You’ve now heard me talk about Raymond Blanc’s Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons as a hotel, a world-class restaurant, but what about as a garden?
Exploring the 7 acre grounds at Le Manoir is an absolute must – don’t be fooled into thinking that this is some just random pieces of greenery to walk through, this is a walking, talking, working organic kitchen garden, 1.5 acres dedicated to vegetable and herbs, the other 5.5 acres are purely ornamental.
They’re very pleased about this organic status, the vegetable garden is certified organic by the Soil Association and this means there are strict limitations on how they weed it, fertilise it and so everything is carefully tended to by a team of green-clad gardeners, more than happy to stop and give you a quick explanation should you so desire. Their good service mantra extends to all areas, all members of the staff.
We see kitchen staff scurrying too and fro, arms laden with a variety of produce, one of the team tells us she is tending to the pumpkin crop ahead of the autumn.
My senses are reeling from the smells emanating from the individual little greenhouses, the onions smell pungent and heady but surprisingly sweet and pleasant, the peppers smell spicy and the lettuce, well that smells like wet lettuce, which may taste fantastic but certainly doesn’t smell that way.
I never thought I was so interested in gardens, or vegetables, but I’m totally captivated by these and start enthusiastically planning what I could grow until Husband reminds me that we live in a paved paradise of concrete.
There’s even an orchard, too many years of reading Anne of Green Gables books have left me with a romantic view of apple orchards and so I have to go and check them out, passing the helicopter pad en route. Travelling by Mazda just doesn’t have the same ring to it, does it?
If you thought my rapture was pretty high exploring the kitchen gardens, then I was in seventh heaven seeing the rest of the place. Dotted here, there and everywhere are bronze statues, situated so naturally that you could entirely believe they are real people, birds and children frolicking in the grounds.
Husband loved the Japanese garden but for me, the 15th century pond could have been lifted straight out of a French chateau and it is here I spent many an hour daydreaming, taking endless photos and recharging my batteries. We already knew Le Manoir was relaxing and warm but this is idyllic to the extreme.
Breakfast after the tasting menu of the night before is equally as lavish as dinner and it’s hard to know where to begin, or indeed what to focus my energies on. I opt for a selection of fruit, thoughtfully there is even a selection of fruit with no added sugar, there’s all the lush tropical fruit you’d expect from countries with palm trees in them, a vast array of breads and jams and cheeses and every sort of condiment you could think of adding to your meal. I’ve opted for the smoked salmon and scrambled eggs, a classic done so well that it just melts into the mouth. Husband has gone for adventurous, yoghurt covered eggs and these are quite surprising! The runny yolks go so well with the slightly salted yoghurt I surreptitiously help myself to a few bites while he’s not looking!
Le Manoir is soon to host a ‘Festival of Music’, renowned classical musicians Russell Watson, fellow kiwi Dame Kiri Te Kanawa and violinist Tamsin Little will grace their audiences at the neighbouring 12th century St Mary’s church, returning to a celebration dinner. The festival is on from the 2nd – 4th October, and tickets are available on site now so get in quickly and you too can experience not only the amazing food, beautiful gardens, but hear some world class musicians in the bargain. If you have learnt anything from my series so far, it’s that this place is heaven and the addition of musical stars should only improve your opinion of it all.
This ends my series on tales from Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’saisons, I hope you’ve enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed experiencing the magic and then reliving it by writing all about it. To read all about our luxury stay, click here and to learn more about the wonderful tasting menu on offer, click here.
Disclosure: I was a guest of Belmond Le Manoir aux Quat’saisons, but in no way compelled to say nice things. Truthfully, I was blown away.