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Trip Report Trip report: French chateau hotel and a bit of Belgium and the Netherlands

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My Dutch husband and I were in the Netherlands for a few weeks (mid-May to early June) visiting his relatives. We normally don't do much touristy things while we're there but we did manage to eat well and take a couple of side trips to Belgium (Antwerp) and France (Loire Valley).

Here are some brief reviews of our experiences:


LOIRE VALLEY

We drove from "home" in the south of the Netherlands to the Loire Valley and spent a few days exploring the chateaux in the region.


Chateau Hotel:

Domaine de la Tortinière
http://www.tortiniere.com/UK.asp

An absolutely stunning place to stay! The view was unbelievably gorgeous, the property was secluded, and the service was top notch. The area was so peaceful. It wouldn't be hard to spend weeks there just doing nothing and getting away from the hectic pace of everyday life.

We had a suite in the tower of the chateau. It included a salon (living room area) with fireplace, a bedroom in the turret of the tower, and a bathroom with double sinks, a tub, and a shower. A couple of other nice touches in the suite included bathrobes and a bottle of a local aperitif. The ceiling of the bedroom was interesting to look at since the walls started curving and narrowing -- that was where the tip of the turret was in the tower.

Looking out the window, our suite overlooked the hotel's outdoor terrace and further down was the swimming pool. The view beyond the property was of the surrounding countryside and the Indre River. In the distance was another chateau hotel (Chateau d'Artigny, which also looked very beautiful) and the tiny town of Montbazon.

There were some walking trails around the grounds that were lovely. Again, it was so tranquil there. The location is not that far away from Tours but you feel like you're so far from civilization.

The restaurant served excellent food. We had one dinner there as well as breakfast every morning. Dinner was pricey but worth it. It was peak season for white asparagus so (to our delight) many of the dishes included it. Our appetizers, in particular, were standouts: white asparagus spears with slices of duck and bits of hazelnuts, all drizzled with balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Not only did it taste great, the presentation was fantastic, too. The asparagus spears were criss-crossed with the duck slices to form a lattice pattern on the plate, kind of like a basketweave. We would've eaten there again for dinner, but decided it would be nicer to try some other local restaurants instead (see reviews of those restaurants below in the Loire Valley Food section of this report).

Breakfast each morning was buffet. There was a large selection of cheeses, breads, meats, pastries, fruits, and drinks. The breads and pastries were baked fresh every morning and were my favorites. One variety was a thick loaf that was sweet and was topped with chunky sugar crystals. It was almost a cake rather than bread. The croissants were perfect -- flaky on the outside, soft and super-buttery on the inside. I also loved the apple juice they served. It was so delicious -- freshly-squeezed of course, and the color and consistency made it look more like pear juice. It's not the processed, clear cider-looking apple juice that I'm used to seeing at home.

We would definitely stay at Domaine de la Tortinière again. It's very expensive, but you're treated like royalty.


More on the Loire Valley to come ...

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