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Jan 13, 2011 12:29 PM

Eating and Sleeping outside of Paris (very long)

Whenever possible, my husband and I stay in chambre d’hotes, the French version of a B&B. Our favorites offer an evening meal, a table d'hote, usually communal, where you will sample local specialties and meet guests from around the world but almost never from the U.S.. Here are some chambre d'hotes and small hotels that we have enjoyed in the last few years.

Beaujolais: Poilly le Châtel in Denisé. Sylvaine and Bruno Chevalier are generous and astute hosts, winemakers and cooks. Our room opening onto the courtyard was huge and comfortable, breakfasts were copious and interesting, dinners were superb. Well situated for crawling the Beaujolais vineyards. They also have a cool dog.

Challonaise: Maison Neipce in Sennecey le Grand. John and Huguette, Belgians, have renovated the 18C house originally built by the “inventor” of photography. Huge, comfortable and breezy in summer rooms. Generous breakfasts and dinners. John cooks, Huguette joins the table at dinner. Another cool dog.

Near Beaune: Maison Chaudenay in Chagny. New Zealanders Bruce Leonard and his wife offer a superb apartment, fully equipped for any kind of cooking. Bruce drives to the next village to get the best croissants each morning and leaves them at your door by 8am. Very generous hosts and comfortable, convenient room. Great for exploring Beaune and the Cote d’Or, Fromagerie Gaudry, Cassisarium et al.

In heart of Dijon: Maison Perrichet This (Bénigne le Compasseur) had it all: a hundred steps from the Place de la Liberation, 15 minutes from Les Halles and or a handful of excellent restaurants. Private patio with “living wall” was a cool place to enjoy August lunches. Loved this place! M. Perrichet was a delightful and helpful host.

The Jura: The Relais des Abbesses located on the cliff at Chateau Chalon is a perfect place to chase the food and wines of the Jura. Excellent restaurants at Arbois but also an accomplished table d’hote at the Relais. Large comfortable rooms. Warm welcome.

The Bugey: The Chambres des Bousseron is a lovely riverside home of the Rivoires. Huge, comfortable rooms, generous hosts. Fine breakfast. A separate garden house provides a complete kitchen and dining area should you want to prepare a picnic or meal. Short drive to Cerdon, the home of the celebrated Bugey de Cerdon. Bring home a case of this delightful and hard to find wine. Also visit the copper factory museum in Cerdon.

The Loire: Moulon du Port on the Cher, minutes from Chenonceau. Lovely rooms on the river. Generous breakfast and professional dinner. Most satisfactory, but lacked the charm we often find.

Cosne sur Loire: Le Prieuré. Oh, my! This place has my heart. Such lovely hosts, such lovely rooms. Enormous breakfast. How I wished they served dinner…but they are only 15 minutes from Le Chat. Can’t ask for more than that, can you. Just across the river from Sancerre vines. .

Roannaise: La Colline du Colombier. This property is a second tier/country Troisgros venture. There are three apartments plopped in the fields and garden. Complete kitchen in each, full breakfast materials on hand and delivered each evening for the next morning. The Grand Couvert serves both lunch and dinner. Excellent! Or drive into Roanne to either of the other Troisgros dining rooms. Le Central is very good and very inexpensive. The Colline is not cheap, but it is not expensive considering the quality and generosity of the hospitality.

Ardeche: Hotel Faurie in St. Agreve. This is another Oh, my! After a curvwinding ride into the mountains from Valence, you find yourself at this tiny hotel in the village of St. Agreve. Where else could you have a chef who walked away from a 2-star kitchen cook for just for you? There are only 4 bedrooms now in this hotel that used to belong to Phillipe Bouissou’s grandfather. Phillipe cooks for a maximum of 8 people at night. On our very early spring visit, he cooked for us alone! 85€ for an achingly huge and perfect dinner. Equally generous breakfast sends you on your way. I love this place!

Languedoc: Auberge du Cedre is well known to many Chows. Amazing list of local wines. Check carefully what you are booking as some rooms do not have private baths. We particularly like the garden room. Adequate pension meals during the week, and full menu on weekends.

Le Mimosa in Saint Guiraud. This comes with a caveat or at least a question. When we last visited, July 2010, David told us that they were closing at the end of the season after 27 years. He promised to advise us of the finality of it, but we haven’t heard from him. The website also says that they are closed ‘for the winter’. So we will watch and see. In the past, we have loved staying in their tiny hotel in the nearby village of St. Saturnin and the well crafted dinners at the restaurant in St. Guiraud. Bridget and her daughter cook; David is very knowledgeable about all of the local wines. He does brilliant pairings. Note: During season, he features local wines; off season, he tells us he sells more wines from other areas because locals want something different. We’ve had to ask for the local list in the very early spring.

Biarritz: Nere Chocoa. A very comfortable house in central Biarritz, between the gare and beach. We stayed here to make a run over the border to restaurant Etchebari. Large, comfortable room, lovely hosts, generous breakfasts.

Bretagne: Chateau Mont Dol. is central for visiting Cancale and Mont St. Michel. Several comfortable rooms and excellent dinner . The chef/owner used to be the Chef at the French Embassy in London. Dinner for four was set before a roaring fire in the drawing room. Most enjoyable.

Of course, if you want the full treatment, few guest houses compare with Roellinger’s
Les Rimains. Book the room “Badianne” for its windows on the sea and fireplace. Sumptuous breakfast in your room. Find lunch or dinner at le restaurant Le Coquillage.

On the south coast, Le Moulin de Rosmadec in Pont Aven. In a village that is almost too pretty, Le Moulin provides very comfortable riverside rooms (with guaranteed private parking, no small perk in such a destination village.) Choices of the formal Moulin restaurant, the informal Sur le Pont, or many village options. This was a sleeper. We were sure that we would hate the touristy atmosphere, but the natural beauty, fun shops, fabulous museum and very good food choices made us love this place.

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  1. Wonderful report. The entirety, including every and and but and every punctuation, goes into my archive. Merci encore.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Parigi

      I hope this is only a start that we can all add to. Please.

      1. re: mangeur

        Oh I see.
        My fave ferme-auberge b&bs are:

        Mas de la Madeleine in Largentière. The owner keeps sheep and ducks and has a potager and finds time to manage 5, 6 lovely rooms. Dinner menu 26 euro. All the ingredients come from the farm.

        Basque country:
        Olhabidea, outside the listed beautiful village of Sare.
        Has only about 3, 4 rooms. Reserve long time in advance.
        Lunch menu is around 35 euro, no choice, but everything we have tasted has not been good, has been great. The auberge invites the guests to join in a great game: The guests can choose not to be told what the dishes are and can guess after tasting. We loved the game and did quite well.

        Northern Brittany:
        Ferme de la Porte, by the river Rance, in Saint Jouan des Guerets, between St Malo and Dinan. The first time we arrived, on a bitter cold afternoon, a whole pig was being roasted in the big fireplace in the dining room. Have been hooked every since. Again the meat is from the farm. The veg is from nearby associate farms.

    2. In four years of chowhounding, l have only saved five threads to my profile, this makes number six, WOW

      1. I'll be saving your report, too! I've also been a happy boarder of the Rivoires (during the Ambronay festival) and a charmed visitor to Pont Aven.

        1. I am adding Parigi's good recs from a recent related thread:

          "Bourgogne: (Puisaye) La Ferme des Perriaux, actually quite near chez Soup, is a nice ferme-auberge-b&b. I think the same family also runs the wonderful Auberge de la Gare in St Fargeau. Nothing sophisticated. You know ferme-auberges. Just extremely fresh food.

          Another nice ferme-auberge is Le Vieux Chateau in Oulon, near Prémery, which is more or less between Beaune and Cosne. It has a very nice b&b suite. 03 8668 1829. Mme Fayolle

          Don't confuse this with the quite basic b&b across the courtyard managed by Mme Fayolle's daughter.
          It also has good food, but food-wise I like Ferme de la Gare in St Fargeau best.
          Don't forget to say coucou to Soup."

          One from Laidback re Avallon: "Roughly ½ way between Beaune and Cosne is Avallon, a picturesque town on its own, with the Moulin des Ruats just south of there in a lovely setting spanning a trout stream. The rooms are rather plain but the common areas and grounds are very nice and the owner/chef has the nicest gourmet restaurant in the area. We enjoyed a 2 night stay there between Auxerre and Autun."

          And from Gman re Charolles: "...we had a fantastic meal in December at Frederic Doucet at the Hotel de la Poste... I think it may have been the best meal of my life in fact. Had some kind of degustation menu which was around 60 euros. Seems to change often. Mine was St. jacques two ways, then a bar dish, and then St. Pierre with a surprising mixture of pinapple and potiron,.then a filet charollais in bordelaise, a huge cheese cart, terrific desserts and mignardises. The amuses were quite good too. We were snowed in and spent the night as well and found it to be very comfortable."

          In the purported words of Oliver Twist, "More, please."

          5 Replies
          1. re: mangeur

            Quoting verbatim I add Pti's "favorite restaurant in the whole Western world, Au Lion d'Or in Arcins (Médoc)".

            1. re: Parigi

              Thanks dear you saved me from writing a post :-)

              1. re: Ptipois

                Can we have a little more from you, Sweets? ;-)

            2. re: mangeur

              The "Nid à Bibi",, is a delightful place in a splendid, bucolic setting in the Ain department, an easy drive to Bourg en Bresse. Bibi is an excellent cook, so in addition to the splendid breakfast, we requested a dinner one of our nights there. Only 5 rooms, but a large place with gardens. You are also not too far from Vonnas, if you care to dine with the master chef of the area, Georges Blanc.

            3. Well, this is just a fantastic thread! I am copying and pasting it so I can have it for "future reference." Milles mercis!