Dreaming of a fairytale valley filled with castles, quaint country cottages and french cuisine? I was too, so after the holidays we packed our bags along with our dog and headed to Le val de la Loire. While famous for its stunning collection of castles, we opted to stay in a former mill that dates to the 19th century, called Le Moulin Bregeon. American artist and aesthetic warrior Jonathan Robinson purchased the mill almost 20 years ago and has painstakingly restored and re-imagined it as a luxury bed & breakfast in the heart of the Loire. Days at the mill always started with letting the hens, geese and turkeys out of their pen for their morning constitutional and dip in the nearby stream. After lots of squawking and gobbling from both the turkeys and geese, mostly due to their indignation at our 15 pound boston terrier suddenly thinking he was a herd dog, we would proceed to hunt for eggs to be used in our country breakfast. Evenings began with a selection of local cheeses and wine from the vineyards of neighboring Chinon. Dinners were prepared by Jonathan himself and often with ingredients he’d pick from the mill’s very own gardens. This was life at the mill and it was pure magic. Jonathan has created a mostly self-sustaining world where quiet moments are to be savored and all thoughts turn towards nature and her bounty.
Mornings at the mill always began with letting the animals out of their pen.
Enchanting doorways in the village of Linieres-Bouton just down the road from the Moulin.
Figaro, the friendly chocolate labrador who was born and raised at the mill would often accompany us on walks around the property.
The frosty days of December didn’t lend themselves to long country walks in the afternoons so instead we’d sit indoors by the crackling fire and read while listening to 1960s french chanteuse Françoise Hardy. The countless charming villages and regal châteaus nearby did manage to lure us away from our romantic life at the mill on one or two occasions. Château de Chenonceau, a mere hours drive from the mill, was the very vision of a fairytale castle I had always dreamt of exploring. The castle’s most striking feature is its arched bridge that dramatically spans the river Cher. It was commissioned by its then inhabitant Diane de Poitiers in the year 1555. The castle was also the sight of France’s first ever fireworks display which was commissioned by another famous resident Catherine de Medici. Our favorite rooms to wander through were the kitchens which were housed in the lowest portion of the castle. Stone rooms flooded with afternoon light made all those gleaming copper pots and pans glitter. Another added bonus of visiting Chenonceau during this period of winter are the blazing fires burning in all of the late Gothic style fireplaces. Temperatures had dipped on the day we toured the castle so visitors were grateful for their warm glow.
I hope you enjoyed this little peek into the Loire and the beautiful sanctuary known as Le Moulin Bregeon. Jonathan and his team have truly created a special place that will leave you longing for a french country mill of your very own. We are excited to return to this part of France when the days are longer and warmer and all those sleeping fields surrounding the mill have sprung back into a jungle of giant sunflowers… Countryside brocantes should be in full swing by summer as well!
Dreamy countryside cottages with views!
In love with these colorful kettles spotted at the Paris flea markets over the weekend!
Sometimes we must suffer through bad coffee while searching for the sublime. This is what happened to me last week in old Amsterdam. I had relied on the advice of a local friend of mine who admitted he wasn’t the best source for coffee in town which of course led to a couple of very disappointing brews. I decided to do a bit of my own leg-work which led me onto Kinkerstraat in the Oud-West neighborhood of the city and into the warm and intoxicating interiors of Lot Sixty One Coffee Roasters. On the day of my visit the city had been cast into a deluge of rain and strong winds all morning and I had nearly been blown into various canals on my trek over from the 9 streets district. Thankfully the moment I entered the cafe I knew it had all been worth it. The aroma inside Lot Sixty One was a heady mix of both freshly roasted coffee and chocolate chip cookies. I ordered a Flat white and said cookie and happily took up residence for the next hour or so. The barista expertly pulled shots from the beautifully designed Kees van der Westen Spirit Triplette and their shiny new Probat roaster downstairs looked very impressive. It was wonderful to find a spot in Amsterdam roasting their own beans with such a delicious finish. I must also note that the chocolate chip cookies on offer were quite exceptional and delivered the perfect balance of salty & sweet that I love in my coffee sidekicks. I do wish I had discovered the joys of Lot Sixty One sooner on my trip but I’ve added it to the long list of reasons to return to the canal encrusted streets of Amsterdam posthaste!
Follow this link to a proper coffee in Amsterdam:Lot Sixty One
1053 ED AMSTERDAM
*Opening image was borrowed from Lot Sixty One’s website.