Newsletter Banner
November / December 2009

In this issue you will find

  • Welcoming Villa Vauréal in Biarritz
  • A great harvest at Château Juvenal 
  • On Rue Tatin's Cooking Classes for 2010
  • Highlights of our October visit to France
  • A Wedding at Château du Grand Lucé
and, as you will see, so much more.


A Wine Note from Ronald Rens 
at Château Coulon Laurensac in Bordeaux 

"Hold your horses for the Bordeaux 2009! The vintage 2005 was exceptional but the 2009 is even much better!  I have been following the Bordeaux wine world for over 25 year now. Never before have I witnessed a more perfect harvest than this year's.  I have already tasted the juices, and I can tell you that the vintage 2009 is going to be spectacular here in Bordeaux. You can read my first comments on this brand new top vintage."

Bordeaux Wine Experience newsletter banner

Wine aficionados will really enjoy Ronald's free newsletter, The Bordeaux Wine Experience, so click on the banner above to subscribe.  And remember, a stay in any of Château Coulon Laurensac's spacious and comfy gîtes while in the Bordeaux region, added to one of Ronald and Margaret's personal wine tours of the region, will make the Bordeaux experience even better!  Visit this beautiful château on our pages today.

Villa Vauréal is our newest member. . . 

We hope you have had the opportunity to visit Villa Vauréal on our pages since we first introduced it to you in our last newsletter.

Villa Vauréal, both a luxurious bed and breakfast and three smaller weekly rental villas accommodating 4, 5 or 8 people, is just steps from downtown Biarritz yet it offers guests spacious comfort and solitude for a restful holiday.  As you can see in these photos, Madame Rannou Ader is a talented interior designer with exquisite taste.  Every room is lovely and provides all the comforts guests could want.

Vauréal Villa BergamoteVilla Vauréal Chambre Mirabelle
Villa Bergamote                                                             Chambre Mirabelle

The Atlantic shore, renowned here for its surfing beaches, is a few minutes walk away, so the convenience of Villa Vauréal is a definite plus.  So much is available to guests: golf, health spas, shopping, or even a twenty-minute drive to nearby Spain to explore San Sebastian and Bilbao.

Please visit our web site today to see all that Villa Vauréal can provide for your next stay in southwestern France.

[Photo credits:  © 2009 Villa Vauréal.  All Rights Reserved.]

French Quiz 100

Where are we? 

Perhaps you've traveled to this Métro stop. . . 

Where Are We? photo Quiz 100

 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

See the answer to last month's Quiz at the end of this newsletter.
The answer to this month's quiz will appear in our January / February issue.

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

A Beautiful September Wedding 
at Château du Grand Lucé

Wedding Grand Lucé

This happy bride and groom chose Château du Grand Lucé for their wedding in September ... and these photos show some of the reasons why they did so.  From the beauty of the château and its sumptuous rooms to the glorious gardens providing photo opportunities at every turn, Château du Grand Lucé is as fine a wedding venue as one will find anywhere in France.

Wedding Grand LucéWedding Grand Lucé

These garden photos may entice you or someone you know to consider Château du Grand Lucé for a memorable wedding.  The elegance of a garden reception is shown in the photo below ~ a gathering place for the wedding party and all the guests on this lovely estate.  What could be more enchanting?

Wedding Grand Lucé

For further information about a grand family celebration, an event with friends, or a special wedding in France at Château du Grand Lucé, contact us at

[Photo Credits:  © 2009 Punam Bean Photography provided by Château du Grand Lucé/]


France Car

Planning to drive in France?  We highly recommend France Car for your auto rental needs.
We have used this company exclusively for years and have been very satisfied with the
ease of renting a car and the service provided while in France.  You will find a link to France Car
locations on the first page of each au Château member property.  Or click on the banner above
to choose just the right car in the right location for your next holiday.

 Château Juvenal's Great Harvest

Olive grove and the Dentelles de Montmirail.  Photo courtesy Château Juvenal.  All Rights Reserved.Recently, very dear friends of ours spent several nights as guests of Anne-Marie and Bernard Forestier at Château Juvenal.  They couldn't wait to tell us of their absolute delight with their accommodations, the meals they enjoyed there, and the warmth and helpfulness of their hosts.  Of course, we were well aware of this as we had been guests there ourselves not long ago.  But, it reinforced our belief that a stay at Château Juvenal adds to the wonderful memories of any vacation in Provence.

Anne-Marie Forestier just wrote to let us know that their 2009 grape harvest was a huge success and she says, "Château Juvenal 2009 must be excellent. Wait and taste."  She adds, "We are preparing now Les Olivades ~ the olive harvest that will begin on the 1st of November. It seems, too, that it will be a very good year."

Artist's rendering of Château Juvenal.  Copyright Cold Spring Press/George Ohanian.  All Rights Reserved.

The tranquil location of Château Juvenal ~ although convenient to all the great attractions of Provence ~ surrounded by vineyards and olive trees, creates a special getaway whether you are interested in B&B accommodations or renting a self-catering gîte by the week.  Do consider this friendly and inviting place as your next Provençal destination.

[Rendering of Château Juvenal by George Ohanian.  Copyright 2007-2009.  All Rights Reserved.]

Join Susan Herrmann Loomis 
in her kitchen . . .  in Normandy or Paris

Susan Herrmann Loomis in her kitchen.  Copyright On Rue Tatin 2009.  All rights reserved.We are always happy to receive news from Susan Herrmann Loomis about her delightful recipes and popular cooking school, On Rue Tatin.  She has just released the schedule of Normandy and Paris classes for 2010.   She writes:

"As you peruse the 2010 class schedule, you'll see I've given a theme to most classes, each of which will allow a focus on a certain delicious aspect of French cuisine and culture. I'm so very excited to share it all with you, and I look forward to welcoming old friends and new in the coming year. It promises to be a good one as the world tries hard to shed its bad habits and create new, sustainable and progressive ways of going about this glorious thing we call life."

For those of you who are interested in classes in Normandy and would like to combine the classes with a stay in a classical French country residence, do consider renting Manoir de Berthouville (four spacious guest rooms - sleeps 8) only 30 miles away by car.  There are, no doubt, closer accommodations to Susan's kitchen, but few will be as special.

[Photos courtesy of On Rue Tatin web site 2009.  All rights reserved.]

Domaine des Faures . . .
fun things to do in the Dordogne

Everyone who has ever visited the Dordogne (Périgord) of France's southwest knows what wonderful memories can be taken home from there.  Lovely villages, great places to dine, rivers wending their way through the countryside, lots of historic sites and, best of all, warm and friendly places to stay.

If you choose to stay at Domaine des Faures, you will find yourself able to enjoy Short Break Wine and Food Holidays ~ three nights accommodations, dinners, some lunches, transportation from and to Bergerac airport, touring the St Emilion wine region, and so much more.  Prices at 1125 euros to 1170 euros for two people sharing a room. 

A longer, four-night Short Break, includes the above plus your choice of either visiting a market and preparing a lunch or starting later in the day to create a dinner meal which you will enjoy with your group and instructor.  The price of this break, including accommodations, is from 1400 euros to 1470 euros for two sharing a room.  All accommodations include breakfast at the Domaine.

Also offered is the Independent Pick and Mix Wine and Food Holidays, wherein your hosts arrange activities that personally suit the individual traveler or couple.  Some of those activities include wine tastings, visiting local markets and cooking meals, time with a Cycling near Château de Biron.  Copyright Domaine des Faures 2008-2009.  All rights reserved.chocolatier making chocolates, visits to a miller to see him grind flour at his water mill and making bread using his renovated bread oven, and more.

And in 2010 (2009 was fully booked!) enjoy the Short Break Cycling Holiday.  Cycle along peaceful roads at your own pace, visiting picturesque villages along the way.  All routes are tailor-made, so you will enjoy yourselves with no pressure or stress.  Bike rental is arranged for you by your hosts, including a helmet and cycle lock.  This is a three-night package.  Schedules and prices will be available soon. [Photo taken near Château de Biron.]

For more details, please contact Ray and Jacinta Standen at

[Photo credit:  Domaine des Faures. Copyright 2008-2009.  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.

Joinville.  Photo copyrighted Cold Spring Press 2009.  All rights reserved.
 Joinville, a Ville Fleuri in the Haute-Marne

Ducks ply their way across the River Marne in the tranquil town of Joinville le Vallage that straddles the river and is a designated French 'Ville Fleuri'.  Although the signs simply say 'Joinville',  le Vallage refers to the protected forested region of the upper Marne valley surrounding the town.

Joinville is in the southeastern Haute-Marne département of the Champagne-Ardenne region of France and can be traced back to prehistory, with an economy beginning during the Gallo-Roman era.  In the middle ages abbeys and many fortresses were constructed, and it was here in the 16th century that the Catholic Guise dynasty took hold striking fear in the hearts of the Kings of France.  Later, Joinville and nearby Protestant Wassy were parties to the Wars of Religion.

The town would later become known for its ironwork and fine buildings, and visitors must be sure to see the many noble Renaissance homes, the Jardin du Mon Moulin, the Château du Grand Jardin, and the beautiful stained glass windows of the city's churches. 

Today it is a most peaceful and charming place to visit with much appeal and easy to reach as it is only a few hours east of Paris.

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

Highlights of our October visit to France

We have just returned from a very enjoyable visit to France, and we want to mention some of the highlights of our stays in au Château member properties in the hope that we can provide some insight into places you may be considering for your next visit to France. [Please remember that we pay for our rooms and meals at these châteaux in order to maintain our objectivity.]

Our first two nights outside of Paris were at Domaine Ployez-Jacquemart.  In addition to a lovely spacious en suite bedroom, we took full advantage of the sun room where we were offered glasses of rosé Champagne produced on the estate.  Breakfasts were excellent comprising a lovely variety of pastries, breads, confiture, cereals, and more.  But one highlight of our stay was to join a tour arranged for some English travelers who came to learn about the production of Champagne at the Domaine. 

Cave tour at Domaine de Ployez-Jacquemart.  Photo copyrighted by Cold Spring Press 2009.  All rights reserved.Chambre Lavande at Domaine Ployez-Jacquemart.  Photo copyrighted by Cold Spring Press 2009.  All rights reserved.

           Laurence Ployez guiding the tour                                    Our lovely room at the Domaine

We were taken step-by-step through the process by propriétaire Laurence Ployez, from visiting the deep caves beneath the château to showing us how those huge Champagne corks are put into the bottles.  Madame Ployez explained that Domaine Ployez-Jacquemart prides itself in quality over quantity, so we were not surprised that Wine Spectator rated its Champagnes as follows:  Brut Champagne NV [89], Brut Champagne L. d'Harbonville 1996 [93], Brut Rosé Champagne Sélection NV [91], Brut Champagne L. d'Harbonville 1998 [90], and Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne 2000 [90].  We ended the tour in the vineyards on that lovely autumn day.

Château du Prauthoy.  Photo copyrighted by Cold Spring Press 2009.  All rights reserved.Our next stop was at Château du Prauthoy, a lovely estate at the edge of a village in the Haute-Marne...easy to find with excellent signage right to their gates.  The young hosts at the château, Graziella and Arnaud, could not be more welcoming and cordial.  We wandered the estate to explore the woods, walking trails and little surprises along the way.  The first evening we enjoyed a truly superb multi-course dinner...prepared with imagination and skill by a fine chef who is a member of the family...each course more spectacular than the last.  It was accompanied by the wine of our choice from their exclusive cave beneath the château ~ a place we were invited to visit the next day.  Our room was perfect, our hosts warm and friendly, and our stay delightful. 

Suite Montespan.  Copyright 2009 Cold Spring Press.  All rights reserved.

              Suite Montespan at Le Petit Manoir des Bruyères

A few nights in the Doubs followed by a weekend cruise on a péniche on the Canal Latéral à la Loire led us to our stay at Le Petit Manoir des Bruyères in Burgundy's Côte d'Or.  We've been guests here before and were anxious to once again see Monique and Pierre Joullié and enjoy the luxury of their fine manoir.  They are as charming and welcoming as ever.  We had the opportunity to first enjoy an apéritif with Pierre as we discussed many topics of the day (including wines!), and then we found ourselves at the dining table to have a wonderful dinner prepared just for us.  Our room, the most elegant at Le Petit Manoir, was Suite Montespan with its incredible ceilings painted with cherubs and clouds, and the grand en suite mirrored bathroom.  Suite Montespan includes a fireplace and a large sitting area, and it has windows overlooking both the front and back gardens.  Wonderful!  Breakfasts both mornings were more than we could hope for.  In addition to the usual pastries, breads, jams, juice and coffee, we were also offered cheese, ham and yogurt.  Certainly enough to sustain us throughout the day!

Dining room Château du Guerinet. Photo copyright 2009.  Cold Spring Press.  All rights reserved.Château de Détilly.  Photo copyright 2009.  Cold Spring Press.  All rights reserved.

                             Château du Guerinet dining room                                                 Château de Détilly

We were then off to the Loire for three nights both at a charming bed and breakfast and a priory.  One day we went to the beautiful Château de Détilly for lunch with owners David and Sandra Jones.  Our extensive and enjoyable tour of this beautiful estate and its gardens convinced us more than ever that it is an ideal rental château for those seeking a wedding venue or a place for a family gathering.  Its Orangerie, guest house and château accommodations are outstanding, and the gardens (as shown in this photo) are amazing.  Détilly is conveniently located near (but not too near) the autoroute, too. 

While in the Loire, we arranged for a brief visit at Château du Guerinet in Orchaise where owners Corina and David Clemence gave us tea and a tour of their marvelous home, a spacious château with a grand stairway ~ definitely a perfect wedding venue.  Both chateau properties have chapels if requested by the wedding couple, and both owners have extensive expertise in arranging weddings on their estates.

Château de la Barre.  Photo copyrighted by Cold Spring Press 2009.  All rights reserved.When we arrived in the Pays de la Loire, we headed for Château de la Barre.  Marnie and Guy de Vanssay have made this historic family château into the perfect retreat for travelers.  Not only are the bed and breakfast accommodations in the château superb (including the plush towels and Roger Gallet toiletries in the bath), but their new gîtes are absolutely stunning!  Beautifully decorated and furnished, the gîtes offer self-catering facilities for guests on a weekly basis ~ with fully-equipped kitchens to satisfy everyone!  The bathrooms are modern and elegant, and the location just behind the château could not be better.  We woke each morning in our room in the château to copious breakfasts, and went to sleep each night in the most tranquil countryside imaginable!  Château de la Barre is a 'must' on your next visit to France!

After visiting our friends in Anjou, we drove up the road a few minutes to the incredible Château de Challain.  This multi-turreted castle offers guests the utmost in elegance in both their bedrooms and the en suite bathrooms.  Designer fabrics, including sumptuous bed and bath linens, and four poster beds create a feeling of history and sophistication in every room.  We were fortunate to receive a personal tour of the castle which provided a glimpse into the lives of those who lived there before and those who followed into modern times.  The grounds and château are perfectly suited to grand events, especially weddings, and we left very impressed by our time there and all we learned about Château de Challain. 

Château de Challain.  Photo copyrighted Cold Spring Press 2009.  All rights reserved.

Château de Challain

Château de Talhouët gardens. Copyright Cold Spring Press 2009.  All rights reserved.Brittany was our final destination before returning to Paris, and we had reservations at two wonderful properties.  First, we spent two nights at Château de Talhouët, a return visit to one of our favorite places in northwestern France.  This lovely château is near the French village of  Rochefort-en-Terre (one of Les Plus Beaux Villages de France and Petites Cités de Caractère Bretagne), a charming place in which one cannot spend enough time.  Walking along its cobblestone streets, even in the rain, was simply lovely.  We saw it differently than on our last visit, discovering new places and some previously-missed out-of-the-way lanes.  The château is still a great place to stay, and we took time to walk in the gardens.  We enjoyed dinner the first evening in the château's lovely dining room, and breakfasts each day were delicious.  Little incidentals such as luxury soaps in the bathroom (especially a boxed and be-ribboned one from Martin de Candre-Promarcan in Fontevraud l'Abbaye) made the experience even more special.  Comfortable rooms, spacious modern bathrooms, and welcoming salons for relaxation are all part of the ambiance at Château de Talhouët.

Our last stop in Brittany was at a new member property, Domaine de Moulin Mer.  At the far western coast of France, this lovely manoir in a unique microclimate is inviting and cozy.  The brisk fall weather added to the enjoyment of the gardens with palm and magnolia trees, and the nearby coastline offered us a glimpse into the life of the local fisherman where boats were stacked high waiting for their next outing into the bay known as the Rade de Brest.  This is a tranquil and lovely locale, and we can imagine how enjoyable it must be in the summer months.  We cannot say enough about the spectacular dinner we enjoyed on our first night at Domaine de Moulin Mer.  Prepared by our host, Stéphane, our meal began with a serving of thin slices of various smoked fish, followed by an exceptional plump fish covered in gorgonzola cheese and topped with minced Greek olives.  Superbe!  Dessert was a compote of fresh fruit, and we were able to choose a lovely wine to accompany it all.  Breakfasts at Domaine de Moulin Mer were no less delicious with warm croissants and pastries, country breads, preserves, lovely French butter, good coffee and fresh juice.  Nothing at this fine place was disappointing.

View near Moulin Mer. Copyrighted Cold Spring Press 2009. All rights reserved.
The view while walking near Domaine de Moulin Mer

[Photo credits:  Cold Spring Press copyright 2009.  All rights reserved.]

Easy Recipe:   Sautéed Squash with Herbs
Potimarron Sauté aux Herbes Aromatiques
from Susan Herrmann Loomis

If you cannot find kuri squash, use butternut or acorn ~ the cooking time will be somewhat shorter for those two varieties. 

You will need:  5 tablespoons (75 g) goose or duck fat (may substitute olive oil), 1-½ pounds (750g) squash (preferably kuri or butternut) peeled and cleaned and cut into ¼-inch (.6cm) slices, fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, 2 cloves garlic (green germ removed), 1 cup (10g) flat leaf parsley leaves, 4 fresh sage leaves.

  • Heat half the goose or duck fat (or olive oil) in a large, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Add the squash slices, salt them lightly and cook, stirring occasionally, until the slices are browned on one side, about 2 minutes. Turn, sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper and cook until they are brown on the other side, 1-½ to 2 minutes more. Transfer the slices as they cook to a large, warmed serving platter. Repeat with the remaining oil and the squash. Keep the squash warm.
  • Mince together the garlic, the parsley, and the sage. Add it to the oil in the pan and sauté just until the garlic begins to turn translucent, 2 to 3 minutes. Spoon the mixture atop the squash and serve immediately.  Makes 6 servings.  Bon appétit!
[Recipe courtesy of On Rue Tatin Cooking School in France / Susan Herrmann Loomis
© 2000-2009 Susan Herrmann Loomis and On Rue Tatin
Louviers, Normandy, France
Contact information: Phone: (USA) 214.306.8734 or 
(toll free USA) 866.369.8073
(toll free France) 09 51 14 38 94

Click below to purchase any of Susan's wonderful cookbooks


  We hope you have enjoyed au Château News
If you have,  please forward it to friends and 
encourage them to subscribe.  It's FREE!

Answer to Quiz 98 - Where Are We?  from our September/October issue:

The first 'Most Beautiful Village' in France, Collonges-la-Rouge. 
There were several correct guesses and one winner!
Thank you all for your participation.

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.

© 2000-2009 au Château - Cold Spring Press.  All Rights Reserved