Jane and Chris Coleman and their son Alexander are newly arrived in France hoping for a better, more meaningful life than what was there for them near Cambridge. They are bringing back to life an old-fashioned hotel-restaurant in Graçay, France. We tend to stay in the area when en route to our place in the Lot and since our usual hotel is closed on Tuesday we trawled the Internet to see what we could find. It isn’t that easy to find small family-run places in that part of the country – at least we haven’t found it so. But some hunting and pecking yielded a small list of places to try and this place was on the list and only a few kilometres away from our hotel in Vatan.
The place was just ready for over-night guests, but the restaurant was wonderful. And yes, the cook is English! And yes, we did stay the night in a room which promises to be outstanding value in the not too distant future and a bed that made up for any finishing touches the room at that time lacked. Also the room is very large, airy and bright and has nice views over the rooftops of the village and church. There was still work to do on the bathroom, but the essential equipment was in place and we both enjoyed a great shower. The hotel is tucked away a bit in the corner of the market square. An old-fashioned coach gate opens into a courtyard full of promise. In time there will be terraces for eating outside and a walled garden – the wall, by the way is the original Roman wall!
Our meal was fine by any standards. Our first course was a home-made paté served with an excellent local bread. For the main course I selected a salmon en croute with a cream sauce that was generous and delicious. And the vegetables were perfectly prepared – unlike in many a French restaurant! For dessert – and Chris makes all the desserts himself – I chose the yummy apricot tarte. UPDATE: On our return visit I had chicken wrapped in ham that was succulent, tender and a perfect blend of flavours. The pear poached in spiced red wine was a heavenly ambrosian concoction of the cook!
We were able to stay there on our return journey, and were happy to discover that they have had a good summer and their reputation continues to grow! There is a lot of work to do, but the villagers a thrilled to have them and have been very welcoming. Alexander speaks remarkable French and is even making himself useful in the kitchen. Both Jane and Chris radiate enthusiasm for their new life. The pressure of life in England, of running around in circles and never getting there is to them, not what life should be about. And so they work toward their dream of a new kind of family life. One that is not about becoming monetarily wealthy, but a life that is rich.
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