Charming villages dominate the landscape in the Loire region of France. The boutique hotels of the Relais & Chateaux are among the finest in the area. Grand Hôtel du Lion d’Or (Golden Lion) was the first stop in gal pal Gail and my three night mini “Route de Bonheur” – road to happiness and we were thrilled to find such a wonderful Loire Valley hotel.Husband and wife proprietors Mary-Christine and Chef Didier Clément have taken a 16th century manor house and turned it into a uniquely decorated hotel of distinction. Hospitality abounds, as Mary-Christine is enthusiastic to share her knowledge of the region with guests. Her suggestion for us to visit Chambord, the best castle in all of Europe, and take the scenic route was perfect.
Regal red fabric is the backdrop for the gorgeous marbled headboard. French blue doors separate the boudoir from the foyer and generous sized modern bathroom and gold accents tie in the legacy of the hotel and its roots as a place where many dignitaries spent time.
Off our sitting area, a lovely terracotta tiled terrace with painted white wrought iron balcony overlooked the en plein air dining patio below.
The lobby living room is a soft palette of creams and gold with the perfect juxtaposition of contemporary fabrics accenting the original centuries old moldings, fireplaces and stonework.
The bold decision to use gold shaded mirrors as focal points in the bedrooms and public spaces was a gutsy move. Blending them in with classic furnishings adds a touch of glamor and sophistication without turning cliché. Well done!
The dining room continues the refined scheme with a dash of modern-day pizazz. Soft lighting illuminates the hundreds of clear and yellow hand-blown glass balls shaped into a sphere in the center of the room. Geometric shapes on the wall paper and original wood sliding doors add texture and a subtle layer to the room setting the tone for the inventive, yet classic French cuisine cooked by Didier.
Do not leave the kids behind, the chef is open to sharing his cuisine with children and together with his wife, they share their passion for food with patrons of the hotel. On display in the lobby are a series of cookbooks for children ages 6-12 which are designed to get kids interested in cooking and eating healthy.
The art of the meal is as much about the front of the house (waiters, maître d’ and sommelier) as it is about the food. Eating at du Lion d’Or was a well orchestrated event where our wines were paired well with the food and service was en pointe. Chef Clement was incredibly accommodating to my recent discovery of an annoying wheat allergy. Warm, freshly baked non-wheat bread was served at each of my meals and substitutes were made to sauces and/or plates that enabled me to enjoy the essence of each course. Of course I should not be surprised given the chef’s commitment to sourcing local organic produce, meats and fish. But, enough about me, you want to see the cuisine and wines we tasted. Bon appetite!
69 rue Georges Clemenceau – 41200 Romorantin-Lanthenay (France)
Many thanks to our hosts, the Clements, for the gratis stay at their fine hotel. In no way was I swayed by the downright amazing thoughtfulness or delicious food and wine that I was served. I observed the other guests receiving the same treatment and loving it just as much, if not more than us!