20 June 2021

Les animaux qu'ils chassent

Here are a few more photos that I took in the hunting museum at Montpoupon. Hunting is firmly anchored in the culture of the Loire Valley. We've learned to live with having hunters out in the vineyard from December through February every year, and organized hunts targeting deer and foxes at other times. Let's just call it population control — animal populations, I mean. On our walks in the vineyard, we often see game birds (pheasants especially), rabbits or hares, and roe deer. Natasha flushes them out of the vineyard rows and chases them. We sometimes see foxes, badgers, or pine martens as well. I know there are boars out there too, but I've never seen any in the vineyard.

19 June 2021

Montpoupon : hunters and horses

The château de Montpoupon, like others — Chambord, Cheverny — is known for hunting.
There's a hunting museum on the grounds. Photos...

I guess I could have added "hounds" to my title.
Painting by Georges Busson (1859-1933).

And "hokey" to describe the displays pictured above and below...

I don't know if this horse is stuffed or sculpted.

Look closely and you'll see why I could also have added "Hermès"....

18 June 2021

Signs, signs, everywhere a sign

I'm getting down to random photos again. Here are some metal signs and other
metal fixtures I took pictures of around the grounds of the château de Montpoupon.

À table !

Keep off the grass!

Let there be light

M for Montpoupon

Bad dog!

17 June 2021

Lunch at the Auberge du Château at Montpoupon

When we spent the afternoon at Montpoupon back in 2012, we started by having lunch in the restaurant next door, which is called L'Auberge du Château. We were the only customers on that Sunday, so we had not only good food but very good service and a pleasant meal. Not surprisingly, the restaurant didn't stay in business very long, but now I understand that it has re-opened under new management. Here's the web site.

Here's what the interior looked like. I think it has a new look these days. We were a party of four, as our friends Peter and Jill Hertzmann were visiting from California.

The meal started with two little amuse-bouche dishes, which we all enjoyed with some local Sauvignon blanc wine as we waited for the first courses to come out of the kitchen. An amuse-bouche is a small plate of food designed to whet your appetite and "amuse your mouth" (Fr. bouche). The two that we had were a dollop of pureed sun-dried tomatoes on a cracker...

...followed by a little bowl of lobster bisque served with a spoonful of caviar floating on top.

Jill, Walt, and I chose a starter course of lightly smoked salmon. Chef Hammani said the salmon was cured in salt and sugar for four days, and then smoked for only three minutes. Whatever the process, it was excellent — mild, tender, moelleux, only slightly salty, and hardly smokey at all. It was served with a couple of little blinis, a quenelle ("dumpling") of crème fraîche, and a little glass of ice-cold, citrus-flavored vodka. It was, as they say, très fin — very refined. Peter had foie gras as his entrée, but I haven't yet found a photo of that.

Three of us had this épaule d'agneau confite — "pulled" slow-cooked lamb shoulder — with potatoes and wide, flat "Romano" green beans (cocos plats in French) as our main course. Peter chose sweetbreads (ris de veau) as his main course.

As you can see, it was a very fine and very refined lunch. With our main courses, we had some red Bourgueil (Cabernet Franc) wine. Bourgueil is near Tours on the north or "right" bank of the Loire — 45 miles west of Montpoupon.

16 June 2021

Montpoupon : intérieurs [2]

The painted ceiling beams in the first photo below date back to the French Renaissance (1500s) and are in what is called la chambre du roi at the château de Montpoupon. Many châteaux in the Loire Valley had a "king's bedroom" where he could spend the night if he happened to visit. The painted beams were restored in the 1920s.

I got my second (and final, I hope, but I doubt it) Covid19 vaccination yesterday morning. Yay! I haven't noticed any side-effects so far. My shoulder isn't even very sore. I got the AstraZeneca vaccine, which was the one available here in France starting in early April. The AZ vaccine is not being given to people under 55 years old.

15 June 2021

Montpoupon : intérieurs [1]

In 2012 we went into the château de Montpoupon to see some of the furnished rooms. They're mainly 19th century, as far as I know. The family that lived there then was named de la Motte Saint-Pierre. Their parents or grand-parents had bought the château in the 1850s. Montpoupon is on the territory of the French village (commune) called Céré-la-Ronde.

14 June 2021

Montpoupon : le châtelet

The « châtelet » (“little château”), which is the building that serves as the main entry gate of the Montpoupon grounds, has undergone a major restoration over the past year. An article in the regional Nouvelle République newspaper says it's the biggest restoration project at Montpoupon in more than a century. Restoration was supposed to take 6 months, but work was delayed slightly by the recent (and ongoing) crise sanitaire. At last report, the scaffolding erected all around the building was being taken down in May. I'll have to drive over there soon and see what it looks like.

The châtelet was built around the year 1520. In the 19th century, its top floor was turned into a chapel and the floor below it was made into a library. I've never been inside so I look forward to seeing it all restored and refurbished. Here's a YouTube video about the restoration work, featuring the owner of the château, who says the 500-year-old building was in desperate need of repairs and restoration.

13 June 2021

Moutpoupon : la cuisine

It's hard to figure out whether the kitchen at the château de Montpoupon as you can see it today even existed 200 years ago. Some things I read say it was ré-aménagée (renovated) in the 19th century, and others suggest that this space in the basement, on the north (back) side of the château, was turned into a kitchen only in the latter part of that century.

The Château de Montpoupon web site says the kitchen was still operational as late as 1977,
when the last cook departed.

The château was acquired in 1857 by a man from Beauvais named Jean-Baptiste-Léon de la Motte Saint-Pierre.
He had owned the château d'Argy, 25 miles southwest in the Berry, near the big town of Châteauroux.
(I've driven through there but I've never seen the château d'Argy except from the road.
I think that was in June 2009 with CHM.)

Anyway, Monsieur de la Motte Saint-Pierre (1806-1872) sold the château d'Argy to a Belgian company in 1855.
He and his wife moved to Montpoupon and undertook to turn the château into a comfortable residence.
Their son Émile (1838-1912), born at Argy, continued that work, as did his decendants
over the course of the 20th century.

Montpoupon was occupied by an Austrian batallion and then by German soldiers at the beginning of World War II,
but they withdrew toward the north when the demarcation line between occupied France to the north
and free France to the south was drawn along the Cher River in 1940.
The soldiers caused no real damage to the property.

The last member of the La Motte Saint-Pierre family to live at Montpoupon was a woman named Solange.
Her father had died in 1956. She opened the château to the public in 1971.
(Thanks to Wikipédia for all this information.)

Solange de la Motte Saint-Pierre got her great-nephew, Count Amaury de Louvencourt, involved
in managing the Montpoupon property in the 1990s. She passed away in 2005 and Louvencourt
still owns the château today. The château's web site (in English or in French)
says the kitchen is ready to be pressed back into service...

12 June 2021

Montpoupon en 2012

We visited the Château de Montpoupon in 2012, spending the afternoon there after having lunch in the nearby
Auberge du Château restaurant. Here are a few photos I took in the main courtyard. We also wandered around
inside the corps de logis (the main building) for the first time since 2003 and spent some time in
the old kitchen, which was "modernized" in the 19th century and still in service in the 20th.

More photos to come...

That's Walt you see in the first photo above, and that's our friend Peter Hertzmann in the last one.