One of the things I enjoy the most about writing this blog is the doors that it opens for me and the wonderful people I meet along the way.
Nathalie is the perfect example. I first got to know her when she opened her hotel and restaurant in our valley last year, and we immediately clicked. She had just finished the total overhaul and major renovation of this country hotel beside the river, and it had been no small task. As the hotel opened she was facing new challenges that come with the territory: finding staff; getting to know her clientele; creating the identity for her restaurant.
Nathalie comes from a restaurant background. She worked for many years in Paris in her own restaurants, but it wasn’t until she and her husband bought a weekend home in our valley that she began to think about moving her activity from the city to the countryside.
She found this hotel for sale, in a prime position by the river, and in the gorgeous little town of Pacy sur Eure, just 50 minutes from Paris. The hotel needed some major work, but that didn’t stop her. A year later every square inch of the place had been redesigned and decorated, to create a sleek welcoming four star hotel with one of the best restaurants in Normandy.
I thought you’d like to see a little more of her daily life and the hotel, while reading her answers to a couple of questions that I popped her. Pacy is a market town, and Nathalie enjoys shopping her flowers and fresh produce from her local suppliers.
Nathalie, thank you for inviting us into your hotel. Can you tell us what mood you were aiming to create when you decorated the rooms, the living areas and the restaurant?
I want the hotel to feel like a big family home, it is relaxed and friendly, but with a chic decor. We are lucky to have so many living spaces, especially at this time of year with the terrace and gardens.
We see you working very closely with your chef, and I know that you play a big part in creating the menus for the hotel. How did you first get involved in the world of fine food?
Food is my passion and always has been! I first started cooking dinners for friends at the age of 15, and at 18 I became a Cordon Bleu chef and started giving lessons in French cuisine! Today, I cannot be in the kitchen full time, but it’s important for me to be involved in the creation of new dishes, and putting together our menus which are entirely changed every month. We only work with fresh ingredients, and I love that together with my chef Olivier, we’ve gained a reputation for the hotel as a place for fine dining.
If someone stays here, and wants to discover Normandy, what can they easily visit from your hotel?
People are always surprised that we are so close to Paris and yet so much in the countryside. Our guests love to visit Monet’s gardens at Giverny; the stunning chateau, belonging to Jacques Garcia at the Champ de Bataille. Families come together and make the most of the river on our canoes, or maybe fish from the river bank in the garden. There are golf courses nearby and horse riding too. And of course for guests who just want to relax, they are welcome to enjoy the gardens of the hotel, or in the winter stay close to the fire with a good book.
Pacy sur Eure is a very cute little town, what do you like about being part of a small town like this, yet so close to Paris?
What first brought us to this valley were the landscapes, it is such a beautiful region in any season. Finding the hotel on the edge of this lively little town was a huge bonus. I love the farmers market every Thursday, and the fact that there are so many fine food suppliers is wonderful. In all our menus we use local produce as much as we can. Here I have a bakers, butchers, fishmongers and cheese store right on my door step, as well as some wonderful flowers too.
What are your ambitions for the year ahead, what can we look forward to at the hotel?
I am very excited about the year ahead, and my big dream project is to partner with a luxury brand of skincare and cosmetics to open a spa and a pool at the hotel. This would be a fine compliment to our existing services and make us one of the best addresses within an hour of Paris.
Thank you Nathalie, for sharing your plans with us, and thank you for all the delicious meals that we get to eat in your restaurant!
Pacy sur Eure, Normandy, France