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                                 January / February  2008

                                    Welcome our three new members:

                     o  a dramatic medieval château in the Cantal hills of the Auvergne,
                           and bed & breakfast lodging on a Bordeaux wine estate

                                                      ~ also ~

                            o  read about Château de la Barre's Easter Offer
                                  o  Susan Herrmann Loomis'  newest delicious recipe
                   o  a glimpse at Chambéry in the Savoie ~ this issue's Ville et Village

                                            and Happy New Year!



 Medieval and Magnificent! 

This Cantal château offers warm hospitality.

Magnificent Château de la Vigne

   Château de la Vigne

The views from this splendid medieval Auvergne château in the Cantal hills surrounded by lush, green countryside will inspire garden strolls and serious photography.  Château de la Vigne is a grand 15th century château with a fine 18th century wing that returned several decades ago to the family that built it...and today it is a comfortable chambres d'hôtes with a host and hostess who are charming and warm.

Views from Château de la VigneChambre Rose
       Incredible Views                                                          Chambre Rose

The château offers several guest rooms and a suite for the comfort of its guests.  Breakfasts are served in the 18th century dining room in front of a roaring fire in cooler weather.  In the spring of 2008, the Comte and Comtesse de la Tour will be offering both cooking courses and French immersion packages which include room, meals and tours of local producers and attractions.  To learn more, visit our Special Offers page.

There is also a charming cottage on the grounds for weekly rentals.  It has a modern, well-equipped kitchen, an en suite bedroom, and wonderful views of the château!

Open March through October, the château is certain to provide you with as pleasant a stay as we enjoyed.  Please visit them on our web site today!

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

Sponsoring this issue . . .

Independent travelers and just about anyone who loves France will find the 
FRANCE On Your Own web site a handy resource.  And, the quarterly FREE newsletter,
providing regional features, cultural updates, articles by expats and experts 
and more is a must have.  Click on the banner above to subscribe. 
Visit the web site at

Villes et Villages de France

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

A Street in Old Chambéry

 Old Chambéry

 Quite near Château des Allues, one of the charming bed and breakfast
châteaus on our web site, is the very interesting city of Chambéry.  A stroll
through its old town's winding lanes exposes one to a densely-built maze of Italian-style
 homes with shops on the ground floor and three stories above for living quarters.

Chambéry is the capital of the département of Savoie and is dominated
by the castle of the Ducs de Savoie (built some time before the 13th century)
in its well-preserved old quarter.   Chambéry was tied to the fortunes 
of the House of Savoie, one of the oldest ruling families of Europe, and the 
town was the Savoyard capital from 1295 until 1563, primarily
due to its position on the crossroads to Switzerland and Italy. 

Today it is a base for skiers in the winter months as it lies in a valley between
the Bauges and Chartreuse Mountains on the Leysse River, and it is very near 
three regional parks.  In the warmer months, visitors can enjoy the nearby
vineyards and France's largest and deepest natural lake, Lac de Bourget.

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

French Quiz 81

At the waters' edge - Match the following:

                     (1)  Nevers                      (a) River Garonne
                       (2)  Cap Fréhel                 (b) Atlantique
                         (3)  Bordeaux                   (c) Méditerranée
                           (4)  Istres                       (d) Lac Léman
                             (5)  Le Lavandou              (e) River Yonne
                               (6)  Les Sables d'Olonne    (f) River Loire
                                 (7)  Evian-les-Bains         (g) Étang de Berre
                                   (8)  Joigny                     (h) La Manche (English Channel)


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

Easter in the Sarthe 

The experience of a Lifetime 

Château de la Barre

 Château de la Barre

Celebrate Easter 2008 under the auspices of chocolate and wine! 

Spend three nights as private guests of the Comte and Comtesse de Vanssay in the elegance of their home, Chateau de La Barre, which has been in the family for more than six centuries.

Bouquet at the châteauEnjoy a champagne welcome and supper upon arrival; freshly cut flowers, port wine and home made chocolate Easter eggs in your stately room overlooking the garden with its' forsythias and daffodils in bloom; one special candlelit dinner for two in the grand dining hall on Easter Saturday or Monday, with five courses and their accompanying wines, the last of which represents a perfect marriage with the chocolate dessert  patisserie in the true French tradition; English breakfast every morning. 

During the day ~ visit the hidden secrets of the smaller Loir Valley's Romanesque churches and their unique XIIth century mural paintings ~ discover the local Loir valley wines at recommended producers' cellars ~ admire the medieval town of Le Mans ~ visit Chartres cathedral plus, of course, some famous Loire valley chateaux ~ dine at excellent French restaurants and much more... 

Chambre Jaune

Chambre Jaune

Priced from 850 euros to 1090 euros for 2 people for 3 nights (March 22, 23 and 24), this enticing package will allow you to enjoy gourmet meals, fine wines and chocolates, the lovely countryside of the Sarthe and Loir, visits to grand monuments, all the while as a guest in an exquisite family home.  Take this opportunity to experience France in the Spring on the estate of Château de la Barre.

For information or to make your reservation, please email

[Photos courtesy of Comte & Comtesse de Vanssay.  All rights reserved.]

 Coming Soon  ~  A New Member

La Terrasse de Lautrec

La Terrasse de Lautrec

Facing the Place du Monument, this exceptional bed and breakfast is as charming and delightful as any place could be!  This photo may be deceiving, as it gives the appearance of a small village house.  But step through the front door and you will find yourself in a spacious, splendid, and historic residence whose fine French gardens and views over the rampart walls will stay in your memory forever.  The delightful Madame Ducoudray is a talented and attentive hostess whose goal is to make your time at La Terrasse just perfect.

The quiet village of Lautrec offers much to see and enjoy while affording visitors the peace and tranquility they seek when on vacation.

La Terrasse de Lautrec will join au Château very soon, so please look for it on our site in the coming weeks.

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

French Quiz 82

 Name this place

[The first email (to with the correct
place name will receive a gift of our exclusive Château Note Cards.]

Mystery Photo - French Quiz 82


You will find the correct answer in our March / April au Château News.

Answer to Quiz 79:  Carcassonne 

Bed & Breakfast in the Vineyards

 A lovely château experience awaits you!

Château Soussac

Château Soussac near Bordeaux

Château Soussac sits amid its own Bordeaux vineyards in the Entre-Deux-Mers not far from St-Emilion.  This lovely 19th century château on fifteen acres in the tranquil French countryside has charming guest rooms (all en suite), delicious breakfasts and offers five-course gourmet dinners.  Wine and cooking courses are offered throughout the year.  And, the château is the perfect venue for a wedding, so keep it in mind if a marriage in France is in your future!

At Château Soussac there are 3.75 hectares of vineyards producing very high quality wines without chemicals, fertilizers or change in organic content to the soil.  Three Bordeaux wines are produced ~ Château Soussac Bordeaux Rosé, Château Soussac Bordeaux and Château Soussac Bordeaux Superieur which is aged in oak barrels in the climatized chais at the château.  The harvest is all done by hand, and guests can join in the fun and the excitement of the harvest in September.  Guests are also invited to join the owners on a tour of the vineyards, visit the cellars and have free tastings of the wines. 

Guest Room at SoussacWine Barrels
                              Lovely Guest Room                           Wine Barrels at the Château

Guest rooms are spacious with modern bathrooms, yet they retain the ambiance of a 19th century château.  Your hosts, Joe and Nell Beattie, are a vibrant young couple with enthusiasm and dedication who are eager to welcome you.  And, as a special treat, take advantage of the skills of the masseuse and beautician on site who uses all organic products to ensure your spa treatment is most relaxing and beneficial.

We hope you will visit Château Soussac on our web pages very soon to see for yourself what an exceptional property this is. 

[Photo credit:  © Château Soussac.  All rights reserved.]

Easy Recipe:  Casserole of Saffron Root Vegetables
Cocotte Safranée de Légumes Racines

As we have in the past, we are offering a recipe from Susan Herrmann Loomis, 
an American in Normandy France who has established herself as an imaginative chef,
a renowned cookbook author and a well-qualified teacher of French cooking. 
We are deeply grateful to her for the opportunity to share another of her unique recipes with our readers.

You will need 1 generous teaspoon saffron threads,  1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice,  ½ pound (250g) small turnips, peeled and trimmed, 4 tablespoons (60g) unsalted butter, 1 small (10 ounce 300g) celery root, peeled, cut into 2-inch (5cm) cubes,  8 ounces (250g) waxy potatoes, peeled and cut in 2-inch (5cm) cubes,  8 ounces (250g) carrots, peeled if necessary, washed, cut on the diagonal into 2-inch pieces,  1 medium (8 ounce;250g) parsnip, peeled, trimmed, cut in half lengthwise, then cut into 1-inch (2.5cm) rounds, 1 clove garlic, green germ removed if necessary, sea salt, 1-¼ cups (about 300ml) chicken stock,  ½ cup (about 125ml) crème fraîche or non ultra-pasteurized heavy or whipping cream, and 4 cups arugula leaves, rinsed and dried.

Lightly toast the saffron in a small skillet over medium heat until you can smell it, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat, lightly crush the saffron and place it in a small bowl. Cover it with the lemon juice and let it sit.

If the turnips are small, about the size of a large golf ball, leave them whole. Otherwise, cut them in quarters.

In a large, heavy-bottomed stockpot, melt the butter. When it is foaming, add the saffron and the lemon juice, stir and let simmer until the butter and the saffron have combined, for about 1 minute. Add the vegetables, then stir until they are coated with the saffron butter. Season lightly with salt and pour over the chicken stock. Stir and cook the vegetables, partially covered, until they are nearly tender through, 20 to 25 minutes, checking and turning them occasionally to be sure they cook evenly.

About 5 minutes before you want to serve the vegetables, pour the cream over them and stir. Continue cooking, uncovered, until the liquids have reduced slightly, about 5 minutes.

Taste the cooking liquids for seasoning. Coarsely chop the arugula and add it to the mixture, stir, then serve immediately.  Makes 6 servings.

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.
au Château highly recommends you sign up for a cooking course with Susan on Rue Tatin or in Paris.
It will be an authentic French cooking experience where you will not only learn a great deal
about regional French cooking, but you will come away with memories of a most pleasant experience.]

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 are: 
Quiz 81 - 1f, 2h, 3a, 4g, 5c, 6b, 7d, 8e
Quiz 82-  answer in the March / April 2008 au Château News
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