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It has been a memorable weekend at the Château de Jalesnes.  On Saturday the Fête Nationale  – Bastille Day – was celebrated in France.  Every town and village in this region, and in France at large, was decorated with colourful bunting and French flags.

There was a palpable air of excitement due to the fabulous weather, with music festivals, floral festivals and outdoor concerts happening everywhere – villages in a holiday mood.  A quick stop in at the local supermarket, revealed shopping trolleys in all directions filled with items intended for a weekend of feasting and fun.

No time for personal feasting for the Jalesnes team, however, as we were in serious preparation mode for a wedding due to take place over the holiday weekend and the château was fully booked.  The internal château team were hard at work making the château gleam, polishing furniture, cleaning windows, and preparing the rooms.

The gardeners were busy cutting the lawns, weeding the garden beds, raking the gravel and ensuring that the swimming pool was ready for the guests to enjoy.

The sun loungers were placed in a perfect line and the umbrellas were colour coordinated to please our discerning bride and groom.  Nothing gives us greater pleasure than to turn a bride’s wedding dream into reality.  Our motto is  “Your wedding, your way”, and we mean it.

The Fête Nationale was a precursor to what became moment of national joy when the French football team won the World Cup.  For weeks leading up to the final, it was hard to miss the constant reminders in the form of “allez les bleus” popping up on menu boards and elsewhere .

Meanwhile at Jalesnes the wedding guests were enjoying a fun filled day of laughter and a superb meal provided by our brilliant guest chef

Eric Bichon who comes to us from his restaurant L’Orée des Bois located in nearby La Breille-les-Pins.

Eric, as ever, ensured that every taste was catered for.  The wedding cake was in the form of a traditional French croquembouche and the guests partied on into the early hours.  A huge success!

The weekend drew to a close with all the wedding guests  who stayed at the château watching the football final in the salon and then, as if by magic, the skies over the chateau filled with what appeared to be an angel, followed by a sensational sunset.

It felt as if it just couldn’t get any better than this and then this happened …

The nearby Château de Saumur was transformed into a glorious tricolor and it would be remiss of me if I did not include a photo taken by the talented local photographer Aurélien Fanni capturing the stunning beauty of the château – the pearl of the Loire – reflected in the glossy water below.

Felicitations France and to the French team and well done to our own Jalesnes team, who  performed wedding event magic behind the scenes over the weekend.  We were thrilled that we were able to make another dream into reality for yet another charming couple.  We look forward to welcoming you to our home, your château.

Until next time.

The Châtelaine

Love is in the air at Chateau de Jalesnes!

Chateau De Jalesnes Wedding Venue
Chateau de Jalesnes

What could be more romantic than to receive a proposal of marriage in a French château?  This was obviously paramount in the thoughts of one of our recent guests who proposed to his love right here.  This was no last minute snap decision, but a carefully planned, precision operation helped along seamlessly, behind the scenes beforehand, by the château team. The perfect château suite was chosen, the weather was sublime and a bottle of chilled ‘Champagne’ (the famous Ackerman Crémant de la Loire) was set up on ice in the forest to set the scene, along with candles and flowers from the château garden.  Perfect!

Celebrations At Chateau De Jalesnes Champagne Wedding Venue France
A little celebration…

We are always delighted to help our guests along the path of true love and are here to help in whatever way we can to ensure that their dreams become reality.  It is such an honour to be a part of these important moments.  The Château de Jalesnes is the perfect backdrop for special occasions.

Champagne chateau de jalesnes France

We offer our congratulations to Michael and Alice and wish them a lifetime of happiness.

The happy couple wedding venue France celebrations
The happy couple!

 

The green tunnel of happiness…

 

It’s been a busy Saturday morning at Jalesnes.  Uncharacteristically, I have left it a bit late to head into the nearest ‘big’ town, Saumur, to do my market shopping.  Saumur is an easy twenty minutes drive from home.  It is a glorious day here and generally a good idea to be at the market before 8am. I glance at my watch and realise that it’s almost 11 as I drive across the famous bridge, the Pont Cessart, with its graceful stone spans. The river reflects the chateau and the town which nestles at its feet.  This is an iconic Loire view. The famous Château de Saumur, along with the houses within the town, was constructed using the local tuffeau stone, a creamy fine grained limestone containing mica.

No wonder the buildings reflect pink tones at sunset so beautifully.  I make a mental note to return at sunset for photographs but already know that this is unlikely to happen.  Tuffeau is a stone which lends itself not only to ease of mining and construction, but also to the creation of the famous wine caves, dotted around the region, including those of the Ackerman family, former owners of our château.  Many of the chateaux in the Loire Valley, including our own Château de Jalesnes, are constructed of tuffeau, lending a harmonious look and feel to the splendid architectural landscape.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Luck is with me as I find a parking spot immediately, under a lovely shade tree by the riverbank.  I head to the market.

The market is still bustling with shoppers and I realise that I shouldn’t have worried that there would be nothing much left.

The food market is set in a square, Place St Pierre.  The Château de Saumur which appears overhead like a scene from a fairytale, sets the scene.  The classically elegant old church, Eglise Saint-Pierre, with its restored facade, coupled with the ancient half-timbered buildings surrounding the square, make it one of the loveliest markets to visit.

The church itself is worth a visit, even to escape the hustle of the morning market.  The doors are usually open.  It is a peaceful, beautiful space, with a relatively plain interior but with some spectacular stained glass and impressive organ which is often used for recitals.

The crème fraîche vendor is pleased to see me.  She knows I have a passion for her product.  People are friendly here and helpful, even when I am struggling to find the words to describe exactly what I am looking for or how much I need.

I decide on some new potatoes (pommes de terre nouvelles), some bright green beans (haricots verts) and some lamb shanks (souris d’agneau), along with some apples (pommes) which I intend to make into a pie in the French style (tarte aux pommes).  Time now for a pause-café.  I’ve earned it.

Refreshed, I take a different route back to the car, so that I can enjoy the colorful umbrellas of Saumur which appear as if by magic each summer and provide some much needed dappled shade.

Back at Jalesnes I get to work to prepare the lamb and the apple tart.

Souris d’agneau Jalesnes style (with new potatoes and green beans)

Ingredients

1 quantity of lamb shanks

fresh herbs from the château garden, or dried will do

olive oil

salt (fleur de sel)

two cloves of garlic

lemon juice

water

salt, pepper

Chop the fresh herbs with the garlic.  Moisten the lamb shanks with some olive oil and rub the herb and garlic mixture into the lamb.  Brown briefly in a non stick pan and then place the lamb shanks into a casserole dish or heavy based saucepan with lid.  Sprinkle the lamb with a little fleur de sel, drizzle over the lemon juice and add about half a cup of water to the pot.  Cover and cook on high briefly before turning down the heat very low and cooking for about two hours.

New potatoes

Wash the potatoes and place in a saucepan of briskly boiling, salted water.  Cook until tender – about ten minutes.  Drain.  Add a small knob of sweet unsalted French butter to the saucepan and put the potatoes back in, along with a handful of chopped herbs.  Shake it about.  Keep warm.

Green beans

Top and tail the beans.  Place in a saucepan of boiling water and cook for about four or five minutes.  Do not overcook.  Drain and refresh briefly under a stream of cool water – a tip from a French friend.  Shake dry.  This keeps the bright green colour of the beans but won’t make them cold.

Place all of this on a platter and, to a round of applause, serve the lamb which should be melting and falling off the bone.

Tarte aux Pommes à la Jalesnes

Ingredients

1 quantity of ready made pastry (pâte brisée from the local supermarket)

4 sweet cooking apples, peeled and very thinly sliced

1 small jar of apple purée or pear purée, no added sugar

Place the pastry over a tart form lined with baking paper – a quiche dish will do

Prick the pastry with a fork

Spread the purée over the pastry

Add the sliced apples on top in a decorative pattern

Sprinkle the top with some light brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees celsius.  Place the apple tart in the oven and bake for about thirty minutes or until the pastry is golden brown and the apples nicely coloured.

Serve with crème fraîche and enjoy.

All of our suites here at Jalesnes are equipped with kitchens and appliances of the highest quality.  Guests are welcome to cook their favourite meals.  All cooks are catered for and your kitchen is equipped with everything needed to cook up a storm.  The induction cooktops mean that heat is instantaneous, much the same as gas, and the ovens are state of the art combi-ovens, so even if you are not in the mood to create something from scratch, it is possible to microwave something ready made.

In the château garden, you will find a variety of herbs and flowers which you are encouraged to use.  After all this is our home, your château.

Until next time,

The Chatelaine de Jalesnes

A guide to Saumur Market Tourism

Trip Advisor – Saumur Market a Personal Guide

Summer has arrived at the Chateau de Jalesnes and it is very early morning as I sit at my desk writing my first ever blog.  Although there is a suggestion of a cool breeze wafting though my window, I know that by mid morning the sun will have the intensity of midday.  Wood pigeons call to one another from the woodland and hedgerows surrounding the château and I know that in the distance, the fields are already dotted with the evidence of rural life in the form of huge round hay bales waiting to be collected and drying in the sun. There is no hint of rain. The bales will sit in the fields for some weeks yet, to fully dry out.  The sounds of a tractor stirring remind me that I am not the only one for whom the day starts early.  I check my agenda for the day and know that it is going to be a busy one.  There are weddings to prepare for and guests to accommodate.  It is an exciting time.

 

Summer had arrived chateau de Jalesnes

 

Along with summer comes the need for constant work on the grounds surrounding the château.  Luckily for us, we have a very competent and committed team who tend to the lawns and gardens. Sam, our young Scottish greenskeeper, keeps the lawns immaculately trimmed and Octavio, an American who is here for the summer, is wonderful with the swimming pool and other general tasks.  The garden beds of the parterre to the rear of the building need constant weeding and attention, and the gravel pathways need to be kept swept and inviting.  Taya, a Canadian, is our intern who sees to the guest welcome baskets and helps with guest check in and Amélie is our office manager, helping me out during the week.  We also have cleaning and maintenance staff sourced from the nearby village of Vernantes who see to the internal cleanliness of the château.  Ensuring good working relationships with our farming neighbours, local people and businesses is vital to the success of the chateau and we are proud to be establishing a business that will continue to offer employment as time goes on.

morning-breaks-in-chateau-de-jalesnes
Morning breaks at the chateâu

 

It is hard to imagine that only three short years ago, this chateau looked quite different.  The garden, what there was of it, had fallen into disrepair and the chateau itself was in need of some serious tender loving care. At times it feels as if it has all been a dream and yet the reality of the years of hard work is right there outside my window in the form of the formal herb gardens, the roses in full bloom, the sparkling swimming pool and the serenity of the woodland, which has been tidied up so that the pathways, so dark and mysterious, are now accessible for guests to use.  The story of the current restoration and repurposing of the Chateau de Jalesnes will be the subject of future blogs.  The history of the chateau is a rich tapestry with many complicated strands making up the whole.

chateau-de-jalesnes-parterre
Parterre, Chateau de Jalesnes

 

One of the joys of summertime France is a visit to the local market – le marché.  All the villages in the surrounding area, and France at large, have their own weekly markets, bursting at the seams with interesting local produce.

Langeais-market-chateau-de-jalesnes
Langeais market

 

The list of local markets is easy to find on the internet.  In Saumur, our nearest large town, the markets are a regular feature, occurring on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays AND Sunday.

Château-de-Jalesnes-Clock-Tower-and-bridge
Château de Jalesnes, Clock Tower and bridge

 

Last weekend, in the little town of Langeais, I was lucky enough to find two barquettes of delicious gooseberries which I made into the most mouth-watering Gooseberry Crumble.  I paired it with a generous dollop of local crème fraîche – a treat for the senses – and the simple recipe is here for you to enjoy.  The sour berries (known in France as groseille à maquereau) make a wonderful contrast to the sweet and crumbly topping.

local-french-market-chateau-cheese

 

Gooseberry Crumble (Groseille à maquereau à la Chateau de Jalesnes)

Ingredients

Two small baskets of gooseberries, washed and trimmed (snip off the ends with scissors).

I small cup of soft brown sugar

1 small cup of all purpose flour

1 small cup of desiccated  coconut

half a cup of softened French unsalted butter

Method

Place all dry ingredients into a bowl and rub in the butter with your fingers until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs.  It shouldn’t be too wet or too dry.  You may need to adjust some of the ingredients to achieve this.

Place the rinsed gooseberries in the bottom of an oven proof dish and sprinkle them with some extra sugar.

Spread the breadcrumb mixture over the gooseberries and place into an oven set at 180 degrees celsius for thirty minutes or until the top is crisp and golden.

goosberry-crumble-fresh-from-the-chateau-kitchen
Gooseberry Crumble fresh from the château kitchen.

 

I look forward to keeping you up to date with information and events at the Chateau de Jalesnes.  It is an honour to be a part of the Château de Jalesnes family and a privilege to welcome guests into our home, your château!

In the meantime, we have a wedding to look forward to.

La Chatelaine de Jalesnes xx”

 

Loire Valley Food and Drink Tours – Trip Advisor