Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Appetizing News From Normandy

An insider tip for savvy culinary travelers, seeking privileged info on a superior luxury property in Normandy. This month Chateau d’Audrieu/Relais & Chateaux, situated in the Calvados country, begins a one-year relaunch, starting with a first-class upgrade to the property, and introducing special programs tailored for the extreme gustatory experience, all happening in a truly idyllic setting.

The €800,000 roof and façade restoration now under way at the historic chateau signals the commitment to a renewed vision. As a protected structure, any renovations must adhere to strict, authentic guidelines. The integrity of the property’s heritage will be preserved, and the ability to step back into the world of a 18th century chateau is assured. Deer still stroll across the fields, and owls hoot at night. The chateau’s rooms and suites –all individually different- provide comfort in the classical style, in blissful seclusion less than an hour and a half from important regional attractions, including Paris. Suite 43 with its black marble fireplace and ornate parquet floor could be the most romantic room in Normandy.

Perhaps the most significant fact is that the renovation will not intrude on the guest experience. The grounds remain quiet and deserted. The nearby woods allow meditative meandering. Soon the expansive flower gardens come into bloom, and you need drive only ten minutes away to stock in a few bottles of fine Calvados directly from the producers, a unique joy. In warmer months private sunbathing by the pool is a possibility.

No visit to d’Audrieu is complete without a visit to the chateau’s astounding restaurant, an absolute necessity. Chef Cyril Haberland has earned his Michelin star with highly refined treatments, rendered with ingredients he hand-picks daily from local vendors. A recent odyssey one morning included stops at the oyster farm, later a butcher in Bayeux, and one of the last authentic ‘biscuitiers’ making signature gallettes of the region. Haberland’s star is on the ascent, so now would be a good time to sample his table.

The hotel is set to announce new golf offers, musical programs, a weekend prix fixe menu, local art and history tours, an Omaha Beach package and custom promotions for events. This property is ideally suited for small retreat-type meetings, since the hotel sleeps only 50. That is part of its attractiveness, that one will never get lost among impersonal service or the teeming masses that throng to nearby places like Mont St. Michel. Think of this as an opportunity to de-stress and decompress in a pocket of history, where the food is authentic, time moves slowly and the people are still gracious and good.

Chateau d'Audrieu
14250 Audrieu (Calvados)
+33 02 31 80 21 52