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                                         November / December 2006

                     Member properties we visited in September


Coming soon!

Château de Vaudezert  

Very soon, the above-mentioned member will join our web site.

Château de Vaudezert is a grand and beautiful estate in the département of the Orne in Basse Normandie.  Currently offering one spacious suite (three more suites and a pavilion will soon be available) and with a reception room able to accommodate gatherings of 60 people for weddings and other celebrations, the château will be a very welcome addition to our site.

Do visit our site again soon to take a virtual visit of the Château ~ and, perhaps, make a reservation!

French Quiz 67

Who, what and where?
Match the person or item in column A to the place in column B:

               (1) perfume                              (a)  Cagnes
                (2) Joan of Arc                          (b)  Normandy
                 (3) Champagne                          (c)  Provence
                  (4) Pierre Auguste Renoir             (d)  Domrémy
                   (5) calvados                              (e)  Grasse
                    (6) bouillabaisse                          (f)  Reims


You will find the correct answers 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.

Veulettes-sur-Mer -  Photo copyright Cold Spring Press 2006 All rights reserved.

Nothing is as peaceful as a September stroll along the walkway at
Veulettes-sur-Mer, a tiny 'seaside' village whose beach lies between 
two chalky cliffs on La Manche (the English Channel to those who are not French).
During our mid-afternoon break we sat at one of the dozens of little bistro tables
 lining the walk.  Behind us, across the road, were several brasseries whose energetic waitpersons eagerly ran back and forth with coffee, wine, and food.
This département, Normandy's Seine-et-Maritime,  has a lovely and scenic
  coastline with fine beaches and small villages, but it may be most widely known for
the port of Le Havre, historic Dieppe, and the delightful and picturesque Etrétat.

[Photo copyrighted by Cold Spring Press 2006.  All rights reserved.]

September in France . . .

We were fortunate to stay in or pay a visit to 11 au Château members this September ~ and as we've told many a traveler, no two properties on our site are alike ~ so, if you've stayed in one château you haven't stayed in them all!  Burgundy was delightful, and Brittany and Normandy were once again rewarding destinations as were the Sarthe, Creuse and Vienne départements.

This newsletter would be far too long if we told you of each lovely surprise or special moment we experienced at the châteaux and manoirs we took in during our travels.  So, we will provide some highlights of both the châteaux (and what visitors will find interesting in their neighborhoods) in the brief summaries that follow.  We hope this information encourages you to make your 2007 reservations without delay!


Château de ChoreyChâteau de Chorey:  Three friendly dogs awaited us on a lovely sunny day, as did our most warm and delightful host, François Germain, as we arrive at  the gates of Château de Chorey. In fact, we found that Monsieur Germain had been busy in the kitchen putting up fruit jams and preserves, some of which we were fortunate to sample at breakfast on the sunlit terrace the following morning.  The château, surrounded by its own  vineyards, has been a member of au Château for over four years, and perhaps many of you may have already been its guests.  Not only were our accommodations spacious and comfortable (with a large modern bathroom), but it was a very easy-to-find property.  The grounds are spectacular, with a meandering stream running through.  It is only a very short walk to the village of Chorey-les-Beaunes where Monsieur's grapes are made into wine, bottled and then returned to his cellars on the estate.  You can find Château de Chorey wines among the offerings of some of France's best restaurants!  Visit our Wine Châteaux page to read all about the history of the vineyard and where those wines can be found.  Over the winter months, Monsieur Germain will be renovating all the guest rooms, and come Spring he will offer 3 queen guest rooms and 2 suites.   We can't wait to visit again! 

Inside the courtyard at Château de VilletteChâteau de Villette:   The drive westward to Poil for our stay at Château de Villette was quite lovely, although we detoured somewhat to visit the town of Châteauneuf, one of the 'Most Beautiful Villages of France'.  We must say it did not prove to be as spectacular as others on the list that we have seen.  It was our pleasure to meet the friendly couple, Coën and Catherine Stork, who are proprietors of the château that they share with their two young children.  Château de Villette is on about 500 acres in the Morvan hills of Burgundy and creates a most peaceful retreat for its guests.  The property is terraced on different levels at the front of the château and is bounded by forests at the back.  The isolated swimming pool with a grand view and exposed to the sun is quite inviting as well.  In addition to bed and breakfast accommodations, the château can be rented by the week for large gatherings of family and friends. Lovely guest room at Château de VilletteOur guest room was  cheerfully decorated in yellow striped wallpaper and floral fabrics.  It had a very comfortable bed and a handy writing desk. A small, but efficient bathroom offered a wonderful hot shower, terry robes, a hairdryer and lots of toiletries.  We enjoyed a lovely dinner that night with four other guests and our host and hostess, which began with Champagne and hors d'oeuvres on the terrace.  We then were seated in the pretty dining room to enjoy a delightful dinner.  Each couple chose a bottle of wine from an extensive list provided by our hosts.  A stay at the elegant Château de Villette will ensure that you come away with some wonderful memories of your time in Burgundy. 

Bruyeres view from oval windowLe Petit Manoir des Bruyères:   First impressions:  flowers, fruit trees, that lovely patterned roof, exceptionally cordial hosts and birds, birds, and more birds! (Oh, yes, and two extraordinary resident cats ~ an elderly Norwegian and a youthful Abyssinian who finds itself in tight spots from time to time!).  Le Petit Manoir des Bruyères was among our web site's first members back in the year 2000 - six years ago this month!  We are thrilled that they are still with us, as we can't say enough about the charm, elegance and ambiance of this wonderful Burgundian manor.  The rooms are intricately decorated by hand by Monique Jouillé, the talented hostess.  Monsieur Pierre Jouillé and his wife are constantly making improvements and are planning to add more rooms in one of the lovely little buildings in the garden.  Everything is so cozy and warm, you really don't ever want to leave!  Our room was "La Vallière" (perhaps named for one of the mistresses of Louis XIV?) and can be seen on our web site ~ and the bed may be one of the the best we've ever slept on! La Vallière's luxury bathOur bathroom (shown in this photo) was beyond description!  Gold fixtures, fluted columns and marble everywhere ~ true elegance topped off by that lovely oval window with its splendid view of the gardens.   The room was outfitted with everything from terry robes to cotton swabs!  We enjoyed dinner with our host and hostess on our first night.  She is a superb cook!  We dined on sandre in a cream sauce, fresh vegetables and a peach gateau for dessert.  Several fine wines were poured by our host.  The discussion centered around their fantastic bird collection (all but two canaries are outside in enclosures), especially the white fantail pigeons and two different but brilliantly-colored pheasants.  The ambiance, warmth and comfort of Bruyères, combined with the charm and friendliness of Monsieur and Madame Jouillé, make this truly one of the most memorable places one can stay in Burgundy.  Add to those attributes the delightful gardens and colorful birds, and you will come away quite pleased with your decision to stay here! 

Note: For dinner the second evening at Bruyères we 
drove to Villeneuve-sur-Yonne to Leslie Caron's 
Auberge La Lucarne aux Chouettes [the Owl's Nest] which 
was a lovely experience. We found the restaurant unchanged 
from our last visit in 1999 ~ the lovely hostess Dominique and
her chef husband are, thankfully, still there ~ and the cuisine was superb. 
The evening was lovely ~ a starry night ~ the River Yonne just shimmering 
under the lights from the bridge.  We highly recommend that 
you visit the town and the Auberge when you are next in Burgundy.

The Vienne, Creuse & Sarthe:

During a week we spent in the Loire renting a delightful gîte, we made day trips to four members of au Château

Gardens at the entrance to Château d'AlognyChâteau d'Alogny:  It was off to the département of the Vienne and our second visit with John Cooke at Château d'Alogny and quite a change from two years ago!  The gardens have been enhanced, a secret garden was discovered on one side of the château, there are several new bathrooms and, although we liked it very much two years ago, everything is now lovelier than ever!  This time, the château was filled with guests, and we didn't want our visit to interrupt their activities ~ but it was a joy to sit with John in the garden over glasses of wine and take in the amazing countryside views.  Alogny is available to rent in its entirety (bed and breakfasts are not offered at this time), and both Wellness and Writing workshops are scheduled during the year.  Alogny is located in a very lovely part of the French countryside, yet not too far from Poitiers, Futuroscope, La Rochelle,  the Benedictine Abbey of Fontgombault and an hour's drive to the great châteaux of the Loire Valley. 

Arriving at Château de BournandChâteau de Bournand:  Also in the département of the Vienne, we paid a visit to Vicki and John Majors at Château de Bournand.  As always, the properties are much more interesting in person than they appear on our web site, despite the enormous effort we make to ensure our pages are truly representative of each one.  Bournand is no exception.  It is very elegantly furnished, filled with lovely art work and carpets, and is the sort of retreat one would enjoy most the longer one stayed. Guest Salon at Château de BournandGuest accommodations are suites with their own salons. The American owners will eventually make this their primary residence, so they are expending every effort to make it perfect.  The serene landscape, twenty acres in all, including Celtic gardens and specimen trees,  makes it so appealing.  The tranquility and quiet belie the fact that it is actually at the edge of a village, making morning walks to the boulangerie or evening strolls into town very easy.  A wonderful new restaurant, Jardin d'Antan, has just opened in Bournand and comes highly recommend by the Majors.  And, for those interested in spending several days exploring the grand châteaux of the Loire, Château de Bournand is the perfect place to settle in.

Recently redecorated Chambre Esprit de Jouy VerteChâteau de la Barre:  Our final day trip from the little gîte in the Loire was to pay a visit to Marnie and Guy de Vanssay ~ the Count and Countess de Vanssay ~ at Château de la Barre in the bucolic Sarthe département.  This château should be the destination for anyone seeking historical accuracy in design and décor ~ rooms that contain not only the right period furniture and artwork, but whose color schemes and fabric designs are just as authentic!  The château, which is stunning in itself, has been in the Count's family since the early 1400s,  and his knowledge of every inch of the château and its contents is without equal.  The enthusiasm and devotion of both Marnie and Guy is instantly falls in love with Château de la Barre!  Of course, the landscape surrounding it is as impressive as one would expect.   And, there is plenty to occupy your time at Château de la Barre.  You can borrow bicycles to explore the lovely Sarthe countryside.  Or, if you are interested in spending time in French language immersion classes, learning about wine appreciation or taking a cooking class, Château de la Barre is for you.   Nearby guests can enjoy swimming, tennis, golf, a winery, Le Mans auto racing and the Musée de l'Automobile, Chartres and its magnificent cathedral, Vendôme, the River Loir, the city of Tours, the grand châteaux of the Loire and so much more.  Do visit Château de la Barre on our web site today to get some in-depth information about all it has to offer.


Antique Bed in Guest Room at Château des TesnièresChâteau des Tesnières:  You will not regret staying at this grand château and enjoying the uniquely decorated rooms (some traditional; others quite contemporary) all en suite with exceptional modern bathrooms.  Plush terry robes are supplied along with ample towels, hairdryers and slippers!  There is a safe in the armoire for valuables, too!  Guests who can't separate themselves from their email or who run businesses will be happy that a computer with ASDL and WiFi access is provided in a little alcove in one of the towers where you can check that mail!  Breakfasts were incredible with ham, cheese, soft-boiled eggs, croissants, baguettes, melon, juice and coffee.  Although dinner is not provided at the château, your friendly hosts, John and Siebren, are ready with restaurant suggestions.  We had a great dinner one night in nearby Vitré (a medieval village not to be missed) at La Taverne l'Ecu and on another evening in Châteaubourg at Ar Milin, formerly a mill, and now a quite lovely restaurant in its own park.  We were especially impressed by the expertise of the young lady who was our sommelier.  We enjoyed our brief time in Brittany, spending lots of that time in Vitré exploring the medieval quarter and standing in awe of the enormous château at the edge of town.  Château des Tesnières is well located for visiting the Brittany capital of Rennes, Le Mont St Michel, and the numerous gardens that dot this region of France.  We hope you will consider staying there when you visit Brittany.


Welcome to Manoir de BellauneyManoir de Bellauney:   We drove to the Manche département on the Cotentin Peninsula to Manoir de Bellauney ~ we were now in Normandy after a four-year absence.  It was so nice to be back!  We were welcomed by Madame Allix-Desfauteaux, the owner, who is reserved and very charming.  The Manoir de Bellauney is off a rather busy road, but the guest rooms (there are just two) are at the far end of the house with their own entrance and our room, Chambre Médiévale [see photo on our web site],  was exceptionally quiet.  The room itself was especially unique in that it was medieval in style and décor.  No detail was left to chance, and despite the small television on a shelf near the fireplace, it truly felt as though we were transported to another time. Bellauney's TowerIt was comfortable, cozy and absolutely charming.  The bathroom adjoining our room was modern with a shower stall, hair dryer and towel warmer.  Breakfast was served in a lovely dining room near the guest rooms, and we enjoyed conversation with a friendly couple from Wales who come to this part of France quite often to shop (especially for wine) as they find the prices better than in the UK.  This was their second stay at Manoir de Bellauney.  The area is rich in sights to see, particularly if you are fond of seaside villages with little marinas and great seafood restaurants.  We thoroughly enjoyed our two days here, exploring the Cotentin from the west coast to the east coast and stopping or dining in towns such as Quettehou, Goury, Barfleur and Quinéville. 

Lovely StairwayHôtel Tardif:  On our drive to Château La Thillaye from Manoir de Bellauney, we were able to stop briefly in the city of Bayeux, most famous for the Bayeux Tapestry depicting William the Conqueror's battle of 1066.  Following lunch in view of the magnificent cathedral, we walked for a minute or two to the Hôtel Tardif in the hopes of spending a little time with Anthony Voidie who runs this lovely bed and breakfast with his charming mother. Hôtel Tardif courtyardUnfortunately, he was absent, but we were able to take a few moments to chat with Madame Voidie and catch a glimpse of this truly elegant and lovely guest house.  A pleasant, sun-filled salon is to the left of the entrance hall where this beautiful stairway led to the guest rooms on the first floor. Hôtel Tardif is of a lovely, cream-colored stone set in its own quiet park, yet guests are only steps away from the tapestry, cathedral and nearly 30 fine restaurants.  Guests will also enjoy the large south facing gardens behind the hôtel for relaxation and taking some sun. Don't forget the Antiques Auction on November 11th in Bayeux, a major event for which the Voidie's are offering a special package for guests:  2 nights lodging for 2 in a luxury room, breakfast 2 mornings, a catalogue of the big auction, and a list of the best antique shops  ~  price:  200 to 240 euros based upon room.  The auction itself features great paintings of the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, decorative objects (mostly Napoleon III), bronzes, Art Nouveau furniture designed by Majorelle, other period furniture,  and more!  Contact anthony.voidie@wanadoo.frfor your reservations.  And, please mention that you read about it in au Château News.

Please remember that you can visit each of the above member
properties on our web site (just click on the links provided in the text)
to read about them in detail, see many additional photos, and get
information on prices, room options, dates they are open, what 
to do and see in the region, how to contact them for reservations,
and so much more!  Of course, if you have any questions at all,
please send us an email to

[Photos used in this feature are the property of and copyrighted by
Cold Spring Press 2006.  All rights reserved.]

Sponsoring this issue . . .

French Château Note Cards
Looking for a unique gift?

Bring back the art and tradition of hand-written personal messages 
with these elegant, ivory note cards and matching envelopes. An
assortment of twelve, gift wrapped and sent to you or, if a gift,
 directly to the recipient, can be ordered by clicking the photo above.

New Pricing for 2007 . . .

During the month of December, au Château's member pages will be updated with pricing for the 2007 travel season.  If you contact any of our members for reservations for next year, please keep in mind that the room rates, dinner prices and rental costs shown on our site prior to mid-December may not yet be updated.  It is suggested that you inquire about the room rate when making your reservation.

Also, when you visit the pages of a château or manor house that interests you and may be in your plans for next year's visit to the French countryside, look at the dates when the property is Open, located on each member's first page in the bottom left hand column.  Most are open all year, but there are several who close as early as November first and don't reopen until Easter.  These will be especially difficult to reach now to secure a reservation.  Don't give up, however!  Send them an email or phone them.  Chances are, although they are not open for guests, they or someone else will be there to respond to your inquiry.

French Quiz 68

 Winemaking in France

True or False?

         (1)  'Blanc de blanc' means white wines from white grapes.
         (2)  'Vin de Pays' is country wine.
         (3)  Rosé d'Anjou comes from Provence
         (4)  Monbazillac, Sauternes and Sancerre are all sweet wines.
         (5)  Champagne is always a blended wine.
         (6)  'Vendange' is the word used for separating the grapes from the stems 
               in the winery
         (7)  'Vin de Table' represents 70% of the wine consumed daily by the 
         (8)  AOC rules govern maximum alcohol content and minimum acre yield.


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

 Easy Recipe:   Moules à la Normandie

Mussels are a most enjoyable treat in Normandy.  We can never visit there (or in many other regions of France) without ordering a large bowl of moules (with or without frites!) at least twice during our stay!  We are borrowing this recipe from Susan Herrmann Loomis' book, On Rue Tatin, so that you can make your own delicious moules (say mool) at home. 

You will need 6 pounds/3kg mussels, 1 cup/10g firmly packed parsley coarsely chopped, 2 small shallots halved and then cut into paper-thin slices, 4 dried bay leaves, 1/4 cup/60ml cider vinegar, freshly ground pepper.

Before cooking the mussels, de-beard them (pull off the fine threads hanging from their shells).  Rinse them well in cool water, and place them into a large pot.  Add the parsley, shallots, bay leaves and vinegar.  Shake the pot so that all the ingredients are blended, and bring the liquid to a boil over high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium high and cover the pot.  Cook until the mussels just open, shaking the pot from time to time so that they cook evenly.  Once they are open, continue cooking for an additional minute.  Check frequently and remove any mussels that are wide open so that they do not overcook.  If after two or three minutes there are mussels that refuse to open, discard those as they are either dead or empty.

Serve the mussels in a large bowl seasoning generously with salt and pepper.  Serve immediately with crisp French baguette, sweet butter and cider.

Serves 6 to 8.   Bon appétit!

We thank Susan Herrmann Loomis, chef extraordinaire at On Rue Tatin,  for this recipe. 
Susan is announcing a series of three-day cooking classes for 2007.
Spend a few days in the French countryside and experience a taste of real French life, 
yet still leave lots of time for all the other things you'd like to do on your French vacation.

As part of the On Rue Tatin celebration of French life,
she wants to remind you of Cooking Up a Storm, a week of cooking 
and poetry where the guest teacher will be poet James Navé. 
Or, join her in Paris for three weeks in 2007, where you are invited 
to cook in Patricia Wells' Left Bank cooking studio. 

On Rue Tatin will offer more Paris and Normandy cooking programs 
as the year progresses, so please stay tuned by visiting
Contact information: 
Phone in USA: 214.306.8734 
or (toll free USA) 866.369.8073. 
Visit them on the Web 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 67 - 1e, 2d, 3f, 4a, 5b, 6c
Quiz 68 -  True: 1,2,5,7 False: 3 - Rosé d'Anjou comes from the western Loire;
4 - Sancerre is a dry, crisp Loire wine; 6 - Vendange is the grape harvest;
8 - AOC rules govern minimum alcohol content and maximum acre yield ]

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