Newsletter Banner

Winter 2014

In this issue 

    Welcoming Château Allure du Lac in the Pays de la Loire

   Our featured B&B:   Château de Picomtal in Provence's Hautes-Alpes

   Our Featured Rental:  Château de Sommesnil in Normandy

   News and Offers from our members

and more!

It's a good time to begin plans for your visit to France in 2015!
We hope this newsletter gives you some ideas.


Welcoming Château Allure du Lac . . .

. . .  a very special getaway in the Pays de la Loire

Château Allure du Lac.  Photo by Susan Stayne.  All rights reserved.

Château Allure du Lac

Chambre d'Argent.  Photo by Susan Stayne.  All rights reserved.

Château Allure du Lac is located in the bucolic Pays de la Loire region not far from the ancient city of Angers and within easy  access to the attractions of the Loire Valley.  It is is rented by the week, and the owner is happy to host special occasions such as weddings, family celebrations and seminars. 

Nineteen people can comfortably stay in beautiful en suite guest rooms and the adjoining Manoir, for a relaxing holiday.  Breakfast, lunch and dinner can be served in the dining room or on the lovely terraces overlooking the lake.  Picnic lunches will be prepared for that special outing in the park.

                                                                                   Chambre d'Argent

Guests are invited to fish in the 22-acre private lake, swim in the sparkling pool, take nature walks on the vast estate, or enjoy day trips to Loire vineyards, the royal châteaux, or to watch Formula One racing at Le Mans. 

The château is wheelchair accessible and has an elevator, and the owner is pleased to welcome children to the château. They will enjoy the games room, ping pong and a den for teenagers.

Wedding kiss.  Photo by Susan Stayne.  All rights reserved.
For those seeking just the right place for that special wedding or a family gathering, Château Allure du Lac is perfect ~ guaranteed by a warm welcome and reliable staff who can attend to your every need. 

Wedding Collage.  Photos by Susan Stayne.  All rights reserved. 

Wedding kiss on the balcony, bride in the chapel, reception hall, horse-drawn carriage ride.

And, remember that it is never too early to book your week or your wedding at the château.  Reservations for 2015 and 2016 are now being accepted ~ to get the date you want, early planning is very important.  Please visit the château on our site today, and  contact us with any questions you may have.

A 10% discount is being offered on all 2015 bookings
 made on or before December 31, 2014CONTACT US TODAY!

[Photo © Susan Stayne.  All Rights Reserved.]

French Quiz 121

Where are we?


~ A monk born here gave his name to a famous wine
region of Bordeaux, but we are in Brittany.

Quiz 121.  Photo copyright Cold Spring Press.  All rights reserved.

Please provide the name of the city.

<>The first person who sends us the correct answer will receive
 our exclusive FRANCE CALENDAR 2015
with our artist's rendering for each month.

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 2015 newsletter.

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

Featured Rental Château:

Château de Sommesnil 

~  in historic Normandy ~

Château de Sommesnil.  Photo Photo by David Daniel.  All rights reserved.
  Château de Sommesnil

This château is exceptional is every way.  First, those who rent the property are able to participate in themed holidays offered by the owner (art and painting, culinary courses, etc.) or they can design their own themes suitable for their party.  Second, transportation in an air-conditioned coach will be provided for your group to reach the château from Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris.  This added convenience ensures your time at Château de Sommesnil is off to a very good start!

Steeped in history, the château grounds boast an ancient wall and fine dependencies.  Very convenient to Paris, guests will find themselves surrounded by so many interesting and important attractions in Normandy ~ from churches and abbeys of the middle ages to charming seaports and riverside villages.  Painters will especially find this part of Normandy appealing, as the Impressionists did before them.

Comfortably accommodating up to 18 guests in nine en suite bedrooms, plans are underway to add several more guest rooms.  Unlike many weekly rental properties, breakfast is included in the rental rate, and dinners can be served

Chambre Gold at Sommesnil.  Photo by David Daniel.  All rights reserved.Sommesnil Beige Salon   Photo by David Daniel.  All rights reserved.Chambre Balcon at Sommesnil   Photo by David Daniel.  All rights reserved.

Chambre Gold, the Beige Salon and Chambre Balcon

PLUS, there are currently some special offers:

  • Five Days of Golf - golfers can enjoy five days at area golf courses, plus two additional days d visiting markets, abbeys, historic villages and WWII sites.  This is a 'mix and match' package, so activities for the 7 days can be arranged any way you choose.
  • Plein Air Painting -  There are still two or three open spots for those who would like to join a Plein Air Painting group next July 3 to 18 and there are more opening for September 7 to 16.
  • Remember that you and your group of friends or family can design your own themed week at the château, so do let us know what interests you.

Map Seine-Maritime.  Wikipedia

find out more, visit Château de Sommesnil on our site, and
contact us with questions, or to make a reservation.

[Photos © copyrighted by David Daniel.  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.

Cloisters at Abbaye de St-Paul de Cormery.  Photo copyrighted by Cold Spring Press.  All rights reserved.

The cloisters of Abbaye de St-Paul de Cormery

Cormery, with a resident population of about 1650 people, is a charming village in France's Indre-et-Loire département ~ and one we've visited several times in the past for dinner or lunch at the Auberge du Mail.

Auberge du Mail - photo courtesy of their web site  Auberge du Mail - photo courtesy of their web site
Auberge du Mail, Cormery
But, for the first time, we wandered off the main road to discover the ruins of this abbey, begun in 791 by Ithier, a minister of Charlemagne.  It is written, "Ithier, abbot of Saint-Martin of Tours and prochancellor of Charlemagne, had a "Celle" built in a wild desolate place called Cormaricus", which today is the village of Cormery ~ and no longer a wild and desolate place!  The abbey of St-Paul de Cormery is a ruin, but quite well preserved and the centerpiece in the town.

Abbaye de St-Paul de Cormery.  Photo copyrighted by Cold Spring Press.  All rights reserved.  Poster of event at Abbaye.  Photo copyrighted by Cold Spring Press.  All rights reserved.
  Abbaye de St-Paul de Cormery and Event Poster

Be sure to stay at Château de Reignac, just a few minutes from Cormery by car in the lovely village of Reignac-sur-Indre.  This quality bed and breakfast has elegant en suite guest rooms, beautiful grounds and a lovely dining room for enjoying breakfast each morning and dinner by advance reservation.  Contact them directly for reservations, and be sure to mention that you read about the château in au Château News.

Map Indre et Loire.  Wikipedia

[Photos copyrighted Cold Spring Press.  All Rights Reserved.
Photos of Auberge du Mail from their web site.]


Yabla - learn French online!

 Online French Video Immersion

Yabla French is an online video magazine for French learners
 who wish to improve their language skills. 

Authentic French videos include television programs, music videos,
 interviews, documentaries, and travel. 

Click on the banner to sign up or learn more!

Featured Château B&B:
Château de Picomtal 
  ~  in the Hautes-Alpes of Provence  ~

Château de Pictomtal.  Copyright Cold Spring Press.  All rights reserved.
Château de Picomtal

The classical Château de Picomtal
is a holiday experience not to be missed.  Not only are the comfortable en suite guest rooms tastefully appointed and furnished in accordance with the style and period of the château, but your host and hostess are interesting and friendly people whose love of their château is evident.  A photo of Chambre Boniface is below.

Chambre     Photo property of Château de Picomtal.  All rights reserved.From the château gardens, which took years of planning and work to create, to the historic rooms of the château, everything about Picomtal will fascinate you.  A video taken during restoration by the current owners is awe-inspiring ~ watch them literally raise the roof and recap towers!

The château gardens are worth exploring, and the view of Lac Serre-Ponçon below the château is spectacular.  Wander into the village, a brisk and easy walk, for a light meal or just to explore.  From either the château or the village you can see towns across the lake and panoramic mountain views.

Picomtal area.  Photo copyrighted Cold Spring Press.  All rights reserved.

Magical Views

Map of Hautes-Alpes, Provence.  Wikipedia
you haven't visited the Hautes-Alpes of Provence, you now have the perfect place to stay while discovering what this region has to offer including outdoor sports, hiking, skiing and water sport activities.  Visit their pages on our site, and contact us with your questions or to make a reservation at

[Photos © copyrighted by the owners of Château de Picomtal unless otherwise indicated by alt tags.. All rights reserved.]

News from Our Members . . .
and several special offers

  • Château Bétous in the Gers département of southwest France has closed its doors.  The owners regret having to cease accepting guests at their lovely château, but unforeseen circumstances were to blame.  We were very happy to have had them as members of our site for several years, and we know that the travelers who booked stays with them during that time found the Dixons perfect hosts and the château elegant and inviting.  We wish them all the best in their future endeavors.

  • Château Coulon Laurensac still has some openings for their Bordeaux wine tours ~ they will take participants to some of the most exclusive château producers.  Enjoy dinners in fine restaurants, all ground transportation and Ronald Rens' in-depth wine knowledge and expertise Getting the news!for the wine tours.  Small groups are their specialty, so contact us for available tour dates and prices or to ask questions. 
  • Spend the New Year at Château de la Barre as guests of Count and Countess de Vanssay.  You will enjoy a VIP welcome, cheese and vintage wine tasting supper in front of their fourteenth century fireplace, followed by visits the next day to the Loire's famous châteaux, a Festive Renaissance Feast at Leonardo da Vinci's home, and a tour of Le Mans on New Year's Day ending with a Grand Siècle Dinner at Château de La Barre.  Accommodations in beautifully appointed en suite guest rooms, of course, are included.  On January 2, you will be taken to the market and abbey in Vendôme, Cheverny castle, on to Château de Chambord and finally returned to Paris.  This is all inclusive a very reasonable price.  Contact us to learn more:
  • Champagne lovers!!!  Indulge yourselves in a two-day escapade of oenological magic:  Winter in Champagne.
Domaine Ployez-Jacquemart invites you to give your impression of the 2014 Harvest.  You will taste a minimum of nine different Premier and Grand Crus steel wines of Champagne.  You will try to make your own blend as a winemaker and discover the richness of Champagne terroirs.  They suggest a two-night stay at the Domaine (breakfast included), a tour, a very special tasting and dinner with a half bottle per person.  This offer is valid Mondays through Friday for 175 per person between the 19th of January to the 20th of February 2015.  Don't miss out on this extraordinary opportunity.  It is an inexpensive time of year to travel, and you will never forget the experience.  We enjoyed the cellar tour ourselves and the fascinating process of bottling Champagne.  Contact us today for your reservation, and do visit the Domaine on our web site.

  • Château de Courtomer in Normandy invites you to its Cultural Highlights and French Art of Living tour, April 17-23, 2015.
Exclusive tours of the Bayeux Tapestry, the cathedral and open air market at Sées, the National Stud farm at Haras du Pin, the D-Day landing beaches, Monet's Gardens at Giverny, a visit to Versailles and more are included. This elegant château will be your home away from home for the week where you can relax, enjoy a cooking lesson, learn about French wines and cheeses with Pascal, the sommelier, take a hot-air balloon ride and so much more.

There are limited places left, so please contact us very soon for information and availability.

  • La Borde Maison d'Hôtes in Burgundy has again been has been the recipient of Condé Nast Johansen's Award for Excellence 2015 for Europe and the Mediterranean.  This is the second time La Borde has won ~ in 2013 designated the Most Luxurious Guest House.  The 2015  award was presented for the property's "charm, comfort, service, beauty, refinement...".  La Borde has also received the designation Jardin Remarquable from the Comité des Parcs et Jardins de France.  The owner's have designed and planted a series of amazing gardens over  the past fourteen years, and this recognition is well deserved.
Don't miss the opportunity to stay at La Borde when next in France.  We can personally attest that you will find the accommodations, service and attentive hosts unforgettable. Enjoy the exercise room, the spa, the swimming pool, and all the relaxing spaces created just for guests' enjoyment.  It is truly a marvelous and relaxing place to stay, and you can even arrive by helicopter!  Contact us for more information or reservations.

  • Château Robert in the wonderful southwest of France is offering an Early Booking Discount: 15% off week-long group stays or book 3 nights for your group and get 4th night free - if reserved and confirmed before January 31, 2015.  Please don't miss this opportunity by delaying.   Contact us very soon for information and availability.

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
on our site or mentioned in this issue. Please be sure to put the property name in the subject line.]

Easy Recipe ~  Lemon Curd

This rich, custard-like delight is easy to make and can be spread on toast or brioche for a real treat.  

You will need 1-1/2 sticks of butter (diced), 1 cup of extra fine sugar, grated zest and juice of 3 lemons, and 4 egg yolks.

Put the butter, sugar, lemon zest and juice into a heatproof bowl.  Suspend the bowl over a pan of simmering water - the bottom of the bowl should not touch the water. The butter will begin to melt.  Whisk the mix until it is very smooth.

Add the egg yolks and whisk vigorously (for 10 minutes) until the mixture begins to thicken.  Pour the curd into ramekins or a jar, and cover with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate.

Serve and enjoy!  Bon appétit!

[Recipe adapted from Michel Roux's "Eggs" cookbook with our thanks and appreciation.
Michel Roux opened the first Michelin-starred restaurant in Britain and
a second restaurant held three Michelin stars for over twenty-five years.
Copyright 2005 and published by John Wiley & Sons.  ISBN 0-471-76913-4]


Click on the above banner to buy this highly-praised cookbook.

  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 120 - Where Are We?  from our  Autumn issue

The  St-Michel Fountain in Place St-Michel in Paris.

  The winner is a subscriber from West Hollywood, California, and we congratulate her!

Département maps courtesy of Wikipédia, France

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.

© 2000-2014 au Château - Cold Spring Press.  All Rights Reserved