Recently several of us from the Kent Place School class of 1968 celebrated 50 years of friendship together in a private château in La Vendée, an amazingly beautiful and historic region of France, not well-known even to the French.
One classmate gave each of us a scarf which was either gold or green depending on which team we were on at school, and we reminisced and celebrated life in fine style over Champagne every evening in “our Château” La Bijoire.
Every day we were out exploring the region, including the charming port of Les Sables-d’Olonne with its exquisite mosaics and La Rochelle, an important centre of fishing and trade since the 12th century.
We spent a full day at the J. Mourat Winery where we visited the vines in a jeep and saw the historical windmill, the winery and ended with a tasting of their white, rosé, and red wines followed by a delicious lunch.
We spent two days with Chef Lionel Guilbaud, formerly the head chef at the Plaza Athénée in Paris. We enjoyed lunch at his restaurant in La Roche-sur-Yon, and he came to the Château for a cooking class dinner with recipes he had created just for us.
Noix de St. Jacques Façon Compostelle (Sea Scallops in the footsteps of Santiago de Compostelle).
Our final day was beyond amazing! We spent the day with Alain Durante and Marc Barbaud at the Logis de Chaligny, a Château from the 16th century, lovingly restored by Alain over the past 25 years. Alain and Marc have recreated the gardens as they were in the 19th century according to drawings found in the town hall. The high points of our day with Alain and Marc were our lunch (cooked by them) in their dining room and a flower arranging class with Marc where we each made our own bouquet and adorned our dining room table at home for our last dinner of fruits de mer.
If this sounds like heaven, let me know. I will create a trip to La Vendée for you too!