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                        Destination France  ~   March / April 2005


Simply Romantic . . .

We at au Château are romantics at heart ~ that's probably the reason that France is so appealing to us.  Just in remembering the many romantic and beautifully prepared dinners we have experienced in France including the elegant presentation of a fine wine or a luscious dessert, it seems certain that no other country can come close to France for style and romance.  Where else can you browse through a shop that specializes only in perfumes or another carrying exquisite handmade lace?  Where else can your hosts guide you through ancient hallways into medieval stone rooms to tell you of their ancestors who lived there and associated with kings and princes?  And, do we need mention the beautiful French language that accompanies all of the above?

Château de Saint-Loup, Copyright 2005 Cold Spring Press - All rights reservedPerhaps this romantic appeal extends to the incredible architecture of France's great historic buildings ~ the châteaux of the Loire and even the châteaux not of the Loire ~ to the mysteries of moated fortresses and ancient hill towns.  These could all be figments of an active imagination elsewhere, but in France it is real! 

No doubt, our fascination with the chambres d'hôtes found on au Château is part of our being drawn to the romanticism of not only historic France but of today's France.   The effort made in the 20th and 21st centuries to preserve historical monuments, to guard prehistoric sites and to continue classic traditions makes France an exceptional place indeed.  The French deserve credit for their dedication to France and all things French, and for that we 'etrangers' are extremely grateful. 

If you choose to stay in any of the properties found on this web site, whether owned by a fine old French family or a transplant to France from the United States or another European country, you are sure to find both traditions and romance still very, very much alive. 

A Sponsor of Our Newsletter. . .


Champs-Elysées helps you to learn French at home . . 

 A click on the above banner will take you to the Champs-Elysées web site
where you can learn about all the wonderful resources available for
learning French at your own pace.  And,  look for their newest product,
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€ 1225 per person

Detail:  Niaux Cave
Niaux Cave 

The tour organizers have amended the original (and longer) Prehistoric Tour to offer an equally delightful tour of 7 days and 7 nights.  Luxury accommodations, breakfasts and dinners at Le Prieuré au Château de Biron in the Dordogne, are being offered to 10 lucky people for three different weeks in 2005:  April 11 - 18, June 20 - 27 and September 26 - October 3.  Visit this link for details: Prehistoric & Medieval France Tour.

The group will be accompanied at all times by hosts, Patricia Pearson and Dan Dullaghan, who know and love the region.    They will escort travelers to prehistoric sites, bastide towns, charming villages and historic locations  ~ all at an easy and comfortable pace.  Because the tour is comprised of a small group of people, personal attention to traveler's wants and needs can easily be accommodated.

Le Prieuré au Château de BironThe secluded garden of the priory

Seven wonderful nights at Le Prieuré will include luxury accommodations with private baths, evening meals with the group enjoying fine regional cuisine and lively discussion, and some free time to enjoy the delightful village of Biron or just relax in the garden.  There is still space available on the April tour, but the closing date of March 10 is fast approaching.

This tour begins and ends in Bordeaux, and includes all accommodations, entry fees, ground transportation, breakfasts and dinners.  Lunchtime is left open for those who would like to be off on their own to shop, sight see or, perhaps, picnic.  The tour is very reasonably priced at € 1225, and the single supplement is only € 175!

If you are interested in more details, please click on Prehistoric & Medieval France Tour above, or send an email to  We are waiting to answer your questions or reserve your space on an exciting tour of France's 'cradle of man'. 

[Airfare is not included in this package.]

French Quiz 47

Have you ever been to Gascony?  True or False?

 1.  Gascony is at the foothills of the Alps.
 2.  Henri IV was a Gascon who encouraged the French to enjoy the simple pleasures of life.
 3.  Gascony is a loose term for the Pays Basque, Landes and the Pyrénées regions.
 4.  Europe's largest forest is in Gascony.
 5.  The Basques, whose French home is in Gascony, are the oldest nation in Europe.
 6.  Gascony is the home to Armagnac.
 7.  Armagnac was fashioned after the older brew cognac.
 8.  Charles de Batz, born in the Gascon town of Castelmore, was the inspiration for 
      d'Artagnan, the fourth member of Dumas' The Three Musketeers.
 9.  The three musketeers were based on real people named Athos, Porthos, and Aramis.


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

Just like being there . . .

If you are considering the addition of a painting or two in your home to bring back memories of France, may we suggest that you visit the Galerie page of the web site, FRANCE On Your Own?  There you will find several watercolors of France now available in Giclée prints that are so much like the originals it is nearly impossible to tell the difference. 

Giclées of original art, on fine watercolor papers, are exquisite reproductions.  Each print in this collection is numbered and signed by the artist and is accompanied by a certificate of authenticity and instructions for care. Did you know that the Louvre Museum in Paris has a collection of Giclées? 

Currently, realistic scenes are available of a rose-covered balcony in Arles, a waterfront stone house in Brittany, an artist's atelier in the walled city of Guérand and a village house in old Nice.  There is even one print of a canal in Venice, a slight departure from the artist's fascination with France. The prints are available for purchase,  each issued in very limited editions. 

Soon the Galerie page will offer note cards depicting another artist's renderings of the chambres d'hôtes you will find on au Château.  Packaged in an assortment of ten and with mailing envelopes, these black and white sketches would make lovely gifts or useful cards for sending personal messages or thank you notes.  You know, the French are very partial to handwritten correspondence, as it is an indication of one taking the time and effort to keep in touch.

We hope you enjoy visiting the Galerie.   If you have any questions or want to inquire about prices, you can simply send an email to

A Sponsor of Our Newsletter. . .

Historic Normandy Tours

If you plan to be in Normandy soon, perhaps staying at one of the nine
Normandy properties on the au Château web site, you might find the
best way to visit all the monuments and sites of World War II is through
a guided tour with Alain Chesnel of Overlord Tours
Click on the banner for all the possibilities!

[For information about sponsoring a future newsletter, contact us at]

French Quiz 48

    Transportation  ~   Match the following:

       (1) Car rental                    (a) Can't order until 6 months prior to departure
           (2) Museum passes            (b) Buy a 'carnet' instead of just one ticket
               (3) Train tickets                (c) No need to ask for non-smoking anymore
                   (4) TGV reservations          (d) Easy way to see sights along the Seine
                       (5) Paris Métro                  (e) Save waiting time; order via Internet.
                           (6) Batobus                      (f) Order from home, not in France


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

 Cookbook Review  ~  Recipe: Orange & Fennel Salad

We've discovered a wonderful Mediterranean cookbook, aptly entitled, "What's Cooking Mediterranean",  by Anne White.   It was originally published in 2000 by Thunder Bay Press of San Diego, California,  but today can be found in its original hardcover version on the web site for only $7.88!

The photographs of completed dishes will completely entice even the most occasional cook.  We found many of the recipes so easy and with such good results that we wanted to pass one of them along to you.  It is Orange and Fennel Salad...simple, quick and delicious.

You will need four large oranges, one large fennel bulb, two teaspoons of fennel seeds, two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil, freshly squeezed orange juice and finely chopped fresh parsley.

With a serrated knife, peel the oranges, removing the pith and rind, cutting carefully from top to bottom so that it retains its shape.  Work over a bowl to catch the juices which you will use later in the process.  Cut the oranges horizontally into 1/4 inch disk shaped slices and arrange in an attractive shallow serving bowl.   Save the juices.

Take the fennel bulb, remove the fronds, and cut it in half lengthwise and then into quarters.  Cut the pieces crosswise into the thinnest slices you can manage.  Immediately transfer the cut fennel to the bowl with the oranges and toss with a little of the reserved juice to prevent the fennel from browning.  Sprinkle fennel seeds over the top. 

Put the olive oil in a small bowl and whisk with the remaining orange juice, plus any extra fresh orange juice to taste.  Pour over the oranges and fennel and toss lightly.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to serve.  Just before serving, remove plastic wrap and sprinkle with parsley.  Serve chilled. Bon appétit!

[What's Cooking Mediterranean, ISBN 1-57145-255-9, is copyrighted by Parragon 2000]

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[The answer to Quiz 47:  1 and 7 are false;  Quiz 48 1f, 2e, 3a, 4c, 5b, 6d]

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