I’m always on the look out for new places to stay that are slightly off the beaten track and tend to prefer the authenticity of a smaller property rather than a big hotel . There is a new place to look when searching for places to stay in France. The website Guest and House groups together a few select B&B’s in all corners of the country.
I recently visited Clare Howarth who runs the B&B La Maison et l’Atelier from her home near the town of Chantilly, which is just north of Paris, and definitely worth a visit next time you are in France. As well the beautiful countryside, and lots of good places to eat there is of course the Chateau de Chantilly that is worth a detour.
It was fun spending the day with Clare because our stories are quite similar. She and I both arrived in France in the same year, as young Brits, and have each chosen to make our lives here. We both love our gardens, and we both have had our years of horse riding, Clare’s husband is still a passionate polo player, and the house has its own stables on the premises.
Claire worked for over thirty years in fashion design, including for Vivienne Westwood and Chloé, but for the last 18 years has lived in this gorgeous 19th century home, which still maintains many of the original details such as the winding staircase, the tiled floors and windows.
She loves to cook, and takes pride in offering delicious freshly prepared food to her guests.
The property lies in the small village of Crouy en Thelle and it is very quiet and peaceful. The garden is big enough for guests to stroll around and find a quiet corner to enjoy a book and a glass of wine.
Claire currently has two guest rooms, and will soon be opening a guest suite above the former stables. The rooms are light and spacious, each with its own ensuite bathroom.
I love Claire’s decorating style. A mix of brocante and vintage, with some design elements thrown in. She updates regularly and the result is fresh and welcoming.
The staircase is original to the house and weaves its way upwards creating gorgeous symmetrical patterns
Her beautiful garden is open to guests, and in fine weather sets the scene for breakfast.
As well as serving a delicious home baked breakfast, Claire also offers evening meals for her guests. Everything is homemade, and organic.
She likes to keep it simple, and lays the meal in the main dining room and serves the main dish accompanied by wine and home made bread.
This is a wonderful place to stay while visiting Paris and the northern outskirts, which is often an area overlooked by the tourists. Claire is always on hand to help guests with their plans to visit the area, and is very knowledgeable on the local history and gardens.