Friday, February 18, 2011

Chateau de Germigney - an anniversary getaway in France

Last weekend we escaped from the Alps for a little getaway in France to celebrate our 7th wedding anniversary... Seeing as it's our last anniversary getaway before kids, we decided to do something we've talked about for years and try a 'chateau stay' - it was well worth the wait :-)

Seeing as we couldn't check into the hotel until late afternoon, we started our weekend off with a bit of a road trip through France, slowly making our way to the chateau in the Jura region. The roads were super windy and me being me - I was carsick before long :-( But, a lengthy lunch at a random roadside restaurant in a quiet village soon helped ease the nausea. The food was among the best I have eaten in years - simple, tasty and oh-so-cheap (12.50eur for a huge main meal - after being in Switzerland for a few weeks where the food is poor quality and expensive, it was SUCH a nice change!). The staff were so friendly and I thoroughly enjoyed my meal - local saucisse au morceaux with a variety of sauces, salad, fresh bread, zucchini gratin and... chips. We arrived at the chateau later that afternoon and were shown to our room - it was in the 'annexe' of the hotel (what would've been the stables I believe) but was gorgeous... It was the most basic room they had and it was HUGE (especially by European standards) - I wonder what the suite was like then???

The chateau was a cute old manor house. I read up on the history of it and apparently it was built around 1700 and was a hunting pavilion for the Marquis de Germigney. In the 1800's it was turned into a hotel and has been that way ever since. The food here was the best part - it was amazing. Truly, a gourmet feast. We booked a package which included our room, breakfast and a 7 course gastronomic dinner and the only downside to it was that I couldn't eat some of the food ie soft poached egg, raw salmon :-( I am discovering that pregnancy makes dining out a little challenging at times!!!! The dining room was gorgeous and decorated in a... I don't know what to call it, maybe a more modern, fancy medieval style? Imagine round tables, large crystal goblets (all in red), and very much a black tie setting - we felt VERY under dressed!!!! The service was great although I could've lived without the questions from the staff when I didn't eat certain parts of my meal (ie I ate the asparagus but left the soft poached egg as it's a big no-no while pregnant and the plate collecting waitress was somewhat horrified that I didn't eat it - I think she was concerned I wasn't enjoying my meal. No-one really spoke English though so I just patted my tummy lots and kept repeating ahhh... je suis enceinte...). Despite the bits I couldn't eat, I still managed to way overeat which isn't surprising considering we enjoyed - cheese puffs & caramelised walnuts (I'm sure there is a more glamourous, French word for cheese puffs but I don't know what it is!), crab soup, asparagus & poached eggs, salmon & ravioli, veal cannelloni, mango sorbet, tropical fruit cake (it sounds so simple but was divine! Best cake I've had in ages) and just in case we weren't full enough, a lavender creme brulee... I must say, the lavender creme brulee was interesting - it smelt nothing like lavender but the second you put it in your mouth, as I said to Mitch - it tastes like I'm eating bath water & lavender bath salts... But in the best possible way! It was unusual but surprisingly tasty!

The next day we took another leisurely drive around the region, stopping at a lovely lake which was entirely frozen. There were swans 'ice skating' on it and people playing ice hockey & figure skating much to my surprise as there is NO WAY I'd skate on that ice. It was thin and melting as it was a warm 10deg that day! I was even able to just wear a tshirt and cardy outside - yes, I've finally acclimatised to winter over here!

Crossing the border back into Switzerland was somewhat interesting... It was a customs point we've never driven through before and there was a big line up despite it being a Sunday afternoon (unlike the rest of Europe where you just drive into a new country without even realising it, Switzerland has customs & border control). They were searching cars and Mitch and I just looked at each other and went great, we could be here for awhile... We have NL licence plates which generally means you are more likely to get questioned and/or searched because some things that are tolerated in Holland are illegal elsewhere. We reached the customs officer, he stared and stared at our plates, Mitch rolled down his window and said bonjour, we kept slowly driving and then the hand went up - he suddenly clicked on the number plates. He spoke no English and kept asking us if we speak German. We struggled on with the language barrier and managed to answer his questions and he did let us through without any hassles but it was the first challenging border control we've experienced - well, except the first time we drove into Switzerland and we had our vignette stuck up with sticky tape in the wrong spot and thankfully the customs officer was really lovely as he told us he was meant to give us a 200 CHF fine but decided to let it pass. We stopped at a medieval village in Switzerland for lunch where, as usual, everything was shut - even including most of the restaurants. The town was quite cute though and we eventually found somewhere to eat before heading back to Martigny.

Mmmmm... All this typing about French food has made me a bit peckish - already can't wait for the next trip back into France to enjoy some more tasty treats!


  1. Mmmmm....your dinner sounds divine!!!
    And the room looks lovely, way bigger then any rooms I saw in europe.
    Your swiss mountain pictures were amazing. It was really good to see Switzerland when I was there, a beautiful country, but I never had the desire to live there....probably also cos it is soooo expensive. Though I had the best iced chocolates there.
    Life here is much the same, I planted out my garden 2 weeks ago and the little plants are all coming up now, they look so sweet.
    Have a lovely day,

  2. It's definitely really pretty here - the mountains are unbelievable. But it's not a country for me - I'm counting down the days til we go 'home' to Holland. Switzerland is beautiful but I think it needs to stay a holiday destination for me to like it!!! And I hear you on the expensive bit - I am forever blown away by the cost of things. Holland is so cheap in comparison!!! Iced chocolate hey - I'm yet to try any at cafes here, although they do sell a pretty good chocolate milk here (and chocolate - yum!). Your garden sounds great, I bet it's nice and colourful. Hope you're having a great week! :-)


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