Sunday, August 8, 2021

Castles in Le Perche

Trip date: January 2020

Our big New Year's Eve road trip around the Normandy region had come to an end. Thibault was headed back to Paris and back to work, while Forest and I stayed out in Le Perche at their country home for a bit. Normally I would head home the first weekend of January but Forest was having a big birthday so I was staying until mid-month!

We spent a few days just relaxing around her cozy home and enjoying a couple of walks around their village, Le Mesnil-Thomas, which is tiny and very cute. 

One day we drove out to Nocé which has all of ~750 inhabitants. We had come to go through the 15th century Manoir de Courboyer. In France a manor is the main home on a farm and this area has tons of farmland. It's in this area that you'll also find the area's famous Percheron horses.

Most of the manors in the area are still privately owned and do not allow access, but at Courboyer you can wander the gardens and the interior of the 3-story old home. It was a cool and foggy day and the manor seemed a little spooky. Add to that we were the only two people going through it!

There is an exhibit on the farms and land use of the local area on one floor, and another floor has exhibits of furniture and dress from the time. There's even an old original flag under glass that I assume was the official flag of the family? And the other floor had a photo-exhibit of the other 100 remaining manors in the area. 

One of the most unique aspect to the house was above the door, a very weather beaten and small sculpture of a boy mooning! It wasn't obvious, but there it was!

We drove past a few more manors on our way to the Chateau Saint-Jean in nearby Nogent-le-Rotrou. Unfortunately the castle was closed, as it was Tuesday, which was too bad as there is a museum inside. But it was still a lovely walk as you can go completely around the chateau. 

Construction of the castle happened over multiple years, but the square keep is the oldest part. It was built in the 1040s, and is one of the oldest keeps of this type still standing in France! 

All of this was before lunch! We drove thru the adorable town of Condeau, a waterwheel spanning the river that runs through it, and onto the Domaine Devilleray. The hotel has both the old mill house and the 16th century castle that looks over the town. 

We were led into a lovely semi-formal dining room for our lunch. The prices out here are excellent; the 3-course prix fixe menu was just €32! Our server brought out some warm amuse bouche to snack on while we ordered our wine, a 2014 Chablis from the Irancy village in Burgundy. 

I had a soup of foie gras and pumpkin alongside a soup of peas and smoked ham. My main was an intricately arranged dish of duck with a puree and some very decadent jus. 

There was a lovely cheese selection with some great camembert from Normandy and some delicious little baked treats served with my espresso. The food was solid, not amazing, but much more than I had expected to find out in the country!

The next morning was also foggy which again lent an air of creepiness to the crumbling remains of the Ferté-Vidame castle near Senonches. 

This had been the summer home of Louis de Rouvroy, the Duke of Saint-Simon and also a writer of now classic French literature. The castle sits on a massive plot of land which is a park that you can wander around. 

In Senonches proper, there is also a castle dating from the middle ages. Inside are visiting exhibits as well as a museum of the "History of the Forest". With all these seemingly normal castles, the entire area of Le Perche obviously had a lot of wealthy and powerful people throughout its history! 

If you find yourself in this area, we also had a very good and very inexpensive lunch at Le Foret. My 3-course prix fixe was only €18! I loved my very traditional eggs with mayonnaise, rabbit in mustard sauce, and creme brulee for dessert. 

I'm so glad I got a chance to explore this gorgeous region of France! Thanks friends for buying a place out there :)

All photos of the Le Perche region here.

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