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                                            March / April 2006

                                                    Ballue is Back!
                                              Breton Château for Sale
                                         New Owners at Château Rhodes
                                         Welcome to le Pavillon de Galon
                                      Coming Soon:  Three New Members!
                                            Who's Cooking in France?
                                                and much more!


Welcome Back to Château de la Ballue!

Château de la Ballue


This beautiful château, built on the site of a fortress dating back to the year 1000,  with its exceptional sculpted gardens,  is an incredible holiday retreat for those visiting Brittany.  Not only are the grounds magnificent (stroll through the theatrical gardens to find yourself in another place and time), the château sits upon a hilltop offering a panoramic vista of Brittany that few will experience elsewhere.  As guests of Château de la Ballue, you will find yourself in beautifully appointed rooms, all with private en suite modern bathrooms, and each with a unique view over the parkland surrounding the château.

Château de la Ballue briefly left au Château when its former owners sold the property.  We are thrilled to report that the new owner, Madame Marie-Françoise Mathiot-Mathon,  has reinstated the château's membership on our site.  As former guests of the château, we can attest to its charm, exquisitely-appointed rooms and utterly tranquil location in the Breton countryside.  One of our fondest memories is walking along the country lanes just outside the château's gates.

Do visit Château de la Ballue on this web site for a virtual tour and to learn more about the offerings at this unique and historic vacation destination.

Making reservations . . . 

If you have recently attempted to contact a member or members of our web site to make reservations for your 2006 visit to France, you may have waited quite awhile for a response.  Those of you who contacted owners by email through au Château already know that we were copied on that email, so we did our best to assist. 

But, it is important to make note of the open dates of each property.  If you are interested in a Spring, Summer or Autumn stay, it is not a bad idea to contact proprietors far in advance of their closing date ~ at least to be penciled in on their booking calendar.  Otherwise, you may find that those who close from November to March will be difficult to reach, although a great many do keep tabs on their emails and faxes during their break.

Please do be patient, however.  We are confident you will be able to stay when and where you want to, and you will hear back from the proprietors once they are again at home.

Don't forget to contact us at if you are continuing to have difficulty securing a reservation.  We're happy to help!

 New Owners at Château Rhodes  . . .

Château Rhodes

Château Rhodes is uniquely situated in the ruggedly beautiful Ariège region of southwestern France, quite near Carcassonne, Toulouse and Albi, while perfectly located for white-water rafting, skiing, mountain biking, hiking, horseback riding, visits to nearby prehistoric caves, wine tastings, and the thermal spa at Aulus-les-Bains.  Obviously, that means there is at least one activity suited to every visitor!

The new owners, Tony Butcher and David Looby and their family have redecorated and made some improvements at the château, which will now be available only to rent in its will no longer offer bed and breakfast accommodations.

Renting Château Rhodes may prove to be the perfect decision for a vacation for friends and family. Guests will be able to avail themselves of a well-stocked library of books, DVDs, CDs and games on the first floor or take advantage of the satellite television, broadband internet access and even free phone calls to anywhere in the world.  There is a children's game room and a billiard room with an antique table. 

And even for those who simply enjoy a self-catered holiday, there is the added benefit of a professional chef so that any or all meals can be prepared by the chef for the duration of your stay. 

The grounds are encircled by a tranquil walking path, and are accentuated by both a river and a stream.  Near the exquisite pool is a heated Jacuzzi,  both with views of the dramatic Pyrénées mountain range, and tennis buffs will be thrilled with the court.   There are three hundred year-old trees in the well-tended landscape, lovely flower gardens, citrus trees, and a terrace from which one can hear the soft flowing Arize River which meanders through the château's park. 

Within the château itself are ten bedrooms of various sizes -- all carefully decorated to create a special environment for guests. Filled with 18th and 19th century antiques, Persian rugs, and beautiful art work, the Château Rhodes will create incredible memories for all who stay there. 

Please click here to visit their updated web pages on our site.  You will see new photos and learn more about the château, including what a wonderful venue it would be for a family celebration or wedding!

[Photo property of Tony Butcher ~ Château Rhodes.  All rights reserved. ]


Rentals in Paris. . . is Sponsoring this issue

 Rentals in Paris

au Château is here to help you find the perfect guest accommodation in the
countryside, while Rentals in Paris will help you find the perfect apartment 
in Paris for an economical, convenient and comfortable week or more.

Click on the banner to visit their web site!

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

Welcoming Le Pavillon de Galon

Le Pavillon de Galon

When you see this photo, are there any doubts in your mind that this is Provence?  The entrancing Pavillon de Galon, just south of Apt and north of Aix-en-Provence near the village of Cucuron, is nestled against the Luberon mountains and the regional Parc Naturel.  Its friendly owners have planted exquisite gardens of native plants which form a unique setting for their well-designed, comfortable home.

But there is more!  You can stay at Le Pavillon de Galon and immerse yourself in cooking lessons in their magnificent Provençal kitchen, or wander about the grounds (or nearby) to find the right spot for that landscape painting class. 

Whatever your passion, Le Pavillon de Galon will offer you absolute comfort, a truly enchanting atmosphere and a location in Provence that will allow you to experience the little villages, lovely landscapes and ambiance that can be found nowhere else!

Visit them on our web site to see the magnificent photos and read all about the residence as soon as you can.  You might have found your next destination in France!

French Quiz 59

Focusing on the history of Provence, let's test your knowledge . . .

true or false?

        (1)  Prehistoric Provence's rich land supported much plant and animal life.
         (2)  The region became a trading center thanks to the Romans.
            (3)  Marseille was once Massalia meaning 'house of the Salians', a Celtic tribe.
             (4)  Hannibal tried to enter the region along the eastern edge of the Riviera.
                (5)  In 102 BC the Germans (Teutons from the Baltic) defeated the Romans here.
                  (6)  The rocky soil is well suited to growing olive trees and grape vines.
                     (7)  The Provençal language (la langue d'oc) comes from vulgar Latin.
                       (8)  The village of La Garde-Freinet was once a Saracen stronghold.
                         (9)  The Golden Age of Provence occurred in the 15th century.
                           (10)  Napoleon's landing at Golfe-Juan in 1815 ended his exile on Elba.


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


Villes et Villages de France

 . . . we hope to tempt you to visit these marvelous places
when you are roaming through the French countryside.


Salies-de-Béarn is an incredibly sweet town between Pau and Biarritz ~
although a bit off the main highway and a more pleasant drive to be sure.
The town straddles the River Saleys, a river of salt water!  In fact,
we were impressed by the salt museum found accidentally as
we walked along a curved and narrow side street.
Salies-de-Béarn is known for its salt-water springs, which 
produce income for residents and make it a spa town!  We especially
enjoyed the Pont de la Lune, a charming bridge that offers views
of the timber frame homes lining the banks of the river.

[Photo Copyrighted by Cold Spring Press 2005-2006.  All rights reserved.]

Sponsoring this issue . . .

Hear's A Journey - travel tapes of Provence

Provence is a large area of southern France, and, if touring the region by auto, do take along Hear's A Journey's Driving Tour Through Provence
Just pop it into your car's cassette player and let it be your personal
guide to the most interesting Provençal locales.

A tape and a handy map of the places described is only $15.95 
(plus $3.95 for shipping one or more tapes).
Click on the banner above to contact Hear's A Journey. 

Château Talaud's Owners Celebrate
their 10th Anniversary as Chambres d'Hôtes!

Chambre Verte at Château TalaudIn 2006, Conny and Hein Deiters-Kommer, owners of the sparkling Château Talaud in Provence's Vaucluse département will be celebrating their tenth year as a chambres d'hôtes.  Their gift to anyone who books a 3-night or longer stay is a gift box of two bottles of delicious wine.  And, week-long rentals this year (except June, July and August) in their beautiful self-catering apartment will include breakfast!

Do pay them a visit on our web site, and when you book your stay, please remember to say your found them on au Château!

French Quiz 60

 Match the départements with the cities and towns...

           (1)  Dordogne                           (a)  La Rochelle
             (2)  Bas-Rhin                            (b)  Chantilly
               (3)  Pyrénées Atlantiques            (c)  Gien
                 (4)  Bouches-du-Rhône               (d)  St-Jean-Pied-de-Port
                   (5)  Finistère                             (e) Strasbourg
                     (6)  Charente-Maritime                (f)  Bergerac
                       (7)   Gironde                             (g)  Arles
                         (8)   Haute-Rhin                        (h)  Sauternes
                           (9)   Loiret                               (i)  Brest
                             (10)  Oise                               (j)  Riquewihr


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

  Who's Cooking in France? 

If you are one of the many people who want to spend some time in France in cooking classes, then our web site is for you!  Below we list those members who offer cooking classes to their guests.  For details, click on the name of the property to access their au Château pages. [And when you're browsing through our site, remember to look for those little chef's hats indicating cooking classes are offered.]

  • Château de la Barre in the beautiful Sarthe -  you can also take a wine appreciation course or immerse yourself in French!
  • Le Prieuré au Château de Biron in the Dordogne -  soon to offer additional classes at a local farm for guests of Le Prieuré!
  • Château Coulon Laurensac in Bordeaux -  immerse yourself in wine appreciation and join your amiable hostess in the kitchen for some classes in fine French cuisine.
  • Château de Garrevaques in the lovely Tarn region - not only is this a fine spa, but cooking classes and French immersion courses are offered as well.
  • Château Juvenal in Provence -  almost anything you'd like to learn can be found here from cooking, wine appreciation, French immersion, painting and (are you ready?) tango lessons!
  • Château Les Hauts in Normandy near Le Mont Saint Michel - your hostess is a fantastic cook and lessons are offered year 'round!
  • and we mustn't forget our newest member in Provence, Le Pavillon de Galon!
As you can see, no matter what part of France holds your interest, there is a cooking class to be enjoyed if you are a guest at any one of the 10 properties listed above. 

 Easy Recipe:   Crème au Chocolat

Quick and easy, this French chocolate custard will warm your kitchen while baking and fill your house with a rich aroma!

You will need 2 cups of heavy cream, 6 ounces of dark sweet chocolate, 1/3 cup of sugar, 4 egg yolks, and one teaspoon of vanilla extract.  The chocolate should be cut into tiny pieces or shaved for easy melting.  It is best to use 6 small ovenproof ramekins, custard cups or French pots de crème, 1/2 cup capacity, for baking and serving.  Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.

In a sturdy saucepan, combine the chocolate with the cream and cook (constantly stirring) over medium heat.  Stir until the mixture is very smooth.  Whisk in the sugar, one egg yolk at a time, and then the vanilla.  Remove from heat and strain into custard cups.

Add water to a baking dish 1/3 of the way up the sides.  Insert each ramekin into the water.  The water level should rise to about halfway up the sides of the cups.  Remove some if it is too high or add water if the level is too low.

Bake on the center oven rack for 25 - 30 minutes, testing to see if the top has set.  Remove the cups from the water and set aside to cool.  Garnish with whipped cream or shavings of white chocolate when ready to serve, .

Serves six  Bon appétit!

[Adapted from a recipe in The Best of France, a cookbook
published in 1992 and, unfortunately, out of print.]

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 59 - all true but 1 (poor soil sustained little plant or animal life), 
2 (it was the Greeks not the Romans), and 5 (the Romans defeated the Teutons).
Quiz 60 -  1f, 2e, 3d, 4g, 5i, 6a, 7h, 8j, 9c, 10b.]

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