Raymond Blanc’s French Masterpiece
Just 8 miles from the spires of Oxford, set amongst resplendent gardens, chef Raymond Blanc has created his French masterpiece – the 2 Michelin Star Le Manoir Aux Quat’ Saisons. Rounding off our joint 50th birthday year, we were treated by dear friends to a wonderful lunch, 10 years since our last visit celebrating our 40th’s.
Little has changed in the years since our last visit (and that’s a very good thing of course). The beautifully manicured gardens, the expansive vegetable plots and, the pièce de résistance, the exquisite food. We were fortunate, for November, to enjoy a crisp late autumn day with sunny skies for our return visit – the gardens were still beautiful and the reflections over the manor’s lake just magnificent.
Once cocooned inside the manor house, with G&Ts in hand by the log fire, it was the start of a perfect lazy afternoon. Canapés accompanied our aperitifs before being shown to our table where course after delicate course were presented by the warm & engaging (primarily French) team. We opted for the five-course weekend tasting menu which took our tastebuds though the autumn season, where the colours & ingredients of each dish also reflected the season too.
Three hours slipped by before we returned to the lounge for coffees & petit fours by the fire. Our afternoon, as was the daylight, drawing to a close. As we said goodbye to our friends, we gazed back along the lavender-edged pathway and wondered when we might return to La Manoir – if that means the passing of a further 10 years, to celebration our 60th birthdays, it will certainly be worth the wait.
Asides from the restaurant, Le Manoir features a 32 bedroom hotel, cookery school and gardening school. The famed cookery school has trained no less than 34 chefs who have since attained a Michelin Star. For further information, visit Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons
As a footnote, Belmond Hotels (once part the Orient Express group) have recently been purchased by LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy group). It will be interesting to see how they transition & re-brand the hotels.