When a friend buys a hotel in a small serene historical town nestled in the Loire Valley, you just have to go!
I arrived in the very petite gare de Chinon during a foggy morning.
Bleak and oppressive.
I knew my train was surrounded by a very lush bright green nature as it made its way to the station but I could not enjoy any of it.
The cawing crows seemed to follow me as I made my way to the hotel.
A bit eerie yet exciting to be somewhere I had never been.
A quick walk. Already seized by the quaint homes and color accents in the old streets.
It’s very promising I thought!
Jamie and I know each other from blogging.
I’ve followed her life, adventures, thoughts and recipes for years now.
Her words, her stories. Sa vie.
They are tiny glimpses into her heart and soul.
They make me strive to write differently and better every time.
They take you on a journey – a slice of someone else’s life.
And it’s no secret she has a sweet tooth, which means her blog features delightfully enticing recipes.
We always talked about meeting when I am visiting family in France.
It never happened. C’est comme ça.
As the sun started to peek through the thick Chinon morning fog, the hotel courtyard appeared.
I don’t even know where to start to describe the place.
The outside white spiral staircase, the second floor terrace with swinging French doors, the roses, the garden, the stylish arbor with climbing plants, the open bedroom windows under the eaves with curtains floating in the morning breeze.
I know I am forgetting a thousand other details.
The first thing you’ll notice when stepping inside Hôtel Diderot is how warm and cosy the place is.
The second thing I noticed, of course, is the armoire à confitures.
Hundreds of home-made jams of various colors, each carefully labeled and piled up in an open armoire for everyone to admire.
“Made avec amour by Hôtel Diderot” some of the labels read. Is it time for le petit déjeuner yet?
And in true Frenchie and the Yankee style, multi-colored serving spoons were adorning each open jar still decorating the breakfast tables as the last guests were leaving the dinning room.
Appetizing names such as gelée de cassis, pêches rafraichies à la menthe, fraises et framboises, bananes aux raisins did indeed keep me good company during breakfast.
I unfortunately hit my sugar intake for the month and did not get to taste all 20-some variety of jams on the breakfast tables but if you read this site you know that I’ve been obsessed with banana jam since Tahiti so Jamie’s impressive range of banana-based jams were a hit.
And I could have pocketed some of the orange cocoa marmalade jars.
No shame. Non, non.
Chinon was everything I could have hoped for.
An attractive architectural wonder with Gothic and Renaissance gems to discover.
A sprawling wine country and tastings available pretty much everywhere.
A warm welcome by Jamie, her husband Jean-Pierre and the staff at the hotel.
A cosy, fun and colorful room – a home away from home in a charming setting.
Private castles to admire in the countryside at every street corner.
Surprisingly good seafood.
Winding streets to discover and the enjoyable game of getting lost in a medieval setting.
Roses, roses and more roses. I don’t think I’ve seen that many roses in one place. Various shapes and colors. A delight for the eyes.
Meeting a friend for the first time and already looking forward to reading more of her new adventures as a brand new hotel owner in Chinon in her upcoming book.
If you go:
– from Paris, take the train to Tours and change for Chinon
– Hôtel Diderot
– follow Jamie’s blogs: Life’s a Feast and Plated Stories – you can also catch her on Twitter and Instagram
– for a wine tasting in a historic family château and vineyard: Le Château du Petit Thouars
– Pierre and Bertrand Couly also had an interesting wine tasting worth a visit
– walk the historical streets in the old town leading up to the Château de Chinon because the view from above overlooking the old roofs is breathtaking
– L’Océanic for seafood
– La Part des Anges for a more intimate dinner either with a loved one or to catch up with a friend – merci encore Jamie!