Candes Saint-Martin, my favourite spot in La Touraine.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

This is where the dog and swan come in ...

‘La Ferme de la Canardière’, the chambre d’hôtes in Chantilly, is located at the end of a narrow street, of which the first part looks like a 19th century industrial district. Both sides are lined with red brick almost windowless buildings and a connecting covered footbridge on the second floor. Halfway the buildings give way to the countryside, with wide open fields on one side and woodlands on the other.

As I mentioned yesterday, the gates leading into the grounds of the chambre d’hôtes were firmly closed. We rang the bell twice but nothing happened. It was well over five o’clock, the agreed time of arrival. We sat around for a while hoping that someone would turn up soon. Fifteen minutes later, however, we were still waiting. We decided to give it one more try before returning to town to have another drink. We rang the bell again, and suddenly the speakerphone came alive. “Oui?” a very tiny voice enquired. We gave our name and explained that we had booked a room for the night. “Bien sûr”, the little voice said “Je vais ouvrir le portail. Reculez la voiture s.v.p. car le portail s’ouvre vers l’extérieur ». (Of course. I’ll open the gate, but please back up the car first as the gates open towards you.)

We returned to the car and watch how the gates silently opened. Behind them was a long gravel drive with at the end a sharp left turn towards a recently built ‘longère’ (long, low farmhouse) with a lovely terrace facing south and overlooking the fields. We drove to the car park which was located at the back of the house. There we were greeted by a slender woman in her early forties. Was it her voice we had heard on the speakerphone?

No it wasn’t. When we said that no one had answered the bell when we rang it the first two times, she explained that she had been out picking up her two youngest children at school. Apparently, there was another private way in at the back of the property by which she had arrived just a few minutes before the last time we had rang the bell. It was her five year old daughter we had heard on the speakerphone. Hence the little tiny voice.

Sunny terrace

She showed us to our room, which was located on the ground floor. It was a very nice, spacious room with two doors opening unto the terrace we had seen while driving up to the house. The deck chairs and parasols on the terrace looked very inviting. When we walked out to admire the view, we almost stumbled over a large yellow Labrador that was dozing in the afternoon sun. He lazily opened one eye, sniffed loudly and went back to sleep. Some guard dog!

Beware of the dog!

We spent the rest of the afternoon sitting on the terrace, sipping Champagne and nibbling freshly made mini toasts and homemade eggplant caviar and olive tapenade. The lady of the house was quite a chef and we learned that twice a week she organized cooking lessons, inviting the chef from a nearby Michelin star restaurant. The nibbles were leftovers from last night’s cooking session and they came free with the Champagne, which we had ordered and paid for.

Idyllic view, except for the tractor behind the trees!

We strolled through the garden and admired the little pond, where a white swan was idyllically floating on the still surface of the water. In a paddock near the edge of the woodland, a man was training a tall auburn coloured horse. The place was very peaceful and we were looking forward to a quiet evening and night.


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