The Ardennes & Luxembourg

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After our lovely stay in Champagne we decided to drive towards the Ardennes. We had heard nice things about the Château du Facon situated in the French Ardennes, close to the riverside village of Donchery. The location, one hour by car from Reims and Luxembourg, and two hours from Brussels, is great.

At the end of a narrow poplar-lined drive, the family-run chateau sits on 28 hectares of park. The manor dates back to the 17th century and has been carefully renovated and outfitted in a modern style with traditional influence. The main building and surrounding gardens were beautiful, and there were lots of outdoor terraces that offer places to relax.

The extensive grounds have a big lake with geese and bridges, tennis court and mini-golf, paddocks and full stabling services with twenty-eight boxes. Guests can enjoy rides around the grounds or exclusive schooling. Calèche trips can be arranged around the park and the hotel even organize hunting parties.

We stayed in the newer extension, which initially was a bit disappointing, as the chateau is just beautiful. However, the rooms were spacious and had very stylish modern furniture, extremely comfortable beds, a separate sitting area, very well equipped bathrooms with spa baths and own terraces. And of course – Nuxe toiletries.

This grand chateau is home to a fine-dining restaurant, La Cotterie, where chef Christophe Quentin offers seasonal and regional cuisine. The dining room was classically French and formally laid out, but the guest dress code seemed to be very relaxed. The service standards were quite formal, with only the maître d’, engaging in conversation. The younger members of the staff made the experience a bit more interesting though, and I suspect there still might be one waiter trying to locate the lounge bar for us (there isn’t a separate bar at the chateau).

The delicious sounding dishes on the menu were making it hard to choose, but when we spotted the Menu Faucon, highlighting the local produce, the choice was made. My starter with rabbit and lobster served with a vinaigrette of autumn vegetables was heavenly. The others enjoyed creamy porcino mushroom soup served with duck paté and smoked eel in cream sauce with saffron. For mains  two of us opted for pork fillet with Iberian ham risotto, Daniel chose the perfectly cooked monkfish served with Lardo di Colonnata and the fiancé opted for veal tongue in spicy sauce, served with pickled cabbage and caper berries.

We finished the dinner with a divine crispy chocolate dessert with walnut jam from Périgord. It was an excellent gourmet dinner and we ended the evening with a drink in the lounge area.

The next morning I was looking forward to the breakfast. It was served in the same dining hall as the dinner. The cheeses, fresh juices, breads, pastries, fruit salads and local yogurts were prefect. How could you not have a great day when you start it in such a grand and stylish space?

All I can say is that we were extremely pleased to have found Château du Facon and we’ll be coming back, for the location, the rooms and the food.

Since we still had some time to spend before heading back to Brussels we decided to drive to the city of Luxembourg. We spent a lovely afternoon there, having lunch, strolling around the old town ad ending our visit at the Chocolate House located opposite to the Grand Ducal Palace. The Chocolate House offers a large selection of homemade cakes, pralines, 60 different flavours of hot chocolate spoons and all kinds of chocolate spreads. We tried the hot chocolate spoons where you simply pop the spoon into a cup of hot milk and stir until the chocolate melts. Since the portions looked enormous we decided to share a piece of the Caramel Noix cake. It turned out to be more than enough for four people.

After this we started the drive back to Brussels with a feeling that there’s so much left to discover. Both in Champagne and the surrounding area.


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