Sampling food in the kitchen gives another flavour and value to food: "the little crust of home-made bread just out of the oven, the spoonful of soft white cheese, a good homemade soup, meat with new potatoes !

Une semaine au rythme de L'Etoile My week in the rhythm of L’Etoile我在塞维纳星星旅馆的逗留

 

My week in the rhythm of L’Etoile

Laundry in the garden of L'Etoile I have barely arrived at La Bastide-Puylaurent station (north of the Cevennes between the Lozere and the Ardeche), when Philippe, dressed casually in black, comes to meet me and welcomes me as only he knows how. He has left the cooking gently simmering for a moment.

I embark on and leave for an adventure on the ship called L’Etoile with faltering step. The hikers crossing the Cevennes from gite to gite following the Stevenson trail are already coming through to the veranda.

Kitchen at L'Etoile Guest-HouseI settle into room number 40 which has a little balcony and go back down the spiral staircase. My knowledge of the house was rather limited as the previous year I only needed to use my room, the large dining room with its communal tables, a tiny bit of the kitchen (I helped clear the tables a little and deigned to wash a few glasses) and the area where the crockery and cutlery is kept, ( I often laid the table). Philippe makes himself completely available to show me the gite, making little jokes all the while.

For the first day, I‘m still just an onlooker lending a hand spontaneously in the kitchen which gives on to the river Allier and I’m already getting compliments. The following day, I take one step further into this vast dwelling wary of the lay-out (the cold room makes an impression on me, the kneading-machine, the big sinks). Little by little this guest house sucks me in, the big spacious hall which looks a bit like the art deco gallery in Salamanca (Spain) is resplendent in its brilliance.

The kitchen will become a familiar, very pleasant and almost magical space when Philippe devotes himself to cooking up big dishes which give out smells which mix with the senses and create a peaceful and unbreakable harmony for the rest of the evening; how could I not be reminded of of Laura Esquivel’s book "Como agua para chocolate” (Like Water for Chocolate). And then sampling food in the kitchen gives another flavour and value to food: "the little crust of home-made bread just out of the oven, the spoonful of soft white cheese, a good homemade soup, meat with new potatoes!”

Another place that I loved instantly is the little garden-side terrace with its iron table and its black varnished chairs. I loved having my breakfast there, caressed by the morning air and enveloped by the foliage of the trees and the new vines.

Dessert at L'Etoile Guest-HouseAt the Gite L’Etoile, you can find truth, beauty and goodness, all the essentials thanks to Philippe who not only cooks but navigates between tables and guests. At the end of the meal he even invites them to dare to get up and clear the tables because the washing-up area is open to all. All an art and a concept which he tries to put in place and cultivate each day.

He even goes as far as improvising some tunes on the piano or sings, "Hotel California”, accompanied by his guitar in a realistic American accent while the last customers sprawl in their chairs drinking the Puy en Velay verbena tea. For the first time,the piano intrigues me. I would like to learn and Philippe gives me my first lessons. What an adventure !

I have now found my bearings on this fascinating ship because this building has a soul and it makes you feel really good.

Colette help for the dinnerMy stay will be punctuated by numerous highly interesting outings in the minibus with Philippe. We will sometimes go for coffee at Christine’s, an enthusiastic Englishwoman who runs "les Roches” bed and breakfast in Langogne, sometimes at his friend Pierre’s at the Regordane Inn in La Garde de Guerin (Chassezac gorges) or sometimes at Christian’s at the Moure Refuge at Cheylard l'Eveque (Margeride). I will not forget either the welcome given by Bernard and his daughter, Lea at the cheese shop in Thort on the Regordane Way (the nice little cafe opposite the pine forest). We will go shopping in Puy en Velay with a little stop at the Moroccan restaurant (succulent tagines) in a little pedestrian street in the town centre. We need two trips to fill the demijohns with wine at Langogne and to stock up on fruit and vegetables (it’s so nice to just smell and look at the fresh fruit in the store in the cold room, not something we have the luxury of experiencing everyday).

Two other outings left their mark on me: swimming in the Borne river on the Ardeche side (Olivier, Elea and their children come with us) and visiting the Abbey of Notre Dame des Neiges (a picturesque return journey along the hiking trail which follows part of the GR7 and the GR72). I can even see the window and balcony of my little room from there.

My little room is sober and beautiful, right at the top. I liked going out on to the balcony at night before going to sleep and observing the contours of nature turned silent. I always left the curtains open because the morning brought another type of enchantment.Sometimes I was woken by the ringing of bells (a bit late) from my bed, nature would smile at me, the fire would already be lit which would tell me that Philippe had already been up for ages. Hello ! And a new day begins joyfully and in good humour at L’Etoile.

Thank you Philippe for these sweet shared moments aboard your ship. I have savoured your kindness and delicacy.

Once I went to the area around Saint Laurent Les Bains and afterwards I had to climb back up the hillside making a stop at Elizabeth’s at La Baraque, who does artistic wood-turning. The objects are made from walnut, beech, rosewood and maple. On my second walk, I didn’t go so far, as I wanted to pass by the Abbey of Notre Dame des Neiges.

And lastly, there were some nice guests like the Germans with their daughter who slept near my room, the train driver and his daughter, their mother and the two boys, Sol and her husband. So much experienced in so little time ! On the day I left, it was raining at L’Etoile but that didn’t stop us from sitting on the terrace.
And I say farewell to this beautiful building and its Prince, who has such high standards and so much flair.

 

 

L'Etoile Guest-House between Cevennes, Ardeche and Lozere in the South of France

Old romantic Hotel, L'Etoile Guest-House is a mountain retreat in the South of France. With a beautiful park along the Allier River, L'Etoile Guesthouse is located in La Bastide-Puylaurent between Lozere, Ardeche and Cevennes. Many hiking trails like GR7, GR70 Stevenson trail, GR72, GR700 Regordane way, Cevenol, GR470 Allier river, Margeride, Gevaudan. Many hiking loops around L'Etoile Guesthouse. The right place to relax.

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