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L’Yeuse Respectful Hotel, Restaurant, and Garden, in Cognac, France

By alison - November 27, 2015 (Updated: February 2, 2016)

L'Yeuse respectful hotel and restaurant in Cognac, France

L’Yeuse Hotel and Restaurant respects the environment of Cognac in Poitou-Charentes, France, through its Jardin Respectueux and local menu.

Perched on a hilltop, on the outskirts of Cognac, tucked under ancient shade trees, sits a striped brick chateau, oozing old-world charm. L’Yeuse is a boutique hotel and restaurant that respects the local environment, products, and traditions, and we came to the Charente department of France, to see what makes it so special.

The pretty L'Yeuse Hotel and Restaurant in Cognac, France

The pretty L’Yeuse Hotel and Restaurant in Cognac, France

Welcomed inside by the hotel’s charming owner, Céline Desmazières, we quickly see there is more to L’Yeuse than meets the eye. Despite its traditional architecture, L’Yeuse’s bar and restaurant decor is beautifully modern, contrasting with the original architectural features.

The modern restaurant and bar at L'Yeuse

The modern restaurant and bar at L’Yeuse

Only the spectacular Cognathèque takes a step back into fully traditional luxury. Who wouldn’t want to curl up by the roaring fire and warm their insides with a glass of cognac?

The cosy charm of the Cognathèque

The cosy charm of the Cognathèque

Forgoing the cosy Cognathèque’s appeal, as our visit was at the end of May, we took advantage of L’Yeuse’s sunny terrace with a view, for our dining experience. But, before we could eat, we wanted to discover just what makes L’Yeuse so ‘respectful.’

Céline introduced us to landscape architect, Rémi Marcotte, the driving force behind L’Yeuse’s stunning setting. Surrounding the hotel and pool are lovely landscaped grounds, but the pièce de résistance is not immediately visible.

Rémi led us through a nondescript door, down a wooded path, hugging the hillside. “Bienvenu dans le Jardin Respectueux,” he smiled, welcoming us to the Respectful Garden.

Welcome to the Jardin Respectueux or Respectful Garden

Welcome to the Jardin Respectueux or Respectful Garden

Not far down the path, we were met by a sign listing the principles of the garden. These include: maintaining the biodiversity of the area, planting native species, creating compost and bettering the soil ecologically, conserving water, leaving completely natural spaces, and respecting the freedom of visitors. Structural elements in the garden are reclaimed and repurposed. And, although it is a place of beauty, it is, above all, an educational space – a lesson in conservation and respect for Cognac’s natural environment.

As we wound down the hillside, we learned the Respectful Garden isn’t all about Cognac’s plants. Incorporated into the garden are works of art, by local artists and landscape designers. Each piece connects with nature; either in general or to a specific species.

Parts of the garden are tranquil and meditative.

Parts of the garden are tranquil and meditative.

Some parts of the garden are playful, like the emerging salamander sculpture and Genius Loci, the guardian of the garden. Others, like the bamboo forest, are tranquil and meditative.

The guardian of the garden watches over everyone, including the salamander

The guardian of the garden watches over everyone, including the salamander

Reaching the bottom of the hill, the Respectful Garden becomes, even more, educational, with observation points for local birds and mammal species, an active beehive, and an organic kitchen garden. This garden is the birthplace of many of the local vegetables that appear on the menu, up the hill at L’Yeuse.

A five-star hotel for bugs, bee hives, and bird watching stations make the garden inclusive and educational

A five-star hotel for bugs, bee hives, and bird watching stations make the garden inclusive and educational

Here also is a gathering area, with structures of reclaimed materials that play host to group activities, from organic pizza feasts to scavenger hunts, to cooking foraged food. Although our visit was too early in the season to see this part of the garden at its peak, we could definitely feel the potential for family-friendly fun. We could also feel Rémi’s passion for the garden and the local environment, in each new element he showed us.

The kitchen garden was in its beginning stages in May, but on its way to producing organic produce.

The kitchen garden was in its beginning stages in May but on its way to producing organic produce.
The up-cycled activity space hosts classes and meals.

The up-cycled activity space hosts classes and meals.

But our walk through the garden and all the talk of organic, local produce had made us hungry. (Who are we kidding? We’re always hungry for good food!) We worked our way back up the steep hill, feeling thoroughly justified in enjoying a big lunch.

We settled ourselves on the terrace of the P’tit L’Yeuse Bistro, overlooking the sweeping valley below, and let the chef take us on a culinary tour of Cognac.

The sunny terrace overlooks the valley

The sunny terrace overlooks the valley

No culinary tour of Cognac would be complete without, well, Cognac (especially after our organic Cognac tasting earlier that day). While this delicacy is typically reserved for the end of the meal, our lunch began with a crisp Cognac cocktail, which was completely refreshing after our slog back up the steep garden path. Paired with unctuous rillets and crisp bread, we were definitely ready to begin.

Starting with a Cognac cocktail, in Cognac

Starting with a Cognac cocktail, in Cognac

I began with a salad of fresh greens, so loaded with duck and foie gras I completely mitigated the virtue of ordering a salad. It was heavenly.

My sumptuous salad

My sumptuous salad

Andrew was tempted by a vol au vent inspired creation of mushrooms and pastry, also paired with a salad.

Andrew's tasty starter

Andrew’s tasty starter

For my main course, I opted for the local Charentais beef, which was melt-in-the-mouth tender and topped with potatoes and Cognac.

Tender local beef

Tender local beef

It didn’t come as a surprise when Andrew ordered roast pork and it looked simply mouth-watering, even to this non-pork fan.

Andrew's delicious pork dish

Andrew’s delicious pork dish

We could hardly make it to dessert. But, honestly, how could we resist?

Who could resist dessert?

Who could resist dessert?

The meal was a testament to Cognac and Charentais ingredients and we couldn’t think of a better way to end our stay in the region of Poitou-Charentes unless it was staying at L’Yeuse for even longer.

For a respectful stay in Cognac, don’t miss L’Yeuse Hotel and Restaurant and a visit to its beautifully educational Jardin Respectueux.

L’Yeuse Hotel & Restaurant
65 rue de Bellevue
16100 Châteaubernard – Cognac, France

L'Yeuse respectful hotel and restaurant in Cognac, France

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We’d like to thank Céline Desmazières and Rémi Marcotte for their warm welcome at L’Yeuse and the Jardin Respectueux. Thank you also to the Région Poitou-Charentes Tourism office for hosting us in the area. As always, all opinions are our own.

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Alison

Alison

Big Cheese at CheeseWeb
Alison Cornford-Matheson is a Canadian freelance writer and travel photographer and the founder of Cheeseweb.eu. She is the author of The Foodie Guide to Brussels: Local Tips for Restaurants, Shops, Hotels, and Activities. Alison landed in Belgium in 2005 and, over the years, has become passionate about slow and sustainable travel, in Europe and beyond. She loves to discover hidden gems - be they museums, shops, restaurants, castles, gardens or landscapes, and share them through her words and photos. She is currently slow travelling through Europe in an RV, with her husband, Andrew, and two well-travelled cats. You can also follow her work on Google+
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