Saturday, October 9, 2010

Le Moulin Bregeon - Loire Valley, France

I find it hard to gather the words to explain the experience at Le Moulin. Located between Noyant and Vernantes, south of Tours, 30 minutes out from Saumur and located in the tiny village of Linieres-Bouton is Le Moulin Bregeon. An old water mill used to grind grain, has been converted into a ... well, I'm not really sure it fits in any class of accommodation. It akin to being invited to the country home of your dearest friends who wish to make your experience one you will never forget.

Le Moulin Bregeon and the stream running under the building.

Resident Chef Pascal, is truly amazing. Assisted by sous-chef Elissa, he treated us each night to a four-course traditional French country dinner. We had cauliflower with smoked duck, confit de canard (duck confit), boeuf provencal, apple tarte tartine, lentil puree soup ... and that is just a sample! Everything was in season and most of the ingredients were from the gardens there on the farm. One morning at breakfast Elissa asked if we wanted an egg - when we said "yes", she headed out to the chicken coop to see what was available! They focus on local ingredients, seasonality of the food and dishes seeped in tradition.  The chefs truly live the "farm to fork" concept and beyond, gathering ingredients locally and from the farm, composting all the food waste and using it in the organic gardens, shopping only at local farms and markets and then being there when you taste the food to tell you about the dish. It was truly a culinary experience beyond belief!

Afternoon snack - simple elegance
Our suite was on the second floor of the Mill and was stunning. Old gears from the days when it was a working mill remained in the ceiling. The stream still runs under the mill and we could hear it in our suite. The furniture were all antiques, right down to the linens on the beds and the tiles on the floor of the bathroom. There are no TV's, clocks or phones in the rooms. There is a hair-dryer if you ask for it - but don't expect a coffee maker or a mini-bar. The kitchen is just right downstairs, make yourself at home! (Which I did one night, searching for a glass of water). Speaking of water - the tap water is safe. I swear it must come from a spring because it tasted better than many bottled waters.

Our suite - master bed
Our suite - second bed
The bath. I fell in love with this sink!
Big enough for two - but there is a rain shower also!
If you truly cannot disconnect from the digital world, you can cross the bridge over the stream and head into the living room. If it is chilly, Bernard will have built a fire and you can relax there and get on the wi-fi network. Just do take a moment to notice all the interesting items on the walls and in the glass cabinet. There are surprises everywhere.

Le Moulin isn't just a refuge for people, but you'll notice the animals have free reign also. There are a flock of geese who will not ever be part of dinner, ducks who swim in the stream, Mona the mascot dog and her two puppies, the chickens and the goats. Explore the outlying buildings and take some time to walk along the stream. It is a peaceful and amazing walk. We had the chance to walk at midnight, under the full moon, with one of the puppies guiding us. It is a memory I will hold dear - it was simply enchanting!

The view from our bathroom window early one morning
With amazing surroundings, isolated from the world and stunning food, Le Moulin Bregeon still wouldn't be half the experience it is without the people who pull it all together. Pascal and Elissa bring cooking and dining to life. They clearly have a passion for what they do and instinctively know what is right (and wrong). If Pascal does not publish a recipe book soon, I will be very angry with him! Jonathan is a gracious and entertaining host - we were sincerely flattered by his request to visit him in his atelier in the village and learned a great deal from him about modern architecture. The daily operating of the Mill could not happen without Bernard. He is grace under pressure and makes it all seem easy while being truly charming and welcoming. He was there to match the wines to our food, he set an amazing table with centerpieces he found on the farm (grapevines, chestnuts still on the branch), helped us find tickets for events and advised us on places to visit.  And last, but certainly not least, our friend Adam: he was full of energy, sincerely accommodating and resourceful, and willing to answer our endless questions. He made us feel completely at ease and went out of his way to make sure all the details were perfect for our visit.

As we left the Loire Valley on the TGV train headed for Paris, I was quite sad. I was leaving friends who I won't see again for some time and who I will dearly, dearly miss. Which gives me all the more reason to plan the next visit!


  1. I had the pleasure of staying at the Moulin ten years ago and it was an absolutely wonderful experience. Pascal was an amazing cook and wonderful host. There were also many lovely cats roaming around, to make the picture even more perfect.

    Thank you for sharing. I wish I could go back there soon.

    Matthew Felix Sun

  2. Was it a gite? It sounds like it might have been a gite - gite owners often provide home cooked meals on top of accomodation.

    This place looks gorgeous though, I think I'm going to have to look into going for a visit. I can see why you loved the sink, it looks fab!