Chateau Sonoma's Letters From France | Day Two


Day two of sharing my journal from Chateau Sonoma's culinary group trip to France! 


Day Two:

Auty, France

Rise and Shine! Not a difficult thing when there is the smell of fresh baked croissants wafting in the air. Waking up to French roast coffee and a freshly prepared petit dejeuner is one of the many luxuries of the trip.

We gather downstairs and sit down to break bread and go over the schedule for the day. Today we are off to St. Antonin Noble Val to explore the farmers market, various antique shops and learn some of the historical importance of the village. 

St. Antonin Noble Val is where the movie, The 100 Foot Journey, starring Helen Mirren, was filmed. The town is rich in history and has an incredible farmers market, it is, in my opinion, the most beautiful city in France.

It is a 45 minute scenic drive from Chateau Dumas.  Charlotte Clement, who is from Manchester, but said to be more French than the French, is waiting for us on the bus and begins to explain some of the history of the area. She is a walking encyclopedia and speaks of the Cathars of the 13th Century as if it were yesterday. I enjoy every second that I get to spend with Charlotte and I particularly look forward to our very special dinner at her 14th C restored farmhouse.

We arrive at the village and it is bustling with locals and visitors from outlying villages who are in town for the day to buy their weekly supply of food from the farmers market. 

There are vendors for every kind of food you can imagine, and they are all farmers from the surrounding area.  The payson or “peasants” as they are referred to, come with their live ducklings, rabbits and chickens - taking farm-to-table to a whole other level. 

After wandering through the main thoroughfare of town where the farmers market takes place, we explore the rest of the village and peruse brocantes, antique stores and local artisan specialty shops. We make a stop for the required afternoon coffee break, and taking in the sights and sounds of the town square, we make our way back to Chateau Dumas. 

Once we are back home, some of the guests wander the beautiful grounds of the Chateau while others take a much-needed nap in their beautifully appointed rooms. It is the perfect ending to an incredible day! 

Chateau Dumas a French culinary group trip from Sonoma!
Charlotte Chateau Dumas a French culinary group trip from Sonoma!
Chateau Dumas a French culinary group trip from Sonoma! Aunty, Toulouse, and Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val
Chateau Dumas a French culinary group trip from Sonoma! Aunty, Toulouse, and Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val

Chateau Sonoma's Letters from France | Day One

After returning from our trip to France last year, I vowed to share snippets from my journal, but the holidays got the best of me, and then inventory snuck up on all of us, but better late than never! I am finally sharing the intimate memories from our trip; over the course of the next few weeks I will share the details from what was one of the most amazing trips to France that I have ever experienced. Enjoy!


Day One:

Toulouse, France

Sitting in the little café at the Toulouse Blanac airport, I sit and wait for 12 of our guests. Some friends, some acquaintances that I have met through Chateau Sonoma, and some people that I still don’t know. Most of the guests do not know one another, but we all have one thing in common…Our love for France! 

Christopher, our host and driver is there with a rather large sign that reads Chateau Dumas. He is gracious and friendly, and helps everyone get their bags into the van, and off we go! Some people are a little quiet on the way, but most are exchanging stories of where they are from and their past experiences in France. No one has explored this part of the country; it is off the beaten path and not as touristy as other regions in France. 

I selected this region of France as the location of our trip for a very specific reason - often overlooked by tourists, Toulouse and the surrounding areas embody the French lifestyle that I love so much. The area is known to be the epicenter of culinary greatness in France, especially for its frois gras and truffles – two mainstays in French cuisine. The lush greenery, markets, and incredible cuisine come together in an indescribable way; I am so happy to be here again.

Once we arrive at Chateau Dumas, we are greeted by Lizzie, the proprietress, and her amazing staff who are eager to please. They make sure we are all escorted to our rooms and comfortable in our new environment. Lizzie purchased the chateau just over ten years ago and has since completely restored it to exceed its original splendor. When she first purchased the property, it was in need of updating and furnishings, but slowly, Lizzie has turned the empty chateau into what we will call home for the next seven days.

Champagne is waiting for us downstairs before a 3-course meal out on the veranda overlooking the hills and valleys of the Tarn-et-Garonne. Everyone is excited to be here and interested not only in their new environment, but with one another. The meal is divine, and it seems as if we could all stay up for hours telling stories, but the jetlag sets in and we all settle in for the night.   


Chateau Dumas x Chateau Sonoma | Culinary and Antiquing vacation in France
Chateau Dumas x Chateau Sonoma | Culinary and Antiquing vacation in France
Chateau Dumas x Chateau Sonoma | Culinary and Antiquing vacation in France
Chateau Dumas x Chateau Sonoma | Culinary and Antiquing vacation in France

Dreaming of France?

We still have a few spots left for you to travel to Chateau Dumas with us this fall! 


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