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                                 November / December  2007

                                           Welcome our two new members:

                          o  Magnificent Basque Rental near several Golf Courses
                                 o  Charming Roussillon Bed & Breakfast & Rental Villa

                                                                           and More...

                                             o  Ville et Village:  Reignac-sur-Indre
                               o  Our recent visit to France ~ so many châteaux, so little time!
                                    o  A great holiday recipe from Susan Herrmann Loomis!



 An Elegant Rental...and Golf! 

This Basque region home offers tennis, too!

Beautiful Villa Iratz-Aldéa

   Villa Iratz-Aldéa  offers grand accommodations amid lovely gardens

The Villa Iratz-Aldéa is a much-loved Basque-style family home now available throughout the year to those seeking a special and memorable vacation residence in the very southwest corner of France.  Not only is the villa convenient to beaches, but it is near several highly-rated golf courses.  Golfers can take their pick of which golf course they want to conquer!  Also within easy reach is the beautiful town of St Jean de Luz where there are two well-known golf courses ~ Chantaco and La Nivelle ~ as well as a beautiful harbor and beach, Saint Jean Baptiste Church and many fine restaurants.  The cities of Bayonne and Biarritz make interesting day (or shopping!) trips, and guests of Villa Iratz-Aldéa will find Bilbao, Spain (home of the acclaimed Guggenheim Museum) very convenient as well.   Château d'Urtubie, a medieval castle is three minutes away and is worth a visit, and in 30 minutes by car one can be in San Sebastien, Spain.

Villa Iratz-Aldéa guest roomVilla Iratz-Aldéa salon
Comfortable Guest Rooms and a Relaxing Lounge

Iratz-Aldéa offers six richly-appointed and beautifully-decorated bedrooms and two apartments and can accommodate up to fifteen people on a weekly rental basis.  Gather up your friends and family and make a reservation at this exceptional property!

Villa Iratz-Aldéa PoolVilla Iratz-Aldéa Tennis Court
  Enjoy a Sparkling Pool or a Game of Tennis, both with incredible Views!

Guests need not venture away from the Villa to enjoy themselves at Iratz-Aldéa.  The swimming pool beckons one to jump right in ~ or for those who prefer to stay dry, it is a great, quiet spot to sit on a lounge with a drink and a good book.  For those who want to play tennis, the clay court is ready and waiting.  Both offer magnificent views of the Pyrénées to the south.  It is a very special place indeed!

Visit Villa Iratz-Aldéa on our site today to see more photos and read all about what this very special guest residence has to offer.

[Photo credits:  Famille de Sedouy.  All Rights Reserved.]


The Women of the American Church      present their annual

Marché  de  Nöel
Arts & Crafts Fair

45 artists / FREE admission

Saturday, November 17 from 10:30 to 16:00

at the Church ~ 65, quai d'Orsay, Paris 7ème 

Please visit their web site for details:

 Dramatic Views from Castell Rose

 Luxury Accommodations in Roussillon

Pyrénées view from Castell Rose

Breathtaking Views await you at Castell Rose

The common themes of our two new members seem to be proximity to Spain and great views of the Pyrénées!  The first is near the Spanish border on the Atlantic (Pyrénées-Atlantiques) , and this property is near the Spanish border on the Mediterranean (Pyrénées-Orientales)!

Granite and pink marble distinguish Castell Rose from the other chambres d'hôtes one will find in the département of the Pyrénées-Orientales ~ otherwise known as Roussillon.  This fine residence, built in 1947 but with respect for old and loved traditions, is a welcome retreat for travelers exploring the region.  Offering both bed and breakfast accommodations and a weekly 2-bedroom rental villa, Castell Rose has something for everyone.

Castell RoseThe pink marble terrace at Castell Rose
Castell Rose and its pink marble Terrace

If you haven't visited Roussillon, you really should.  It is a very unique region of France specializing in all things Catalan...from the recipes to the  patois.  Your hosts at Castell Rose will be more than happy to give you tips on the interesting sights to visit while a guest at their château.  You will not be far from the Mediterranean coast, the city of Perpignan, and an easy day trip to Collioure would not be wasted!  For those seeking to go farther afield, Barcelona is only two and a half hours away by car.

Villa les Palmiers

Villa les Palmiers ~ weekly two-bedroom rental at Castell Rose

But, if you prefer to simply enjoy your stay at Castell Rose, you will be pleased to know that there is a lot to do close to home!  On the beautifully landscaped grounds you will find you can enjoy using the tennis court, swim in the lovely pool, or take part in games of basketball, volley ball, table tennis, or badminton.  There is even a solarium.  Tenants in Villa les Palmiers are free to enjoy all the outdoor amenities offered to bed and breakfast guests.

We hope you will visit Castell Rose on our pages today to see what a truly exceptional destination it is!

Photo credits: Castell Rose, Evelyne & Alex Waldvogel.  All rights reserved.]

French Quiz 79

French Départements - Match the following:

         (1)  Loir-et-Cher                (a) Carnac
           (2)  Charente-Maritime       (b) Chambéry
             (3)  Gard                         (c) La Rochelle
               (4)  Eure                         (d) Palais du Papes
                 (5)  Morbihan                   (e) Château de Chambord
                   (6)  Bouches du Rhône      (f) Pont du Gard
                     (7)  Vaucluse                  (g) Monet's Gardens at Giverny
                       (8)  Savoie                    (h) the Camargue


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.



 The walk from Château de Reignac into the village of Reignac-sur-Indre
is an exceptional pleasure.  The road bridges over a small stream
 and then, oh so pleasantly, the River Indre.  On the left
 is a fine moulin from which water comes foaming out into the river,
and on the other side, it is quiet and barely moving at all.
Ahead is this view of the village of Reignac-sur-Indre, a delightful small town
with little traffic and much charm.  Flower boxes, overflowing with color, 
line the railings along the bridge, and the river itself is bordered with greenery,
 most memorable of which are the weeping willows as in the photo below. 

River Indre at Reignac

Château Reignac is a most delightful place to stay and Reignac-sur-Indre
is a great little village for a visit.  Don't pass up the opportunity to
discover its charms for yourself!
[Read more about the château below in Our Recent Visit to France.]

[Photo credits:  © 2007 Cold Spring Press.  All Rights Reserved.]

Sponsoring this issue . . .


Call-in-Europe is offering something new:  Buy their SIM card for your own unlocked GSM phone for $29
 and  get a European mobile number for life!  Includes $10 in calling credits, no monthly or 
annual fees,  and free incoming calls from France when you are in France.  Blackberry compatible.
Great for frequent travelers to Europe.  Click above for details.  Offer limited to the first 1000 lines.

 Coming Soon ~ A New Member

Château de la Vigne in the Cantal

Château de la Vigne

Nestled in the rolling green hills of the peaceful Cantal département of the Auvergne is Château de la Vigne, a glorious medieval château whose ownership returned to the family that originally built it many centuries ago.  It derives its name from the vineyards that once surrounded it which have since been replaced by lovely brown and white grazing cows and enchanting green landscapes. 

The proprietors, Bruno and Anne de la Tour, are warm and welcoming and make each and every guest feel so much at home.  They have a small boutique filled with medieval toys for children and great postcards of the château among other things.  And you won't want to miss the vast collection of automobile miniatures that fill a museum on the top floor!

We hope you will return to our site soon when Château de la Vigne is presented to you for your consideration as a very special destination in France.  Cooking lessons with your hostess are in the planning stages for the Spring, so if that is your interest, you'll want to return to our pages soon to find out more.

[Photo credit:  © Cold Spring Press, au Château.  All rights reserved.]

Holiday Shopping?

Solve that age-old problem of what to buy for that someone who seems to have everything (or even for that person who doesn't!) and order a package or two of our original Château Note Cards!   These quality ivory cards with envelopes come in an assortment of 12 different designs, are blank inside, and make elegant thank you notes or cards for sending personal messages to friends.

Remember,  if you admire France and French customs, the French treasure handwritten letters and admire those who take the time to send them.  The price is very reasonable (and includes shipping) so click here to see examples and place your order.

And, if you want them gift wrapped and sent directly to the recipient, please provide their address and a message for the gift card that we will gladly enclose.

Merci from au Château and our artist-in-residence!

[One reader can win a package of note cards...see French Quiz 80 below!]

Welcome Back...

Château de Challain

Château de Challain, a true fairytale castle in the Pays de la Loire, was absent from our web site for several months, but we are very pleased to welcome it back!  The perfect venue for weddings and other grand celebrations, the château also provides exquisitely-appointed guest rooms for those seeking bed and breakfast accommodations in a lovely region of France.  Do visit Château de Challain on au Château soon!

French Quiz 80

 A departure from our regular quiz format:  What are you looking at?
[The first email (to with the correct
place name will receive a gift of Château Note Cards.]

Mystery Photo - French Quiz 80


You will find the correct answer in our January-February au Château News.

Our recent visit to France. . . 
so many châteaux, so little time

We certainly won't go into all the details of our recent month in France, but want you to let you know more about the au Château member properties that we called home for a day or more and the charming hosts and hostesses we had the pleasure of getting to know.  Do contact us if you have any questions about these or any properties on our site or, if you've never stayed in a château, any questions or concerns about doing so.

Following a few days in Paris to acclimate ourselves to the time change and the great food (!), we were off by train to Nevers where we picked up our car and in twenty minutes were at Château de Charly in the département of the Cher.  We found it extremely easy to find (some châteaus are not!) as it is very well sign-posted. 

Château de CharlyThis lovely and peaceful château sits on a manicured parkland next to the village of Charly with its church steeple peeking over the trees just next door.  Our host and hostess, Jason and Philippa Park, the château's new English owners, were warm and welcoming to us ~ and about to welcome their firstborn in a matter of weeks!  There are two charming and friendly dogs and a cat in the family as well.  There is a general feeling of homey comfort at the château.  We had a lovely room with a spacious modern bath on the first floor and, following an apéritif, we enjoyed a fine dinner in the evening with the Parks and their other guests.  We would return again without a second thought...almost definitely to meet their new daughter...but to spend more time in this lovely part of France in a most enjoyable château.

Château de la CharmeraieChâteau de la Charmeraie, a unique architectural gem, was our next stop in the Rhône département.  The cheerful appeal of the exterior is only the introduction to an interior of exquisite charm and refinement.  Each guest room is individually designed in tasteful colors and with careful attention to every detail.  Our en suite room had its own sun room with fantastic views, and the other guest rooms were no less lovely.  One favorite detail in the château was the original painted dining room ceiling.  We found our hostess, Brigitte Tregouët and her husband, René, attentive and very helpful.  One could see that they adored their château and were justifiably proud of it.  In addition to being a fine decorator, Brigitte is also an excellent chef ~ our dinner with two other guests was wonderful and will be remembered for a long time to come.

Château des AlluesIt was soon time to head in the direction of the Alpes and the Savoie département of eastern France.  We happily anticipated our two nights at Château des Allues near the little town of St-Pierre d'Albigny just east of Chambéry.  Following along the River Isère, we soon found the town and Château des Allues.  From the moment we arrived, we were treated with great warmth and consideration.  Our room overlooked the back garden and a spectacular view of the mountains.  Sunrise each morning was incredible!  Our host, Stéphane Vandeville, is a superb chef, and dinner on Sunday evening with a delightful couple from Belgium was exquisite.  Stéphane even agreed to share one of his recipes with us!  It was a pleasure taking daily walks up and down the hills to and from the village and breathing in the crisp mountain air.  It was sad to leave the Savoie and this treasure of a château, and we hope to return again soon.

Dining Wing Château Le RoureBack to the Rhône-Alpes we went, to the Drôme département, to spend time at Château Le Roure.  A fine château, also easy to find, with its own restaurant (Monsieur is an extraordinary chef), Château Le Roure offers its guests inspiring views. Our host and hostess, Dolorès and Philippe Lhopital, treated us like old friends ~ we spent time in conversation with them on a variety of topics.  A classic French dinner in their restaurant at our own table was very pleasant, and the service from the youthful wait staff was impeccable.  We thoroughly enjoyed our stay and will remember the relaxing moments we had wandering the grounds, taking in the views, and even visiting with some quite interesting and unique waterfowl in their pond, including a pom-pom duck! 

Château JuvenalIt had been several years since we last visited Provence, so we were looking forward to our time at Château Juvenal ~ eager to learn all about their wine and olive oil production.  What we didn't expect was that we would also be experiencing a Mistral ~ that cold wind that blows down the Rhône Valley.  But, it was actually quite refreshing.  The sun remained bright in the clear, blue sky, and we found ourselves enjoying both the weather and Château Juvenal.  Our room was perfect:  a balcony overlooking the pond and front park (see it above the entrance in this photo), a very cozy and comfortable room, and a marble shower with jets coming from all directions to really wake one up in the morning!  Our host and hostess,  Bernard and Anne-Marie Forestier,  couldn't have been nicer.  We joined them and their other guests for hors d'oeuvres and apéritifs before a delicious dinner in the evening, went to Malaucène on market day, and took long country walks in the peaceful area surrounding their château ~ vineyards for as far as the eye could see.  We enjoyed their own label Côtes du Ventoux wine with dinner and brought home a can of Château Juvenal olive oil, every drop of which we will treasure.  The owners are readying a self catering apartment in one wing that has a full kitchen, salon with fireplace, three bedrooms and three baths!  Look for details on our site very soon.

A Tower of Château de GrézanOur next château stay would not be for more than one and a half weeks ~ but following a few days in Montpellier we couldn't pass up the opportunity of visiting nearby Château de Grézan in Languedoc's Hérault département to have lunch with our friend and au Château member, Marie France Lanson.  For almost four hours we were delighted by her company, indulged in some excellent wines and her scrumptious luncheon fare, and happily strolled the château grounds to again take in this incredible property ~ once belonging to the Knights Templar.  It was a wonderful to see her and Château de Grézan again! 

After a week in Roussillon and several days in the enchanting medieval village of Latter in the Tan, we were once again château bound, this time north into the Cantal ~ the wild and striking Auvergne region.  We would stay in Château de la Vigne, our first truly medieval lodging experience on this trip.  The château will soon be joining this web site, as mentioned above in Coming Soon, so do look for it.

Château de Reignac chapel wingOur final château stay was in the Loire region, the département of the Indre-et-Loire,  at Château de Reignac.  Eric Charier, the charming and dedicated host of this luxurious property, was there to greet us when we arrived.  He prides himself in the renovation he accomplished, showing us many of the sumptuous guest rooms, all named for famous people in French history.  The most historic detail is the fact that Château de Reignac was the personal home of the Marquis de Lafayette, the French General who was invaluable to George Washington in the American Revolutionary War.  Our room, overlooking two views of the park, was nothing short of elegant.  Dinner the first evening was preceded by cocktails in the salon with other guests, the wait staff was attentive and helpful, and the meal itself was delectable.  The breakfast buffet each morning offered almost anything one could want.  One of the most interesting features of this château is the chapel ~ the largest private chapel in the Loire region that is regularly used for marriage ceremonies.  A fine statue of Lafayette is at one side wall as a reminder to visitors of Château de Reignac's amazing history.

We hope that this review of the time we spent at various au Château properties will be helpful when you make plans for your next visit to France.  If you ever have any questions about any of the châteaux on our site, please don't hesitate to contact us at

[Photo credits:  © 2006-2007 château owners for Ch Juvenal and Ch. des Allues;
all others © 2007 au Château - Cold Spring Press.  All Rights Reserved]

Easy Recipe:  Christmas (Chocolate!) Fruit Cake

This recipe, from Susan Herrmann Loomis of Normandy's cooking school, On Rue Tatin, is very special.  She tells us that it has a "satisfying blend of anise, chocolate, and candied fruits....I love to slice it thin and include it on a plate of Christmas cookies, or serve it after dinner with Brie.  It is a dry rather than moist fruitcake." 

You will need 1 1/2 cups of lavender honey, 3 tablespoons of water, 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter, 5 cups of all purpose, unbleached flour, 1/4 teaspoon of fine sea salt, 1/2 cup of thick apple sauce, 2 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda, 1 tablespoon of warm water, 1/2 teaspoon of ground cinnamon, 4 teaspoons of anise seed, 1/2 pound almonds, skinned, 1/3 cup of pine nuts, 1/2 cup of white raisins, 1/2 pound of mixed candied fruit and 7 ounces of bittersweet chocolate, diced. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (180C).  Generously butter a 12 cup bundt pan.  Place the honey and water into a heavy pan over low heat and warm gently, just until the honey melts.  Remove from heat and stir in the butter.

Sift flour and salt into a large bowl or the bowl of an electric mixer.  Pour in the honey and butter and mix until it is thoroughly blended.   Mix in the apple sauce until combined.  Place the baking soda into a small bowl and mix in the water; then add to the batter and mix until combined.

Add remaining ingredients one at a time, mixing well after each addition.  The dough will be thick and somewhat stiff.  Turn the dough into the bundt pan, smooth it gently into the pan and bake in the center of the oven until the cake feels firm but not dry to the touch, for about 50 minutes.

Remove from the oven and let it sit in the pan for about 10 minutes.   Remove from the pan.  When it has cooled, either place it in an airtight container or thoroughly wrap it, and let it sit at least 24 hours before serving.

Bon appétit!

[Recipe courtesy of Susan Herrmann Loomis of On Rue Tatin.  For cooking classes
contact Susan at 1.214.306.8734 (USA) or 1.866.369.8073 (toll free in USA).
Send an email to or visit her web site at  We thank Susan for sharing this recipe with us.

We hope you have enjoyed au Château News
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encourage them to subscribe.  It's FREE!

The answers are: 
Quiz 79 - 1e, 2c, 3f, 4g,  5a, 6h, 7d, 8b
Quiz 80 -  answer in the January/February 2008 au Château News

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