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                                  Special Edition                      April 2004

                                       In this issue:  Mas de Bastide, Michelin Travel Publications,
                                                         Château de Saint-Michel de Lanès

Please welcome two new members
offering Southern (France) Charm . . . 

                         Mas de Bastide

Poolside Gardens at Mas de Bastide
Poolside Gardens at Mas de Bastide 

The opportunity to attend decorative painting classes in southwestern France is very appealing, especially when your surroundings are lovely beyond imagination.    Making it all the more special are the people who offer the programs:  a highly qualified painter is your teacher, and a charming and friendly couple, the proprietors of Mas de Bastide, are your hosts extending an exceptionally warm welcome to their chambres d'hôtes.  A winning combination!

Mas de Bastide is located in one of the most appealing regions of France:  the Valley of the Lot.  Surrounded by a picturesque countryside steeped in history and well located for visiting many interesting attractions, it is certainly a special destination to add to your list of places to stay. 

If you are intent on taking one of the courses offered, you will be pleasantly surprised by the scope of decorative painting styles and techniques available to you.  Perhaps you are only interested in pleasant accommodations in a remarkable family home -- then you will discover that your room and the common areas are lovingly appointed and truly comfortable.  In either case, Mas de Bastide is a treasure!

Elfi Griffiths, your hostess, is even more astounding, for she not only provides a delightful atmosphere for both students and guests, but she is a talented chef thrilling all with dishes from the world over.

Guest room with interesting architectural detailDecorative painting courses, from learning how to faux paint a wall or discovering the secrets of marbling, graining, mosaics or trompe l'oeil, are taught by an experienced and talented professional, Sharon Tompkins.  A City and Guilds of London medal winner,  whose art education and expertise from twenty years in her own company make her a skilled and imaginative teacher, Sharon is able to bring out the best in her students.  Course participants share double guest rooms with private bathrooms, enjoy a welcome cocktail, delicious breakfasts each morning, leisurely lunches, four evening meals at Mas de Bastide, two dinners at fine local restaurants and brunch on the day of departure.   Pricing can be found on their pages of our web site.

Elfi Griffiths welcomes you!
Your hostess, Elfi Griffiths

For those seeking a restful stay in one of southwestern France's most desirable regions, Mas de Bastide is perfect!   A charming collection of buildings around a courtyard with three different garden areas (one with a swimming pool) creates an artistic mood even for those who do not join in the classes.  Three double bedrooms, lovely antiques and collectibles from around the world, flagstone floors and thick stone walls add to the appeal of your surroundings.

Breakfasts are delightful, often on the terrace with a spectacular view of the Lot Valley, and include homemade jams, fresh breads, fruit, and coffee or tea.  And, if you decide to take dinner at Mas de Bastide, you are in for a special treat when chef Elfi Griffiths presents you with gourmet selections she has mastered from her many years living abroad. 

Cahors' Pont-Valentre
 Pont-Valentre in Nearby Cahors

The surrounding countryside is filled with pleasant towns and villages, bustling markets and such unique sights as Rocamadour, Grotte du Pech Merle and a first century Roman village at Villeneuve.  The city of Cahors is certainly worth a visit as well.   Day trips can be filled with as many memories as your stay at Mas de Bastide!

A few days or longer at Mas de Bastide, whether as an aspiring artist or a pampered house guest, will resonate for years in your souvenirs of France. Reservations are only an email or phone call away ( from outside France).  Or, contact us, and we will happily assist you to plan and schedule your visit to the Lot.

[Photos:  courtesy M. et Mme Griffiths, Mas de Bastide.
These photos are the copyrighted property of the owners and may not
 be copied or used in any manner by anyone without their permission.]

 A Sponsor of this Newsletter. . .

Hear's A Journey


Take along your own personal guides as you drive through
Provence in your car!  Two pleasant voices accompany you on tape
leading you to some of the more interesting sights.  Click on the
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Be sure to say you heard about them from au Château!

Michelin Travel Publications . . .

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Michelin offers the BEST road maps for anyone who is driving in France. 

Aside from their highly recommended (by us!) Motoring Atlas France, individual maps can be ordered from them focusing on regions and localities or specialty maps of Paris covering the city's transportation and tourism or pocket maps and atlases -- even maps by arrondissements

Of course, there are the ever-popular Green Guides,  which provide historic and tourist information in great detail, and the famous Michelin Red Hotels & Restaurants Guide is a priceless resource to locate dining establishments and hotels in towns and cities throughout France -- and it is here that you will find the renowned rating system so important to the great chefs of France.  (Don't forget that au Château is still the best source for luxury accommodations!)

There are more specialty maps, so for details on these and other Michelin Travel Publications, look for the May edition of the FREE newsletter FRANCE On Your Own!  In the meantime, you can contact Michelin USA at 1.888.610.5122 from within the US or email  Ask for their catalog or order their Motoring Atlas or maps of the regions you will visit.

    Château de Saint Michel de Lanès

Château de Saint-Michel de Lanès

View of château from the park

This  is an enchanting château -  oh so French - owned by a charming young couple eager to share it with their guests.  It is located in the Aude département of Languedoc-Roussillon -- the destination of more and more travelers to France.  Languedoc has become very popular, and it is often referred to as "the other South of France". 

We have always found this region very peaceful  -- not bustling with tourists as is the French Riviera.   It has, however, come into its own.  Not only have tourists begun to discover its appeal, but the abundant wineries of Languedoc and Roussillon, once the major supplier of the French family's table wines, have now perfected their appellations -- the wines from this region are now sold world wide,  having achieved a certain level of prestige in recent years.

The Château de Saint Michel de Lanès is between Toulouse and Castelnaudary -- easy to find and wonderful to use as a base for all the fascinating attractions in the surrounding countryside.  A large lake is only 3 kilometers from the château where people swim, sail and go sailboarding.   Tennis courts open to the public are also near the château.  About six kilometers away is the wonderful Canal du Midi, part of a series of canals that,  historically,  was a shipping lane between Bordeaux on the Atlantic and Port-la-Nouvelle on the Mediterranean.  It is today a major recreational thoroughfare where you will see people on boats and barges enjoying its soothing beauty.   Of course, there are Cathar castles and fortresses, La Montagne Noire, the city of Toulouse (la ville rose) and the Pyrénées Mountains as well, so there is no shortage of things to see and do.   One of the best known attractions in the region is the medieval walled city of Carcassonne -- a place every visitor to France must see it at least once!

Sculpture of AthenaInside the château, guests will be amazed by the serenity and soothing color palette -- the décor is sensitive and thoughtful.  Guests will not only enjoy their spacious rooms and baths providing all the modern amenities, but they will adore the beautifully appointed common rooms, each carefully furnished with period furniture.  There is much interesting history associated with the château.  It was often used by Catherine de Médici, queen of France by her marriage at age 14 to the Duke of Orléans who was to become King Henri II.  She was responsible for the ornate sculptures found on the château's façade, such as this one of the goddess Athena.

Ancient cedars adorn the château park

Located at the edge of the village of Saint-Michel-de-Lanès, this exceptional château is sure to please the most discriminating guest.  Whether one prefers to roam the grounds to discover hidden paths and ponds, to enjoy the rooms of the château, or to stroll into the village and explore its medieval charms, a stay at this château will be very rewarding. 

                   Ancient cedars shade the lawns at the château

Aside from its allure as an intimate bed and breakfast, the château is also a perfect place for a large gathering of family and friends for events such as reunions, celebrations and weddings.  Able to accommodate large groups, the proprietors will assist in all aspects of planning a family gathering of any kind at their château.  These pictures illustrate areas where guests can gather both outside and inside the château.

Evening gathering of wedding guestsGrand Salon for wedding reception

 Wedding guests can  gather  on the grounds or in grand salons

Weather plays a big role in one's enjoyment of a vacation, and the Aude is definitely one of the more temperate regions with a significant number of sunny days.  Day trips to Carcassonne, the Cathar castles or perhaps boating on the Canal du Midi await visitors to this region.  There is a lot to see and do -- and don't forget that you would be a short drive to the Mediterranean or the Pyrénées!

Do visit Château de Saint Michel de Lanès on our web site to see many more photos and read about the history and the present-day seductive charms of this unique and very French château.  And, remember, you will be very warmly welcomed by the Viscount and Viscountess de la Panouse to their cherished home.

[Photos courtesy of Vicomte & Vicomtesse de la Panouse. 
These photos are the copyrighted property of the owners and may not
 be copied or used in any manner by anyone without their permission.]

 A Sponsor of this Newsletter. . .

Château de la Motte


Visit Château de la Motte in the beautiful Vienne of France
for superb bed & breakfast accommodations & more!
Classes are offered in Medieval Calligraphy, 
Carving in Tuffeau, and Art Framing. 
Click on the banner to access their web pages. 
Contact us for more details or to reserve a room!

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