Well, friends, I think we just bought a hotel.
You have to make it happen. – Denis Diderot
When they say that life is an adventure, I believe that they must have meant this.
My head is spinning and I keep pinching myself. The story will be a while in the telling, the adventure unfolding one day at a time and following the rhythm of the hotel. Our hotel. Guests will come and go, flow in and flow out, keys handed out, breakfasts served, rooms cleaned, wine tastings organized and animated, and I will write and write. This grand adventure, our new life in this enchanting hotel, discovering a new city and region while learning a new profession, is something so exciting for Jean-Pierre and I, a story waiting to be told, and deserves a brand new home, and so I have given Life’s a Feast a fresh start, a clean slate, a new beginning.
And I want to welcome you to our new home, both our hotel and my new blog. Because life is indeed a feast.
There is only one passion, the passion for happiness. – Denis Diderot
It all started with an email; I was visiting my mother in Florida this past July when I received the following message from Jean-Pierre: Hotel for sale in Chinon. Wait a minute, this is the place. I will visit it tomorrow. And a link to a gallery of photos. A second email followed swiftly with the Hotel M Simond : what it looks like on google street view in the object line. And a single photo, rather gray and dim, but what I saw intrigued and excited me. A gate opened to reveal a small courtyard and a beautiful old building half hidden behind a veil of greenery. A narrow white ironwork spiral staircase winding up to a second floor terrace, flowers in window pots and lining the front porch, white framed windows against limestone walls under a black slate roof left the impression of an old manor house built in the eighteen hundreds, lovely, calm and romantic. It certainly had promise.
The decision was made even before I returned to France, and confirmed once Jean-Pierre and I visited the hotel together. A bid, a dossier, interviews and the owners selected the two of us to take over their baby, this beautiful old house they have called home for a dozen years, a hotel they have recreated, reinvented, taken to heart.
The Hôtel Diderot began its life in the 15th Century. The building was reconstructed and modernized in the 18th Century with the addition of upper floors, and finally the addition of the beautiful terrace and iron spiral staircase on the front (early 19th Century) and the annex with more rooms (20th Century) completed the Hôtel Diderot. Laurent and his sister Françoise, from whom we take over, have been renovating the hotel room by room and have created a beautiful, extremely calm and comfortable, and utterly charming hotel and an ambiance romantic, yes, but thoroughly welcoming and familial.
The Hôtel Diderot is situated in the heart of old Chinon a stone’s throw from the Château/Forteresse Royale de Chinon, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and in the heart of the Loire Valley along the Vienne River and surrounded by the vineyards of Chinon. Wander the narrow cobbled streets and you will be captivated by the medieval buildings and homes that still stand; visit the Château, the old Royal Fort, and you will stand on the spot where Joan of Arc revealed and met Charles VII; breathe in the air of this convivial town and you’ll understand how it inspired François Rabelais to write the bawdy, satirical, epicurean tales of Gargantua & Pantagruel. (Stay tuned for the hotel’s new website!)
I welcome you to join us, Jean-Pierre and me, and follow along on our hotel adventure. I will continue to share recipes on the new Life’s a Feast, but this new space, my blog’s new home, will allow me to write stories about the hotel, about our discoveries in this new place, this new life, day to day, and our life in France, what I always meant to do.
In their rules there was only one clause: Do what you will. – François Rabelais