2023 Culinary Retreats at the Chateau

And here we go!

One-day Retreat on Saturday 9 September 2023

Four-days retreat from Thursday afternoon 14 September to Sunday morning 17 September 2023

It is a long story. Full of anticipation. Of heartbreak and the “coup de foudre”. Of going forward because forward usually is the only direction left. It’s a long story for long nights at the fireplace. I might tell it, someday, over a glass of that memorable wine from Saint-Maixant, when we meet.

Long story short is, as many of you are aware of, over the coming months we’re moving to our new house, a medieval fortress-turned-chic-farmhouse. It is a very special place and already dear to me, it is THE HOUSE even before I set foot in it. And I still look forward to it despite the fact it requires tremendous work in restorations. Like really tremendous. For those who know us, it won’t come as a surprise that we won’t be rushing things. No BAM here’s the plan done in twelve months. We’re taking it slow. Listening to what the ancient walls tell before coming up with a plan. Thoughtful restoration instead of fast renovation. Which, again long story short, means that the house will remain a work in progress for a long long time to come.

We also decided it would be too bad to stop doing the retreats only to take them up again when we’re done with the major part, because it’s the unfinished and repaired stuff that intrigues us, all that imperfection business that makes life so wonderfully nuanced. I think the Japanese have a word for this, I hope I don’t get this wrong, it’s called Wabi-Sabi. Time-painted doors and ceilings. The beauty of the world through a cracked windowpane. You see I could go on and on. I want you to see it too. I want you to be part of the history of this place, too, which is a constant story of transformation. Hence, the show goes on next year! With two dates in September, September when it’s still warm and glorious, and enough time for us to fix what needs fixing right away.

It’s going to be grand, that much I can promise. With a lot of rustic glamour. I’ve made some basic planning for the programme but will reserve the option to make changes as we go, given that I assume I’ll be discovering a load of exceedingly cool things deemed worthy “retreat material” over the first months we’re there.

Finally, we’ll also be able to provide limited in-house accommodation. Very basic, but comfortable. Yet, cautious note – this is not the Ritz (and it probably never will be, for that matter). There’s two chateau rooms with private bathrooms which will be available. It is possible to add an additional bed in each chateau room (3 persons max capacity). For those who prefer more modern comforts, we offer accommodation in a holiday home outside the village. We provide chauffeur service from/to the chateau to the external accommodation. The rooms go on a first-book-first-served basis. Please indicate if you prefer a chateau room or external accommodation. Please also indicate if you’re willing to share a room upon booking.

The cooking sessions, lunches and dinners will be held in the medieval chateau kitchen, weather permitting we’ll be also spending a lot of time outside in the garden. Excursions and visiting our favourite chefs are on the menu too.

Registration is open at hello@lespoissonchats.com.

Moving in

We have moved into our new home on New Year’s Eve. It was of course not at all planned like that. Instead we intended to have had moved by the 26th and easy time getting to know the new place, the new neighbourhood, checking out a few hides etc. and a blast at a very special place on New Year’s Eve but, alas, we spent the Christmas days ill in bed instead of busy packing and moving, all was pretty much messed up and when we finally sat at our old kitchen table in the new kitchen we were too tired even to properly clink glasses, also post-flu-severe-appetite-loss, paired with a serious dose of homesickness (including a lot of whyarewedoingthis-moments) which translates to the most horrible New Year’s Eve ever.

I think we looked a little ruffled when we went for dinner in a nearby restaurant a few days later, the lady taking care of us said to me “just you wait until everything is flowering, just you wait”.

I went out into the barren garden yesterday, wet grass and mouldy leaves, brambles and little trees growing out of a flower bed, and a carpet of cyclamen flowers under the bare lilac tree, the liveliest pink and reminding me of confetti and joie de vivre and carnival.

It is still with a heavy heart that we think of our old little dear house sitting on the old town fortification looking down at the river, that river that flows so languidly that one gets the impression it isn’t going anywhere at all and a sea of stills are flooding my mind whenever I let go of my daily chores, views of an old world and its old ways, an impressionist dream, life in a Monet painting, all colour and light and soft movement and I realise that maybe it’s just a fear of being unable to bring this dream to this new house, to let that vibe of old world charm flow and create its magic.

So I started out with a little flower bouquet and tried to capture its fluttering petals and soft colours rather than the thing itself. The bouquet was created by a florist whom I like very much and he has the sweetest little shop in the town Gray, just another stone’s throw from here. Make sure you check him out next time you’re in the area, it’s a veritable rabbit hole down to Alice’s world!