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Spring 2014

In this issue 

    Welcome  Château de Sommesnil in Normandy

   Visit the ruins of a family castle 

   Our Featured Rental:  Château Tertre de Belvès

   Our B&B Feature:  La Borde Maison d'Hôtes

  Tour Wine Regions of France with your own Chauffeur

   News & Updates from our Members

  France's upcoming 2014 Events: Where to Stay

New! Département Maps showing property locations!


 Meet Our Newest Member

~  we are happy to welcome Château de Sommesnil  ~

Château de Sommesnil


2014 is a busy year for Normandy.  The 70th Anniversary of the D-Day landings in June and the World Equestrian Games in late August and September are just two reasons travelers will be flocking to Normandy.  We are pleased to add Château de Sommesnil to our list of eight other B&Bs and rentals in the region ~ providing a wide variety of welcoming places to stay in the Manche, Calvados, Eure and Seine-et-Maritime départements

Elegant guest room at the château

The new owner of this château, David Daniel, has renovated the interiors to a high standard, offering guests nine en suite bedrooms with several more to be completed by this summer.  The château is rented by the week for groups of friends and family, and everyone is given personal service to make their stay perfect.  A group of artists can arrange for their host to take them to great area locations to paint; a family celebration can include visits to nearby abbeys or the famous cliffs and coast at Étretat or a day spent at Lac du Caniel at Cany-Barville.

A special benefit of staying at this historic château, aside from the elegance and comfort it affords, is that the owner offers all-inclusive tours that can begin when he retrieves guests at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris in air-conditioned coaches that seat 16 or 30 passengers.  Each tour is designed to suit the interests of the group and can include Château de Chantilly, Monet's gardens and the D-Day beaches.  This service ensures that your stay at the château begins easy and hassle free. 

If you are looking for a château to rent where you will receive every possible amenity for a gathering of your friends or family, escorted tours of historic sites in Normandy, easy access to the amazing channel coast and the experience of life in a château, Château de Sommesnil is the place for you!  Visit their pages on our site today for photos, prices and more information.

Photos are © copyrighted by David Daniel.  All rights reserved.]

French Quiz 117

Where are we? 

Give us the room, the name of the building and the city.

Quiz 118.  Photo copyright Cold Spring Press.  All rights reserved.

The first person who sends us the correct complete answer 
will receive our exclusive au Château Note Cards.

Send your answer by email to

See the answer to the last issue's Quiz at the end of this newsletter.
The answer to this quiz will appear in our Spring 2014 newsletter.

[Photo © Cold Spring Press.  All Rights Reserved.]

Château de Commarque . . .
. . . 15,000 years of history 
 Visit the ruins of this family castle

Château de Commarque.  Photo copyright Comte Hubert de Commarque.  All rights reserved.
 Château de Commarque

The Count and Countess de Commarque are the proud owners of two châteaux in the Périgord Noir, Château de la Bourgonie and Château de la Poujade, both of which are members of this web site and are offered for weekly rental.  Château de Bourgonie has been in the Count's family since the 14th century, but in 1972 Count purchased the ruins of the medieval fortress of Commarque, the historic birthplace of his family.  Following archaeological research and extensive restoration work, which continues to this day, the Comte opened this amazing castle to the public in 2001. 

Situated near Les Eyzies de Tayac, and not far from Sarlat, the fortress overlooks the Valley of the Beune.  A natural spring brought people there in prehistoric times.  The dramatic keep was erected in 1380, and nearby the ruins of a fortified village, knight's tower, chapel and houses built into the rock were discovered by archaeologists covered in vegetation for over 350 years. 

Château de Commarque.  Photo copyright Comte Hubert de Commarque.  All rights reserved.Château de Commarque.  Photo copyright Comte Hubert de Commarque.  All rights reserved.

Visitors today can walk on the grounds in the valley to reach the keep (donjon) from April to November 1st.   Although there is a fee to visit for the general public, guests of Château de la Bourgonie are offered free visits. It is a listed historical monument in a natural heritage valley and should be on everyone's 'must see' list when in the Dordogne.

Château de Commarque Horse

Beneath the castle is a cave where Magdalenian man carved animals on the walls, notably a striking life-size horse.  To quote from the Beynac-et-Cazenac web site, "Linked by marriage to the lords of Beynac in the 14th century and abandoned 300 years later, the Château de Commarque is finally back into the caring hand of its last family member, Hubert de Commarque. . . If half the site is in ruins, it only adds to the fabulous experience of visiting this very special place hidden into an isolated valley without sight of any modern life."

You will certainly enjoy this YouTube video of the château as well.

[Photos Copyright Comte Hubert de Commarque.  All rights reserved.]

Featured Rental Château:

Château Tertre de Belvès

~  steps away from St Emilion  ~

Château Tertre de Belvès.  Photo copyright Craig and Sharon Gooding.  All rights reserved.
Château Tertre de Belvès

Well, perhaps 'steps' is an exaggeration, but the château, situated in its own wonderful vineyards, is a five-minute drive or an enjoyable walk from that very popular wine village in southwest France. 

Pool at Château Tertre de Belvès.  Photo copyright Craig and Sharon Gooding.  All rights reserved.Cuisine dining area at Château Tertre de Belvès. Photo copyright Craig and Sharon Gooding.  All rights reserved.
  Infinity pool with vineyard view                            Cuisine dining area with fireplace

Château Tertre de Belvès is a weekly rental property with an infinity swimming pool, vines, views and fine gardens. The young owners have recently renovated the entire château and former wine chai that can now accommodate twenty-one people in ten guest rooms, almost all of which are en suite.

For wine aficionados, this is the perfect place to spend a week surrounded by the château's own Merlot vines ~ producing a wine that received a 91-point rating from Wine Spectator.  Add the infinity pool, terraces, gardens and spectacular distant views, making this is the ideal destination for a relaxing holiday in Bordeaux wine country.

Château guest room. Photo copyright Craig and Sharon Gooding.  All rights reserved.Chai guest room. Photo copyright Craig and Sharon Gooding.  All rights reserved.
Comfortable Guest Rooms

Guests can take easy and interesting day trips to the city of Bordeaux, the Médoc peninsula for winery visits, to the Atlantic shore or to the Citadel at Blaye.  Also worth visits are Libourne near the Pomerol vineyards and Bergerac in the Dordogne.   The château is very convenient to both the Bordeaux-Merignac airport or the railway station, Gare St Jean in Bordeaux.

Head for the sunny southwest this year and Château Tertre de Belvès to spend some time with your family and friends. To read more and see additional photos, please visit their pages on our site today.  And be sure to contact us at with your questions or to make a reservation.

The château is still available for rent the week of the 2014 Médoc Marathon beginning Saturday, September 13! 

[Photos © copyrighted by Craig and Sharon Gooding.  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.

Curcuron. Copyright Cold Sprintg Press 2012 to present.  All rights reserved.

The tiny village of Curcuron in Provence

On a lovely September day, we sat at some outdoor tables in the picturesque village of Curcuron in Provence's Vaucluse département.  We stopped for ice cream and coffee on our way to stay at Le Pavillon de Galon, only five minutes from here by car.  The plane trees reflected in the bassin like a watercolor painting, making this one of the prettiest spots of our entire journey.  We enjoyed walking into the village to the épicerie twice during our stay.

View of gardens from our oval window

Our time at Le Pavillon de Galon was delightful.  We had a large spacious room with a great en suite and views from our windows over their spectacular gardens.  Our days began by enjoying breakfast each morning on the little terrace and we learned that they now grow both wine grapes and olives.  There was no doubt that we were in Provence!

  Gardens from our oval window

[Photos copyrighted Cold Spring Press.  All Rights Reserved.]

Featured Bed & Breakfast:

La Borde Maison d'Hôtes

~  ultra-luxury in Burgundy  ~

La Borde Guest House
La Borde Guest House

The region of Burgundy has much more to offer visitors than its world famous wines, although no one will dispute wine is one of the main attractions.  The département of Yonne is named for the beautiful 262 kilometers long River Yonne that wends its way from the Morvan hills near Château-Chinon and ends in the River Seine, and it is the closest to Paris of Burgundy's four départements. The Yonne is perhaps best known for Chablis ~ both the village and the wine ~ and its fine capital city, Auxerre

We have discovered a superb maison d'hôtes ~ La Borde ~ southwest of Auxerre near the town of Leugny.  In addition to luxurious and comfortable guest rooms, La Borde offers a swimming pool, tennis court, wellness center, amazing gardens, and even a helipad if someone wants to arrive by helicopter.  And only La Borde won the prestigious Most Luxurious Guest House award for 2013 issued by Condé Nast Johansens ~ and it is also in the Guide Michelin 2013. And, as you can see in the photos below, that was a well-deserved award.

Chambre Jonquille Salle de BainChambre Rose

                                                                            Chambre Jonquille Salle de Bain                                                     Chambre Rose

The Guest House is at the center of the seventeen-acre estate.  There are five spacious and exquisitely decorated guest rooms with en suite bathrooms and high quality bedding.  Views from the windows over the gardens and park are an added bonus, as these gardens are very special.  Only recently, after fourteen years of dedicated work, the gardens at La Borde received recognition and the coveted classification Jardin Remarquable.

Relax in the OrangerieThe potagerRose Allée
The Orangerie                                 Bountiful Potager                             The Rose Allée

Please take a moment to visit La Borde on our web site to see more photos and to find our what it has to offer in addition to two very dedicated and charming hosts. For reservations or to check availability, please contact us at

[Photos Copyright Rik and Marieke Klomp.  All rights reserved.]


FRANCE On Your Own banner.  Photo copyright Cold Spring Press.  All rights reserved.

You'll want to visit France in 2014!

Perhaps FRANCE On Your Own, the web site and newsletter for independent travelers, 
will help you with your travel plans.  Online since 1998 and offering a quarterly newsletter since 1997,
FRANCE On Your Own looks at France through the eyes of expats and experts living there, 
as well as providing cultural updates, regional features and travel tips. 
Send us an email today and subscribe to the free newsletter.

You can read the most recent issue by clicking here.

News from Our Members . . .

Getting the news!
  • Château de Sombrun in Gascony will not be open to guests in 2014.  The new owners have decided to close the château and plan to reopen in 2015.  For advance bookings or inquiries, please contact us at
  • Château de Détilly in the Loire will be happy to welcome you this summer ~ they have available rental weeks in both July and August.  The château and Coach House can accommodate up to 27 guests, and, of course, there is the swimming pool, tennis court and lovely gardens for your outdoor enjoyment.  For more information about availability, please contact us at
  • Chef Arnaud Lallement of restaurant L'Assiette Champenoise in Tinqueux near Reims has received a coveted three-star rating from Michelin for his use of  "ingredients of exceptional quality" and "recipes full of character".  Read the Michelin review or visit the Champagne grapes at Domaine Ployez-Jacquemart.  Copyright 2009 to present Cold Spring Press. All rights's web site. If you think you might want to experience this young chef's cuisine for yourself, we highly recommend (from personal experience) that you stay a few nights at Domaine Ployez-Jacquemart, less than 18 kilometers south near Ludes.  At the Domaine you will not only enjoy fine guest rooms and copious breakfasts (and dinner if you wish), but you can see Champagne production close up.  Madame Ployez produces award-winning Champagne and is delighted to share her expertise with guests.  You can contact her directly from our web site by telephone or email for information and reservations.
  • Traveling south this year?  You can rent the 13th century fortress castle, Château d'Agel, in Languedoc not far from Carcassonne, the Canal du Midi and Mediterranean beaches.  The château offers seven guest rooms sleeping up to 15 people, and it has a sparkling swimming pool.  They also have bicycles you can borrow to explore the beautiful countryside.  Currently, they have several available weeks in June and July and the week from August 30 to September 6 available.  Please contact us at to inquire or make a reservation.

Monument Historique

Please remember that  au Château gives every inquiry personal, prompt attention ~ and
we are here to answer your questions, unlike the automated online booking services.

[Contact us at  for availability or reservations at any property
mentioned in this issue. Please be sure to put the property name in the subject line.]

 Travel Suggestions . . .

  • You may be interested in Wine Routes France, owned and operated by Pierre-Raymond Galmes, a chauffeur with twenty-two years experience guiding his passengers to the finest restaurants and wineries in the wine regions of France.  He helps plan your itinerary, makes appointments with winemakers, arranges tasting lunches, introduces you to renowned chefs, and does step-by-step, day-by-day planning for you if you would like.  He can arrange for self-drive itineraries or chauffeur driven tours in non-smoking, air-conditioned luxury cars. He is fully licensed and registered with the authorities, and will take you to places you may not have discovered on your own.  For more information, visit his web site at or send him a fax at 44.1709.836612, and he will contact you.

  • Speaking of wine, David and Lynne Hammond (Bringing Burgundy to You) have asked that we pass the following information along for those planning to visit Burgundy this year:
Photo courtesy of and copyrighted by David and Lynne Hammond. All rights reserved.
    • Tailor-made wine tasting events for companies, clubs and private party celebrations. Something different to reward key staff or clients, a memorable event to mark your special birthday/anniversary or a Burgundy wine tasting for your wine, golf or social club. Visit our web site events page and click on the side bar topics. 

        If you are renting a château in France, you can arrange for David and Lynne to come to you
        for tastings, a special celebration or to introduce Burgundy wines to your group 
        of friends and family. Or, take cooking classes with Lynne in their 'old Burgundy farmhouse'. 
        Contact them through their web site.

  • We always travel with trip cancellation insurance, and we suggest that you do as well.  Weather conditions, illness or accident can disrupt a trip and leave you stranded ~ and you will lose the money you paid for travel and accommodations.  And, of course, there's always the chance of lost luggage!  Travel Guard is one of several companies offering packages covering emergency and personal assistance services customized to your travel needs.  They now have policies that offer concierge service: they will refer you to restaurants and make your reservations, buy event tickets, coordinate ground transportation, recommend local activities, and even get you tee time on a golf course.  From simple trip cancellation insurance to assistance with almost everything, Travel Guard is worth looking into for your next trip.  You can visit their web site at [Cold Spring Press and au Château have no financial or business relationship with Travel Guard.]

Normandy & the Northeast in 2014

If you are thinking of visiting Normandy this year to participate in or observe events commemorating the 70th Anniversary of the D-Day landings in World War II, or if you will be heading to Champagne-Ardenne, Lorraine or Picardie for events related to the 100th Anniversary of the beginning of World War I, we would like to suggest that you consider staying with one or more of the following members of our site.  They may still have accommodations available.  Mouse over photos to see what they offer; click on photos to visit their pages.

Normandy. . . 

Château de Boucéel, Bed and breakfast and gîtesChâteau de Bénéauville, bed and breakfastChâteau les Hauts, bed and breakfastChâteau de la Roque, Bed and breakfast and gîtes

Château de Canisy, Bed and breakfast and weekly rentalChâteau de Saint-Maclou, Bed and breakfast and Weekly rentalChâteau de Sommesnil, Weekly rentalChâteau de Servigny, Weekly rental

Northeast . . .

Château des Monthairons, bed and breakfastChâteau de Moulin le Comte, Bed and BreakfastDomaine Ployez-Jacquemart, Bed and Breakfast

Château d'Hattonchatel, Rental, Bed and BreakfastChâteau de Prauthoy, Bed and Breakfast

We hope that of the properties shown above, you will be able to find one in just the right location for your visit to France this year.  We would be pleased to contact them for you for availability and prices. 

Easy Recipe ~ Avocado Vinaigrette

We adapted this easy recipe from the Pala Mesa Resort in Fallbrook, California ~ it is the creation of Sean Sullivan, the chef at the resort's Aqua Terra restaurant. 

You will need 2 avocados (diced), 1 cup lime juice, 1 cup diced red onion, 1 small chipotle pepper, 6 ounces of honey, 2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro, 2 1/2 cups of grapeseed oil or extra light olive oil.

Combine avocados, lime juice, red onion, chipotle, and honey in a blender.  Purée until smooth.  While blending, slowly drizzle in the oil until it is all in. Pour into a bowl, season with salt and pepper, and stir in the cilantro.  A great dressing for your favorite salad.

Bon apétit!

[Photo credit Pala Mesa Resort - If you are ever visiting San Diego Country, you can find Aqua Terra at
2001 Old Highway 395, Fallbrook, CA 92028    Phone toll free in US 800.722.4700 ~ Local: 760.728.5881]

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

Answer to Quiz 117 - Where Are We?  from our Winter  issue

 Cardinal Richelieu and the town Richelieu (Indre-et-Loire)
Our winner  from California gave us all the above information
and even included the Cardinal's real name, Armand-Jean de Plessis.

Thank you all for participating!

Département maps courtesy of Wikipédia, France

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