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Château Belmont/Jean Bardet
57, rue Groison
37100 Tours, France
+33 (0)2 47 41 41 11

Palatable Pleasures
Fine French Cuisine
In a Charming
Château Setting
By André Gayot

Gardens & trees where vineyards once stood

This hotel and its restaurant have closed.

Jean Bardet, a solid farm boy who experienced some mishaps in the past, has found comfort in work. He spends countless hours in his kitchen, preparing and experimenting with new ideas. The result: he is at the summit of his art. He has never been so good, and our dinner at his Jean Bardet restaurant was outstanding. One surprise follows another.

The puree of purple beans with raspberries is incredible, but wait to taste the crayfish cappuccino or the carpaccio of squab with a lentil sauce. Sublime combinations! Still more exquisite is the half-smoked salmon on a bed of leeks and haddock and a ragout of fava beans. After savoring the rouget fish on a fondue of fennel and a chive salad, all other rougets of the world will seem bland. Another miracle is the sage-roasted squab accompanied by white peaches stuffed with figs, not to mention the stuffed guinea fowl with a hachis Parmentier of Charlotte potatoes.

Sophisticated decadence
Napoleon III veranda

Ouf, we're full. Yet we do recommend you save space for the cheese tray, strong on local chevres—this is the area of France where they are mostly produced. The desserts are in the same vein of originality and can be found nowhere else: the tomato petals candied with olive oil; the sorbets of verbena, mint and angelica; and the honey-roasted peaches with an almond milk and orange blossom.

Charming hostess, decorator, and wife and mentor of the chef, Sophie Bardet runs the show with grace. She will recommend and maybe even accompany you on a walk under the stars in the garden to show you Jean's passion. He grows dozens of fragrant herbs and fresh vegetables that he uses for his dishes. Farther into the garden is a park with beautiful trees planted in the last century. After this stroll, it will be time to return to your elegant room (there are only a dozen) for a restful night in the Chateau Belmont, one of the most exclusive properties in France and accessible in just one hour by TGV from Paris.

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(Updated 04/18/08 MG)

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