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volante: france

The culinary traveller
The culinary traveller


Stanley Moss heads to Normandie, with an insider’s tip to one of the best properties in the region
photographed by the author and courtesy Château d’Audrieu


AN INSIDER TIP for savvy culinary travellers, seeking privileged info on a superior luxury property in Normandy.

This month, Château d'Audrieu–Relais & Châteaux, situated in the Calvados country, begins a one-year relaunch, starting with a first-class upgrade to the property, and introducing special programmes tailored for the extreme gustatory experience, all happening in a truly idyllic setting. The first special offered, a Gastronomy Odyssey in Calvados, has just been posted on d'Audrieu's website, and it looks like an excellent package for an outstanding price: €360-410 (depending on standard, superior or suite accommodation). Includes two breakfasts, one night's lodging, dinner for two in the Château's astounding restaurant, plus a visit to the Dupont estate where prize-winning Calvados can be obtained directly from the source.

The pleasure of an experience like this at such an attractive price cannot be overstated. It's an easy escape from Paris: as soon as the big city falls away you feel as if you have entered another time and place.

The €800,000 roof and façade restoration now under way at the historic château 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 eighteenth-century château is assured. Deer still stroll across the fields, and owls hoot at night. The château'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. Suite 43, with its black marble fireplace and ornate parquet floor, could be the most romantic room in Normandie. A number of lodging configurations are available, with the most desirable views overlooking the wooded parc behind the château, or the opulent formal garden. There are some eccentric lofted rooms, including suite 23, a long space with all-modern details.

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 10 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 château's 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 programmes, 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 2 31-80-21-52

At the Château d’Audrieu, and chef Cyril Haberland (above)

Mont St Michel


The local biscuiter in Bayeux

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