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Winter 2017/2018
In this issue . . .

   Our Featured B&B:  Château du Fraisse in the Limousin

   An Invitation to Château de Courtomer for a Spring getaway

   Our Featured Rental:   Château d'Ambrus in Gascony

  News & Offers from our Members

and More!

Don't wait too long to plan your château stay . . .
You can still book for 2018 ~  and get ahead of the crowds for 2019..

We hope this newsletter gives you some ideas.

Highlighted links in this text will take you to the appropriate web sites.
Just click on any one of them.

This newsletter is best viewed with a Firefox  browser.

Our Featured B&B:
Château du Fraisse
in the Haute Vienne of the Limousin ~

Château du Fraisse.  Copyright Marquis de Monstiers de Mérinville.  All rights reserved.

Château du Fraisse

Château du Fraisse came into the family in 1220 by the marriage of Dame Quitterie du Fraisse, last descendant of the family of that name, to Urban Monstiers.  England's Black Prince burned it down in 1356, and it was rebuilt after the Hundred Years War by Jacques des Monstiers.  The main part, dating from the 16th century, was built by Jean des Monstiers de Froissac, Bishop of Bayonne and Ambassador for French Kings François I, Henri II and Charles V.

Dining Room at Chateau du Fraisse.  Copyright Marquis des Monstiers.  All rights reserved.
Elegant Dining Room

For 798 years Château du Fraisse has remained in the same family and transferred from father to son for several tens of generations.  In two years, the family will celebrate their 800th year in this cherished and very special home.

 Back of Chateau du Fraisse.  Copyright Cold Spring Press.  All rights reserved.The estate at Chateau du Fraisse.  Copyright Cold Spring Press.  All rights reserved.

The back of the château and the park

We have returned to this wonderful place five times over the years, not only because we have such warm feelings for the owners but also to spend time at this historic
Château bed & breakfast and the many charming villages in the region. 

For visitors with an interest in WWII history there is the nearby Oradour s/Glane, the memorial village that suffered a brutal massacre on June 10, 1944.  It has been preserved exactly as it was left that day.  But, on a happier note, there is charming Mortemart with a castle dating back to 995 AD and designated one of the Most Beautiful Villages of France.  Its covered market and tiny lanes make it a must visit.  Up the hill is the commune of Montrol-Senard, beautifully cared for and now an 'ecomuseum'.  The two villages make a pleasant day out in the countryside of Monts de Blond.

And don't miss a visit to Le Dorat to see the 11th century Romanesque Church of St-Pierre, the largest collegiate church in the center of France.  Forty kilometers southeast of the château is the city of Limoges, capital of the Haute-Vienne département and a center for Medieval and Renaissance enamels on copper, 19th century porcelain, and oak barrels used for Cognac and Bordeaux wines ~ some are also exported to California.

Be sure to view the video of Château du Fraisse.

Map of the Haut Vienne département.  Wikipedia

For reservations or more information about Château du Fraisse,
contact us at

[Photos © Famille des Monstiers de Mérinville.  All Rights Reserved.]

An Invitation ~
Rent Château de Courtomer
for the perfect Spring Getaway

Château de Courtomer orangerie.  Copyright E. Bonner.  All rights reserved.
The orangerie at Château de Courtomer

We all need a rejuvenating Spring break when winter finally comes to a close, so why not gather your friends and family for a week or longer stay at Normandy's lovely Château de Courtomer? 

Spring is a beautiful time of year to visit any region of France, but May is especially stunning as Normandy bristles with life: apple orchards are in full flower, the first foals are cantering around the fields and Normandy dairy cattle are out grazing in the lush meadows.  Whether you are looking for a Spring getaway, a wedding venue or the celebration of a family event, Château de Courtomer would be happy to welcome you.

First time guests will receive one night as the owners' treat and a complimentary gift.

Courtomer guest roomCourtomer Grand Staircase

support is now provided for guests seeking an increased level of attention during their stay.  Additional services, booked in advance, now include on-site concierge, housekeeping, catering or a private chef, special event management and much more.  Tailor-made packages for conferences and meetings are also offered.  No requirement is too big or too small, so be sure to inquire when booking your stay.

Map Orne.  Wikipedia.

Visit Château de Courtomer
on our site today to learn all about this elegant estate only  an hour and a half by train from Paris or two and a half hours by car.  We look forward to assisting you with your reservations or to answer your questions.  Contact us at

[Photos copyrighted by E. Bonner.  All rights reserved.]

French Quiz 132

Where are we?

Hint:  a center of education only 6 miles from the Mediterranean

Quiz 132.  Copyright Cold Spring Press.  All rights reserved.

Please provide the name of this beautiful city.

The first reader to send us the correct answer
 will receive our exclusive 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 newsletter.

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

Our Featured Rental:

Château d' Ambrus
in Gascony

Château d'Ambrus.  Copyright d'Arthuys family.  All rights reserved.
Château d'Ambrus

Château d' Ambrus traces its roots to the year 1259 and its most notable visitor, King Henri IV, is best known for his Edict of Nantes giving religious freedom to Protestants and as the grandfather of King Louis XIV.  The Château is self-catering and rented by the week with a maximum capacity of 30 guests.  There is a large swimming pool, tennis court, a 20-hectare park and interior courtyard for dining en plein air.

Swimming Pool.  Copyright d'Arthuys family.  All rights reserved.Medieval Entry Hall.  Copyright d'Arthuys family.  All rights reserved.

Swimming Pool                                                   Medieval Entry Hall

Your first impression when entering the château will be the Medieval atmosphere of the vast hall, adorned with furnishings and reminders that you are in the land of the Three Musketeers.  In fact, Charles de Batz-Castelmore d'Artagnan was the real person on whom Alexandre Dumas based his novel.  Charles was born in Lupiac, 68 kilometers to the south, and you can visit the Musée d'Artagnan in the village.

Guest Room.  Copyright d'Arthuys family.  All rights reserved. Salon.  Copyright d'Arthuys family.  All rights reserved.

Guest suite                                                       One of several salons
The château is encircled by massive stone walls ~ once you come through the gate you will sense the importance and history of this magical place.  The estate borders on the very eastern edge of the Landes Forest, Europe's largest, in a peaceful valley and is the ideal destination for a group of friends or family to gather for a special occasion or a relaxing holiday.

We are assisting visitors with their reservations for the summer of 2019, so why not contact us for your vacation in Gascony?   You won't regret time spent in this incredible château in a very special region of France.

Map of Lot-et-Garonne département.  Wikipedia.Please visit Château d' Ambrus on our site to see more photos and read about all it has to offer.  Contact us for answers to your questions or to make a reservation.

[Photos © Famille d'Arthuys family. 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.

Gargoyle Moulins Cathedral.  Copyright Cold Spring Press.  All rights reserved.

Gargoyle ~ Moulins Cathedral

The utterly charming city of Moulins is in the bucolic Allier département (03) of the Auvergne-Rhône Alpes region of France, and one of its main attractions is the Flamboyant Gothic Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Moulins.

Once the seat of the powerful Dukes of Bourbon, and in addition to the cathedral, it attracts visitors with its Centre National du Costume de Scène et de la Scènographie - the only of its kind in France with costumes and scenery from the Comédie-Française and the National Opéra of Paris among others.

Le Grand Café - Copyright Cold Spring Press.  All rights reserved.Le Grand Café Moulins  Copyright Cold Spring Press.  All rights reserved.

Locals will tell you not to miss the 1898 brasserie Le Grand Café at 49, place d'Allier in the town centre.  We enjoyed lunch there and learned that it was known for having been frequented in 1914 by a young Maurice Chevalier, later by Coco Chanel and was the setting for a chapter of Maigret Goes Home by Georges Simenon.  A television movie in 2008, Coco Chanel, had some scenes filmed in this beautiful brasserie.

All the celebrity history aside, we were very impressed by the stunning Art Nouveau
dining room, (with a touch of Art Déco here and there) an incredibly beautiful stained glass skylight, architecture by Italian Golfione and the ceiling frescoe by Auguste Sauroy. It is considered one of the most beautiful brasseries in France and was designated a Monument Historique in February of 1978 ~  40 years ago this month.

Le Vieux Murs, Souvigny. Copyright M/Mme Louyot.  All rights reserved.

Where to stay:  When in the Allier, we highly recommend Le Vieux Murs, an elegant château built at the beginning of the 20th century outside the pleasant village of Souvigny.

Tour the neighboring villages on country roads to see the abundance of Romanesque architecture, and enjoy the warmth and hospitality of your hosts at Le Vieux Murs. 

Contact us for answers to your questions or booking information.

Map of Allier. Wikipedia

[Photos copyrighted Cold Spring Press.  Vieux Murs photos copyrighted by M/Mme Louyot
.   All Rights Reserved.


News from Our Members . . .
& other travel information

                                Getting the news!

The Château Forge du Roy in the Dordogne sends you the following update:

For 2018, our availability is now as follows (showing weeks commencing) :

                April                      14, 21, 28

                June                      9 and 30

                September           1, 8, 15, 22, 29

                October                13, 20, 27

June and September are temperate and perfect for holidays.  We have a number of games on the Estate, and there is a huge selection of entertaining activities within easy reach.

Major improvements to The Forge and The Barn are approaching completion.   The kitchen in The Forge will be doubled in size with a new floor, lighting, and all new kitchen cabinets and appliances.  Eight bathrooms in total – three in The Forge and five in The Barn – have been completely refurbished.   A variety of other improvements to benefit guests are also underway throughout the Estate.

Château Rhodes

Château Rhodes
in the Ariège département of the Occitanie region, has a new owner ~ well, to be honest the 'new owners' are the past owners who first joined the au Château web site 15 years ago:  David and Hiroko Sindell.   They never stopped loving Château Rhodes, and when they heard it was for sale, they purchased it.  Be sure to visit them on our site and, perhaps, you will see that it is a great place for your next gathering of family and friends.

LAST MINUTE AVAILABILITY:  Château d'Agel in the Hérault département, quite near Narbonne, Béziers and Carcassonne, has had a last-minute cancellation for the week of April 21st to April 28th.  Madame Ecal-Besse is offering to rent the château for the week at a 15% discount off the current posted rate.  Six double rooms and a triple room sleep 15 people.  Contact us if you are interested.

In February of 2018 Château de Saint-Maclou-La-Campagne
  will come under new ownership as well.  The new owners will continue to host guests at this magnificent property, and when we have more details about them and their plans, we will let you know.


FOR SALE!!  The amazing Castell Rose château near Perpignan in 'the other south of France' is for sale.  This beautiful property offers astounding views of the Pyrénées while having easy access to Mediterranean beaches and  ~ it could not be in a more perfect location to continue the existing profitable B&B business or make it a family home with unlimited space and comfort.
Castell Rose views
Not only are there four guest rooms, a suite and family living quarters in the château, there are four sparkling new gîtes on the property for self-catering weekly rentals.

Although the château is for sale, guest reservations will be accepted and honored until a time when an offer to buy is in place.  See for yourself what a wonderful destination Castell Rose is for that vacation getaway for winter skiing in the Pyrénées or enjoying spring, summer and fall in one of the prettiest regions of France.  Contact us soon if you have questions, want to book your stay or need more details about Castell Rose.

Be sure to visit our Special Offers page often to see
what properties are discounting their rates or
offering guests a special bonus for booking with them.

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:  French Onion Soup

We have adapted this recipe from The New York Times, updated from the original 1954 (!) recipe.

You will need 3 tablespoons of unsalted butter, 2 large onions, peeled and thinly sliced. 3/4 teaspoon salt, 2 quarts of beef stock, 1 cup dry white wine,  1 tablespoon of dry sherry, 1 tablespoon of all-purpose flour, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, French bread sliced into 1/2 inch thick pieces and aged Gruyère cheese (grated).

French Onion Soup photo courtesy of New York Times Cooking.Melt butter in a heavy Dutch oven over medium heat. Add onions and ½ teaspoon salt, stir and cover, letting onions soften for 5 minutes. Remove lid and let onions caramelize until golden brown over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Adjust heat if onions are browning too quickly. The caramelization process may take 45 to 60 minutes.

Meanwhile, warm broth in a saucepan over low heat.
Once onions are caramelized, add wine and sherry to the pot and allow mixture to come to boil. Stir in flour and let thicken for a minute or two.

Slowly add warm broth, 1/4 teaspoon salt and the pepper to the onion mixture and boil uncovered for 10 minutes. Add more salt and pepper to taste.

Heat the broiler, and arrange individual ovenproof casseroles on a baking sheet. Ladle soup into casseroles, and cover top with bread slices. Sprinkle each casserole generously with Gruyère. Broil for a minute or two, watching carefully, until cheese melts and browns. Serve immediately.

Serves 4 to 6.   Bon appétit!

  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 131 - Where are we?  from our Autumn 2017 issue

The depiction of Joan of Arc at the stake can be found in Paris at
the Panthéon.  We only received one correct answer, and that
was from a long-time subscriber in South Carolina.  Our exclusive
Château Note Cards were sent to her with our thanks.

We appreciate everyone who participated.


Département maps courtesy of Wikipédia, France

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