Needing to spend some time deep in the countryside of northern France, DonQui looks around for a good place to stay.
Not far from the medieval city of Laon, he stumbles upon the Domaine de Barive. It is a great find.
Set in in its own grounds amongst farmland, miles from anywhere it is approached by a long lane lined with poplars. With spa, outdoor terraces and a highly rated restaurant it looks like just the sort of place DonQui can enjoy a few days of tranquil contemplation along with a good meal or two.
His room is comfortable and spacious. The bathtub even comes with its own rubber ducks, for those who go for that sort of thing.
Breakfast is a typical French offering, made special by the fine selection of fresh, locally baked breads and pastries along with homemade jams. There is even champagne available along with juices, coffee and other hot drinks.
Best of all is the Restaurant des Epicuriens. DonQui arrives late after a horribly long wait for his rental car from the very inefficient Avis counter at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport.
As in most French restaurants, the set menus offer very good value for money but at 9pm DonQui does not feel like a full 4-5 course meal so he orders a la carte, choosing the ‘turbot en trançon’ (turbot filets with spinach in a crispy phyllo pastry) with kumquats and mushrooms in a champagne cream sauce. It is utterly delicious.
To finish off he opts for a selection of cheeses from the very tempting cheese board. The choices are so overwhelming that DonQui leaves it up to the very pleasant waitress to help him with his selections.
Very knowledgeable and helpful, she suggests a sampling of 5 different cheeses, all of which are perfectly ripe, providing a wide range of different flavours.