Les Etangs de Corot (Mother and Daughter hotel)

IMG_7839I just loved this hotel, really ideal for a mother and daughter special break. It is in La Ville d’Avray, on the main Paris to Versailles road, which does really mean, you have to get a taxi from Gare du Nord and it takes a couple of hours. If you were driving, it is only a two hour drive from Caen ferry.    Worth the drive, especially if you are going to visit Versailles palace.

I did look the hotel up on Tripadvisor and read reviews on Booking.com before we got there, so, like most people, I already had an idea of what to expect, but most of the reviews were from couples, on romantic breaks! I checked out their website, looked at the photos and noted the scarcity of rooms which had twin beds! To be honest, it is a super boutique hotel for that luxury romantic getaway, when all you want to do is gaze lovingly at each other, enjoying subdued lighting, gourmet food, very good wine and the intimacy of a ‘spa experiece’ BUT, it is even better for that ‘girlie’ break, that crowd of girls’ hen-party, that ‘sisters’ get together, lolling about in dressing gowns and having pink fluffy talk; which husband wants to sit on loungers, discussing facials and massages, and which face creams are the best? AND of course that special ‘mother and daughter’ treat!

It is quite a modern frontage on the main road through the town, Ville d’Avray (with underground car park, if you are travelling by car!) It is actually a wonderful venue for weddings, as the back of the hotel overlooks a  picturesque lake (built, I think, eons ago, as a reservoir ?) and the grounds are extremely pretty with ‘medieval’ wooden walkways and separate outside eating/party area, reminiscent of Marie Antoinette’s ‘English Tudor Hamlet’, she had built at her summer palace ‘Triannon’  All interiors are very tastefully decorated, very chic.

The house/studio which belonged to the nineteenth century painter, Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot(he was a fore-runner of the Impressionists) is in Ville d’Avray, hence the name of the hotel! Huge ‘canvas copies’ of his work are propped up against the walls in the main dining room, giving an easy ambience, but also the intimacy of an artist’s studio, loved it, felt like home!

IMG_7931Actually , if you go onto booking.com or Tripadvisor, they have oodles of photos and reviews , so I won’t bore you! It is a lovely, peaceful, spa retreat away from the bustle of Paris, and not very far from the palace of Versailles, PERFECT for Mothers day treat? The lake has a good walking route around it for a brisk morning jog! The restaurant serves wonderful gourmet food and exceptional wine and the Spa uses all Caudalie beauty products, which rate VERY high on my list of ‘best-evers’  What more could a mother want?
This brings me onto mine and Ruth’s  interest in food and good wine. All those holidays in France, wine-tasting at Dopff’s in Alsace, the Gewurztraminers and the St Emilions and the Bordeaux visits, tagging along three bored children, BUT all three have incredibly good taste when buying wine; osmotically synthesised? The proprietor of Les Etangs, is the daughter of the owners of the vineyard in Bordeaux, Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte, very lovely wine, and there is also a hotel and Spa, there in Bordeaux, so must go there! Other daughter is the founder of the Caudalie beauty products. What a treat!
I have stayed in lots of hotels, I used to always check that they were Johansen recommended, before I booked, so my appetite for ‘chic’ was firmly set, a long time before the emergence of the ’boutique’ hotel,  and before the internet and Tripadvisor! I am well-versed in ‘amuse bouche’, and having just been to a favourite hotel in the Cotswolds, and been disappointed with their rendering of a ‘foam’ soup in a glass yogurt pot, I was apprehensive!
Perhaps this is why Ruth decided we should choose ‘THE TASTING MENU’ I haven’t ever tasted such a cacophony, such a medley, of epicurian gastronomic delights! WOWEE! oscillating taste-buds!
Our tasting menu included:
Parsnip cream with snail and celery croquette ( I can remember helping my eldest sister make croquettes from Larousse when I was 12)
Wild sea bass in carpaccio, beetroot and Granny Smith apple with caviar from Aquitaine!
Smoked eel with brussel sprout en miso!
Scallops from Normandie, salsify,parsley and nuts and Colannata ham!
Chicken with butternut, vegetables from Joel Thiebault, candied lemon from Menton!
Selection of cheeses from Monsieur Ouvrat ( whose shop was in the town) We were instructed to start at twelve o’ clock, and eat our way clockwise around the plate: currants, apricots  and grapes to be eaten with certain cheeses.
Lemon Tart, cottage cheese, Buddha hand ( which Ruth ‘de-constructed” as lemon meringue pie)
Lastly the ubquitous macaroons, chocolate mousseline formed into cherries and covered in chocolate AND fruit jellies! ( this last dish had to be eaten solely by me as Ruth had pigged out too much! such a lightweight!)
Gourmets’ delight! ALSO lovely wine: Chateau Haute LaFitte 2011 and sweet desert wine was from Southern France, the Pyrennees, Gironde Saens? I was trying to scribble everything down but accents don’t often relate to my french spelling skills, sorry!
Great waiter throughout, explaining why they choose local produce and in very good english, he explained one dish as ‘surf and turf’, pretty good et tres jolie!
I was just so full, couldn’t move! Great fun! Thankyou, thankyou Les Etangs de Corot for splendid cuisine in wonderful surroundings!
I am going to write about the Spa treatments and Caudalie beauty products separately so keep in touch.

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