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                                          January / February 2006

                           Château de Canisy hosts a spectacular birthday celebration
                                         Specials from au Château members
                                            Château Saint-Michel de Lanès
                                           Guess the Town and Win a Prize!
                                               Furnishing that Château . . .
                                                         and more!


 Happy New Year!


May your travels be safe, 
may your destinations be peaceful 
and may you and your loved ones enjoy
good health and happiness through the year.

A Gala Birthday Party at Château de Canisy . . . 

Bob Bleczinski's Birthday Party Guests (Bob in center in red kilt)

The châteaux on this web site are not simply incredible places to enjoy a French country bed and breakfast experience.   Some can be rented in their entirety for a gathering of family and friends;  others do both and, perhaps, even offer a small gîte on the grounds for a family's self-catered vacation.  The larger properties offer unique services for very special occasions.  One such member property is the historic and lovely Château de Canisy in Normandy ~ a personal favorite of ours.  We hope you enjoy reading about an incredibly successful event that took place there in August of 2005.

                                                                                                                              THE BLECZINSKI BIRTHDAY PARTY 
                                                                                                                         (BOB IN RED KILT FRONT ROW CENTER) 

As an American living in London, Bob Bleczinski has a diverse mix of people in his life from both the United States and Britain.  For his fortieth birthday party, to which he would invite about 50 family members and friends, Bob wanted a spectacular venue for his trans-Atlantic celebration.  After reviewing several options with au Château consultant, Diane, Château de Canisy in Normandy's Manche département topped the short list.

Lovely Renaissance LadiesWine Tasting in the Salon

                             LOVELY RENAISSANCE LADIES                                          THE WINE TASTING EVENT

The four-day event began on a Friday afternoon as guests were welcomed with refreshments by the staff at Château de Canisy.  They then settled into their rooms to freshen up for the evening barbecue.  Champagne was flowing in the garden by the Maison Tante Brigitte (a guest house on the grounds of the château) while Chef Christian prepared the barbecue feast.

Three men in kilts (Bob is in the center)


Guests explored Normandy on Saturday while the château staff set up the gala evening on the grounds of the château.  The costumed event kicked off with a lakeside cocktail party featuring a trans-Atlantic theme:  all the UK guests came dressed in their favorite US stereotypes, and the US guests were to dress with a European flair!  Once again, the champagne was in abundance and canapés were enjoyed as Uncle Sam, Marilyn Monroe, Mickey Mouse, and the Village People mixed and mingled with Robin Hood, Renaissance lords and ladies, punk rockers and Coco Chanel.

The gourmet dinner followed ~ a multi-course, silver-service affair, expertly orchestrated by Helen, the on-site business manager for Château de Canisy.  Following dinner, the group moved to the English bar for a little country music and line dancing before boogey-ing the night away in the disco until the wee hours of the morning.

Chef Christian at the BBQCandlelight dinner at Canisy


Sunday, the chill out day, found the party-goers again at lakeside for birthday cake and tea.  The wonderful staff at the château organized a pleasant wine tasting before that evening's dinner, where guests lingered over a casual buffet and enjoyed relaxing in Canisy's many sitting rooms.

The guests who attended Bob's birthday party were still raving about Château de Canisy and the 'party of a lifetime' months after the event.  It was certainly, the party of a lifetime for Bob and provided lifelong memories for his guests.

It seems that this wonderful event marks a return to what the grand châteaux
of France were meant to be ~ spacious and elegant gathering places
for groups of people celebrating the milestones of their lives.

If you are interested in holding your group event at the beautiful Château de Canisy
where the guest rooms are exquisite and completely luxurious, and the service is beyond 
excellent, just contact us at any time at
~ perhaps we can help you plan your party of a lifetime!

[Photos property of Bob Bleczinski.  All rights reserved.  Mouse over photos for a description.]


Tell us,  and win a prize!

If you are the first person to contact us by email and identify this town in France, you will receive a gift from us:  our Château Note Cards, the very same ones that we have for sale on our web site.  The second person to provide the correct answer will receive a beautiful 2006 France Calendar in French and of our own design that includes original pen and ink drawings of places in France and provides official French holidays.

Below the photo are three rather cryptic hints that may help you determine exactly what this place is.  As soon as you know, send us an email to You must provide the correct name of the town.  The correct entry will be chosen based upon date and time the email was sent.  Only one entry will be accepted per family, so please keep that in mind.   Make that first guess a good one!

Mystery Location...


[Photo copyrighted by Cold Spring Press.  All rights reserved.
Subscribers will receive an email with the answer and the 2 winners' names.]

 Specials from our Members . . .

  • Château du Breuil in the Loire Valley offers three special guest packages:
    • Cocooning in the Loire:  two people can stay at the château for 305 euros per night which includes a spacious guest room with its own en suite bathroom, a welcome Champagne or Crémant de Loire de Cheverny apéritif, a candlelight gourmet dinner including three wines from Cheverny and the surrounding area, continental breakfast, a meeting with the château's wine grower friends to tour their vineyards and visit their cellars, and two tickets to Château de Cheverny with a possibility to extend your visit to the park and Tintin exhibit.
    • Castle Life: Relax and stay at the château with day visits to nearby châteaux such as Cheverny, Chenonceau , Chambord and Blois.  Enjoy quiet time poolside at Château du Breuil, borrow bicycles to visit the castles of Troussay, Beauregard, Villesavin and Cheverny, tour the local vineyards and wine cellars of local vintners, and enjoy a bottle of Crémant de Loire de Cheverny that is waiting for you in your beautiful guest room.  Also, experience fine cuisine in the lovely dining room among the other guests, including three local Cheverny wines, and, of course, a marvelous French breakfast in the morning.  This package is offered for a minimum stay of two nights, and is 360 euros per night.  Extra nights are 345 euros each.
    • Castle Country by Bicycle:  For avid cyclists and lovers of nature, Château du Breuil offers the experience of over 300 kilometers of cycling tracks taking you through the tranquil countryside and to such châteaux as Cheverny, Blois, Chambord, Villesavin, Troussay and Beauregard.  Dine in the evenings by candlelight including a bottle of Cheverny wine and coffee, and luxuriate in a spacious guest room.  Naturally, you will awake in the morning to a marvelous French breakfast!  This package for two persons is 300 euros per night.

  • Château La Thillaye encourages travelers to take advantage of enjoying their 'Own Castle in France.  A package offer is now available for a maximum of 12 people ~ an offer you won't want to miss! 
    • Enjoy the entire property
    • 6 spacious double guest rooms with en suite bathrooms all overlooking the park and garden
    • Access to the grand salon with its monumental fireplace, the library, the music room, the dining rooms and terrace
    • Full American breakfasts served every day
    • Gastronomical five-course dinners each evening including wine and after dinner drinks
    • Open bar during cocktail hour
    • Hunting permitted between September 26 and February 28 (wild boar, woodcock, pheasant, hare and partridge)
    • The cost is 3500 euros per day (minimum 2 days).  US dollar parity is not available with this offer.
    • ** And, separately from the above, Americans can still take advantage of dollar to euro parity on room rates at the château (not part of the above package).  Ask us or the château for details when booking. **

  • Le Prieuré au Château de Biron will again be offering Prehistoric Southwest France tours.  Please inquire regarding prices, itineraries and scheduled dates by sending an email to  New owner, Sally-Ann Evans, is eager to welcome you to her lovely retreat!
  • Château de Garrevaques in the dramatic and beautiful Tarn region of southwest France has a special offer for guests who want to take advantage of their new spa facilities.

  • Guests booking can enjoy this special:  200 euros per person in a double room with half board + three spa treatments;  250 euros for a person in a single room. This offer includes two glasses of wine and one cocktail. Just book through our web site or mention us when making your reservations.
  • Château de Séguenville in an absolutely magnificent part of the French countryside is offering a special Wine Tasting package and their Birthday & Anniversary Celebration packages.  Visit them on our web site today for more information.
  • Château de Vollore in the Puy-de-Dôme will play a part in the tour planned for 2007

  • by the American Friends of Lafayette ~ a tour that will include a stay at Château de Vollore and visits to the Général's own château nearby which is a museum dedicated to his life. Send us an email with your questions to
  • Château de Monthairons offers you a short break in northeastern France with its "Short Stay Package"  -- its a great place to stay, meals are wonderful, and there is more!  The offer is for two people/two nights in a double room, a three-course dinner plus cheese trolley and dessert for two each evening (drinks not included), Continental breakfast each morning, a welcome drink upon arrival, two tickets to visit "Château de Hattonchatel" and the Center for World Peace, and it is possible to include canoeing or cycling.  The price for two in high season (March 15 - November 15) is 450 - 475 euros, and in low season (November 16 to March 14) 380 - 450 euros.  Click on the link above to contact the château for your reservation.
  • Château Coulon Laurensac in Bordeaux offers organized six-day wine tours, tailor-made to your specifications, at any time of the year.  The price for a couple is $3350 per person. For more information on the wine tours, please visit their wine web site at,  and mention that you heard about it on au Château. [commissions offered to travel agents] 
               FIRST NEWSLETTER:


  • Mention this web site when you check in at Château de Labessière and receive a bottle of the wonderful white wine of the Meuse region.  Touring the area and exploring the World War I battlefields and memorial will make your stay in the Lorraine département exceptional, especially if you take advantage of your host's expertise!
  • Château de Vaulogé in the beautiful Sarthe of northwestern France offers two packages for their guests: 
    • The Golf Weekend includes 2 nights in a suite plus greens fees at Sablé-Solesmes Golf Course (18 holes) only twenty minutes from the château + 2 apéritifs and 2 dinners for € 720. 
    • Séjour Châteaux de la Loire is 2 nights in a suite plus admission ticket for the châteaux of Chenonceau and Amboise + 2 apéritifs and 2 dinners for € 690
    • The above packages are priced for two persons double occupancy in High Season.
We hope that you will find that special offer you have been looking for, and remember to check our Special Offers page regularly, as new packages and special discounts are posted there frequently.

 Château de Saint-Michel de Lanès 

Château Saint-Michel de Lanès as seen from the garden
Château Saint-Michel de Lanès has been a member of au Château for nearly two years.  It is one of three members whose property is located in the very French département of the Aude in Languedoc-Roussillon. 

Found at the edge of  a marvelous little commune of the same name only 35 minutes from Toulouse and Carcassonne, the château offers delightful bed and breakfast accommodations in three beautifully-appointed en suite guest rooms.  The building itself is a classical example of French architectural symmetry and quite beautiful.  A stay at Château Saint-Michel de Lanès will make your visit to this 'other south of France' perfection! 

Chambre Comtesse Catherine

To learn more about what is offered at the château and in the region, visit their pages on our web site at Château Saint-Michel de Lanès.    You can book your reservations or make an inquiry by sending us an email from their page.

By January 15th you will be able to complete a simple form online to request a room at the stunning Château de Saint-Michel de Lanès.  Please visit their pages on our site at that time where you will see * BOOK ONLINE *  click here. Fill in the short and easy form and click the SEND button ~ we will receive your request immediately and respond quickly with room availability, prices and details to confirm your reservation.   It will be that easy!

In the future, we hope to have this form available on the pages of several of our other members.  But, please don't hesitate to fax, phone or email any au Château proprietor to make your reservations or ask for further information!

[Photos property of Vicomte & Vicomtesse de la Panouse ~ Château Saint-Michel de Lanès.
  All rights reserved.  Mouse over photos for a description.]

Sponsoring this issue . . .

Cézanne's La Route Montante [Detail]

 Cézanne in Provence 2006

In recognition of the 100th anniversary of the artist's death, Aix-en-Provence
will host this exhibit from June 9 to September 18.  For information, 
tickets, accommodations, tours or itineraries contact
Cézanne a la Carte by email at

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

French Quiz 57

A look at a few French artists ~ match the painters with their work.

        (1)  Claude Monet              (a)  Le Viaduc à L'Estaque
          (2)  Camille Pissarro            (b)  La Falaise d'Etretat après L'Orage
            (3)  Paul Cézanne               (c)  The Laundresses
             (4)  Edgar Dégas                 (d)  Le Balcon
                (5)  Pierre-Auguste Renoir    (e)  Bal au Moulin de la Galette
                  (6)  Edouard  Manet            (f)  The Blue Vase
                     (7)  Georges Braque           (g)  Sunrise, Le Havre
                       (8)  Gustave Courbet          (h)  Côteaux de l Hermitage Pontoise


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

Villes et Villages de France

It has been some time since we included a photo of a village, city or town in France ~ 
a feature we used to call 'City' or 'Village' View.  We are now going to reinstate the feature 
as Villes et Villages de France to tempt you to visit these marvelous places
when you are roaming through the French countryside.

Magnificent Montrichard -  Cold Spring Press Copyright 2005 - 2006

Montrichard, ninety kilometers south of Orléans, is a most picturesque town
straddling the banks of the River Cher in the département of the Loir-et-Cher. 
The village buildings are built of tufa rock so typical of the Loire Valley ~ 
and tufa troglodyte caves provide perfect humidity for wine storage 
and the cultivation of mushrooms for which the area is renowned. 

Montrichard is dominated by the ruins of its château Keep dating back to 1010 ~ 
the work of the tireless Count d'Anjou, Foulques Nerra. 
The keep is seen in the photo above dominating the old town below ~
a town of medieval walls, half-timbered houses and a fine old bridge. 
Take that bridge to the south side of the River Cher
where a peaceful park welcomes visitors who can enjoy this view
while picnicking or perhaps adventuring out onto the river in a canoe! 

[Photo Copyrighted by Cold Spring Press 2005.  All rights reserved.]

Sponsoring this issue . . .

**  Exclusive offer for readers of au Château News  **


Perfect or maintain your fluency in French with Champs-Elysées audio magazine, 
packed with interesting news and features on French life and culture. 
Order a subscription to Champs-Elysées before January 31st 2006
and get an EXTRA ISSUE FREE ~ simply click on the banner above.

Whether you're a French speaker yourself, or would like to order 
a gift subscription for a French speaking friend or loved one - 
visit today!

 Furnishing that French Château . . .

If you've ever stayed at a French manor house or château, you must have been curious about the source of all that beautiful furniture.  In many cases, when you are a guest at a home that has been in the family for many years, you can assume the furnishings were passed down from generation to generation.  But, what about the person who is new to château ownership? If they are fortunate, some good pieces might 'come with the house', but where does the new owner find grand sleigh beds or traditional French chairs and tables to fill the rest of the rooms?

Le Verger Bed and Breakfast opening in MarchJulie Thirkettle moved to France from the UK a few years ago and discovered that furnishing a lovely home with good furniture from finds at a brocante (secondhand shops) or trocs (exchanges) just wasn't very successful.  To quote her, "although the style was right, the furniture was often scratched or damaged, chairs needed reupholstering, and every piece had one thing in common – woodworm."  New furniture, she soon discovered, was of either of inferior quality while overpriced or of good quality but much too expensive to furnish an entire house.  What was she to do?

Well, she realized that she had discovered a void in the furniture market and decided to do something to fill it while at the same time enabling herself to furnish her own manor house which will open in March as a bed and breakfast!  She opened Le Verger Handmade Furniture in Bourganeuf offering beautifully hand-carved mahogany furniture.   Every piece she sells is customized for the buyer and upholstery is done by a craftsman in the UK.

To read Julie's story about her move to France and what Le Verger offers, do visit the Style de Vie page of the FRANCE On Your Own web site.  To contact Julie with your questions or to learn more about Le Verger's furniture , you can send her an email to, and do visit her web site at

French Quiz 58

 About the Loire and the Loire Valley...

           (1)  The river's source               (a)  Tours
             (2)  The largest Loire château     (b)  Chenonceau
               (3)  The newest Loire château    (c)  Le Mont Gerbier des Joncs
                 (4)  Famous Loire wine town       (d)  Saint-Nazaire
                   (5)  Capital of the Loire Valley     (e)   Chambord
                     (6)  Mouth of the Loire               (f)   Sancerre


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

 Easy Recipe:  Seafood in Tarragon Cream Sauce

This is somewhat of a 'secret recipe' of ours that everyone just loves.  This sauce over salmon or any other firm fish makes the meal!

You will need 1/4 cup unsalted butter, 3/4 pound of fresh mushrooms sliced thinly, 2 cups of dry vermouth, 4 salmon or sole fillets (or fish of your choice), 1 cup heavy cream, 2 tablespoons fresh tarragon, salt and freshly ground pepper.

In a sauté pan on medium heat, melt the butter and sauté the mushrooms until tender (no more than 5 minutes).  Set aside the mushrooms and juices.  In the same pan, pour in the vermouth and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low and add the fish fillets.  Cover to poach the fish until opaque (approximately 8 minutes for salmon and somewhat less for white fish).  Transfer the fish to a warmed plate and cover to keep warm.

In the same pan, raise the heat and reduce drippings to a glaze.  Stir in the mushrooms and juices; add the cream and tarragon and cook for about 2 minutes to reduce further.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Spoon mushroom sauce over fish and serve.

Serves four.   Bon appétit!

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 57 - 1g  2h  3f  4c  5e  6d  7a  8b
Quiz 58:  1c  2e  3b  4f  5a  6d]

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