THE BEST BASE FOR EXPLORING THE LOIRE VALLEY IN FRANCE

THE BEST BASE FOR EXPLORING THE LOIRE VALLEY IN FRANCE

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It’s not hard to imagine the Auberge du Bon Laboureur and the village of Chenonceaux as it might have been back in the late 1700s.  In those days, the Inn was a postal relay station, where the mail man could get a meal, a rest and fresh horses before continuing the journey.

Today, both the village and the Inn have retained much of the charm of that era, but with modern conveniences. 

Just like the mail carrier, I  found that the family-owned Auberge is the perfect place to stop and, in my case, stay a few days.  It’s a luxuriously comfortable and Michelin star delicious base for exploring the beautiful Loire Valley in France.

Location in the Loire

An enormous UNESCO World Heritage site and a short ride from Paris, the Loire Valley stretches 280 kilometres (174 miles) along the Loire River from Angers to Orléans.   This is where the royals and nobles of the Renaissance built their castles for strategic importance and generally showing off.  And they knew how to party.  That’s why this fertile valley is also dotted with delightful vineyards and wine cellars. 

The Auberge du Bon Laboureur is right in the middle of things.  As you can see from the map below, many of the most gorgeous and popular Châteaux are within an easy driving distance from the Auberge (the house in a green circle). 

Not only is it the perfect base for exploring, you get to experience the Loire Valley from an authentic French country village, just as the royals used to do.

Une Petite Histoire

Chateau de Chenonceau, Loire Valley, France

One of the best-known castles, the Château de Chenonceau is just a few minutes walk (or a stone’s throw, as they used to say) from the Auberge du Bon Laboureur.     Nope, that’s not a spelling mistake.  While the village is named Chenonceaux,  it’s been said that the Château dropped the “x” to appear less connected to royalty and avoid damage during the Revolution.

For the same reasons, the name of the Auberge was changed from “Grand Monarque” to “Bon Laboureur”, a considerably more revolution-friendly name.

With a long history in cooking, the Jeudi family bought the property at the beginning of the 20th century.  The great-grandfather was in charge of the Savoy kitchens in London.  Now, keeping a promise to his family, Chef Antoine Jeudi, a graduate of the Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne, and his wife Isabelle, carry on the tradition of providing a welcoming rooms and a delectable table.

A room at the Inn

Auberge du Bon Laboureur, Chenonceaux, Loire Valley, France

While the Auberge maintains its original, antique charm in a collection of buildings, the rooms are comfortably modern.

Why yes, I’ll have a room with a court yard, please. It felt special, and a little regal, to stroll across the court yard to my room. The room itself was spacious, and well-appointed, with high thread count sheets on the comfy king-size bed. There was a jacuzzi tub in the room, and a good strong shower in the private bathroom. I also appreciated the robe and slippers, eco-friendly amenities. free wifi and evening turn down service.

The property also includes large gardens and an outdoor pool.

Auberge du Bon Laboureur, Chenonceaux, Loire Valley, France

Auberge du Bon Laboureur, Chenonceaux, Loire Valley, France

Ambiance

Auberge du Bon Laboureur, Chenonceaux, Loire Valley, France

There are some lovely touches in the hotel, like the main building hallway filled with fresh and fragrant flowers.

The beamed-ceiling dining room is pure magic.  Here, Chef Jeudi offers Michelin star dining in an entirely unpretentious atmosphere.  I love good food, but when I’m traveling solo, I have to admit that I don’t often choose the fine dining option.  Perhaps I’ll do so more often after my experience at Le Bon Laboureur.  The staff were gracious and friendly and I enjoyed the conversation about the food, local wines and potential sightseeing options.  And maybe, just maybe, the champagne and local wine pairings made it all the more enjoyable.

Oh, the food!

And then there’s the food.  In short, it had my taste buds singing!

The menu is based on traditional French cuisine, artfully presented, and sometimes with an innovative twist.  There’s also a focus on simplicity and fresh, local ingredients.

I especially enjoyed all of the extra surprises that came between courses, like an amuse-bouche of crab and celery and a “pre-dessert” of chocolate cream.  Did someone notify them that nothing makes me happier than dessert and, better yet, chocolate dessert.  So, you can imagine my bliss when, after the first two desserts, I was presented with a tray containing glass jars, each filled with even more tempting treats.  I selected a chocolate truffle and cherries in liqueur.  A delightful pairing!

Auberge du Bon Laboureur, Chenonceaux, Loire Valley, France

Appetizer: scallops & cauliflower

Auberge du Bon Laboureur, Chenonceaux, Loire Valley, France

Main course: John Dory fish filet

Dessert: Chocolate opera cake & coffee ice cream

Breakfast bliss

Auberge du Bon Laboureur, Chenonceaux, Loire Valley, France

I was just a surprised as you probably are that my appetite returned the next morning for breakfast.

The Auberge serves a buffet of lovely fresh bread and pastries, cereal and fruits in the morning.  As well, eggs and other dishes are made to order.

But, of course, what made my eyes wide? 

Any place that serves a dessert like this at breakfast is bound to have me coming back for more.

Auberge du Bon Laboureur, Chenonceaux, Loire Valley, France

More Information:

Auberge du Bon Laboureur: Click here

Tourism Information:  Touraine Tourism Board

Suggested Reading:  Lonely Planet France (Travel Guide) , DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Loire Valley

Travel Bliss Now was welcomed as a guest of Auberge du Bon Laboureur, but, as always,  my opinions are my own.

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