Producer/Director/Author Christopher Strong shares the human, senic, cultural, culinary, and historic “Treasures” discovered during the filming of his TV series – BICYCLE GOURMET'S TREASURES OF FRANCE.
Also by Christopher Strong:
A UNIQUE CHATEAU
In addition to being the land of wine, cheese, haute couture and perfume……..France is also the land of chateaus. What we Anglos call – “castles.” Some ruined. Some renovated. Some inhabited. Some tourist traps. One chateau in the mix that’s refreshingly unique and distinct, is the “Chateau la Verrerie.” It’s claim to fame is, at once, it’s proprietor, and it’s history. Count Beraud De Vogue is the 5th DeVogue to be born, and continuing living in, the family home.
And that, to me, and, re-assuringly, Count DeVogue, is what makes the Chateau la Verrerie so unique. “I think people come here for the rich history of the place. Not the luxury. If luxury is to be measured by the variety of the wine or the weight of the silver, then I think there are places much more luxurious than ours. But I think we have a real luxury……which is to visit a place that is owned by the family that is still living in it.”
The history Count Devogue refers to goes back to the era of the almost continuous wars between the English and the French. And, has a Scots connection – as the Chateau was given to the French as a reward for their help in a particular battle against the English. Thereafter, Leonce, Le Marquis Devogue bought it at an auction. And, it’s remained in the family ever since. Count Beraud DeVogue, “the current link in the chain”, as he likes to call himself, was a businessman in the USA for 12 years, until his Father, in ill health, asked him to come back and “look after the place.” And, that’s what he’s done. In spades. Constantly available to explain and guide his visitors through and around the family home. His natural enthusiasm and relaxed good humor call to mind the phrase – “ a sacred calling……not a job of work.”
Another of those callings is benevolent. Count DeVogue is also the Deputy Mayor of the nearby village of Aubigny-sur-Nere. And, in that capacity, was nice enough to take me along to an art gallery opening there.
A more personal calling is “la chasse.” (the hunt) A sacred (some, like me, would say, genetic) tradition of French maledom. You must go out in the woods and kill SOMETHING! That said – whatever is killed – for whatever reason or lack of – is almost always shared among the community.Horns in the great hall…………
..Meat on many tables. This, folks, is the real France. Not Paris, Chambord and Mount St. Michel. Deal with it! Hunting days are restricted to Thursdays and Sundays. No exceptions.(except when there are. This, too, is the real France.) Count Devogue has 40 hunting dogs. (Hey, He IS a Count!.......not an accountant.)
The Chateau itself, constructed in the 14th century, while physically imposing, is not overbearing. Strong. Certainly.
But with an undeniable grace and dignity absent from so many similar “Monuments Historique.”
Meandering through the Chateau Le Verrerie’s extensive grounds(“holdings”, as my English cousins would say), the – and there’s no other word for it – majesty of the landscape envokes an atmosphere that erases the centuries separating us from our common ancient ancestors.
The Chateau’s most prominent, and for me appealing feature, is the huge lake in front. (see the first picture!) It’s here that Count Devogue’s 40 doggies take their evening bath. (Definitely a “Kodak moment!”) Another pleasing, tho’ not “trop unusual” feature of Le Verrerie, is it’s restaurant. A tranquil, leafy stone’s throw away from the main building.
Starting to feel at home yet? Uh huh….thought so.
Just one more thing…….if you do visit Chateau Le Verrerie, Know that Beraud DeVogue, although he is a Count, is ‘jus a regular guy.” As the French say – “un gens simple.” And, know also,…that no matter how much you fall in love with the Chateau Le Verrerie, you’ll never love it as much as Beraud DeVogue.
Until next time, this is bicycle gourmet wishing you great adventures!
“life is either a great adventure….. or nothing”
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