Tag Archives: Hostellerie de Plaisance

Bordeaux à table!

Often described as a food wine, Bordeaux wine needs good food to show to its best advantage, food and wine matching has become quite the art. Lucky then that the food and restaurant scene in Bordeaux is thriving with new chefs and well established ones opening new restaurants or taking over established names.

But what of the chateaux themselves? Surely they should be show-casing their wines with food? Many chateaux are happy to organise meals for groups with a little advance notice, some like Chateau Phelan Segur will even welcome you into their kitchens for a cooking class first. But should you wish to dine independently amongst the vines it is also possible.

It’s not new, three very well established Bordeaux examples are Château Lynch Bages in Pauillac, with Chateau Cordeillan Bages, Château Smith Haut Lafitte in the Graves with Les Sources de Caudalie, and Hostellerie de Plaisance in Saint Emilion, owned by Chateau Pavie, all of which take wine hospitality to internationally renowned levels with Michelin stars in their respective hotel restaurants.

Chateau Cordeillan Bages in Pauilllac

Chateau Cordeillan Bages in Pauilllac

Saint Emilion on the right bank is a particularly popular destination so it’s no surprise that wineries here welcome guests offering food alongside their wines. Château Troplong Mondot opened Les Belles Perdrix in 2013. Starting off as casual dining for guests staying in the chateau guest rooms, it was awarded a its first Michelin star this year and the views from the terrace are some of the best in the region.

The Terrace of les Belles Perdrix at chateau Troplong Mondot in Saint Emilion

The Terrace of les Belles Perdrix at chateau Troplong Mondot in Saint Emilion

Chateau Angelus, on the other side of the medieval city, decided to go another path. Rather than opening a restaurant at the chateau, they bought the restaurant Le Logis de La Cadene in the heart of the town in 2013, which thanks to the skill of chef Alexandre Baumard, has rapidly gained a excellent reputation.

Delicious and elegant fare at Logis de la Cadene in Saint Emilion

Delicious and elegant fare at Logis de la Cadene in Saint Emilion

So much for fine dining, but for a relaxed lunch with that glass of wine, call in to Château La Dominique on the boundary between Saint Emilion and Pomerol. The chateau joined forces with the Bordeaux Restaurant ‘La Brasserie Bordelaise’ to offer informal fare on the roof of their new Jean Nouvel designed cellar, where the glass red pebbles resembling the open top of a fermenting vat of wine compete for your attention with the views over the famous names of Pomerol. On the foothills of the famous limestone slopes of Saint Emilion, the tiny fairy tale Château de Candale was recently renovated to include a restaurant with a delightful terrace looking across the Dordogne valley.

But if you can’t make it to Bordeaux (although you really should) Bordeaux can come to you.

Previously mentioned, Château Phelan Segur, is owned by the Gardiner family. They are famous for their food and wine hospitality at the beautiful Les Crayeres Hotel and restaurant in Champagne. Having added the Taillevent restaurant in Paris to their portfolio they recreated a bistro version, Les 110 de Taillevent, in both London and in Paris, named after the range of 110 wines offered by the glass, that I have raved about in a previous post.

But the jewel in the crown has to be the restaurant ‘Le Clarence’ opened in Paris at the end of last year by Château Haut Brion.

Le Salon of Le Clarence : all the elegance of Chateau Haut Brion in the heart of Paris.

Le Salon of Le Clarence : all the elegance of Chateau Haut Brion in the heart of Paris.

Chateau Haut Brion is one of the oldest and most respected vineyards in Bordeaux, not surprising then, that when they turned their minds to hospitality they would get it right. Their objective was to re-create in Paris the same chateau atmosphere that visitors enjoy in Bordeaux. Having been fortunate enough to dine at both Château Haut Brion and Chateau La Mission Haut Brion, I can vouch that their signature warm and elegant hospitality is perfectly mirrored in their new venture in Paris.

The library dinning room of Le Clarence

The library dinning room of Le Clarence

The ‘Hotel Dillon’ is not a hotel but a ‘town house (‘hotel particulier’ in French), named after the Dillon family who acquired the property in 1935. It is just off the Champs Elysées on avenue Franklin Roosevelt. The 19th century building houses the headquarters of the wine company but also beautiful reception rooms, a bar, the elegant dining room of ‘Le Clarence’ and an underground cellar. The cellar alone is worth a visit, with a vaulted brick ceiling and suitably stocked with not just wines from the family vineyards but other Bordeaux and from further afield.

The cellar, as spectacular as the bottles it contains.

The cellar, as spectacular as the bottles it contains.

The décor is sublime – you are indeed transported to a chateau atmosphere with carefully curated furnishings and art. The food is on a par with the surroundings, seasonal with a twist to traditional dishes. It is the perfect place to show the wines of their vineyards to their best advantage. Once you have tasted this Bordeaux hospitality in Paris, you will inevitably be drawn to come and sample the real thing.






All change in and around Bordeaux in the restaurant line up.

The Michelin star accolades that arrive in February each year are a sign of the times, none more so than in and around Bordeaux, where there were a few surprises this year. So if you plan your wine tourism around places to eat (which sounds like plan to me) here’s a quick update.

It’s been a game of musical chairs in the Bordeaux gastro scene. On the move this spring is the Michelin stared chef Nicolas Frion, who has presided over the kitchens of Le Chapon Fin for the last 11 years. The iconic Chapon Fin is a Bordeaux Institution (and probably still my favourite smart place to dine in Bordeaux city). It first opened its doors in 1825 and has kept its Michelin star in this year’s ratings along with Le Septième Péché, Le Gabriel and Le Pavillon des Boulevards in Bordeaux, and in the oustskirts of Bordeaux, Le Saint-James
in Bouillac, La Cape in Cenon and Jean-Marie Amat
 in Lormont.

Although the restaurant retains his name, Jean-Marie Amat re-opened in March under the young chef Vivien Durant, big shoes to fill but he was hand picked by the maestro so I’m optimistic.

Le Pressoir d’Argent at The Grand Hotel de Bordeaux lost its star with the departure of Pascal Nibaudeau for the Pinasse Café en Cap Ferret. Stéphane Carrade from la Guérinière in Arcachon has taken his place (told you it was musical chairs!) although Stéphane previous held 2 Michelin stars at Chez Ruffet in Jurançon.

Chef Stephane Carrade from Le Pressoir d'Argent at Le Grand Hotel

Chef Stephane Carrade from Le Pressoir d’Argent at Le Grand Hotel

Outside of the city La Grande Vigne Restaurant at Les Sources de Caudalie kept their star and the hotel is adding to their gastro offer this summer with a new ‘epicierie-bar’, alongside 12 new suites all built, Arcachon style, on stilts.

Further south, in Sauternes country, the fourth generation of the Darroze family kept their star at  Claude Darroze in Langon whereas in and around Saint Emilion is also a hotbed of changes. After the departure of Philippe Etchebest from l’Hostellerie de Plaisance, it was no great surprise that they lost both their Michelin stars. Philippe, despite his recent TV stardom, is hopefully not lost to the region as rumour has it he is opening his own restaurant in Bordeaux. After 10 years working with the Perse family, who are also the owners of the recently promoted 1st growth Château Pavie, and gaining 2 stars, he has been replaced by a fellow Basque Cédric Béchade, who was launched onto the Bordeaux scene at the start of this primeur week with a gala dinner at Château Pavie.

Not to be outdone in the gastro stakes, Château Angelus has also announced their purchase of Saint Emilion institution Le Logis de la Cadène. This picturesque restaurant is one of the favourite haunts of locals, despite being on one of the most treacherously slippery slopes of the medieval town. Christophe Gaudi now manages it and the kitchen has been taken over by the young Alexander Baard. Come and test his talents out this summer before they close for a complete renovation of the guests rooms this winter.

On the outskirts of Saint Emilion the little known but increasing popular Cafe Cuisine, on the banks of the Dordogne River in Branne, has renovated their dining room to become a trendy spot for locals. Further upstream, The Auberge Saint Jean in Saint Jean de Blaignac has won its first Michelin star after continued improvement since 2010 when it was taken over by Manuela and Thomas L’Hérisson.

Head out even further east into the Dordogne to the beautiful golf and country club, Chateau des Vigiers, where chef Didier Casaguana of Les Fresques Restaurant has just won his first Michelin star too.

The beautiful Chateau des Vigiers

The beautiful Chateau des Vigiers

Now even the most seasoned visitors to the region have plenty of new places and chefs to try this season.



There’s more to Bordeaux than….

wine and history and culture….…. there’s also food.
Traditionally visitors to Bordeaux end up quacking after a few days with the Foie gras and Sauternes, Magret and Medoc or Confit de canard and Saint Emilion matches that are often served in local chateaux and bistros alike – and who can complain it’s all delicious but there is more to the local gastronomy than duck.
Think the famous ‘Agneau de Pauillac’, you can guess which wine is served with that, and the ‘Asperges de Blaye’ always delightful in spring with the dry white Sauvignon blanc based blends.
There is one product that seemed lacking and that is a local cheese. Renown Bordeaux cheesemonger Jean d’Alos has now come up with an new idea based an old tradition to remedy this. In the past, local shepherds would make a spring cheese from milking their goats kept in the Graves vineyards before herding them back to towards the Pyrenees for the summer. In the 15th century cellar under the town centre shop the cheesemongers from Jean d’Alos have renewed this tradition. Ageing hard goats milk cheeses named Tomme d’Aquitaine for at least 4 months and washing them twice a week with Sauternes to give them a unique fruity flavor.

The 15th century aging cellar under the town centre Jean d’Alos cheeseshop

And how about some fish, yes the Atlantic ocean is not far, giving a wonderful supply of shellfish, in particular oysters. However the famous Gironde estuary that influences the microclimate of the Medoc is also traditionally home to the Sturgeon. The wild Sturgeon was sadly over fished long ago but is now being introduced and a local company Sturia is now France’s leading caviar producer with sturgeon being farmed at 9 different sites producing 12 tonnes of caviar each year. The often forgotten flesh of the Sturgeon is also delicious and local Michelin star chef Philippe Etchebest from the beautiful l’Hostellerie de Plaisance in Saint Emilion is a big fan, often using it, as well as the caviar, in his recipes. He has now gone a step further creating a small range of products based on the sturgeon.

Tasting the Sturgeon pâté on the terrace of the Hostellerie de Plaisance.

There are 2 pâtés (my favourite is the slightly spicy one) and a marinated sturgeon with an Asian flavoured marinade and you don’t have to come to Saint Emilion to try them (although I do recommend it). Both are available on the web site and can be shipped, now all you have to do is decide which of Bordeaux 60 appellations matches best – bon appétit!

A little bit of Britain in the heart of St Emilion

Staying in a working vineyard is always a treat and in Bordeaux you are spoilt for choice. Between luxury hotels on, or associated with, vineyards (think Les Sources de Caudalie, Hostellerie de Plaisance and Cordeillan Bages) and more low key but often just as luxurious B & B’s think Chateau de Mole and Chateau Grand Faurie Larose (more of which soon to follow in another post). You can even privatise a Chateau for your guests and live like a chatelaine at Chateau La Lagune or live like a local in a self catering gite such as Chateau Biac

Somewhere in between the 2 is one of my favourites. Chateau Franc Mayne is a classified growth of St Emilion, owned and run by Griet Laviale. On the eastern slopes of the limestone outcrop at the heart of the appellation the Chateau overlooks the vineyards not just of saint Emilion but also Pomerol with views of the Tertre de Fronsac in the distance. The chateau is the perfect location for a boutique hotel, only 5 minutes from the village by bicycle (which they provide).

Griet has used the site beautifully with the 9 bedrooms in the main chateau, where her artistic flair and familiarity with high-end hotels has been put to good use. The sumptuous living room with its honesty bar and oenomatic wine selection leads to the onto the terrace and natural swimming pool overlooking that view. The pool reflects the eco concerns of the owners, as do the agricultural practices of the estate and the complete recycling of all water used in the winery as well as the hotel.

Close by are the redesigned winery cellars with the latest oak and stainless vats and the 9th century quarries used for ageing.

The View across the vines to Fronsac

Never one to stand still Griet is just putting the finishing touches to 2 new guest rooms in the 18th century post house situated on the very top of the property along side the old roman road leading from Libourne to the heart of Saint Emilion. This road was used by the pilgrims on their way to Saint Jacques de Compostella in the middle ages and it is now dedicated to more modern hedonistic pilgrims in pursuit of fine food & wine.

The two rooms in the post house are a perfect getaway for a family or friends, slightly away from the main house. For obvious reasons the Oxbridge room, with its private terrace, speaks to me. Both rooms have what must be the biggest showers in Saint Emilion, if not Bordeaux, where you can sing under the shower with a view over the vines.

The Oxbridge room

You are not limited to supping Saint Emilion while you are in residence, Griet owns 2 other properties in the region; the spectacular Chateau de Lussac in the heart of the satellite appellation Lussac Saint Emilion and Château Vieux Maillet in Pomerol and are available for tasting, and drinking, at the property.

Keep on eye on the Relais Franc Mayne as they are currently redesigning the tour in the underground quarries and, in keeping with their eco philosophy, they will be building a tree house in the famous Cedars (the name of their second wine) for the next season.

Where to stay in Saint Emilion

2 wonderful new ideas of where to stay in Saint Emilion.
Yes the Hostellerie de Plaisance is fabulous and no visit to Saint Emilion would be complete without trying the 2* Michelin cuisine of Philippe Etchebest and for a vineyard hotel Château Franc Mayne is a great boutique hotel with a wonderful ‘natural’ pool. However there are now some lovely bed and breakfast and self catering options.

Staying on a vineyard is always a favourite and the recently promoted 1er Grand Cru Classé Château Troplong Mondot has opened beautiful rooms for bed and breakfast as of this spring.
Under the name ‘Les belles Perdrix’ Troplong Mondot has a one bedroom cottage in the vines, a 2 bedroom apartment and a separate en-suite bedroom all in and around the beautiful château with fantastic views overlooking the medieval town of Saint Emilion all only a few minutes stroll away through the vines (take a torch for the return after dinner!). Beautifully renovated with the artistic influence of Xavier Pariente in evidence, Margaux Pariente will give you more details on m.pariente@chateau-troplong-mondot.com

If you want to be independent and sample the fare from local markets Sharon Harris of Wine Villas has an amazing property on the edge of the village. Fully modernised with a state of the art kitchen, 4 en-suite bedrooms and a pool. The open plan living is all designed around entertaining, it’s the perfect choice for foodies. Sharon whose experience in rentals started with her beautiful Calistoga home in Napa will even lay on a chef for you to prepare the local specialities if that 5 minute walk to the local restaurants is too much to bear!

An artist’s retreat : The Belle Perdrix Cottage in the Château Troplong Mondot Vineyard

Stars of Bordeaux

The 2010 Michelin guide is out and the stars are shining in Bordeaux.
4 new stars; 1 for Gabriel, the new restaurant overlooking the Garonne and the Mirroir d’eau in the beautiful 18th century place de la Bourse where the talent of Francois Adamski has been rewarded with his first star so soon after opening.

A first star also to Pascal Nibaudeau at the Grand Hotel de Bordeaux for the Le Pressoir d’Argent restaurant and a much deserved first star for Nicolas Masse at Les Sources de Caudalie gastronomic restaurant: La grande Vigne. Last but not least, another star for the Pessac Leognan region, for Christophe Girardot La Table de Montesquieu at La Brède.

All this along with the other 2 star restaurants in Bordeaux: Le Chapon Fin and Le Pavillon des Boulevards, the 1 star Amat au Prince Noir and our 2 star michelins in the vineyard; Philippe Ecthebest at the Hostellerie de Plaisance in Saint Emilion and Thierry Marx at Cordeillan Bages in Pauillac

Bordeaux never tasted so good!

Discover Bordeaux this summer – the right bank

Saint Emilion (East of Bordeaux )
Almost as well known of the Medoc is the beautiful medieval town of Saint Emilion to the East. History and wine as well as beautiful landscapes.

Hostellerie de Plaisance is a Relais château in the centre of this medieval town. It has been recently renovated with a 2 star Michelin restaurant. Chef Philippe Etchebest is young and delightful. Owner Gerard Perse also owns Château Pavie and Monbousquet contact@hostelleriedeplaisance.com

Château Franc Mayne has been converted into a boutique hotel with each room being funkier than the previous one. You can contact the owner directly, she also owns 2 other properties in the area: Griet Laviale, glvm@bluewin.ch

La Poudette Restaurant , 1 Bernadigot, 33350 Pujols, serves fantastic regional specialities
Tel : 05 57 40 71 52, email contact@la-poudette.com

Château Petit Villages can be found next door in Pomerol. It does not have rooms but is an ultra modern winery, a real change amongst all the old world properties, with a lovely dining room for groups. Lori Julia, their American hostess, does terrific visits for the public.

The fabulous modern cellars of Petit Villages

Should you fancy living like a local how about renting a house
Sharon Harris rents out a super 4 en suite bedroom house with a pool in Saint Emilion www.winevillas.com or contact Marilyn Clegg www.maisoncayrol.com whose beautiful home between St Emilion and Castillon has several different rental options contact : marilynclegg@hotmail.com

FRONSAC A relatively unknown region of Bordeaux with some of the most beautiful hillsides overlooking the Dordogne.

One of the most imposing Château open to the public is Château La Rivière www.vignobles-gregoire.com contact : Maïté BELLOUMEAU-DUPUY reception@vignobles-gregoire.com Not only can you visit the winery, taste the wines and see the spectacular underground caves but also spend the night in one of the 5 guest rooms.