Newsletter Banner

                Summertime . . .                            July  /  August 2003


A Strong Euro and Travel Costs. . .

Over the past several months as the euro increased in value against the US dollar, it adversely affected both
the traveler to Europe and the many thousands of people whose livelihoods come from the tourist industry
there.   As this is being written, the 'mid-market' rate (a mid point between currency buy and sell rates) indicates that € 1 is between $1.14 and $1.15 -- or about 15% over the equal standing they had back at the end of 2002 / beginning of 2003.   A € 50 dinner for two in France would have been $50 when the currencies  were at a par, and a year ago, it would have been even less when it appeared on your credit card bill.  Today   that € 50 dinner for two will cost you $57.50 and accommodations at € 120 euros per night will result in a bill of $138. 

But there does seem to be some light at the end of the tunnel.  Those in the French tourism industry are
making every effort to keep rates down, some have even lowered their prices, and many have special offers in place to attract tourists from America who are wary of overspending.  Only a week ago, the exchange rate was    $1.17 to the euro, so things seem to be improving as the dollar becomes somewhat stronger. 

Are you hesitant to plan a trip to France?  We have further cost-saving suggestions for you.  Don't pass up
the opportunity to eat in brasseries instead of expensive restaurants;  picnic lunches are a bargain and a lot of fun;  often if you rent a compact car (do that while you're in the US and get a written price confirmation to take
with you) and the agency doesn't have one when you arrive,  odds are that you may get a larger car at the
same cost; and, of course, staying in a château found on the au Château web site can save you money! 

How?  Many are much more luxurious yet priced more reasonably than a good hotel,  and most include
breakfast in the room rate -- a meal that can cost up to € 12 per person in hotels.  If there are two of you
traveling for two weeks, hotel breakfasts could cost a whopping € 336 or, at today's rate, $386.40 just for
breakfast!   "Petit déjeuner compris" takes on new meaning when you look at it that way, doesn't it? 

Before you decide not to visit France this year, consider that there are many ways to have an economical
and enjoyable visit if you just plan carefully. Bon voyage ! 

Cooking Workshop Welcomes Students

Château de Clapier's Chef at the MarketHave you ever imagined yourself in an authentic French kitchen with an experienced French chef preparing some intriguing French dishes?  Well, you can stop imagining and really do it!  Château de Clapier, a wine producing estate in the Luberon of Provence,  offers exceptional cooking classes either on a daily or weekly basis. 

A visit to our web site's Wine Châteaux page will outline exactly what a course involves, from shopping in Aix-en-Provence for fresh ingredients to preparing meals for the group to enjoy.  Each student receives a wine gift from the château, and a variety of delightful accommodations from which to select are nearby to make your stay in the region all the more enjoyable. 

IF you have any questions at all, just drop us an email at, and we will get right back to you! 

Paris Dream Tours Launches its Web Site

This  American owned and operated tour company concentrates on history and culture when taking travelers out on its small, exclusive little tours.  Recently joining forces with au Château, Paris Dream Tours will expand its portfolio to include places farther afield than Paris and its immediate environs -- offering travelers the expertise of their well-informed and well-traveled guides in combination with luxurious  accommodations in some of our very special châteaux.

Several specialized tours are in the planning stages, and very soon the first two will be offered, so do visit their web site regularly for the most up-to-date information.  In the meantime, check out their web site today to meet the guides and read all about the tours currently on their schedule  -- from one-day walks in Paris to two or three informative and interesting tours in the nearby countryside. 

Many times, people sign up for tours only to find themselves climbing onto large buses and being shuttled from place to place, and finally being dropped off at some ordinary hotel to spend the night.  Then, they must be up at the crack of dawn to board the bus again!  The accommodations offered are often the last consideration.   If you sign up with Paris Dream Tours and au Château, you will be part of a small, friendly group being transported in private cars or mini vans, enjoying relaxing days and spending each night at a lovely château, perhaps completing your day with a very special dinner at their table.  Now, doesn't that sound more appealing?

Questions?  Contact us here at,  and we will do our best to answer them for you!  And, please click here to visit  Paris Dream Tours !

A Brittany Tour -  Three Châteaux

This web site offers you our Three Châteaux program -- simply put,  a suggested itinerary for travelers to visit a region of France in some depth while staying at three château properties along the way.   Arrangements for accommodations and suggested places to visit and dine are provided.   So, instead of just daily activities offering interesting things to do and see, you can now have truly interesting and unique places to spend the night!  A Brittany program is just one of our offerings.

We're off to France in October and plan to spend time in the Centre in what is known as "Hidden France"  -- a quiet region that sees few tourists.  But, before we get behind the wheel of our car and head south,  we will first spend several days in Brittany visiting three of our member châteaux and exploring a part of France unlike any other -- Brittany with its wild moors, dramatic coastlines and folkloric villages filled with charm and not just a little bit of mystery !

Cozy Guest Room at LezhildryFrom  Paris' Charles de Gaulle airport we will travel by train to Brittany, pick up our rental car and be off first to Château de Lezhildry in the beautiful Côtes d'Armor département.   Our first night in France will be spent in a lovely guest room in a canopied bed -- perhaps with a fire crackling in the fireplace. Château du Guilguiffin

After two nights there, we will drive southwest to Château du Guilguiffin, a former royal hunting lodge that is now a delightful vacation destination in the Finistère offering both bed and breakfast accommodations and three authentic Breton cottages for long-term rental. 

Last, we will head east toward Rochefort-en-Terre (one of the Most Beautiful Villages of France) to spend several nights at Château de Talhouët in the Morbihan département of southern Brittany, where we look forward to comfortable accommodations and a gourmet meal or two offered by the château. Talhouët's Chambre Louis XIIINaturally, as we drive from château to château we will have the pleasure of seeing the wonderful Brittany countryside and coastline, little villages that attracted artists in the past and still do today, and partake of the delights of Breton cuisine -- trying not to overindulge in their rich pastries! 

If you are interested in a Three Châteaux program custom designed for the part of France you would like to visit -- perhaps this very same itinerary through Brittany -- please contact us by email at for further details.  Our service is at no charge unless a detailed driving route is requested.

[Photo:  Cold Spring Press © 2002 - 2003]

French Quiz 27

What French composer wrote La Danse Macabre?

Georges Bizet
Hector Berlioz
Claude Debussy
Camille Saint-Saëns
Maurice Ravel


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

Coastal View:  La Corniche d'Armorique

La Corniche d'Armorique

On the cliff road (corniche) along the Baie de Lannion in Brittany,
views such as the one above are the norm.  Brilliant colors of the sea
and the vegetation in combination with windblown pines in the distance 
create a stunning landscape not soon forgotten.  This stretch
of coastline is at the western edge of what is known as the
Côte de Granit Rose, the  Pink Granite Coast,  which in itself is only
about 50 kilometers long ending at the Baie de Saint-Brieuc
to the east.  This is certainly a beautiful bit of Brittany to explore.
Fine, sandy beaches can be found from Trébeurden to Perros-Guirec
and have been awarded European Union blue flags for cleanliness  - 
and they really do sparkle in the sunshine because of
millions of twinkling granite chips.

[Photo:  Cold Spring Press © 1993 - 2003]

A Review of Château Rhodes

In the May 22 issue of the French newspaper LA DÉPÊCHE, in an article entitled, "Le Château de Rhodes retrouve son éclat" (regains its splendor), our very own member, Château Rhodes, was more than favorably reviewed. 

"In an 8 hectare park of hundred year-old trees and bordered by the Arize River, this elegant castle of the 17th and 19th centuries welcomes you to an historic home of refined comfort.  The property of David and Iroko Sindell, the castle has been restored to its prestige of yesteryear.  David, is a well-known New York lawyer specializing in aiding immigrants to settle in America, and is fluent in Japanese. 

"The name of every room and suite evokes the history of this place:  Isabelle de Foix who owned the domain in 1402, Jean-Louis de Narbonne who owned the castle until the 18th century, and the room of Jean-Marie de Bellissen, named for a member of a powerful Ariège family.  Delicate and authentic, each room offers both tradition and modernity.
Chef at Work at Château Rhodes

"The Chef, Mark, aided by Yosuke, successfully marries fresh local products with oriental spices to produce exotic flavors..such as the pigeons of Lilian and Serge Cambé, breast of duck and quail from Alain Palmade, fruit and vegetables from Jean-Luc Despoujols...The menu is changed every three weeks, while of course maintaining the basic signature dishes...The desserts are made specially for guests, so orders are taken at the beginning of the meal.  To permit you to salivate:  a crème brûlée with raspberries and marscapone.   Various breads are offered such as nutbreads, country bread or bread with raisins.

"On the ultramodern veranda you will be surrounded by an ocean of greenery and tranquility.  The restaurant is open from Wednesday through Saturday with dinner served from 7:30 until 9:30, and Sundays at noon.  For reservations phone" 

An exciting adventure awaits you if you visit the beautiful Ariège of France's Midi-Pyrénées as guests of Château Rhodes.  The newly opened restaurant is but one of the treats in store for you.  Your days can be spent at the wonderful walled city of Carcassonne, visiting Toulouse ('la ville rose"),  enjoying the Toulouse-Lautrec Museum in Albi, or exploring nearby prehistoric caves.  Afternoon wine tastings, skiing in winter or hiking in summer, mountain biking, horseback riding, or white water rafting -- all are local pastimes in the region.  You may even be tempted to try the thermal spa at Aulus-les-Bains.

Please visit Château Rhodes on our web site for detailed information. 

[Photo:  Château Rhodes  2003]

REMINDER:  Club France Membership

The  new Club France is here, and membership is only $25 -- valid for up to five family members traveling together.  (If an additional card is needed for a family member traveling separately from the primary card holder, there is a $7 charge.) 

There is an Americans-only special being offered  --  Charter members who join before July 14, 2003 will receive a 20% discount.  So, a one-year membership for five family members is currently only $19.99! 

Your membership is a promise of a personalized welcome and special services from a network of 1,500 travel partners.  Wherever you go, you will be a Club France "VIP" and will receive a 10% to 30% discount on services with companies and cultural institutions to prove it!  Many members will greet you with a special gift or other benefits. 

From our own Château de Garrevaques, there is
a welcome gift of home-made fois gras and 
a 10% discount for a double room with breakfast. 
But, remember there are 1500 participating sponsors! 

As both former members and sponsors of the original Club France, we know how beneficial membership was.  At the new lower price, it's even better --  a most valuable tool for people traveling to France.

To sign up before July 14th, click here:  Club France.  An immediate email response will be sent to you, and a membership card will be mailed to your address very shortly after joining. 

We hope you will take advantage of this offer, and we are looking forward to more of au Château's members becoming sponsors of Club France very soon.

French Quiz 28

What region of France celebrates the following festivals?

Fête des Brodeuses
Fête des Collines Bleues
Grande Fête des Menhirs
Fêtes des Cornouaille
Fêtes des Pommiers


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

 Easy Recipe:  Stuffed Rainbow Trout

Michel Montignac's Method for weight loss and maintenance has proven very effective in Europe since 1987 and his philosophy has been the basis for "copycat" books in the United States and elsewhere.   Emphasizing the pleasure of good (healthy) eating is this Frenchman's approach to solving the problem of obesity in the world without sacrificing interesting and delicious food.  This recipe is from his book, Michel Montignac's Recipes & Menus and is one of 140 from soups to desserts and appealing to all tastes.

You will need 4 cleaned rainbow or grey trout, olive oil, 1 sliced lime.  For the stuffing, you will need 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/2 fresh fennel bulb, 1/2 cup chopped mushrooms, 1/2 cup chopped red pepper, 2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onion, 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice, 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley and salt and pepper to taste.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).

Stuffing:  In a skillet, over a low heat, heat olive oil, add fennel, mushrooms, red pepper and onion -- cook 5 minutes.  Add lime juice and seasonings and cook for 1 more minute.

Rinse fish under cold running water inside and out, and wipe dry.  Stuff cavities with fennel mixture.  Using olive oil, grease 4 rectangular pieces of aluminum foil.  Place 1 trout on each, cover with lime slices, and seal.  Transfer to a baking dish and bake 15 minutes or until fish turns opaque and flakes easily when tested with a fork.  Serves 4.  . Bon appétit!

[Visit Michel Montignac's official web site at
"Recipes & Menus" published by Michel-Ange Publishing, Canada 1999  ISBN 0 9684029 2 5]

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 27 is  Camille Saint-Saëns and to Quiz 28 is Brittany.]

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.
©2000-2003 au Château - Cold Spring Press.  All Rights Reserved