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A Gourmet Tour of 3 Key Loire Valley Châteaux

L’Orangerie at Chenonceau: Sublime Cuisine in a Royal Setting

The Château de Chenonceau, one of the most elegant and best-known of the Loire Valley châteaux, is a star attraction in itself but just wait until you see – and taste – the culinary magic performed at the Orangerie, its fabulous gastronomic restaurant. Take a look at the video to see Chef Christophe Canetti and his brigade at work gathering fresh herbs and lemons in the chateau’s kitchen garden, and then cooking up a storm as they transform them into their delectable tours de force. The dining room is spacious and airy with a terrace and splendid view of the grounds: an enchanting setting for a truly royal experience! Open for lunch and at teatime.
For more information or to book a table, click here

A Tip for Wine-Lovers: Les Caves du Père Auguste
Just a few minutes away from the château, there’s a lovely winery, the Caves du Père Auguste, run by the same family that also manages the vineyards at the Château de Chenonceau, and which offers great wines at good prices. Very pleasant place to stop and taste. No hard sell but you might well find yourself tempted into buying a bottle or two!

Le Chapeau Rouge in Chinon: When Local Products Morph into Amazing Cuisine

Le Chapeau Rouge is a warm and friendly restaurant with a shaded terrace situated at the foot of the Royal Fortress in the heart of the old medieval town of Chinon.

The owners Muriel and Christophe Duguin, the chef, place a special emphasis on top-quality local products, which are reworked and showcased in the remarkably creative menus. There’s the Loire’s wild fresh-water fish, caught daily and delivered still wriggling by the restaurant’s own personal fisherman, and the Touraine saffron, a perfect match for the fish. Add to that the region’s black diamond truffle and its Ste Maure goat cheeses, and the famous ‘poires tapées’, oven-dried pears and a Loire Valley favourite. All of it accompanied, of course, by Touraine’s finest wines, and you have all the ingredients you need for an unforgettable dining experience. 
For more information or to book a table, click here

A Tip for Wine-Lovers: The Pierre & Bertrand Couly Vineyards near Chinon
While you’re there don’t miss the contemporary tasting room of Pierre & Bertrand Couly, just outside Chinon, famous for its red Cabernet Franc wines. Madame Couly speaks excellent English and will take you on lively and informative tour of the vineyard, ending with a private tasting accompanied by some delicious rillettes and rillons. Open 7 days a week. 

L’Etape Gourmande near Villandry: A Real Country Charmer

This lovely family-run restaurant, l’Etape Gourmande a short distance from the Château de Villandry makes no bones about it: its culinary specialty is simple and sincere French regional cuisine. Set in 17th century farm a half-hour walk away from the château, the restaurant, which is featured in all the major travel guides, has a pretty courtyard where you can dine in the shade of the lime trees or in the winter, in its large, cosy dining room with a fireplace. You’ll be welcomed by restaurant's delightful owner, Beatrice, who speaks perfect English, and will guide you through the menu and choice of wines.

So sit back and sample some of the iconic dishes which have made the Touraine region’s reputation: how about foie gras done in 3 different ways or sweet red peppers stuffed with goat cheese as a starter, followed by roast lamb or pork in a savoury herb cream sauce, topped off by a Chocolate Royal cake or their famous raspberry dessert? Sounds good, doesn’t it?  
For more information or to book a table, click here

A Tip for Wine-Lovers: The Château de l’Aulée in Azay-le-Rideau, 11 km from Villandry.
Two charming sisters, one with years of experience as a winemaker for the prestigious Bollinger Champagne house, moved to the Loire and started producing crémant at the Château de l’Aulée, a sparkling white wine, from local grapes (Chenin Blanc, plus a little Chardonnay for good measure). The result is some absolutely fabulous ‘crémant’ that rivals with champagne costing 2-3 times as much. Although the vineyard also produces red, white and rosé wines, the ‘crémant’ is a must, especially at 7 euros a bottle!

For more information on the culinary delights of Touraine, click here