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                                          November / December 2005

                                    A June château wedding, our September visit,
                                      and welcoming a new member in Provence

The Holidays are coming!

French Château Note Cards

   make a thoughtful gift!

Original pen and ink drawings, depicting a dozen French château
chambres d'hôtes,  appear on elegant note cards with matching envelopes
We will gift wrap them for you and send them directly to recipients.
Just provide the correct address including zip (postal) code and country.
Simply click on the snowflakes to view them and to find out how to order yours. 

                                                  Be the first to send this original gift!

                                                 [Be sure to specify what you want to be written on the gift card.]

September in France. . . 

Château du BreuilThere is much to write about after an extended visit to France, but we will only mention the highlights beginning with our stay at Château du Breuil in Cour-Cheverny.  This Loire château is elegant, and its new owner, Bernard Gattolliat, is an enthusiastic and charming host.  In addition to our large comfortable room looking out across the drive at the pretty little chapel, we enjoyed two incredible dinners accompanied by fine Cour-Cheverny wines from the vineyards of Philippe Loquineau, Domaine de la Plante d'Or *, just down the road.  If you want a quiet place to relax and enjoy the good life, Château du Breuil is ideal.  There is a brand new swimming pool and pool house across the garden for those who want to stay put, yet it is also perfect for visiting châteaux of the Loire, or as we did, seeing some interesting nearby towns such as Loches, Montrichard and Amboise

Château du FraisseAnother stop for two nights (and a return visit for us) was the marvelous Château du Fraisse and the Count and Countess de Monstiers.  Always a pleasure to visit, the château is in the wonderful Limousin countryside near Monts de Blonds, and some unique little villages such as Le Dorat, Mortemart and little Bessines-sur-Gartempe.  Upon arrival, we enjoyed a welcome apéritif and lively conversation with the family and other guests and were then given a tour of the new ballroom where eight weddings have been hosted in the past year.  Château du Fraisse hasn't seen the last of us!

We enjoyed the next few days and nights at Le Prieuré au Château de Biron where we learned that a new owner would soon be arriving.  And, she has!  Sally Evans, is an experienced hostess in the bed and breakfast industry, hails from England, and she and her daughter are presently redecorating guest rooms ~ but they are welcoming guests nonetheless.  We loved the village of Biron, the enormous château open to public visits, and the one and only restaurant in town, a tiny family-run auberge with a good and interesting menu. A highlight of our time in the Dordogne was a visit to nearby Monpazier on market day, a village we visited for the first time in 1995.

Monpazier Market SquareRiver Lot near Mas de Bastide

Next, we drove to the nearby département of the Lot and stayed at Mas de Bastide.  Our hostess, Elfi Griffiths, who has decided to sell and move back to the Côte d'Azur, had us join her for a delicious dinner.  We are sorry to lose this property from our web site, but are very happy we were able to be one of their last guests.  It's a lovely location and will make someone a fine home.  During our time in the Lot, we drove to St-Cirq-Lapopie, which should not be missed by anyone visiting this region.  It is spectacular!

A guest room at Château de SéguenvilleHeading southward, we arrived at Château de Séguenville in the Haute-Garonne where we were the guests of Jean-Paul and Marie Lareng.  What a captivating region of France!  The château has been in the family since the 1930s, and sits atop a hill overlooking the village below.  This young couple with two small children has renovated it to make each room unique and sophisticated.  The bathrooms are all modern and the hot showers superb.  Madame Lareng is a helpful and friendly lady who is a extraordinary chef  ~ she was recently chosen by a German magazine as the best of twelve chefs in the region!  Our time at Séguenville went all too quickly, but we did enjoy visits to Auch and delightful Lectoure which was a relaxing drive from the château through some truly beautiful countryside.

Château de Sombrun dining room set for breakfastWhat a great time we had at Château de Sombrun in the Hautes-Pyrénées département, despite the fact that we were among the few guests who did not ride horseback.  Our host, Jeffrey Quirk, is not only an avid horseman but a fine chef, and our dinner on the day we arrived seemed an unending feast of one delicious course after another.  The next evening we went to a lovely local restaurant to celebrate the birthday of another of the guests.  Each evening was enjoyed by all as we shared laughter and interesting conversation.  Sombrun is near Pau, a city with a wide variety of shops and a morning indoor / outdoor market.  We took time during our visit to the city for some shopping and lunch in a little brasserie where many locals were dining.

Finally reaching the Atlantic coast, we spent two incredible days at Villa le Goëland, the pride and joy of Paul Daraignez, our dedicated and very pleasant host.  With views of Biarritz and the sea, this was definitely a highlight of our trip.  We parked the car for two days and just enjoyed wandering around the city, walking on the beach and boardwalk, and trying to choose among the numerous fine restaurants and brasseries for lunch and dinner each day.  For those of you who love the ocean climate, great seafood and clean, crisp air, Biarritz and Villa le Goëland are for you!

Marina and Biarritz from Villa le GoëlandChâteau Coulon Laurensac

Our last château stay before taking the train from Bordeaux back to Paris was Château Coulon Laurensac just outside of Bordeaux.  Nestled along a small stream,  the château is in the tranquil countryside where the nights are absolutely still and peaceful.  Monsieur and Madame Rens are marvelous hosts, and dinner au château with them and four other guests was a culinary treat.  The Rens are wine experts with certification in their native Holland, and their private chais is testament to their knowledge of fine wines*.  Dinner was served with a variety of wines, each described by our host and each perfect with the course it accompanied.  Our stay also included a visit to St Emilion, a most interesting town and, of course, surrounded by vineyards. [* The Rens offer customized 6-day package stays focusing on wine.  Visit their page on au Château for links to their web sites.]

We were not disappointed with any of our accommodations.  Our hosts and hostesses were all charming, helpful and friendly, and we highly recommend that you visit them on our web site and try to include one or two of these chambres d'hôtes on your next visit to France.  You will be happy that you did!

[Photos property of Cold Spring Press.  All rights reserved.  Mouse over photos for a description.
We pay for accommodations at properties on au Château ~ they are not complimentary.]

*Visit our Wine Châteaux page very soon to share our visit to Domaine de la Plante d'Or.

 An Elegant June Wedding in the Loire. . .

Château de Challain recently joined au Château
and offers superb bed and breakfast accommodations in lovely,
luxurious rooms.  The château itself is right out of a fairy tale as
those of you who visited it on our pages are aware, making it 
 the perfect venue for a fairy tale wedding.  The following is
taken from our site's Special Offers page.

Château de Challain in the Pays de la Loire simply takes your breath away with its Renaissance elegance and beauty, and the stunning interiors will make it completely irresistible.  Lovely grounds, a great location near the famous royal châteaux of the Loire, fine cuisine and the experience of château life will make your stay at Château de Challain memorable and unique. 
But, there is more!  The château is the perfect
location for a luxurious and elegant wedding reception.   As these photos prove, it would be difficult to find a more beautiful location!  In June, Lydia and David invited their wedding guests to a reception and dinner at Château de Challain.    This elegant stairway was the setting of many of their wedding photos ~ the superb photography was by Duncan Kerridge of the UK (see more information about Duncan below).    Following a church wedding, friends and family gathered at the château for a garden reception.  In photo after photo, the bride and groom certainly seem thrilled!   And, their guests, including the children, all appear to be having a wonderful time.

Later, the photographer took advantage of the gorgeous landscape surrounding the château for pictures of the guests and wedding party.  Whether photographs were snapped in the gardens,  on the steps of the grand château or at the foot of the drive, every location was perfect.

Châtelaine, Cynthia Nicholson, and her staff created a fairy tale wedding event in this jewel of a château, seeing to every detail to make this marriage celebration absolutely perfect.  Following a lovely afternoon outdoors, the evening brought the guests to an elegant sit-down dinner at table settings fit for royalty.  Candelight and exquisite surroundings made Lydia and David's wedding dinner a very special gathering on their very special day.  The night was capped off with an exciting fireworks display.

If you are interested in learning more about a wedding at Château de Challain, please visit their pages on our web site where you will find contact information to reach Cynthia Nichols.

[We thank Duncan Kerridge for allowing us to use his photographs for this feature article.
Duncan offers his professional photography services for weddings and other events.
  You can reach him at 07779 272752 in the UK or visit his great web site
at for more information.
His Email address is]

Book your room on our web site. . . .

Coming soon! You will soon be able to book a room at one or two of our member properties right on our web site.  To quickly and easily determine room availability, simply fill in a few blanks and send the form directly to us.  We will then get back to you regarding the rooms and dates you have requested.  Look for this option when visiting properties on au Château. 

Proprietors can, of course, be contacted directly from their first page on our site by email (all but a few have email), or you can send them a fax or phone them for booking information.

Remember to use our handy fax form to send credit card information after your reservation has been accepted.  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!

Sponsoring this issue . . .

Senanque Abbey, Provence

. . . Hear's a Journey, the ideal companion to your drive in Provence.
Play this audio tape in your car to guide you to those not-to-be-missed
sights and villages ~ complete with its own guide book and map. 
It's just $15.95 plus shipping and handling.
Click on the banner above to learn more!

If you are interested in advertising with au Château,
please contact us at

French Quiz 55

Contemporary authors and their books on French life and culture:

        (1)  Harriet Welty Rochefort                    (a)  Culture Shock
          (2)  Polly Platt                                      (b)  The Olive Season
            (3)  Sally Adamson Taylor                       (c)  On Rue Tatin
             (4)  Dan Gopnik                                    (d)  French Toast
                (5)  Susan Herrmann Loomis                   (e)  Savoir Flair
                  (6)  Peter Mayle                                  (f)   Paris to the Moon
                    (7)  Carol Drinkwater                           (g)  The Apprentice
                      (8)  Jacques Pépin                              (h)  French Lessons


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

Welcome to Château de Méouilles

The dramatic Château de Méouilles

Château de Méouilles, located in the Alpes de Haute Provence, is the perfect getaway location for those of you who would like to rent your 'own' château in the sun-filled southeast of France.  What a great idea for the winter season!

High on a hill overlooking the verdant countryside, Château de Méouilles seems like a somber structure, but don't let first impressions fool you.  This is a beautifully restored and richly appointed château offering two spacious apartments with fully-equipped kitchens, modern bathrooms and tasteful décor to make your stay truly memorable.  A third apartment will be available beginning in June at the same time that the new swimming pool is completed. 

Hallway leading to apartment at Château de MéouillesApartment St-Pierre Salon

The château was built by the Knights Templar in the twelfth century and still stands guard over the beautiful countryside at the foothills of the alps.  It sparkles in the clear Provençal sunlight, and is a spacious and tranquil retreat from the crowds in the tourist centers farther south.

Yet, one will not be bored here.  It is perfect country for hiking, walking, and fossil hunting, a local and very popular pastime.  The château is also very near venues for tennis, golf, white-water sports, paragliding and more.  The nearby spa town of Digne-les-Bains is worth a visit, and fine restaurants can be found in Saint André les Alpes and Castellane.  For those seeking something more dramatic, the Gorges du Verdon and Corniche Sublime are an easy drive from the château.  The larger town of Draguignan has all facilities, and for a day at the sea, the Mediterranean coast is not far ~ do visit the Roman city of Fréjus and its pedestrian-friendly marina area.   The famous Route Napoléon (the N 85) passes through this region as well.

As the château enjoys many months of fine weather, the outdoors is a prime attraction.  When the new swimming pool opens in June, guests may never want to do anything else!  Terraces, both in sun and shade, are furnished for relaxation and your dining comfort.  Meals in Provence are always enjoyable whether taken inside or en plein air

South façadeDining area, Apartment St PaulShaded terrace

Do pay Château de Méouilles a visit on our web site.  This ancient fortress château in the 'Secret Alps of Provence', a region possessing an exciting, although turbulent, history, is a warm and comfortable gathering place for family and friends who wish to indulge themselves for a week or longer in their 'own' Provençal château.

[Photos copyrighted property of   M. and Mme Bertrand MASSON]

$ Room Rates  $

Please be aware that the current rates are given on each member's first page on our site.  Those prices remain in effect until the dates specified, or, if no date is mentioned, until December 31st.

Soon we will be updating the room rates for 2006.  Expect any reservations booked now for 2006 to be at the new rates ~ as they are not posted to our site, please inquire when booking.

Although most of our members' prices are in Euros, occasionally one will be in US dollars.  If you are paying by credit card, you will always be billed in your own currency, so these differences should not create any problems for you.

If you have questions, please contact us at

French Quiz 56

 The roads of France...

           (1)  The péripherique               (a)  Paris to Provence
             (2)  Autoroute du Soleil            (b)  Nice
               (3)  The A10 Autoroute            (c)  Aix-en-Provence
                 (4)  Promenade des Anglais       (d)  The Paris ring road
                   (5)  Cours Mirabeau                (e)   Paris to Bordeaux 
                     (6)  Boulevard Béranger          (f)   Tours


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

We bid Adieu

Occasionally, and regrettably, we must say good-bye to members of our web site.  In the case of château chambres d'hôtes, it is more and more common that a visitor or guest becomes so enthralled with a place that they make an offer to buy it!  Often, the offer comes just at a time when the owner is ready to change course.

  • New owners have taken over both Château de la Ballue and Château du Bas du Gast and neither are currently offering guest accommodations.  It is expected that they will at some time in the future, but for now you will not find them on au Château or elsewhere on the Internet.
  • A life change has also come for the proprietors of Mas de Bastide in the Lot region of France.  No longer on our web site, the property is now for sale.  We do not know if the new owners will continue the bed and breakfast business, but we will certainly let you know if they rejoin our site. 
  • Château de Chauvac will become a private residence, as it has been recently sold after having been a bed and breakfast under three owners during the past twelve years.   We hope that the new owners enjoy the château with its marvelous views over the River Dordogne.
We are adding new properties all the time, 
so do keep visiting our web site and either search for your 
ideal vacation spot using our Château List or click on Château Map
to find the region and property that appeals most to you. 

 Easy Recipe:  Goat Cheese with Raspberry Vinegar

This is a wonderful little recipe for lovers of chèvre cheese! 

Cover detail:  On Rue TatinYou will need 2 medium-sized fresh goat cheeses (about 11 ounces / 330g) total.  Two and a half teaspoons of raspberry vinegar and one tablespoon of lavender honey.

In a medium bowl, using a fork or sturdy whisk, mix the raspberry vinegar into the goat cheese.  Pack the cheese into little molds that have just been rinsed in water (so that the cheese is easily removed from the molds), or place in a small dish and refrigerate overnight.

At least 30 minutes before serving, remove the cheese from the refrigerator and remove it from the molds.  Just before serving, heat the honey just enough to liquefy and pour it over the goat cheese.  [You can also form quenelles of goat cheese by forming it into ovals using 2 soup spoons, and then arrange 2 or 3 on each of 6 serving plates.  Then drizzle with the warm honey.]

Makes 6 small servings.   Bon appétit!

[We thank Susan Herrmann Loomis for her permission to take this
recipe from her book On Rue Tatin, published in 2001
by Broadway Books, a division of Random House. ISBN  0-7679-0454-0.
 You can order this book at ~ just click here.

Visit her web site at for information about
the On Rue Tatin Cooking School where you can sign up for classes on line,
or drop the school an email at]

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 answers to Quiz 55 - 1d  2e 3a  4f  5c  6h  7b  8g
Quiz 56:  1d  2a  3e  4b  5c  6f]

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