What kind of reward would you consider to be fitting after having completed 4 days of intensive French immersion and spoken French at every meal? For my classmates and me, it was an exquisite lunch at Château de Champlong, located not far from our school in Roanne, France. But there was one ‘hitch”, diréctrice Valerie, who informed our waiter that we would not be speaking English. Our conversation at lunch would continue ONLY in French. Of course, we willingly went along with this request. More opportunity to practice!
While we had been dining quite well (ie. gourmet) at Ecole des Trois Ponts, with wines, delicious entrées, plats, cheeses, and desserts, the new scenery and presentation of the dishes at the château was a delicious change.
Château de Champlong
When we arrived at Château de Champlong we had a quick look around at the property. The 16th century Château is both restaurant and hotel with 12 rooms designed with modern comforts. There is also a spa and golf course and on the grounds, there is a pond and chapel. Baptisms, weddings, meetings, receptions, and cooking classes take place at this exceptional setting throughout the year.
Chef Olivier Boizet
Château de Champlong is run by Chef Olivier Boizet and his wife, Veronique. Boizet is a Maître Cuisinier de France (Master Cook of France), which is the highest classification in restaurant guides. The organization that bestowed the designation works to “preserve, advance, and perpetuate the tradition of great French cuisine” It is a most-envied title that chefs want to have.
Boizet trained at the 3-star Michelin restaurant, Maison Troisgros, located in Ouches, just 3 kilometers from the château, across the D53. He has been working at the château for approximately 24 years.
Lunch At Château de Champlong
In the château’s dining room, paintings from the 18th century adorn the walls. Our lunch menu had been selected in advance and each course was certainly pleasing to all the senses. Hopefully, the photos in this post speak louder than words.
Mises en Bouches
With nouvelle cuisine, often a “mise en bouche” or “amuse-bouche” is presented with an aperitif. It is often a small hors d’oeuve that is designed to delight the palate. Accompanying our champagne with apple juice and cognac, we had a selection of appetizers that were warm, cold, raw, cooked, sweet, sour, fluffy and crunchy. One was a marinated scallop on a mousse tart. Another was a tempura mozzarella ball on a tomato confit. A third was a ham terrine on toast. And my favorite was the cauliflower mousse that had morsels of hazelnuts. The presentation was smart and perfect for the mises en bouches.
In addition to the red and white wines served at lunch, our entré was tempura-coated asparagus served on top of a salad of finely chopped scallions, asparagus and celery, surrounded by panna cotta with “juice of a crustacean (ie. lobster) scented with lemongrass”.
Cabillaud (cod) was served with puréed carrots and crêpes made of peas served with a strong, concentrated chicken broth and ceps (mushrooms).
Main Dessert and “Mignardise” (Smaller Sweets)
Tiramisu framboise (Tiramisu with raspberries) was the delicious dessert that was served with an assortment of “mini” desserts (mignardise): mint marshmallows, raspberry macarons, pistachio chocolate squares, fruit jellies.
[There wasn’t a cheese course because a number of students were going to do another excursion later that day to a fromagerie!]
We were understandably very tired and full after this lunch. Thank goodness none of us had homework the next day. What a reward for our hard work at Ecole des Trois Ponts! Our excursion and lunch at Château de Champlong were definitely worth trying to improve our grammar and pronunciation!
Cost of the meal: 50 € (about $75)
Château de Champlong
Address: 100 chemin de la Chapelle, Villerest, Rhone-Alps
If you’re wondering about taking a French immersion course in France, I highly recommend taking it at Ecole des Trois Ponts. I have taken three types of programs there:
- General French classes
- French with afternoon cooking classes
- French with afternoon countryside walks
Talking to other students about their experiences with other French immersion schools, Ecole des Trois Ponts stands out for them (and me), particularly because of the “student-centered” focus. It’s about what YOU, the student, want to learn. Also, staying on site brought us closer together and speaking French 24/7 helped us improve our French more than just attending a class for a few hours a day. Check out these posts to learn more about my experiences:
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