Louis Jansen van Vuuren and Hardy Olivier
AT LA CREUZETTE
Château de la Creuzette typifies elegance. Living life with a certain style, which the French accomplish so effortlessly; warm hospitality, luxurious comfort and exquisite cuisine - the hallmark of Louis Jansen van Vuuren and Hardy Olivier at their château in Boussac.
Warm and welcoming hosts, Hardy and Louis
at Château de la Creuzette, where they
offer inspired specialised tours, a perfect
base from where you can explore
the tranquil region of Limousin.
Absorb the secrets of excellent regional cooking, discover the enduring and captivating tastes of the French table. Attend art workshops with lecturer Louis Jansen van Vuuren, who guides you through the fascinating subject of art history and painting techniques.
Louis Jansen van Vuuren lectured at the University of Cape Town and Stellenbosch for many years. He has a tireless commitment to art education, earned many accolades in South Africa and internationally for his vibrant works and remains extremely active in the art world. His preferred medium is pastel on paper but he also works in oils. His work appears in major galleries and corporate collections and he has been instrumental in the development of art curricular and courses. Appointed vice-commissioner for South Africa’s re-entry to the Venice Biennale 1993 as well as part of the steering committee for the 1995 Venice Biennale.
Former stables have been converted into stunning
spacious workshops; superbly appointed for cookery
classes with an adjoining comfortable lounge and above,
the meticulously equipped studio, flooded with sunlight.
The hands-on cookery classes are hosted by Hardy and well known chef patrons, such as Michelin chef Thièrry Finet and owner of Le Piet à Terre, Jean Jacques Tulleau, Jacky Morlon, Michel Courlouer Philippe Vacheyroux and Maurice Carré, specialists in their field.
Be introduced to classic stars: Foie Gras, Confit de Canard, Clafoutis Limousin as well as the more rustic regional dishes that celebrate the heritage of the Creuse, heart of rural France. You will experience good cheese, wine and the staple of the French table, their incomparable breads, baked daily and sumptuous desserts. It has been said that a day without a pastry is a day not worth living!
Field trips include visits to famous Château Malmaison, where the charming Josephine (Napoleon’s wife) created the world’s finest rose garden at the time, Monet’s evocative Giverny and, a rare treat, to Château Villandry in the Loire Valley, which has the most stunning kitchen garden in France.
You will be collected comfortably from Charles de Gaulles airport and, for those who wish, Hardy can include a great two days introduction to his secret Paris. Thoughtfully chosen destinations; specific museums, art galleries, excellent chocolatiers, restaurants that are little gems and allow Hardy guide you through Paris’s renowned stores dedicated to kitchenware and tools for cooks.
After the mornings activities enjoy a relaxed
lunch in the shady garden. ‘Gigot en Crôute’
served with a green salad and complemented
with a crisp white wine, delightful Stellenzicht
Sémillon Reserve. Later, slices of melting ‘Tart
Tatin’ with a cinnamon dusted vanilla ice-cream.
Stellenzicht Sémillon Reserve 2004: A subtle yellow gold with an aromatic floral bouquet and accents of lime. A wine concentrated in a riper style, complex, deep flavours; honey and peach with a lingering aftertaste.
Award winning Stellenzicht vineyards in the Golden Triangle - a jewel in the crown of Stellenbosch’s wine producing areas, South Africa, is where Guy Webber and his team produce some exceptional wines now available in France.
Lamb is a traditional dish in France and relished over Easter. ‘Gigot en Crôute’ is enclosed in a golden herbed bread crust that absorbs all the juices. A hearty dish served hot or at room temperature, usually with white beans, garlic and bacon during the colder months. In summer choose slender green beans, simply blanched and refreshed with ripe cherry tomatoes, lightly sautéed with garlic and a dash of olive oil.
Tart Tatin (Des Demoiselles Tatin), named after two French sisters; Carolina and Stephanie Tatin. One fine day Stephanie, an excellent cook, hurriedly placed her tart in the oven - upside down. That tart has gone down in history for its unctuous quality and the rich deep flavours of golden apples, sweet buttery juices on a bed of puff pastry.
A sleeping beauty, La Creuzette was untouched for decades. Massive trees grew up and shielded the château. A frisson of excitement must’ve run through the area when it became known that La Creuzette was emerging from its slumber.
Today the Château has been restored elegantly with every care. A dual project; Hardy attended to the practical side and Louis with his artistry created a wonderful warm ambiance, his great flair apparent throughout.
Elegant drawing rooms, a library filled with choice books that are compulsive reading, eight immaculate charming suites, a music room, wine cellar and tasting room, as well as a small gymnasium.
Whimsical trompe l’oeil on the walls in the bathrooms are a delight. Beds are dressed with snowy white fine linens and lace, many hand embroidered and monogrammed. Richly coloured throws, cushions and soft down pillows pamper.
Breakfast at La Creuzette is set formally in the
diningroom adjoining the cosy country kitchen.
Fruits in season, crisp croissants and pastries,
which arrive in the early hours, delicious with
confiture, local cheeses and excellent coffee.
Off the beaten track!
Many consider the town of Boussac to be the Limousin’s best kept secret. A pretty town, Boussac is dominated by picturesque brown roofs. The area, known as the green heart of France is where you can hike or cycle through lush pastures, hills and deep forests and for those that enjoy fishing and water sports, there are numerous lakes and rivers to explore.
Take time out at the country farmer’s market.
Market days are an integral part of life in France, whether in town or country. Weekly events, where you catch up with friends and stock up. Choose olives, cheeses, sausages, hams, loaves of rustic breads ‘pain de campagne’ and fruits of the season; peaches, plums and sublime cherries.
Visit the imposing Castle of Boussac, set breathtakingly on a cliff. Brought to life by Lucien and Bernadette Blondeau, the restoration has continued for many years. This remarkable castle has a fascinating history and was a retreat for famous writer, George Sand. See the contemporary tapestry with birds designed by the Hermes designer Jacquelot. There are numerous superb tapestries in the castle that date from the 15th, 16th, 17th and 18th centuries as well as contemporary pieces.
Return to dinner; the table set in shades
of ash green with clusters of cream roses
and accents of emerald, softly lit and tranquil.
The beguiling Château de la Creuzette, built during the reign of Emperor Napoleon III was since it’s construction home to a Lyonese family. Over the decades the château has witnessed many splendid events and today the atmosphere of those glorious occasions somehow permeates these elegant rooms.
South Africa’s fine wines are on the move internationally!
Today South African wines are to be found in some of the finest restaurants, hotels and guest houses. In France their exclusive range includes the award winning Stellenzicht, Plaisir de Merle, Le Bonheur, Uitkyk brandy and Allesveloren, a very fine port.
Le Bonheur, which means happiness, is a 163 hectare estate in the northern reaches of the Simonsberg Mountain. Once an important stay over for travellers in the Cape.
Le Bonheur Prima has long enjoyed a fine reputation as the premier wine of Le Bonheur. A mellow blend of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, fruity, redolent with rich tones of plums, prunes and hints of cassis. A soft, elegant wine, the fruits seamlessly integrated with French oak. Sakkie Kotze, winemaker explains "Le Bonheur Prima 2004 with ripe firm tannins will mature well. Enjoyed over the years with more robust tastes and country dishes."
A splendid affair - a visual feast!
Table settings are an art form at La Creuzette, varying completely from breakfast through to dinner. Imagine drawing from a selection of tableware, heritage cutlery, linens in a selection of glorious fabrics, styles and colours. Piles of starched cream monogrammed damask serviettes add a final touch to formal settings. Crystal, contemporary glass, porcelain, china, pottery and ironstone form an enviable collection.
Coquilles St Jacques à la Joelle, fresh scallops
in a delicate cream foam with a soupçon of balsamic
vinegar and scented with oranges and lemons.
Hardy and Louis are adept at gathering nature’s bounty; scented roses in summer, glossy leaves, flowering aromatic herbs such as borage with its brilliant blue flowers and refreshing cucumber aroma, all the shades of basil and tall grasses, arranging them quite effortlessly to enhance even the simplest of tables for an alfresco lunch. Capturing them stylishly in brilliantly coloured glass, wicker baskets and contemporary plastic holders.
Crème du Barry, a soup named after beautiful Comtesse du Barry, the mistress of Louis XV; creamy and delicious with cauliflower and leeks served with a melting frill of cheese and a swirl of truffle oil, at its best piping hot in wide plates.
Mature, complex and balanced.
The distinctive Uitkyk 10 Year Grand Reserve Brandy, matured in Limousin oak, is the oldest potstilled brandy in South Africa. A sumptuous taste for those who really appreciate the rich and diverse flavours of this rare brandy stemming from Cinsaut, Cabernet Sauvignon and Clairette Blanche. Mature, complex and balanced, Uitkyk is one of South Africa’s heritage brandies available to enjoy in France. A brandy with finesse to serve after a fine dinner.
Russian Borzoi, fleet of foot, supremely
elegant with their long silky white coats;
Villimont, Athena and their kitty, Rouge,
are an inseparable part of the Château
de la Creuzette family.
17 Ave D’Auvergne, 23600, Boussac, France
Telephone: (+33) 05 55 65 78 27
Fax: (+33) 05 55 65 87 26
Tel: +27 021 875-5478
Tel: +27 021 880-1103 Fax: 021-880-1107
Tel: +27 (21) 884-4416 Fax: +27 (21) 884-4717
A SHOWCOOK.COM PRODUCTION
Photography by Franz Lauinger