Along the way from Paris to Bordeaux, living a Travelife, we stopped midway for one night.
Paris - Bordeaux covers a distance of about 600 kilometers, and I just didn't want to be spending six hours straight in a car. So I booked a stay in a typical bed-and-breakfast place in the Loire Valley simply to break the trip up for a night.
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A TOWN CALLED AMBOISE
I chose a bed-and-breakfast called Manoir Les Minimes in the town of Amboise, right along the river and known for the castle of Amboise up on a hill.
Amboise is a lovely town, although typical of the places in this region. The entire Loire Valley is really pretty.
Admittedly, it isn't really a 100% typical bed-and-breakfast for most people. It has a four-star classification and it's supposed to be the best place to stay in the area.
NEITHER RELAIS & CHATEAUX,
I was thinking of booking one of the Relais & Chateaux properties, as I like them a lot for their charm and luxury, as well as for their reliable service.
I often use them in the French countryside, especially in destinations where I can't find a property that's part of the Small Luxury Hotels (SLH).
These are the two hotel groups I often use in Europe.
But this time, I couldn't find a Relais & Chateaux or an SLH property near enough to where I wanted to be for the night.
I just wanted something off the main road to Bordeaux as a pit stop for the night, and possible as a jump-off to quickly see my favorite chateau (Chenonceaux) the next day, before getting back on the road to Bordeaux.
A LEAP OF FAITH
So I did some research and the Manoir Les Minimes was the best I could find on our route.
It was a bit of a leap of faith that took me just slightly out of my comfort zone to book this, but it was just for one night and I was anxious to finish all the planning for France as soon as possible.
So I decided to book us for a stay here.
REASONABLE AND NICE
Les Manoir les Minimes wasn't my typical luxury place, but it was most definitely good enough and very tastefully done. It was very reasonable as well -- a night here cost much less than lunch at a top bistro in Paris.
So, in a way, staying here instead of at some fancy chateau hotel meant a free lunch in Paris, when everything was computed up.
It wasn't hard to find at all.
When we arrived there, I was reminded of the kind of places my good friend Marivic and I used to stay in, when we traveled through Europe together after college.
CHARMING FRENCH COUNTRY QUIRKINESS
|Stairs to the rooms on the 1st and 2nd floors.|
The best rooms are on the 1st floor and the annex by the gate.
The hotel interiors were very pretty.
I found myself taking photos everywhere because the management had combined contemporary furnishings and antiques in such a pretty and quirky French way.
NO FRILLS SERVICE HERE
|Isn't this quirky mix of classic and modern so pretty?|
The staff were also very nice.
They're on bare-bones service here so there's no doorman or room service attendant.
As far as I could see, only one person was at the reception at any one time, and he or she did everything from checking guests in, to carrying luggage and advising on tours.
We only met two people -- one upon arrival at night, and the other upon checkout in the day -- but they were both very nice and helpful.
It also has no restaurant so you'll have to eat out for dinner.
This is usually a deal breaker for me, as I like to eat in the restaurants of hotels I am staying at, especially in Europe (or South Africa, for that matter) where you tend to drink lots of wine with meals, drink-and-drive regulations are strict, and taxis aren't so easy to organize so late at night.
There's also no shortage of good hotels with excellent restaurants in these countries.
BREAKFAST FOR 15 EUROS
They do serve breakfast in the parlour for 15 euros per person, and it's a continental breakfast buffet with some additions.
The next morning we actually skipped this and went to the town plaza instead in search of a very good bakery with freshly-made goods. It was a very good decision, and I had a wonderful quiche followed by a couple of chocolate pastries.
YOU'RE ON YOUR OWN AFTER MIDNIGHT
One more thing about the service: the reception is only until midnight. After 12, you'll have to let yourself into the hotel with a key that comes attached to the room key,
So if you're okay with decent but no-frills service like this, this is the place for you as it's a very good deal for a pretty nice and well-maintained place.
As for the rooms, I can't compare them to the ones at the kinds of hotels I usually like to stay in. This would be like comparing apples and oranges.
No matter how many times I use the word "charming" here, the fact is that the rooms are on the simple side, especially if you book the cheaper category rooms.
DECENT ROOMS BY ANY STANDARD
|The sun greeted us upon our arrival in the south of France|
But they have several categories of rooms, and most are of a decent size and the furnishings are simple and comfortable.
It's really B&B standard, but in a nice top-end sort of way way: comfortable beds, bathrooms I can live with in the higher category rooms, and great views of the castle actually.
|The exact view from my window...|
The bottom line: if you're finicky about hotels like me, this is good enough for a one-night sleepover in a never-endingly eventful Travelife.
If you're more relaxed about where you sleep, however, you'll find this a very nice base for exploring the beautiful Loire Valley.
MANOIR LES MINIMES
34 Quai Charles Guinot
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