Le Manoir – French dream is a reality.

IMG_1747When I imagined staying in a French house overnight with food and wine and lovely hospitality – I thought it was just a dream  but good news – it exists. And here it is. Le Manoir only an hour from the ferry in Calais – Calais is another tale for another day but today is all about Le Manoir a lovely story……

We read about it on Sawdays website and had booked ahead. Plugging in the co-orindates our Sat Nav took us round the houses, across the rues, over the montagnes and meandering for ages but eventually we found it – in a small village called Gouy-St-Andre in Pas De Calais, and it was well worth the wait. Look.  Sometimes photos speak louder than words. But being me you will get words as well.

We arrived on 8th May and the whole area was completely shut. We wondered if the Triffids had landed, or some huge global disaster had happened and we were the only ones not to know about it but when we finally found our way to Le Manoir and met our hosts Ceclia and Raphael they informed us every 8th May in France  it is a massive public holiday to commemorate the signing of the peace agreement marking the end of the war by Charles De Gaulle in 1945. So we arrived on a party day!. Splendide!

On arrival a delicious afternoon tea of homemade cake and cups of loose leaf tea before being shown to the gorgeous room where we collapsed in to a bubbly bath before dinner at 7pm. When we came down there was a roaring open fire with a fireplace the size of Uist  and two huge sofas which we sank into before being handed a glass of chilled wine and some canapés. How we suffer. NOT.

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This is the label – fresh. light and really easy to drink. Being a philistine I don’t care how much a wine costs as long as it tastes good and this tasted great. Only later I learnt it was about 5 -7 euros! So I have decided to give up water and just drink this instead. Have a look here  and try it sometime you will thank moi (French bi-lingual now obviously)

At this point we mentioned dinner and of course being a daftie I had forgotten to mention to Cecilia, our hostess that we would like to eat with them. But she whipped it up in no time at all. If it had been me it would have been cheese on toast but at Le Manoir we were in the hands of a gourmet. The dining room was set for two overlooking the garden and we indulged in an entirely homemade feast. Rillette, gherkins, bread, mushroom tart, then an omelette bursting with fresh veg from the garden and Le Touquet potatoes from the host Raphaels Fathers garden with butter.     At this point we should have had our jaws wired but on we went to enjoy home baked apple tart, miniature cheesecake and ice cream. Be still my beating heart.  We managed to move to the lounge and the couch where we met this handsome chap. Charlie the cat.

A man who also enjoys his food. I am now his body double – with slightly less hair.

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Some more photos to give you a taste – see what I mean about the fire? Its a beezer!

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Breakfast – you can see here – beautifully laid out table was  homemade yoghurt, bread, jam, ,fresh fruit salad, hot fresh pancakes and maple syrup, homemade Granola, pastries. I could go on and on as I do but I think you get the gist…..

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Oh and meet Alfred and Marcelle, the geese. These two meander around outside like a pair of Disney characters keeping an eye on all the comings and goings.

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So to sum up. The ambience of Le Manoir is quite magical. The X factor. We were the first Scots they had to stay – and hopefully we have not spoilt it for the rest of you because we behaved rather well for a change.  From the horses, geese, cats, oh and of course the humans! They were wonderful….oh and their children who speak better Spanish, German and almost English than us. Yes we were very taken with the whole place……

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Le Manoir An hour from Calais and well worth straining your SatNav to find.

Smile if your leg is breaking.

Monday

Off to Austria for a few days skiing. Flew direct to Munich and within 15 minutes we were through passport control, had our bags and were retrieving our hire car. Vorsprung Durch Technic. There are 5 os us. Four girls and one brave husband Matthew. As we head for the hills he drives and all four women navigate. You know when a man clenches his jaw rather than say anything out loud that might cause an argument ? Well there was a lot of that going on. Arrived in under and hour and a half in chocolate box Tyrolean village of Alpbach. I swear if I lifted any of the roofs off the houses music wouuld start playing. We are living in a musical box.

Dumped bags in apartment straight to a local Hotel for a drink.

Tuesday

Roaring fires, waitresses in long Tyrolean dresses and geezers wearing these wee hats with feathers poking out. We sat swigging Gluwein and eating meat , they like a sausage in these parts, when a gaggle of children ranging from 16 to 8 gathered round the piano. It was hard not to make comparisons with the Von trapps . The piano lid was lifted and a young man played a selection of Robbie William, Killers and other current hits as the youngsters sang tunefully along. We sat jaws open. Can you imagine a bunch of teenagers from Scotland doing that ? They wouldn’t be able to part themselves from the games console long enough to realise they had been transported to Austria in the first place. Warmed the cockles of our hearts or was it the booze?

Wednesday

Up the slopes by 8.30. Glorious setting, ski area incredibly quiet . I took a purler a few times as the ski shop must have thought I was Bodie Doyle and gave me incredibly fast skis. Swapped them for a pair of scratchy planks which kept me dead slow, stop. Lots of lovely wee places to eat on the hill. Lunch was Frankfurters and as you can see by the photo they were rather impressive and resembled all sorts! Hooked on sausages. Lone man, Matthew getting highly irritated with us girls faffing about. ‘Oh I forgot my ski boots’, ‘hang on I just want to nip in here and have a look at that handbag’ and looked rather alarmed when we suggested he might start to grow breasts if he didn’t get some male company soon. Salvation arrivedin the shape of John and Lynne mcMoreland from Edinburgh and Geoff and Tracy from USA. Matthew most relieved went out with the blokes to drink beer and fart.

Thursday

Salami for breakfast with coffee. Take that arteries! Off up the hill found a remote wee place with fantastic Gluwein which we swigged whilst smelling delicious chicken. They are barbequed outside on spits but you have to order a day in advance so we are back up tomorrow for a chicken frenzy. After lunch it was a bit wild so I skied down and went off for a hot bath. By 5pm John had taken fallen and broken his leg. Poor sausage or should I say Frankfurter was taken to a hospital about 45 minutes away. A nasty break he will need a few ops. Luckily he is insured and so subdued we lifted a glass to him and took a few slabs of beef from our plates to wrap up and deliver to the hospital in case the food in Austria is as appalling as the NHS gruel. Matthew down to 2 blokes.

Friday

John had an op last night and is going to be in Austria for a while. The hospital in Kuftein is a centre of excellance for that type of injury and very impressive. So if you decide to break anything this is the place to do it. We send thecold beef, books and rude cards with Lynne his wife as we head off to ski until our allocated chicken frenzy. Great lunch with jugs of Gluwein and half chickens half way through he door opens and in comes Fiona a friend of Yvonnes and 4 girlfriends from Ayrshire . The man:woman ratio is not good again for poor Matthew. Geoff doesn’t ski so he is left with 9 women! Bless. Oh and a spare chicken is wrapped in silver paper for John’s dinner in hospitaltonight. Can you can tell there are 3 Aberdonians in the party?

Saturday

Into car and off to Munich airport. On the dashboard is the ‘SATNAG’ which we had for a laugh on the way over. It’s a battery operated mickey take of satnav which spills out comments in a womans voice like ‘ if you don’t slow down I am going to pull on the hand brake’ Almost leave it in the car but at the last second Matthew chucks it in his bag. The next time we hear it is going through security when it pipes up from the bag ‘if you fart one more time I am getting out of the car’ Laughing hsyterically at security in Germany can not be recommended. We managed to catch the flight with seconds to spare. The Easyjet Pilot Capitain Adair tells us it is quite windy in Edinburgh 45 mph wind – oh Lord it was a case of trying not to wrench my friend Susans hand out her wrist socket as one second we looked out and saw a hill, a second later the ground then the sky. Happily the marvellous Captain got us down and appreciation was shown by a loud and genuine round of applause.

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