Awards and citations:

1997: Le Prix du Champagne Lanson Noble Cuvée Award for investigations into Champagne for the Millennium investment scams

2001: Le Prix Champagne Lanson Ivory Award for

2011: Vindic d'Or MMXI – 'Meilleur blog anti-1855'

2011: Robert M. Parker, Jnr: ‘This blogger...’:

2012: Born Digital Wine Awards: No Pay No Jay – best investigative wine story

2012: International Wine Challenge – Personality of the Year Award

Wednesday, 20 May 2009

La Villa Marguerite, Montrichard

The fortress of Montrichard

Noted wine writer – Ned Halley reports:

I must put in a word for the Jim Budd travel service. Being off in May by car to Bergerac, my wife and I wished to overnight halfway between Boulogne and our destination. The Loire Valley made sense. Knowing Jim’s local expertise, I rang him up. He recommended the lovely old fortress town of Montrichard, on the Cher, suggesting a chambre d’hôte at La Villa Marguerite. This town-centre, riverside grande maison, he advised, is run by a couple of young gentlemen late of the Paris couture business. Bernard Bardiot and Jean-Marie Bataille fitted the model. We have never seen hair-dos like it. But they were the soul of hospitality, and their house chic but comfortable. Our smart de luxe ensuite room (no 4, price 85 euros), with an unforgettable view over the Cher, made Mrs Halley très contente.

The Cher@Montrichard with bridge designed to fool the devil as each arch is different. I'd never realised that the devil was that stupid!

Bernard recommended the restaurant Les Truffaux 30 seconds walk away in the square but we took Jim’s tip to try La Villa, 35 seconds away, also in the square. Very good menu at 18 euros and a surprisingly rewarding Loire Gamay half litre at 5. We ate al fresco and service from la patronne was swift and good-humored.

Breakfast at La Marguerite was an experience. It was a full house of four impeccably groomed French couples plus us, with Bernard and Jean-Marie masters of ceremony at opposing heads of the magnificent table. The conversation naturally turned to events in England, and we defended our fine institutions of state as best we could. When we were asked which corner of Albion we came from and confessed to Somerset, one wit cried, “Ah, le Cote d’Azur d’Angleterre,” to which I modestly responded “Oui mais sans le soleil.” This sparked an immediate chain of consequences from around the table: “Et sans le chaleur!” and “Et sans la mer!” and so on, causing a great deal of joyful laughter.

If all chambres d’hôtes were like this, we would stay nowhere else. Idiotically, for our return stop we did book elsewhere, a recommendation from an Alistair Sawday guide. It was awful.

La Villa Marguerite 8 quai de la république - 20 rue Sully, 41400 Montrichard 33 (0) 2 54 32 76 67. Online at

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