We were now into our second week of our Tour De France and we headed back into the beautiful Lot valley. The weather had been very boring...each day cloudless, sunny and hot. Its a tough life but we endured. The drive down into Espalion had once again reminded us of this hidden gem of a location with its deep wooded valley, old castles, some in ruins and the uper reaches of the great river Lot at the bottom.
Estaing is a small town with a Chateau by the river (see photo). The Chateau had for many years been a convent but is now being restored by a trust headed up by the former French president Valery Giscard D'Estaing who, as his names imlpied has family roots here.
The hotel sits beside the main through road and has a small number of available parking spaces just to its west. The reception area doubles as a bar and the manageress greeted us warmly and decided that she was more comfortable with using English than with my attempts to slaughter her native French tongue.
Our room (14) was on on the second floor...no lift so plenty of exercise for me hefting our bags upstairs. We had a nice south facing view over the river and old bridge with a small balcony (standing room only). The fact that is was south facing meant it was also warm from the sunshine and also overlooked the main road which was busy....all night! The en suite was small but functional with a shower, loo, sink, hairdryer and joy-of-joys a razor socket. Toiletries were good including bottles of shampoo rather than sackets.
The bed was rather short and only just coped with my 6 foot 1 frame (I'm talking length here so no jokes about enjoying my food too much.) Generally the room seemed a little cramped. The TV was flatscreen.
Dinner was tremendous. We had the more basic menu but basic here is a relative term. The Kir apperitifs were a little ungenerous and unusually came with no canapes. This lack of generosity was made up for with the starter where Mrs L got a rather large double slice of Black Pudding and fois gras terrine which she enjoyed rather too much. I had a smoked trout with pesto that was devine Each came with a walnuts and pine nuts green salad. Then we both had very tasty Perche with smoked ham, ratatouille and cheesy potato, followed by a cheese board selection (St Nectaire, Chevre and Brebis in this case). dessert was a Strawberry and pistachio cake than was wonderful. All this for 25 Euro; just fantastic! The only problem was this added to the burden to be moved up the stairs. The wine was a Languedoc Vin de Pays Armonia (an organic wine) as recommended by the manageress...OK but no more.
Hot room meant open window. Open window meant noise intrusion. Whatever the compromise sleep was not as comfortable as it might have been.
Breakfast was good but held in a rather plain backroom. Everyone was given stewed apples. The jams were individual pots of commercially bought brands and also a propriety peanut butter spread. The honey seemed to be more rusic and was nice. Croissants were large and fresh. Pain au Chocolat and other bread were also sampled. Freshly made coffee was served in pots with hot milk.
Overall and nice place to visit but may be best to avoid the hotter months.
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