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                  Travel Season has begun . . .            May  /  June 2003


. . . and the doors have opened

All of our member properties are now accepting guests for the 2003 season.  Many, as you know, didn't reopen officially until Easter weekend.  This is the perfect time to contact any that interest you for information about room availability.  You can do that by clicking on the email address found on each property's first page on this web site, or by sending a FAX  -- the number of which is also provided.  We recommend a FAX as first choice in all cases, as it appears instantly at their desks, whereas emails may go unread for several days.

Many people forego reading our Booking Information page.  This is quite important information if you are planning a château stay.  We tell you what to expect and how to make your arrangements in a stress-free and easy manner.  Please take a little extra time to read that one page before proceeding.  It may answer many of your questions.

We have designed a bi-lingual FAX form to make it easy for you to contact any member of our site.  Just open it, print it, fill in the blanks and fax it.  When confirming a reservation,  a FAX is the safest  way to provide your credit card number to the property owner or manager.  We advise against sending your credit card numbers by email under any circumstances.   Here is our FAX form.

Before you finalize your travel plans, be sure to read about the tourist sites and activities available in the vicinity of each property.  This information is found at the bottom left of each property's first page, just above the small photos.  We have attempted to highlight the interesting attractions in the area and places that the owners recommend.  Activities available to guests on the grounds of a château or manoir are also given here.

How do you reach your destination?  Each member's first page also includes precise driving directions, as well as the most convenient train station and airport locations.  Be sure to couple this information with our Michelin map...just click on the link that says Michelin Map to Château -- just below the written directions -- to find a color map indicating the property location with a red circle.  All highway numbers are clearly visible, and this map could be printed out and taken with you to guide you to the château's front door. 

We do recommend, however, that when driving in France you have the latest annual edition of the Michelin FRANCE Tourist and Motoring Atlas.  You can order yours  directly from Michelin by clicking on the Michelin icon on any page of our web site or,  to make it easy for readers of this newsletter, just click on the icon below.

Contact Michelin

We  are always here to help.  If you would like us to contact any property on your behalf for room availability, to ask questions about accommodations, to arrange a stay during the holiday season or when they are not normally open to guests, or for any other reason, we are more than happy to assist. 

Remember that we also offer a free planning service which includes our Three Châteaux Program.  With just a little information from you (dates of travel, desired regions to visit, how many rooms you will need, if you want dinner au château) we will provide two suggested itineraries -- each will include three of our member properties.  Once you select the itinerary you prefer, we will then determine room availability, provide you with rates and other information and even make tentative reservations.  For those who would like some help with driving routes, we will include those for a small fee. [ We do not receive commissions for reservations at our member properties nor from Michelin.]

We hope that you are beginning to plan that trip to France, if you haven't already done so, and that you will be including one or more of au Château's members in your plans.  We look forward to hearing from you at any time with your questions, comments about your visits to any of our members' accommodations, or to ask us for planning assistance of any nature.

TRAVEL UPDATE:   If you have any concerns about traveling in France, specifically how you will be received by the French after the recent political differences between countries, rest assured that you will be welcomed  warmly and courteously and will be treated with respect.  We are in contact with people living in France and many who have just visited there, and no one reports any problems at all.  If you have any particular questions, don't hesitate to send us an email to, and we will try to answer them for you.

Lavender Festival . . .

                                                                                      a report from Barbara Beaumont

Have you ever eaten lavender ice cream?  The real thing – not just something tinted lavender?  Well, you can do it here in Provence each July, and it was one of the highlights of the annual Lavender Festival on the plateau of Valensole for me. (Of course there was also a quiche made with a farmer's goat cheese and lavender that was equally delicious….)

Imagine row upon row of lavender, as far as the eye can see, in the form of large purple balls. And imagine the smell -- heaven!  Those who dared, took helicopter rides over the fields, but it was almost more fun to simply walk through them and treat your senses. 

The tiny town of Valensole comes to life every July, with people dressed in colorful Provençal costumes circulating through the crowds. Little girls offered scented bunches of lavender from overflowing carts to everyone who passed. Stands brimming over with decorative objects (and food), with every possible use of lavender that one could imagine, filled the main square. Of course the wine flowed freely, and different groups made music all day long in the shadow of ancient plane trees.Valensole during the Lavender Festival

A large area to the east of Avignon is committed to the tradition which has existed in Provence for more than a century, that of the culture of this plant for its essential oils. In fact, lavender was known in the Middle Ages for its use as a disinfectant – a great quality during the time of the Plague. Now it’s simply the smell associated with Provence in sachets, soap, bath oil – in fact in most everything that smells good.

This festival is typical of the treasures to be found in small (and large) villages here in Summer. In fact, Provence IS a Summer festival, bursting with the sort of “joie de vivre” for which the French have long been known. Barbara Beaumont surrounded by fragrant lavender!For example, 

every small town has a “fête” for their patron saint, which usually involves everyone eating, drinking and dancing together outdoors on a summer night. From the sophisticated elegance of Aix-en-Provence’s month-long classical music festival to the loud and rowdy “Night of the Music”  (June 21st in most every town), from drama in the shadow of the Pope’s Palace in Avignon to the home-grown atmosphere of Cavaillon’s Melon Festival, there’s something for everyone.

[Barbara Beaumont, American owner of Jaunts in Provence, contributed
this article about the wonderful lavender of Provence, one of the most
popular destinations in France.  For help in arranging your visit to the region, 
finding accommodations or transport, or discovering the secret treasures of Provence
like an insider, contact Barbara by email at]

[Photos:  Valensole during the July lavender festival;  Barbara Beaumont
surrounded in lavender as far as the eye can see.  Credits:  B. Beaumont 2003]

Explore Paris' Montmartre with a Historian Who Lives There

"Montmartre The Rustic Village with an Avant-Garde History" is a new Paris Muse walking tour that offers an in-depth, entertaining look at the pivotal role that neighborhood played in the early history of French modern art.  Picasso, after all, conceived of cubism here in his Bateau Lavoir studio.  Your guide, Paul, is a former Harvard art history instructor who now lives in the neighborhood.  He will share with you both Montmartre's vibrant past and present.

Paul will tell you the history of Montmartre's avant-garde golden days when it was host to a thriving community of struggling artists, including Renoir, Toulouse-Lautrec, Picasso, Modigliani, and writers like Apollinaire and Max Jacob.  He will take you to the places where these now famous figures lived, loved, worked and socialized.

Paul's first tour will be offered on Tuesday, June 10th, from 10:30 AM to 1 PM.  To read a description of the Montmartre walking tour click here.   Reserve your place for this tour by contacting Paris Muse at

Jazz in the Var Vineyards

The first Jazz Picnic of the season, held at the lovely St. Julien D’Aille domaine outside Vidauban on Sunday May 11, was a superb, resounding success.   About 200 people turned out for a wonderful sunny afternoon’s jazz in the garden of the domaine, spreading out their picnics under the trees that provided welcome shade.   Some brought chairs, others blankets to lay out on the grass, and in the friendly,  relaxed atmosphere old friends met up, and others made new acquaintances.

The Ian Anderson Quartet, set up under the trees, played gentle, sympathetic, and good mainstream jazz, even handling a few requests from the audience.  At the end of the afternoon, everyone declared they had had a wonderful time and were certain to be coming to the next event. 

People came from far and wide -- from Opio, Beaulieu, Nice, Mandelieu in the Alpes Maritime, and from villages near Aix, as well as from all the nearby Var villages.  The audience was also quite international with lots of British and French residents, peppered with Swedish, Danish and Dutch contingents.

The next Jazz Picnic is scheduled for June 8th at the wonderful Château Thuerry in Villecroze. Music starts 1 PM continuing until 4 PM.   For those of you planning to be in the region in June, tickets can be purchased  in advance from VAR VILLAGE VOICE,  at ten euros per person or at the Château on the day of the event.

To get there from Draguignan or Lorgues direction, take the route de Salernes (D557 / D560) and at Hôtel Restaurant Les Esparrus turn right direction Villecroze and immediately right again for Château Thuerry and follow the road for a couple of kilometers.  From Cotignac, Sillans La Cascade, or Salernes, take D560 to the junction opposite Les Esparrus Hotel Restaurant, and turn left and then immediately right into Château Thuerry. 

Future Jazz Picnics are scheduled for Sunday,  June 29th  (venue yet to be confirmed, but likely to be Château St. Martin in Taradeau); Sunday,  July 13th (a special evening’s jazz entertainment with a Brazilian group) at the Château St. Julien D’Aille, Vidauban, where guests will be able to dance the night away to sensational Brazilian sambas and salsa in celebration of the Quatorze;  Saturday,  July 26th Ian Anderson and Tony Bagwell are putting together a special Big Band Jazz Concert featuring jazz artists from all over who are flying into the Var that week, including favorite singer Shireen Francis with Derek Pasco, saxophone,
Paul Christmas, trumpet, all from London, Ed Russell and Mary Churney from New York, on guitar and flute respectively, plus several others. 

All the musicians will then play the next day, Sunday,  July 27th, at a rip-roaring Jazz Picnic.  Venue for both these events will be announced later, and tickets for both the Big Band Jazz Concert and Jazz Picnic will cost slightly more.

To  keep abreast of these events, venues, and how to get there, just email: and  visit the web site, recently brought on line and very enjoyable!

[Our thanks for this article to Anita Rieu-Sicart, Editor of Var Village Voice and organizer of
these wonderful Spring and Summer Jazz events near her home in the Var of Provence.]

French Quiz 25

Which author, who lived in France for years,  wrote novels,
poetry, a screenplay, and many books, two of which were 
Two Towns in Provence and Long Ago in France?

M.F.K. Fisher
Harriet Welty Rochefort
Peter Mayle
Susan H. Loomis
Joanne Harris


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

City View:  Angers

Château d'Angers and the River Maine

On the banks of the River Maine in the Anjou,  one of the 
Château d'Angers' seventeen massive fortress towers creates
a dramatic foreground for this photograph.  The city of Angers is located 
just to the north of the Loire River,  but the short-lived River Maine,
  created north of the city with the merger of  Sarthe and Mayenne 
and flowing away just to the south to join the Loire on its way to the Atlantic, 
is Angers' river and its alone.  Visits to the château allow people to
explore its beautiful gardens and courtyard chapel.  Perhaps most 
interesting is the Apocalypse Tapestry in the château's Grand Gallery,
commissioned by Duke Louis I of Anjou and created in Paris from
1373 to 1380 by Nicolas Bataille.   Not all of the original survives today,
but it is a stunning design and worth your time to see it.  Across 
from the château are the cobbled streets in the old part of the city lined with
timber frame and stone houses, tiny restaurants and filled with charm. 
Be sure to make time for a visit to the Musée des Beaux Arts and the adjoining
Galérie David d'Angers -- native son and exceptional sculptor -- in a former 
thirteenth century abbey church.  Angers is a wonderful small city
and it is worth going back again and again to enjoy it!

[Photo:  Cold Spring Press © 2002 - 2003]

Pavillon de la Maye - Versailles

In the small city of Versailles, known primarily for the opulent Château de Versailles, and less than a half hour by train from Paris, is the elegant Pavillon de la Maye, the newest member of our web site. Entrance to Pavillon de la Maye Offering beautiful guest accommodations, some with balconies, and comfortable salons for relaxation, the Pavillon de la Maye is the perfect alternative to a hotel in either Paris or Versailles.  Guests have the peace and tranquility of a home in the country while the attractions of a city are at their fingertips.

The proprietor of Pavillon de la Maye is Daniel-Etienne Hourdry, retired manager of the famed Maxim's Restaurant in Paris.  He and his wife have a wonderful sense of style and the instinctive ability to make their guests feel very welcome and comfortable.  The combination of these two qualities creates a friendly atmosphere in the most beautiful of surroundings.   Madame Hourdry's expertise in the realm of pastries and desserts enthralls her guests -- and she is willing to share her recipes! 

Location is everything, and for travelers to Versailles the Pavillon de la Maye in the city's best residential neighborhood permits easy access to all the sites while affording elegant comfort and the personal service and attention one cannot find in the typical hotel.  The nearness to Paris is a plus  -- a short train ride!  If Paris and Versailles are your two main destinations in France, a stay at Pavillon de la Maye can mean you will never need a rental car.  Once in Versailles, you can get around by taxi as you would in Paris, or you can comfortably walk to attractions such as Château de Versailles from Pavillon de la Maye.  The city has abundant fine restaurants and shops to intrigue you.   A museum that may interest visitors houses a collection of 18th century art and sculpture in an 18th century mansion next to the Palace -- it is the Musée Lambinet -- and focuses on the Revolution and the history of Versailles.

ChambreGuest accommodations are luxurious, all with private baths, and if you request a room with a balcony you will also have a lovely spot to relax and, in some cases, catch a glimpse at the Château de Versailles' gardens.  In any case, comfort is the prime consideration of your hosts, so each guest room will be quiet and inviting.  Please visit the Pavillon de la Maye on our web site for more photos and information about this splendid residence.

[Photos:  D.E. Hourdry  - 2003]

Discounts at Château de Vaulogé

Summer Specials!! Note these special promotions at the Château de Vaulogé  for the following weeks only:  June 2 to 10, July 2 to 16, August 12 to 18, and August 29 to September 8.

   Discount room rates per night - 
                    Chambre de la Rose  (#1)    180 euros
                    Chambre des Iris (#3)          200 euros
                    Chambre Byron (#6)            200 euros
                    Chambre Petite Tour (#5)   200 euros
                    Chambre Byron + Petite Tour
                                 *(communicating rooms with shared bathroom)*  350 euros 

French Quiz 26

This artist from Normandy -- who lived as an adult in Barbizon -- 
was known as a painter of peasant life.

Charles-François Daubigny
Eugène Boudin
Gustave Courbet
Jean-François Millet
Rosa Bonheur


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

Specials from our members ...

  • Rent a whole château! It may be easier than you think.   In the beautiful Charente-Maritime just north of the city of Saintes is Château de Crazannes,  You can reserve a bed and breakfast room or rent the whole place!  Click to learn more.  Also, Château d'Alogny in the Poitou is now a member of our web site and can be rented  in its entirety and not as a bed and breakfast.   And, if you are eager to rent an entire château for your family reunion or a gathering of friends in the Midi of southwest France, Château Rhodes is available! 
Château de la Barre
  • Château de La Barre  in the département of the Sarthe provides bikes for all road conditions (and maps) as well as interesting theme weekends including oenology, period style dinners, literary evenings and French or cooking lessons! 
  • Château de Garrevaquesin the beautiful Tarn region of southwestern France has expanded beyond the bed and breakfast rooms in the château to a spacious converted farmhouse with two large living rooms, one with a fireplace, a warm and inviting kitchen and dining room, 3 bathrooms, a laundry room and private garden.  And, don't forget the swimming pool!   Reasonably priced for weekly rentals, it may be the perfect vacation spot for  family vacations or to accommodate a group of friends.
  • Château des Monthairons offers you its "Short Stay Package"  - two people/two nights in a double room, a three-course dinner plus cheese trolley and dessert for two each evening (drinks not included), Continental breakfast each morning, a welcome drink upon arrival, two tickets to visit "Château de Hattonchatel" and the Center for World Peace, and it is possible to include canoeing or cycling.  The price for two in high season (March 15 - November 15) is 450 - 475 euros, and in low season (November 16 to March 14) 380 - 450 euros. 
  • Château d'Alogny   is the location for a Writers Workshop  the week of October 1 through 8, 2003. They are now accepting reservations, and inquiries should be sent to the proprietors at at Château d'Alogny
  • Château de Labessière in the historic Meuse département of northeastern France will welcome you with a complimentary bottle of regional white wine -- but only for guests who mention this web site!
  • Château de Chauvac offers its Ballon Balade - Enjoy the adventure of a lifetime dreamily floating above the magical Dordogne Valley  in Southwest France in a magnificent French Montgolfière! 
  • Guests of Château Castel Novel in the Corrèze will receive the VIP Welcome (a bottle of regional wine and petits fours) along with free entry to the famous Périgord caves at Lascaux II.
  • Château de Vaulogé  in the Sarthe offers guests coming from the au Château web site a 10% discount off their room rate.  Traveling with friends or family? Receive a 20% discount for three rooms for a minimum of three nights, or a 20% discount for reserving six rooms for one night.   And for golfers, the château will obtain a 10% discount at the Sablé-Solesmes course nearby.  Remember, you have to mention au Château  to receive these discounts!! 
  • Château de Canisy offers a generous 20% discount for individuals who stay 5 nights and for groups beginning on the 3rd night.  This represents a considerable savings, so please do consider it!  And, yes, there is a disco in the château ... ask to see it when you visit!

 Visit our Special Offers page to get more details on any of the above offerings.

Coming Soon!  Paris Dream Tours

Are you interested in visiting France, staying in one or more of our châteaux and eager to visit a region in depth -- but you don't know where to begin?  Well, we may have just the answer for you! 

au Château is working with Paris Dream Tours, a company of Americans who have experience both exploring the French countryside and escorting small groups of travelers to discover the France they know and love so well.  Our combined efforts will merge the abilities of Paris Dream Tours' guides with the luxury accommodations of our member properties to create a variety of exciting tour opportunities.

Here are examples of just three of our tours:

  • Burgundy Villages & Vineyards - 6 nights in two châteaux with visits to Auxerre, Chablis, Vézelay, the Abbey de Fontenay,  Beaune and Dijon, as well as wine tastings at the château and along the wine route with guides well versed in the regional wines, and ample time for some gourmet meals. 
  • Verdun Battlefields and the Meuse - following a visit to Reims and its impressive and historic cathedral, knowledgeable guides take you to important sites of World War I in France and, in contrast, to the beautiful and peaceful Meuse, including 4 or 5 nights in a lovely château, a visit to Verdun and a picnic on the shores of a nearby lake.
  • Roman Provence - France boasts the largest number and best preserved Roman ruins in the world and this 7 day tour will take you to many of them as well to the most memorable towns and villages in the region.  You will enjoy market days and winery visits, Roman arenas and Provençal cuisine. Your stay in a beautiful château that produces its own wine will make the tour perfect!
A total of a dozen tours will be available from Brittany to the charming Midi, and many can be custom designed for your group of friends, or you can join a group already scheduled.  Some of the tours will include cooking classes, photography excursions and plein air  painting sessions.  For further information or to inquire about group size, proposed dates, detailed tour descriptions and prices, just send an email to

 Spring Recipe:  Mayonnaise

Many of us have tried to make our own mayonnaise at one time or another, attempting to replicate that buttercup yellow concoction we've enjoyed so many times in France.  We haven't always succeeded.  Here is a recipe for mayonnaise that suggests all ingredients be at room temperature and that the oil be added a few small drops at a time (unlike directions in other recipes which suggest adding the oil in one continuous pour) to achieve perfect results.  Also, the author of this recipe suggests two thirds of the oil be a lighter oil than olive oil to ensure success.  Perhaps you will give it a try!

You will need 2 egg yolks, 1 whole egg (only if using a food processor), 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, a large pinch of salt, 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lemon juice or white wine vinegar, 1 cup sunflower, peanut or safflower oil and 1/2 cup virgin olive oil.  (Unlike mayonnaise in a jar, this recipe contains no unnecessary sugar  or corn sweeteners.)

If whisking by hand follow these directions eliminating the whole egg.  Put eggs, mustard, salt and lemon juice into a food processor and blend until pale in color.  Ever so gradually add the oil, just a few drops at a time at the beginning, then faster but allowing a few seconds between additions to permit the eggs to absorb the oil.  Once all oil has been incorporated, add a tablespoon of warm water only if you think the mixture could be thinner. If you add water, blend briefly.  Serve at once.  Or, if you wish to keep it refrigerated for up to 3 days,  cover bowl tightly with plastic wrap to so a skin doesn't form.  Bon appétit!

[Recipe by Elsa Petersen-Schepelern from her book  "Salads" 
published by Ryland Peters & Small, New York © 2001 ISBN 1 84172 164  6]

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 25 is  M.F.K. Fisher and to Quiz 26 is Jean-François Millet.]

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