Friday, August 12, 2016

Monday August 8

We woke up this morning, had breakfast, packed up the house and headed in the direction of our Chateau near Chambord.  We got on the highway through Montmarault, Saint-Bonnet-de-Four, ZAC Aeroport, and finally reached Bourges.  Didier hade selected several restaurants for lunch, but we found that the one who used to have 1 star but lost it, was closed today.  We parked the car under some trees and walked towards the giant cathedral near a park.  There were lovely flowers and fountains and a statue of a woman with the words Resistance.  Didier took off for the tourist office, and Anne and I walked into the park which had a small carousel, a band pavilion, and some beautiful gardens.  We walked around taking pictures and waiting for Didier to reappear.  I thought it was interesting that the landscape person had used swiss chard in the flower garden.  It looked awesome.

When we saw him coming we walked out of the park and gardens and looked at the details on the Bourges Cathedral which was spectacular.  We noticed that many of the human figures had missing heads, and there was another area of all heads.  We do not understand why, but we speculated. We did not go inside. 

We walked around the cathedral and headed for an area with shops and restaurants.  It is some sort of christian holiday today and also vacation time, so many shops are closed.  The streets and the buildings and the shops are very charming and picturesque.  We are lucky and find a lovely restaurant that is open, and that has a table for us. It is called Le Bourbonnoux.

We went for the 26 euro Menu Saveur and ordered a small bottle of sancerre.
We had an amuse bouche  but oops we were hungry and wolfed it down.  For our starter Didier ordered Bavorois de haricots verts de la firme des 4 sausons. et carpe sauce gaspacho  When it arrived he looked unhappy because it reminded him of something he does not like, but once he tasted it he was happy.  I can't remember what he thought it was, but the picture shows his expression.  (see flickr photo for these days).  Both Anne and I ordered the Crème d'aubergines a l'essuji de chevre pain aux noix et ciboulette. It was A>W>E>S>O>M>E!!!!!  Creamy, crunchy, smooth, spicy yum yum yum .  Eggplant with goat cheese and some other creamy stuff.

Now on to the main course.  Didier had piece de boeuf charolais a la plancha au sel de Guerande / reduction de veau au Menetour safon rouge.  As you can see a good piece of beef with delicious sides. I tasted all the bits in one bite and it was really good. 

Both Anne and I ordered the merfu radi au beurre, sauce a l'estragon et lentils vertes du berry au Colombo.  Anne said it was not merfu but another fish and the sauce was basil.  Regardless, it was very tasty and enjoyable.

The cheese course /fromagee de chevre frais, a ma facon, persil, echalotes, pain de champagne seche was just yummy.  Goat cheese elevated!  Then came the avant dessert sweets.  Green grapes rolled in  sugar.  Little meringues, Press fruit bits. chocolate, little tart bits. I ordered a sorbet on top of a meringue nest with fruit- nectarines, apricots, red grapes, quince, watermelon, strawberries.  Anne had the peach soup which I tasted.  It was beautiful and perfect for the warm day. Didier had a strawberry, Chantilly, item that was good also.  If you haven't looked at the flickr photos- link on left- you are really missing the eye candy.

The chef came out to say hello and then it was time to go.  We walked back down the beautiful street towards the cathedrale and then inside.  This is a spectacular building.  It has to be 5 or 6 stories high and the construction is awe inspiring.  I am not at all religious, but this was a spectacular work of art.  We wandered around then I sat for a moment.  Didier showed me some graffiti on the columns over the ages that still remains.  Anne walked right past me, and then we lost her for a few minutes when she went outside thinking we had exited before her.  We finally all caught up with each other and made our way across the city to the car.

We headed out of Bourges through /Vignoux sous les Aix and wine country soon arriving at Menetou-Salon at the Isabelle et Pierre Clement winery.  Inside we met the daughter of the family and did a tasting of several of their wines.  In speaking with the daughter, she told us she had just been in California, and in fact in Carlsbad (where I live) visiting their wine distributor Henry Corporation.  She was a very smart young lady who had left the family business, studied business at University, then decided wine was where she wanted to be and returned home.  It is a very beautiful tasting room and I believe the home adjacent is their family home.  We bought a few bottles (I think 6) and hit the road again.

We finally arrived at the village of Salbris where our airbnb castle was located.  We passed through the town and down a beautiful tree covered road and turned into a private driveway. we could see the castle through the trees.  I have a video on flicker that shows our approach and the Chateau.  This beautiful home has been rebuilt and torn down several times.  At one time in the past it was owned by Toulouse Lautrec.  It fell into disrepair and was purchased by the Schneider family who had the business Le Cruset. They tore it town and reused some of the materials , even creating a brick factory for the new building.  This was at the end of the 1890s.  The husband died, and the wife continued the construction of the building.  She lived with their 3 children in the left wing of the building and turned the right wing into a hunting lodge with visits from many prominent Parisians of the time. The wife was a socialite and spent part of the year in Paris, then in the south of France, and at the Chateau.  The chateau was sold I think after her death by the children, to the Michelin family (of the tires and restaurant stars) who used it as a summer camp for the children of their employees for many years. 

Our apartment was in the right wing on the 3rd and 4th levels.  It has been modernized inside, but features very high ceilings and windows, a modern kitchen, a toilet, a bath and washing machine, and a big open area for living room and dining room.  The bedrooms are upstairs, a very steep stairway, and in the attic with slanted ceilings. There were two bedrooms, one with two single beds, and another with a double bed. 

The cost was very reasonable, but there is no wifi, and no bathrooms upstairs so at night you had to carefully negotiate those stairs and make your way to the bathroom then back up.  The chateau now has 28 individual owners - many of whom only come here during hunting season. The owner of our apartment is a young travel agent in Paris, and his father also owns an apartment here just off the spectacular entry area with sweeping staircases.  Dad was a private safari guide in Africa for most of his life, and he showed us his apartment with many souvenirs of those days.  You can picture it I think without more description.  He gave us a brief tour when he arrived, and loaned us a bicycle if we wanted to ride.  He walked us around the property, and introduced us to another one of the owners whose daughter and son in law were visiting from Scotland.

We decided not to have dinner and instead settled for some cantaloupe, cheese, bread and wine and then went to bed.  We will be here for 2 nights and tomorrow we visit the Chateau Chambord.


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