, applies in its entirety to all au Château News© editions.
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