chambre d'hôte (shahmbrh-dote)
Les chambres d'hôtes sont des chambres meublées situées chez l'habitant en vue d'accueillir des touristes, à titre onéreux, pour une ou plusieurs nuitées, assorties de prestations.
B&Bs are furnished rooms situated at the homeowner's with the aim of welcoming tourists, for a fee, for one or more nights, and various services.
A Day in a FRENCH Life... by Kristin Espinasse
If you have been reading this blog for more than a year, then you were there when we moved from the Rhône to "appellation Bandol" (my sneaky way of not telling you which village we actually live in!).
I wasn't always this secretive; once upon a time we opened up our vineyard to thousands of guests. The lieu, or place, was perfect for receiving groups and it was a lot of fun hosting those weekly wine-tastings, where we had the chance to meet so many people. Though we welcomed visitors into our home, one thing we never did at Domaine Rouge-Bleu was offer lodging.
Now all that has changed--ever since the new owners moved in! I've written about Caroline and Thomas before, but I wanted to take a moment to reintroduce this charming couple from Australia (she's from Perth) and France (he's from the Vosges).
When we put our vineyard on the market, in 2012, it was not easy finding the right people to take up where Jean-Marc had left off. His vines, remember, are his babies. Selling our home meant giving up our vines for adoption. Who would be the most loving, caring parents? Would they remember to sing lullabies and would they race out to protect little Syrah, Grenache, and Carignan in the middle of the night?
Before Caroline and Thomas miraculously appeared, we had a few dubious candidates. One man (looking like a Scandinavian Mick Jagger) showed up in his Rolls Royce. After touring the house he tiptoed anxiously across the muddy driveway to have a peek into the wine cellar.
"Is it very complicated to make wine?" he asked.
At a loss for words, I guessed he could expand the domain into a recording studio--as the former owner of Brangelina's vineyard did--but I knew Jean-Marc wouldn't go for this--not unless the buyer was Bono. Only then would Jean-Marc reconsider! But then he'd have me to contend with--and I'd rather open a seed-saving factory for Heirloom varietals!)
Sorry for getting off-topic. Moving on, another couple arrived for a look-see but were quickly factored out when the woman giggled, "This could be fun! We weren't actually looking for a vineyard but why not?"
While "fun" certainly tempers the grueling work day of a wine-maker--there are just as many days when a farmer loses all hope. These mettle-testing moments define a true vigneron. To find the perfect parents--or proprietaires--Jean-Marc wasted no more time with the real-estate ads. He went headhunting for Caroline and Thomas!
We knew the couple (and friends of ours) were sincere about winemaking when they overlooked the extraneous details: like our inelegant storage rooms (old maritime shipping containers) and our homely company car (certainly no Rolls Royce--would Scandinavian Mick have driven it?)
"That'll work!" Caroline said, overlooking the clunker's appearance, appreciating, instead, its utility.
"You can get a lot of buckets in the back! Lots of grapes!" I chirped. But there was no need to sell her on our family van-turned-vineyard vehicle. Caroline was happy to adopt the car--along with the vines.
I had always admired Caroline's no-nonsense personality, and beyond her beautiful exterior a creative, intelligent, and hardworking farmer was longing to make wine. It was sad we were moving because I would miss spending more time with Caroline--having shared a love of plants, "repurposing" objects, and slow food.
Her partner, Thomas , equally charming and hardworking, has extensive experience in wine retailing. He managed a wine/beverage company in London before he and Caroline bought our Domaine Rouge-Bleu vineyard. Thomas enjoys speaking about and sharing his knowledge of wine.
You can see all the photos of the wonderful improvements they have made (last year they added beautiful blue shutters to the old farmhouse!). And be sure to like their Facebook page, which they regularly update with news of their Domaine Rouge-Bleu vineyard's progress.
Also check out their website--where you will see pictures of the beautiful B&B rooms they have available (they've transformed my writer's nook into a bedroom with ensuite bath overlooking the vines! Or, if you prefer, you can stay in Jean-Marc's former office-come-cozy chambre.
Don't hesitate to reserve your room in this beautiful vineyard. And please tell them Kristi sent you!
I leave you now with some of my favorite things to do in the area of Sainte Cécile-les-Vignes, where Domaine Rouge-Bleu is located. When you book a room at Caroline and Thomas's vineyard, you'll be located right in the middle of dozens of postcard pretty villages!
Grignan, only a 25 minute drive north, is brimming with roses in May--and it's a fun place to have a coffee and maybe swipe some sugar.
Buis-les-Baronnies--where lovely characters appear around every photogenic corner
Not far from Orange, Roquemaure is a fun stroll. And the villagers are chatty and warm.
And Caromb is so poetic you might find yourself talking to the windows..... Out of room now, or I might've posted photos of Sablet--speaking of which....
So as not to confuse anyone, our new vineyard--in appellation Bandol--is not a B&B (in case you were looking for comfortable digs in France...).
Thank you for the time you've spent reading my column. If you have learned more than a little vocabulary here and find yourself looking forward to the next story, please know that ongoing support from readers like you helps me continue doing what I love most: sharing these missives from France. Your support is vivement apprécié! Donating via PayPal is fast and easy when you use the links below. Merci infiniment! Kristi