Drive up to the stone walls of the Chateau de Montreuil in the pretty village and you could be excused for thinking that you are in England, not northern France. The Chateau de Montreuil is a pretty, three-storey whitewashed building with a distinctive English seaside look to it.
The Chateau makes a perfect stop, either for a weekend spent exploring the area, or for a night on the way to Paris, Normandy or the World War I memorials around Arras.
Choose your room in the Chateau de Montreuil
The 16 rooms each have a different style. Several have four-poster beds; if you have a taste for the historic, take the one with wooden paneled walls, an old tiled floor and tapestries. Other rooms have a country house feel with pretty chintz fabrics at the windows and on the beds and light coloured walls. All look over gardens either to the front or back.
The rooms in the roof have delightful old wooden beams where you feel tucked away from the world. All the rooms have the latest technical equipment, though it feels as if the modern world is pretty far away. Bathrooms are spacious and very well equipped with power showers, large fluffy towels, bathrobes and Relais et Chateaux toiletries.
A separate building with three cottage suites have a sitting room and bathroom on the ground floor and the bedroom on the duplex level. It’s great for a group of friends or family travelling together who want to be a little separate (30 meters) from the main hotel.
The delightful garden has flowerbeds of roses and herbaceous borders. Trees dot the lawns, making it a great place for tea or a drink. There’s also an outdoor swimming pool.
The history of the hotel
Despite its name, the chateau was built in 1930 by an English architect called Frank Wooster. It belonged to Baron Max Fould-Springer and his wife, who used it as a country home. Occupied by the Germans during World War II, the chateau became a hotel under a couple who had once run the White Cliffs of Dover Hotel in Kent. The hotel passed to their maitre d’ who ran it with his wife.
Then the present owners appeared on the scene. Christian Germain who comes from northern France, worked as a chef in France before moving to the Michelin-starred Waterside Inn at Bray. In 1981, Christian and his English wife, Lindsay, spent the night in the hotel, fell in love with it and bought it. It sounds simple, but there was a lot of restoration to do to a building which had seen better days.
Today, the hotel is popular with a high percentage of returning guests who appreciate its informal, friendly atmosphere, sophisticated décor and the rightly renowned restaurant.
Dining at the Chateau de Montreuil
The dining room, in pastel shades, is as relaxing as the hotel. But the cooking produces the kind of excitement which has gained Christian a Michelin star.
The emphasis on the freshest and best ingredients means beef from Scotland or fish from the Mediterranean, depending on the quality. But you’ll also find Normandy oysters with a chive foam sauce and Brittany lobster with garden herbs. The cooking is classic but with plenty of modern touches and tastes and the menu changes with the seasons.
Perhaps go for pig’s trotter with whelks followed by a local breast of organic chicken cooked for a long time at a gentle temperature and coming with lemons and artichokes, or the sweetest lamb with a smoked garlic cream. Desserts are exemplary; order white peach prepared in a tatin with fresh almonds and tarragon ice cream, or a waffle with Chantilly cream with vanilla and blueberries. Cheeses come from Philippe Olivier, whose well known cheese shop you should visit in Boulogne or in Lille.
There’s a 3-course lunchtime menu at 35 euros, which is a steal at this level of cooking. The 3-course a la carte menu is 75 euros, and the Chef’s Tasting Menu is 95 euros. The restaurant is open for lunch from Wednesday to Sunday and for dinner from Tuesday to Sunday. In July and August the restaurant is only closed Tuesday lunchtime.
4 Chaussee des Capucins
Montreuil sur Mer
Tel.: 00 33 (0)3 21 81 53 04
The hotel is open from February to Christmas
How to get thereMontreuil-sur-Mer is south east of Le Touquet Paris-Plage on the D901 between Le Touquet Paris-Plage and Hesdin.
By car: From the U.K. take the Dover-Calais ferry, then the A16 to Boulogne. Exit at junction 28 onto the D901 directly to Montreuil. From Paris, take the A16 to Boulogne and exit at junction 25 for the D901 to Montreuil (210 kilometers/130 miles, taking around 2 hours)