We had a good start sipping champagne in the sunshine outside Lille station while waiting for the train taking us to Tours. Our final leg of the journey by mini-bus was through the countryside of La France Profonde to Le Berry and Le Prieuré de Notre Dame d’Orsan, our Relais & Chateaux base for a few days. With only six atmospheric rooms, we immediately felt at home. The Prieuré was restored from a ruin by Patrice Taravella who is an architect and also a passionate cook. He designed his garden in keeping with the spirit of a medieval, monastic garden with an emphasis on local varieties of fruit and vegetables laid out in a very decorative style. The garden produce came into the kitchen where we learnt to prepare delicious dishes and, of course, dined both with our eyes and taste buds.
Patrice took us to a wine maker and on to a goat farm collecting produce for our lunch. A village baker entertained us for our picnic lunch while baking yet more delicious bread in the wood-burning oven.
Continuing to the Loire region, the decorative potager gardens of Chenonceaux, Villandry and La Chatonniėre were in full autumn colour. On our final morning, Alix de Saint Venant showed us her gardens at Chateau de Valmer homing in on the amazing produce in her walled potager garden. We took first-class TGV back to Lille to arrive in St Pancras early evening by Eurostar.
To feature again in Autumn 2014