Article and photos by Elena del Valle
Domaine de L’Espérance Marc Meneau
We landed at 8 a.m. at Charles de Gaulle Airport on the outskirts of Paris, France following an overnight flight from the East Coast. From the airport I made my way to the Gare de Lyon train station in southern Paris for a 3 p.m. high speed TGV train to Burgundy. As soon as the train stopped I descended quickly at the small Montbard Station dragging my wheeled luggage down the steps from the platform and out onto the station entrance. After a one hour road transfer through verdant and rain soaked winding roads I arrived at Domaine de L’Espérance Marc Meneau (Grand-rue, Saint Père sous Vézelay, 89450, France, +33 (0) 3 86 33 39 10, fax +33 (0) 3 86 33 26 15, www.marc-meneau-esperance.com, firstname.lastname@example.org), tired and jet lagged.
The living area in my junior suite
One of the amenities of my junior suite
After settling in in my junior suite one floor above the reception area I pulled on energy reserves to carry me through dinner at the famed L’Espérance de Marc Meneau restaurant, the hotel’s signature dining establishment. It was worth it. To allow my body to adjust to the new time I requested light options from the menu and refrained from imbibing any wine with dinner. The meal was just what I needed and the setting, facing a landscaped garden in the dim light of evening, was beautiful even in the rain and cold of early spring.
The bedroom had an Africa theme
The 32-room four-star hotel was spread into several buildings within easy walking distance from the two-story main building where reception, the bar and restaurants were located. One of my favorite areas of the property were the manicured gardens. Even in early spring they were striking. The gourmet restaurant, the bistro and many of the common area of the main building faced or had a view of the gardens named in memory of Serge Gainsbourg, a friend of the owners who had spent time at their property.
The hotel garden named for Serge Gainsbourg
One of the attentive staff members of the hotel
My elegant Africa themed junior suite, one floor up via circular stairs, was well appointed and pretty while at the same time comfortable. Although the view of the main parking lot from my room was less than stellar I was glad to be in the main building with quick and easy indoor access, sheltered from the nonstop rain, to hotel facilities.
The bathroom in my junior suite
The junior suite, Room 106, had a spotless and spacious bathroom with a bathtub and separate shower. I appreciated the modern conveniences such as complimentary high speed WiFi, television, DVD player and a sound system; and amenities such as thick bathrobe, slippers, Italian toiletries and bitter almond scented Keiji soap, welcome fruit bowl and a box each of house nougat and caramels. Sounds carried. Inside my room I could sometimes hear voices in the hallway and the voices of my next door neighbors, wood creaking, staff cleaning in the morning, and mostly the daytime sounds of drilling and hammering from the construction work on the top floor, right above my suite.
A view of the gardens from Le Bistrot Gainsbourg
There were two types of breakfast, served in a garden facing lounge and in the library from 7:30 a.m. until 11 a.m., Continental (28 euros) and Complet (35 euros). After a few minutes a friendly and attentive server brought me fresh squeezed sweet pulpy orange juice, bowl of fresh fruit (grapes, kiwi, tangerine, strawberries, pear), bowl of mango, small bowl of yogurt, basket of bread and pastries (croissant, pain au chocolate), three types of jam, two small slices of Croque Monsieur (grilled ham and cheese sandwich) and my choice of hot beverage. I ordered chocolate which was served in a large bowl with extra chocolate in a carafe. Although the temperature was hot the chocolate flavor was a bit weak. Breakfast was quite satisfying.
The hotel areas were light filled with ample views of the adjacent gardens
Although I generally prefer exploring independently I sometimes take advantage of tour options. That was the case on this trip. The hotel offered tours of area attractions. During my stay, I had time for an escorted walk, in the rain, around Saint Pere, the tiny village that is home to the hotel and restaurant, and to visit Vezelay, its better known popular neighbor. I would gladly return to the hotel (and restaurant) and dedicate more time to exploring the environs.