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                               Summer Travel  ~   July / August 2005

                              A New Member Joins us from Bordeaux Wine Country


France for Women Travelers

We have noticed that more and more women are vacationing on their own these days, seeking out interesting places to stay and unique things to do.  For example, cooking classes are becoming very popular, many people want to take a painting course while in France, and some schedule both!  Small, personalized tours such as the one we are offering in September to Prehistoric & Medieval Southwest France are very appealing to women out on their own.  All the details are taken care of for the duration of the tour, so they can relax and enjoy all the sights and delights of France!

Women seem to gravitate to château bed and breakfasts as well, and we think that's a great plan  ~ not only because that's the focus of au Château, but also because our member properties offer them personalized service and attention as well as safe and comfortable places for their vacation stays.  As a guest of any of au Château's member properties, a woman will feel as though she is at the home of a friend, and she will meet other guests who are congenial and seeking the same comforts and security as she.

For the woman who wants to delve deeper into French country life, learn about the history of a castle or a region, take long walks in French gardens and through beautifully landscaped grounds (or jog, if you'd like) or sit by the pool with a good book, there is nothing to compare with a château stay.  One of our properties is offering a great little spa package that includes 3 days of half-board accommodation and 3 spa treatments.  Details of this offering (specially priced for American travelers) are on our Special Offers page.  The location is the Château de Garrevaques  in the lovely Tarn region of southwestern France not far from Toulouse, Albi and the Canal du Midi ~ an ideal vacation spot!

So, if you are considering a trip to France and will be traveling alone or, perhaps, with another woman, do contact us for further information on cooking and painting courses, tours, safety tips, travel insurance, train travel, car rentals, driving in France or any other questions you may have.  Just send us an email: We'll be happy to help.

Use our handy Fax Form

Remember,  if you want to contact any member of au Château by fax to inquire about accommodations or to send them your credit card information when confirming a reservation, simply use our convenient Fax Form.  Click here to open the form, print it out, complete the information and fax it to the owner.  Fax numbers are provided on each member's first page at the top left.

Keep in mind that it is very unwise to send credit card information via Email...always telephone or fax that information to proprietors.

                                                                                      Bon voyage!

It's all symbolic...

Our web site is really very easy to use.  All important information is on a member's first page , and we have introduced symbols in the past year just in case you are looking for a special program or want to plan an event at a member property.

Look for the following symbols when you visit any of our members;  you will see them at the upper left-hand corner of their page.

This little fellow in the beret indicates that French language immersion courses are offered.  Stay several days or a week, and come away speaking la langue française!

If you are interested in cooking lessons, this chef's hat lets you know that a member is offering hands-on time in his or her kitchen to introduce you to some secrets of French cuisine.

Calling all artists!  This paintbrush, when found on a member's page, indicates that painting or other art lessons are offered.

You will see this wine glass on member pages throughout our site.  It means that wine appreciation sessions are offered or that wine tastings take place on the property.

Equestrians should look for this symbol of horse and rider if they are interested in riding or riding lessons while staying at one of our member châteaux.

Certainly more unusual than the other activities we indicate with symbols, dance lessons may also be available at one or more of our member properties.  Tango anyone?

Last, but certainly not least, is our bride and groom marriage symbol.  If you see this on a member's first page, you know that weddings are held on the grounds, perhaps in their own chapel or at a nearby church followed by a reception at the property.  Keep in mind, however, that many properties on our site will be happy to host your wedding, even if it is not mentioned specifically.  All you need do is ask!

We hope these symbols help you determine at a glance what may be available at our member's châteaux, manoirs or priories.  Look for additional symbols as new activities come to light from time to time.


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Château Meyre

A Bordeaux wine estate and luxury lodging...

Château Meyre


Bordeaux, the surrounding wine country and the Médoc peninsula are becoming more and more popular with visitors to France.  The weather is exceptional, the ocean is nearby, the villages are unique and exquisite and the wineries are abundant!  But, staying there in a luxurious château was not always possible, as most wine estates do not accept overnight guests.

We were thrilled, therefore, to welcome a third Bordeaux-area member, the grand Château Meyre,  in May of this year.  Not only do they produce award-winning wines but they offer lovely accommodations to guests that are priced well  ~ the château provides a perfect home base for visits to all the attractions in the region.

Château Meyre Chambre Luna
The château, open between March and November, and ideally located between the vineyards of Moulis and Margaux, has been recently and beautifully renovated to create comfort for its guests in an elegant atmosphere.  Several rooms are decorated with tapestries, country French furniture and antiques while others are light and airy.  All are spacious, and each has its own modern en suite bathroom complete with hair dryers and fine toiletries. 

Upon arrival, guests receive a complimentary half bottle of wine and are shown to their rooms where they can unwind and relax before dinner.  Although the château does not provide evening meals, fine nearby restaurants will be recommend, and the owners will be happy to make reservations on behalf of their guests.  Each morning, guests awaken to a delicious Continental breakfast that includes fresh-baked croissants, yogurt, fruit juice, coffee or tea ~ beautifully served in the château dining room.Elegant Breakfast Room

For those who visit Bordeaux for the wines and vineyards, Château Meyre is for you!  Grapes are hand harvested each year and traditional methods are used throughout the winemaking process.  Aficionados will be impressed by the many awards the château has won for its wines including a four stars out of five from La Revue de Vin de France and a Gold Medal in the Japan Wine Challenge 2002 for their L'Enclos Gallen Margaux 1999 vintage among other wine accolades.

We hope you will have the opportunity to visit Château Meyre's pages on our web site and make plans to spend a few days as a guest at the château.  They accept most major credit cards, speak excellent English and are looking forward to welcoming you to their estate.

 [Photos: property of Château Meyre. All rights reserved.]

 We bid adieu . . .

From time to time, and for various reasons, we lose a member or two.  Although new properties are joining our site all the time, we are saddened when any of them must leave us.

Château du Breil near Nantes, La Tour du Roy in northeastern France, and Pavillon de la Maye in Versailles will no longer appear on au Château.  Château du Breil's owners have decided to cater to business travelers almost exclusively and are working with companies in the city of Nantes to that end.    Pavillon de la Maye has closed its web site and, apparently, its doors to guests, and we are sorry to see it go.  La Tour du Roy, although still in operation, is no longer a member of our web site.

We are sure you will find that our extensive selection of châteaux, manoirs and priories, with two new properties about to join us this summer, will provide you with many choices throughout France for your next vacation.

 Our Visit to Normandy

                                                 by Dan Davis

May found us, my wife and I and our friends Alain and Connie, meeting in Paris and then setting out for Normandy by car.  We were eager to see the sights that have made this part of France so appealing from both a cultural and historical aspect, and we were going to be staying in two château bed and breakfasts to make the time there all the more interesting.

I have now concluded that a stay in a rural château in France is to experience France at its best ~ the perfect complement to a driving tour.  The château experience provides an elegant atmosphere of luxurious living, while driving enables us to enjoy the lush bucolic countryside, explore walled towns, visit little ports and find great little restaurants. 

En route to our first château, we headed west from Paris toward the Normandy beach area.  We stopped for sightseeing in Honfleur, a small channel port  lined with sail and fishing boats, where Monet painted its beaches and bathers. 

Naturally, we had lunch as soon as Hinda and Connie finished riding a carousel they discovered in a little park. My method to find a good restaurant is to read menus until you find the menu that seems to say, “This is my kind of food.”  (My ‘never-fail’ method is to drive into a town about 12:30 and look for the hotel or restaurant with the most cars in its parking lot.)

We had been assured by those at au Château that we would like any château we might choose from their web site, regardless of price.  We were not disappointed.

Château de la RoqueThe Château de La Roque (double room 84 Euros/$112) lies a few miles west of St-Lô, not far from the Normandy Beaches and the famous Bayeux tapestry. You approach down a narrow, tree-lined lane, pass through an iron gate and find an immense lawn separating the château from the old, now-converted, stables which house the main dining room, kitchen and additional sleeping units. 

Each evening at seven we gathered on the lawn for a pre-dinner apéritif.  Dinner was served at eight in the dining room ~ a hall with one long table that seats 20 or 24 persons as well as a few side tables.  The room reminded me of a scene in “Ivanhoe”, with Robert Taylor at the foot of the long table, unrecognized by his father seated far away at the head of the table, flanked by Norman knights.  On this evening, the long table was filled with French diners drinking wine, eating and  talking to each other ~ all at the same time.

Dinner was served family style.  Madame Delisle oversees the kitchen and the business of the château while Monsieur Delisle, a former Tour de France cyclist, rides his bicycle around the compound carrying out Madame’s assignments. We enjoyed an excellent green salad, roast pork loin, Brussels sprouts and couscous, followed by cheese selections, and, finally, the best tiramisu I have ever eaten.  Apple cider was served before the meal along with bottled water, and an apple-based liqueur and coffee completed the 24 Euro ($32) meal.

Petit déjeuner every morning awaits guests in the château.  Breakfast includes rolls, cheeses, yogurts, juice, coffee and tea.  There is an interesting timer-driven electric pot with inserts to hold each egg for hard or soft-boiling ~ I learned how to cook and eat eggs à la française

The château was commandeered by the German SS during World War II, but on the eve of D-Day, American paratroopers landed nearby and killed the entire SS garrison. The nearby town of St-Lô was destroyed by our artillery a few days later before the troops finally surrendered to the Allies. 

The highlight of our stay was the day we drove to Bayeux to see the famous tapestry and later, after lunch, to visit the D-Day landing beaches. 

The Bayeux tapestry is 19 inches high, 203 feet long and is embroidered on the linen scroll.  It was commissioned by Queen Mathilda almost 1000 years ago to memorialize the events surrounding the invasion of England by William the Conqueror in 1066.  We began our visit upstairs to view a facsimile of the tapestry with commentary added and a 30-minute movie that describes the background of the scrolls and the history of the time period.  Finally, returning downstairs, we saw the original tapestry, now more meaningful because of the information already received.

That afternoon we stood at Omaha Beach, imagining the landing of troops on the beaches,  and we later drove over to Pointe du Hoc, a few miles further along the coast, where 225 specially-trained American soldiers scaled the sheer cliff and disabled the huge German guns emplaced nearby.  Only ninety survived. 

We also spent several nights at [another property] (65 Euros/ $87) a small country château thirty miles northwest of Tours and the Loire River valley.  The third generation owner, made us feel completely at home. 

Again, the rural setting enchanted us.  I dozed outdoors on a lawn chair in the morning sun while Connie and Hinda meandered through the adjacent village.  At 12:30, Alain and I drove two miles to another village for a leisurely lunch at a nondescript bar/café recommended by Marie. The plat du jour (9 Euros or $12), the only offering, was a good Coq au Vin (leg and thigh simmered in red wine) and fries.  We ate outside.  A buffet of delicious salads preceded the main dish and the owner brought me an extra helping of chicken. 

Dinners at the château (20 Euros/$26) were casual.  We were the only diners,  and Marie asked for our preferences.  She plans the meals each day, and they were excellent.

Both châteaux were competitive in price and quality with rural hotels and chambres d’hôtes.  I have discovered that staying at a château is the 'tiramisu' of any driving tour.  In the future I intend to book a château whenever I can. 

Dan Davis, the author of Stress-free Travel: 99 Secrets & Tips ($4.95 + s&h),
loves the French countryside.  Visit his web site at
and reach him by email at

[Photo courtesy of Château de la Roque.  All rights reserved.]

French Quiz 51

Test your knowledge of Aquitaine:   True or False?

        (1)  The region has the largest pine forest in Europe
          (2)  Its southern border is with Spain and the Pyrénées
            (3)  The largest sand dune in Europe is on Aquitaine's Atlantic shore
              (4)  The region is famous for armagnac as well as wine
                (5)  The region was conquired by Romans in 12 AD
                  (6)  The Franks defeated the Visigoths here in the 8th century
                    (7)  Eleanor of Aquitaine was one of 5 sisters and daughter of a Troubadour.
                      (8)  The English were forced out of Aquitaine in 1543 near Bordeaux


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

A Pastry School in Languedoc-Roussillon

A pastry school has recently opened in the city of Perpignan in Languedoc-Roussillon: L’Ecole Internationale de Pâtisserie Olivier Bajard and is now accepting students at both the professional and non-professional level. 

Olivier Bajard is an award-winning pastry and dessert chef, and you can read about him and the school at his web site  Or contact the school by phone 33 (0)6 03 20 26 62, fax 33 (0)4 68 38 78 85 or email at

If you decide to try your hand at French pastry creations, you might consider staying at Domaine des Castelles or Domaine Saint-Pierre de Trapel, both located near Carcassonne some 70 miles away.  If you have any questions, please do contact us at

New Gîte at Manoir de Bellauney

Gîte MargencyThe proprietors of Manoir de Bellauney on the Cotentin Peninsula of Normandy, Monsieur and Madame Allix-Desfauteaux, have opened a beautiful gîte in a nearby village.  So if, instead of availing yourselves of the wonderful bed and breakfast accommodations of their manor house, you prefer a self-catering accommodation with three double bedrooms, a dining room, a fully-equipped kitchen and a lovely sitting room with fireplace ~ all set on a lovely large plot of land ~ this may be just what you are looking for.

The Gîte Margency is available year 'round at very reasonable seasonal rates, and it is certainly a perfect location for visiting the Normandy landing beaches, picturesque coastal villages and the beautiful countryside.

For more information, click above on the Manoir de Bellauney link above or visit their web site at  Please be sure to mention that au Château sent you!

[Photo credit:  Manoir de Bellauney.  All Rights Reserved.]


  French Château Note Cards 

 Beautiful original pen and ink drawings of a dozen French château chambres d'hôtes 
that are members of the au Château web site can be yours 
in the form of note cards with matching envelopes. 
Simply click on any butterfly above to see them and learn how you can order yours! 

[If you are interested in advertising in au Château News, contact]

French Quiz 52

    Languedoc-Roussillon:  True or False?

                 (1)  Known as 'the other South of France'
                   (2)  Roussillon département was taken from Spain
                     (3)  The culture is Catalonian in Languedoc-Roussillon
                       (4)  It has a long and popular Mediterranean coastline
                         (5)  Langue d'oc, the language, began as a Latin language
                           (6)  The law stills prohibits speaking langue d'oc
                                  (7)  Cathars claimed the region in the 12th & 13th centuries
                             (8)  Languedoc specialties include cassoulet and daube


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

 Easy Recipe: Salade Niçoise

For warm summer days, a nutritional and delicious Salade Niçoise is a quick solution for lunch or dinner.  The vegetables should be absolutely fresh and the tuna of high quality.

You will need a 7-ounce can of oil-packed white tuna, a small tin of anchovies (optional), 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 2 tablespoons of wine vinegar (red or white), salt and pepper to taste, 2 medium potatoes that have been boiled, peeled and sliced, 2 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and cut into quarters, 4 cups of mixed salad greens, 1/2 pound of blanched whole green beans, trimmed, 2 ripe tomatoes quartered with seeds removed, 3/4 cup of sliced and pitted black olives, 2 tablespoons fresh herbs, and some unrinsed capers.

First drain the tuna, setting aside the oil.  If using anchovies, reserve a teaspoon of the oil from them as well.  To these oils, whisk in the olive oil, wine vinegar, salt, and pepper.  Break the tuna into pieces, but not too small and set aside.  Use the oil/vinegar mix, marinate the sliced potatoes after they have cooled. 

Remove the potatoes from the dressing.  Toss the salad greens with some of the dressing, and arrange the greens on a platter.  Arrange the green beans, eggs, potatoes, tomatoes, anchovies and tuna on the greens; sprinkle with olives and capers.  Pour the remaining dressing lightly over the salad and lastly, sprinkle with fresh herbs.  Serves 4 to 6 people. Bon appétit!

[Recipe adapted from The Mediterranean Diet, by Carol and Malcolm McConnell,
published 1987 by W. W. Norton & Co., New York and London]

We hope you have enjoyed au Château News
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[The answer to Quiz 51 -  1 through 4 true: 5 false, it was in 28BC;, 
6 false, the year was 507; 7 false, she was an only child; 8 false, the year was 1453.
Quiz 52:  all  true except 6.  The law was repealed in 1951.]

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