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July / August 2009

Happy Summer!

In this issue you will find

  • Two more wedding venues . . .
  • Vacation activities at Domaine des Faures . . .
  • Renting a gîte at a château . . .
  • Le Prieuré du Château de Biron's new look . . .
  • Rental properties in Normandy and Basque country . . .
  • Some French etiquette tips . . .
  • Summer at Château des Monthairons . . .
and much more!


A Wedding to Remember

Bride and Groom at Château d'Hattonchâtel
  A happy bride and groom at Château d'Hattonchâtel

Imagine your wedding at the stunning Château d'Hattonchâtel located high above the countryside of the beautiful département of the Meuse in Lorraine.  Romantic and luxurious, the château offers a fine wedding banquet and all the accoutrements to ensure that the occasion runs smoothly and effortlessly.

Menu selection at Château d'HattonchâtelAerial view of Château d'Hattonchâtel

     Delectable menu selections                         The magnificent château

For a truly memorable wedding, do consider this fine château in the northeast of France, convenient to Paris, Nancy, and Strasbourg.  Visit their pages on our site today at Château d'Hattonchâtel to read all about it and see photos of the beautiful rooms and gardens.

**See the offer for guests of Château des Monthairons (below) 
                 to enjoy a guided visit to the Château d'Hattonchâtel. 
[Photo credits:  © 2009 Château d'Hattonchâtel.  All Rights Reserved.]


ZeBus banner

Traveling to France but hesitant to rent and drive a car there? 
Why not take advantage of this great new service from Ze Bus which has
routes throughout France to the sites you most want to see
from Bordeaux to Le Mont Saint-Michel and even Paris? 
Click on the banner above to visit their web site!

Summer Happenings at 
Château des Monthairons . . .

Forfait Court Séjour (short stay special)

This package includes :

    * 2 nights in a double bedded room
    * dinners of both evenings according to our menu dégustation
(3 courses, cheese trolley and dessert) Drinks are not included.
    * continental breakfasts
    * a welcome drink upon arrival
    * two tickets to visit the Château de Hattonchâtel 
and the Centre Mondial de la Paix
*possibilities to canoe or cycle

Nature et Spa

For your greater well being, the château has created a natural environment
to allow you to benefit from the hammam (steam room), the Jacuzzi, and the sauna. 
Every Saturday let Astrid, an aesthetician, provide facial treatments or give you 
foot, body and back massages according to your preferences.

Famille Thouvenin is happy to welcome you to their lovely château where you will
 find comfort and relaxation in the beautiful guest rooms, delight in fine cuisine
 in the sophisticated restaurant and share in the collection of excellent wines.
We can personally attest to the exceptional experience of a stay at 
Château des Monthairons.

Visit Château des Monthairons on our site today to learn more and for contact
information.  Or write to us at

Get Married in Historic Gascony!

Bride and Groom at Pomiro

The land of the Three Musketeers beckons you to discover its charm and warmth...and Château de Pomiro cheerfully invites you to have your marriage ceremony and wedding reception with them!  Their beautiful château is the perfect backdrop for some marvelous wedding photos!

Whether you require a full ceremony and reception or just a reception with your close friends and family ~ Chateau Pomiro is the ideal venue. You are invited to discuss the arrangements with their wedding planner, and they will do the rest.  You can have:

  • a religious or other ceremony on the château grounds,
  • a superb reception in the garden or in the château dining room, 
  • accommodations for up to sixteen guests on a half-board basis.

Bride and Groom at Pomiro

The château owners offer in-house catering services, floral arrangements, and professional wedding photography by a renowned female photographer.  Live music at the reception or gala evening is also available.

Visit Château de Pomiro on our pages today, and don't lose any time making your booking for a that extraordinary château wedding in southwest France!  For information, please contact soon!

[Photos courtesy of Château de Pomiro, 2009.  All rights reserved.]


 France's Dordogne
land of Prehistory

The Dordogne (Périgord) is a must-see region for anyone visiting France.  Lush, green, and brimming with historic villages and beautiful rivers, the Dordogne offers a glimpse into the prehistoric world of early man as well as the delights of twenty-first century French life.

Domaine des Faures is one of our recommended places to stay, and the English owners have lovingly restored this fine stone residence to provide the ultimate comfort for their guests.  Enjoy the lovely swimming pool, the amazing country views and appreciate the 'green' nature of the property and their small organic herd of cattle.

Some tempting activities to encourage you to stay with them are also being offered.  First, they are organizing cycling holidays with routes from Les Faures to different venues ~ active but not exhausting holiday excursions. 

Second, they have an agreement now with a South African couple who owns an organic vineyard where Domaine des Faures' guests can take a tour which includes nearby St Emilion. 

Current special offers: Book a 4-nights' stay Monday through Friday for the price of 3 nights ~ or book 3 nights, Friday through Monday, and receive a free evening meal on Sunday!

Visit this lovely chambres d'hôtes (and possible weekly rental) on our site today at Domaine des Faures.  You'll be glad you did!

In the unique and incredibly lovely village of Biron, just steps away from the grand and historic château of the same name, is Le Prieuré du Château de Biron. Its French owners have just completed major renovations and redecorating to take what was already a beautiful chambres d'hôtes and make it even more luxurious and elegant.

Le Prieuré and Château de Biron

The priory with Château de Biron in background

Chambre Le PrieurDining Room at Le PrieuréChambre Cardinal

Two of the guest rooms and the dining room at Le Prieuré

You will find the location perfect for visiting all that the Dordogne has to offer; especially enjoyable is a visit to nearby Monpazier on market day.  But, beyond the tourist attractions, the tranquility and charm of Le Prieuré provides a relaxing and rejuvenating holiday in spacious, comfortable and elegant surroundings. 

Please pay a visit to Le Prieuré du Château de Biron on our site today to read all about this historic property and the lovely village it calls home.  For more information, please send an email to

[Photos courtesy of Domaine des Faures and Le Prieuré.  Copyright 2009.  All rights reserved.]

  Villes et Villages de France

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

Canal in Loches
 The canal in beautiful Loches

A favorite of ours is the town of Loches in the Indre-et-Loire département, not far from the cities of Tours and Châtellerault and the historic towns of Chinon and Richelieu.  We've visited it many times to explore the 11th century fortress and keep, visit the Logis Royal (once the court of Joan of Arc, Agnès Sorel and Anne de Bretagne), take in the extraordinary 11th and 12th century Collegiate Church,  and stroll through town to see the ancient gates such as the Porte Picois attached to the Hôtel de Ville or the 15th century Porte des Cordeliers next to the public gardens. 

Wandering along the canal or enjoying a fine meal at one of the towns many restaurants is very pleasant indeed.  We enjoyed dinner several evenings at La Tour Saint-Antoine, 2, rue de Moulins.  Their phone number is 02 47 59 01 06 and they can be reached by email at for reservations.  A restaurant we discovered offering fine food with a great view of the countryside is Le Vicariat, 4, place Charles VII.  The telephone number is 02 47 59 08 79 and email is  Both restaurants offer very pleasant outdoor dining.

The  restaurants mentioned: Le Vicariat and Tour St-Antoine at right of 2nd photo above

For further information about this lovely town in the Indre-et-Loire département, visit the official tourism web site at

[Photo credits:  © 2006 -2009 Cold Spring Press.  All Rights Reserved.]

Stay in a Gîte at a Château!

If you are looking for a small weekly rental for your family or a few friends traveling together, why not consider a gîte on the grounds of an historic château?  A gîte is a self-contained, self-catering property often with its own small private terrace or garden.  Instead of renting a cottage in a village or at a remote countryside location, you can enjoy the pleasure of sharing a vast estate dominated by a fine château. 

Those who rent a gîte by the week almost always have the use of the château's pool or tennis courts if those exist, and quite often there are other amenities not available with an ordinary rental.  The gîtes are not to be confused with apartments within the château itself.   (Some of the owners refer to their gîte as a carriage house, coach house, farmhouse, cottage, maison du gardien or self-catering suite.)

We are not suggesting that you will still find gîtes available this summer, because August is usually booked up months in advance, and few weeks are left in July or early September.  But do consider the autumn which is quite beautiful in France.  Late September and October are good times to spend a quiet holiday in France without the tourist crowds and long lines of visitors at museums and other attractions.

The B&B and rental properties on au Château where gîtes are offered are as follows ~ please click on the links to visit their pages and read more. [A few of the properties below have gîtes at locations other than on the château grounds, but most gîtes are on the estates.]

     Antigny le Château                     Château de Vaudezert
    Château de la Barre                    Château de Garrevaques
    Manoir de Bellauney                    Château de Détilly
    Château de Boucéel                    Château Juvenal
    Château de Bournand                  Château de Montcru
    Domaine des Castelles                 Château de la Motte
    Château de Coulon Laurensac       Château Talaud
    Château de Crazannes                 Domaine le Vallon

Gîtes at Château de Détilly, Château Juvenal and Château de Bournand

We hope that after visiting their pages on au Château, you will have found one or two perfect locations for your next week-long rental in France.

[Photo credits:  Courtesy of respective property owners © 2009.  All Rights Reserved.]

French Quiz 98

Where are we? 
You may have wandered these Paris gardens yourself . . .

Where are we photo Quiz 98

 The first person whose email is received with the correct answer
will receive a package of twelve assorted exclusive Château Note Cards.

Send your answer by email to

We had a winner from our May/June issue.  The correct answer was 
Château de Cheverny in the Loire Valley.

[Photo credit:  © 2009 Cold Spring Press.  All Rights Reserved.]

A Little about French Etiquette

The French have many traditions with regard to social behavior.  Although they may seem to be free spirits in so many ways, they also follow polite and courteous behavior in social situations.  The following tips will help you to feel as though you fit in when visiting France and will earn you the respect of the native French during your visit.  After all, we should always be the kind of guests our hosts will want to see again!

Tipping:  Although tips are included in the prices given on restaurant menus, it is suggested that a euro or two be left for the waitperson to express your appreciation for their service.  If a sommelier attends to your wine service, it is recommended to leave a nice tip for him or her. When staying in bed and breakfasts, whether they be country houses or grand châteaux, be sure to leave a tip for the chamber maid on your last day.  We suggest a minimum of a euro per person per day...more would certainly be appreciated.  Taxi drivers usually charge by the reading on the meter plus an additional charge for each piece of luggage they handle when they pick you up and drop you off.  A small tip above that is always a nice gesture and is appreciated.  Remember to only tip for good service!

Holding the Door:  When going through a door (for example, into a shop, restaurant or your  hotel) and a stranger is following close behind, always hold the door for that person until they have their hands on it.  Never walk through the door and let it shut behind you.  It is simply seen as rude behavior in France.

Shaking Hands:  The French probably shake hands with people they meet more than anyone in any other culture ~ and always when meeting someone for the first time.  They will most likely do it again when leaving.  If you are approached to shake hands, be sure to do it with a firm and brief handshake.  More familiar people, especially women friends, greet with kisses on the cheeks, but you may not want to take the lead.  Although there is no firm rule, this is usually first a kiss right cheek to right cheek and then left cheek to left cheek.  In reality, the cheeks just touch one another and a kissing sound is made with the lips in the air. 

Bonjour Madame, Bonjour Monsieur:  Always address people in shops, restaurants, hotels, and other public places with either "Bonjour (or Bonsoir, if it is after 6 PM) Monsieur or Bonjour Madame"...never simply Bonjour.  If you know their surname, then by all means add it to your greeting.  As you depart, be sure to say "Au revoir, Monsieur" or "Au revoir, Madame" as well. Taking a few seconds shows your polite intentions and respect for the people who are helping you. If you happen to be addressing a titled person such as a mayor or a count, you would say, "Bonjour Monsieur le Maire or Bonjour Monsieur le Comte".  If you need assistance or directions, use "Excusez-moi, Monsieur", once again including the title of the person you are addressing.

Wine at the Table:  If you are fortunate to be invited to dine at the home of a French person or family and wine is served with the meal, only your host or hostess is to pour the wine, whether it is the first glass or to refill your glass.  Even if the bottle is sitting right in front of you, it is not correct for you to tip off your glass or that of anyone else.

Voices low: You may have noticed in past visits to France, as we have, that when you are in a French restaurant, the conversation at adjoining tables is quite subdued, no matter how many people may be at the table.  This is even true when children are present (in most cases).  It is not polite to speak in loud voices, talking over your dining companions, to the irritation of fellow diners.  You need not whisper, of course, but being cognizant of your fellow diners is simply a courtesy.

Writing Letters or Sending Emails:  It is very important to take a little time to write letters or emails with the proper greeting when inquiring about a reservation or asking for some other information.  We have, unfortunately, seen emails begin, "Do you have a room for the 15th of June?" or "We want a room for the first of August for a family of four", without any Dear Sir or Madame, or Cher Monsieur or Chère Madame.   These come across as quite abrupt and rude, and may not get the result the writer wants.   It is important to take time to be polite.  The French always begin their correspondence with niceties and end them with respectful closing salutations.  Believe us when we say that a polite email is very much appreciated.

Rent a Villa in Basque Country!

Villa Iratz-Aldéa

There is a certain romance and mystery about the very farthest southwest corner of France: Basque country.  The local native Basque speak both French and their own language - Euskara - and signs are most likely to be in both.  (For those of you interested in the roots and history of the Basques and their language, we suggest you visit this very interesting web site:  We can all thank the Basques for contributing (among other things) the beret and the espadrille to the world.  And, don't pass up the opportunity to taste their regional cheese!

To enjoy this very interesting part of France, we highly recommend renting an authentic Basque-style residence, Villa Iratz-Aldéa,  not far from towns and the beach, yet in a lovely quiet neighborhood in Urrugne.  You will not only be pleased with the spaciousness and comfort of this house, but you will definitely appreciate the location:  the views of the Pyrénées are spectacular!

Views of the Pyrénées

Villa Iratz-Aldéa will comfortably accommodate ten to fifteen people, and it is completely self-catering.  You can make yourself at home!  Adding to the wonderful house itself, there are tennis courts and a fine swimming pool on the grounds for week-long enjoyment. 

Another important reason to visit Basque country for your holiday in France is the weather.  It has a very pleasant climate with access to activities both in the mountains and at the seashore.  Something for everyone!

For more information and a lot of photos of the Villa, please visit Villa Iratz-Aldéa on our site or contact us for availability at

[Photo credit:  © 2009 Villa Iratz-Aldéa.  All Rights Reserved.]

Easy Recipe:   Baked Aubergine

Called by many names throughout the world, the French 'aubergine' is known in the US as 'eggplant', and is a purple fruit of the berry family.  There are many varieties from round to cylindrical (often called 'Japanese' eggplant), but all are delicious and have a variety of cooking applications.

It is no longer necessary to prepare tasty aubergine by frying it in lots of oil when one can bake it in the oven with delicious results. Simply slice an unpeeled eggplant into 1/2" thick slices, lay the slices on a baking sheet, sprinkle with a good, cold-pressed virgin olive oil and lightly with sea salt (we prefer Guérande salt from Brittany), and bake in a pre-heated oven between 450 and 500 degrees F.  Keep an eye on the aubergine, and you can turn the slices over once if desired.  When tender with a fork, they are ready.

Aubergine slices can also be lightly brushed with olive oil and placed on a grill with other raw vegetables as an accompaniment to an outdoor summer meal.

Look for more recipes for aubergine in future newsletters!   Bon appétit!

     Special note to our readers: 

There are 27 châteaux on this web site that host weddings, including
the five we have showcased in this and the last newsletter
as well as those we have presented in past newsletters.
We will feature others in future issues, but please visit our Château List page, 
and look for the bride and groom icon ~ here you will find châteaux throughout 
France where both small and large weddings can be held.

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 98 - Where Are We?  The answer will be in the September / October newsletter.

Disclaimer: Cold Spring Press, au Château© and/or any persons associated with either organization do not take any responsibility for errors and/or omissions in any edition of au Château News© and no guarantees are given or implied with regard to the contents of any au Château News©.   The disclaimer on the au Château © web site at, applies in its entirety to all au Château News© editions.  Cold Spring Press and au Château ©  take no responsibility for the contents of any web sites to which links are provided on our site or in any editions of au Château News.  Subscribers receive this newsletter because they have requested to be on our Opt-In mailing list.  To have your email address removed, simply send an email with 'Unsubscribe' in the Subject line to
Our address is Cold Spring Press, P O Box 26098, San Diego California USA 92196-0098.

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