[EUGENIE-LES-BAINS, FRANCE] — I had the best intensions…
Looking to break up my random drive across France, I decided to sneak in to the famed Les Prés d’Eugénie hotel for a taste of what made Michel Guérard world famous — one of the pioneers of Nouvelle Cuisine that changed French cooking forever. 🍽 Chef and his wife Christine built this magical spa hotel in the country as a destination for his 3 Michelin star restaurant. We’re talking 3 stars for 30 years!
I’m a food icon idiot, I just like to eat. But I learned about Les Prés d’Eugénie when I was staying at Le Chateau de Riell, their sweet little sister hotel in French Catalonia. (Scroll down a little on my page and you can follow that action). When checking out, not knowing where I was going next I asked “What about this Prés d’Eugénie place?” “Ohhh, mon dieu, C’est magnifique. Mais c’est trois étoiles!” I put it on my List. Def.
So when I was in the neighborhood I remembered the “mon dieu” and booked, but could only get in one night. Damn spontaneity…
Unfortunately, zigzagging through the country roads of Gascony my stomach started arguing with me — not the hungry-good kind of yelling, more like the movie Alien must-get-out-of-this-body kind of angry. 👹 Musta been the oysters at the last place. Double damn.
I had to emergency stop four times on the drive — it was cool out but I was not. And hot. When I arrived, I couldn’t have felt worse. To make matters worse worse, somehow the Chateau de Riell had alerted them about my IG posts from there, so when I pulled up they treated me like I was the Queen of England, but I was pasty, not pastel.
“We knew you’d be coming” said the impeccable GM Emmanuel. “Please allow me to personally show you around the grounds. Oh, and Chef Michel would also like to sit with you at dinner” 😳 (ME!?!? Hahaha… shhhhhh, don’t tell them about the real me…)
Oh my god, the gardens of this place, like a fairytale palace. Acres of bloomin’ glory. Flowers of every type, every hair of grass combed perfectly in place. I had reservations at 8. With The Legend himself. GULP!
This place is so world famous that all you have to do is type in “les pres d’ ” on Google and it’s right at the top.
As one of the highest rated hotels in the world, it’s spendy; I could only afford to stay there one night — well, actually they were booked solid but for one night. But once I experienced the place, I would have gladly added more nights if I could have. Worth every euro.
It’s just a dream. I can’t wait to come back, spend more time and really enjoy every single square metre.
“I cook the way a bird sings”, says Chef Michel Guérard’
Not only was Miche Guérard on the avant guard of the old guard on Nouvelle Cuisine, was on the vanguard cooking healthy French food, starting way back in the 70s.
He invented Cuisine Minceur, “slimming cooking”, and reinvented Nouvelle Cuisine to be better tasting and less filling. Smart way to convince people to drive 500 miles from Paris to a spa in the country and it has worked fantastically since ’74. Now people come from 5,000 miles away. I mean, hell, the man even owns the trademark “ Health Cuisine® ” That’s boss. I wanna own a trademark…
With the hotel, spa, and a bunch of cookbooks on eating healthy, he’s a legend and has more Chevaliers to his name than Leo’s had hot girlfriends. When we finally met, I thought I was meeting his Sous. He looks 30 years younger than he actually is, so this stuff works.
Check out these other writeup about Les Pres d’Eugenie. A great article in the Wall Street Journal. A profile in FOUR magazine. The UK’s Telegraph newspaper. A great profile in Forbes magazine. And in the UK’s Conde Nast Traveller.
Last visited June 2015
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