Wednesday, 19 August 2015


If you are looking for the perfect little get-away amidst beautiful countryside with good food and wine, history and beautiful architecture and a friendly French welcome, then do as we did the other week, and pop over the channel and make the short hour's drive out of Calais to the beautiful historic town of Montreal-sur-Mer.

Followers of my Instagram will know that a couple of weeks ago, 'Mr. Sophia Home' and I headed to this gorgeous town for an overnight stay with a day either side, to celebrate his birthday.  Two lovely days that felt more like a longer holiday, when we returned refreshed and inspired....if not a little overindulged and spoilt with wonderful seafood and wine.

Montreuil is a beautiful fortified town which dates back to Roman times, when the sea which is a number of miles away now, used to run up the estuary as far as the city walls.  With its charming cobbled streets, imposing ramparts, beautiful historic houses and churches, and lovely selection of restaurants and is a perfect weekend get-away.  

The setting to 'Les Miserables' and more importantly in my husband's opinion, it is also the French home of 'The Wine Society'....our car boot was pretty full when we left!

By chance, my research brought me to the attention of 'Maison 76' which was a booking that far exceeded our expectations.  Housed in a stunning 18th Century former 'Apothecary's Mansion', this special B & B has more the feel of a luxury boutique hotel.

With its charming walled garden and relaxing terrace, the warm welcome from English owner Tim and the caraf of Rosé on the house....our arrival could not have been more perfect.   

Tim has restored 'Maison 76' meticulously over the last seven years and now offers three beautiful rooms or the entire house for larger parties which includes an extra suite, which on this occasion, we were lucky enough to have which was a particularly lovely surprise.  With power showers, roll top baths, beautiful bedding and towels, the stylishly decorated bedrooms could not be more comfortable.  There is a stunning drawing-room for the use of guests too, and a charming dining room where breakfast is taken.  Elegant and stylish and with absolute attention to detail throughout, the interiors are inspiring.  With a keen artistic eye and an eclectic taste for the quirky and eccentric, the art and interesting accessory details made 'Maison 76' a very unique, homely and special place to stay.

Dinner that evening was in one of Montreul's many lovely restaurants, after a stroll through beautiful streets lined with historic houses, leading in to pretty flower filled squares.   

The next morning, we woke to a fabulous breakfast prepared by Tim.  Home made yoghurts, fresh fruit, deliciously fresh croissants and home made jams, along with hand pressed apple juice from a friend's orchard.  Fuelled for the day, we said our goodbyes but promised to return to this lovely sanctuary.

At our host Tim's suggestion, we then drove south to the fabulous gardens of L'Abbaye de Valloires.  Set in the Authie valley, and dating back to the 12th Century, L'Abbaye de Valloire's stunning gardens are an absolute must visit if you are ever in this area of Northern France.  

The gardens were designed in 1987 by Gilles Clement, a landscape artist of international repute.  Stretching out over more than 8 hectares, five mood gardens showcase a collection of over 5,000 species of plants.

This beautiful wild flower meadow was so inspiring....and of course, always up for a new project, we have now returned with ideas of perhaps transforming our disused paddock!

Beautiful grasses...

And a fernery which I loved.
  So fresh and cool...

The weather became a little overcast late morning, but it did not spoil our enjoyment of these beautifully laid out gardens...some areas wild and natural, and others a contemporary take on the formal.

Love the mix of plants and vegetables...these Kohlrabi were such a beautiful colour!

Stunning Mint and Basil bed...

Some very happy ducks living here...

Les Jardins de Valloires....a beautiful French garden find!

Before heading back reluctantly to Calais to make our way home to Kent through the tunnel, lunch on the coast seemed to be the perfect idea.  A fabulous 'fruit de mer' in the sweet fishing harbour of 'Le Crotoy' in the 'Baie de Somme' was another lovely find.  

The perfect end to a perfect 'Anniversaire' weekend!


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Wishing you a very happy rest of the week!

Sophia xx

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