Maison Troigros Part I : The Hotel

I had wanted to stay in one of the  Grand-Design-like futuristic pods at  Les Cadoles, part of the Troigros empire, not half an hour away from the restaurant. But after the Fishermen’s Huts in Whitstable I was pushing my luck.

We didn’t notice the large dent on the car door, nor the big scrape,  or rather C didn’t notice, notwithstanding that it was on his side.  But it was late and we hadn’t built in disaster strikes time and he was stressed because he always is when we are travelling and because we only had the three hours to get to Roanne, showing as an hour away on the Google Map thing.

And because he was so stressed, I failed to carry out the pre-hire thirty-point check that I like to do, to avoid the argument at the end. Particularly lax given that for some inexplicable reason we have chosen the €1600 excess option on the car hire, in a carefree, living dangerously sort of way.

It takes us ten minutes to work out that we cannot work out the Sat Nav and we have to ask the Avis man to programme in our destination and change the language to that of Les Rosbifs. He is very helpful and not at all French about it.

Phone the hotel, I say, just to let them know we are on our way. After a mild altercation the call is made. Dinner is served till 9, they say and by the way, the Sat Nav may not show the right road as there is a new A89 and all the layouts have changed. Oh  God says C, after finishing the call. Barely able to make it to the end of the road without a bossy woman issuing instructions, he is not at all certain that we will arrive on time for the meal. Or ever. But I am driving, as I am apparently the worst passenger in the world and I am quite sure that we will be fine. I become somewhat less sure as we sit in horrendous Friday night traffic on the Péripherique. Tip: it will take longer than you think.

After a wrong turn off the A89, stony silence and much breaking of the speed limit, we arrive with 12 minutes to spare. I notice that the hotel containing the restaurant the whole purpose of our trip is directly opposite a large train station. I am clearly not in my right mind as we rush to the room to change for dinner and I therefore do not realise that not only are we opposite a station which will have actual trains using it, we are also on a busy traffic intersection.  I do not notice this because it is dark and the automatic metal shutters are already down and we are late for dinner. Tip: ask for a garden room.

But other than the noise,  the room is lovely; modern and elegant, with stylish lighting, a large bed with great sheets, lots of hanging space and enough minimalist plug sockets to charge all my devices. Which is great until I lift the oh-so-elegant metal covers and realise that none of my square UK adapters will fit.

I notice a flagon of pink water and a brioche thing. I drink some of the strawberry vinegar tea, which comes with a  recipe. It is delicious. As I know that a large meal awaits in moments,  it is with a heavy heart that I leave what looks like the best brioche I have ever seen. I admire my own restraint. We never actually get round to eating it.

There are an array of Clarins products in the bathroom, which has a stand alone tub and a huge limestone-tiled walk-in shower (rain and hand-held)  and the details are absolutely right. There is everything you might need, down to a toothbrush and a Green Tea face mask,  rocking the Texas Chainsaw Massacre look,  which I use later to scare C. Not only is it his birthday, but it is Halloween and it has to be done.

Thought has gone into everything including how to escape. As you can cover Roanne in a couple of hours if you really push it, there is a print out of a few suggested excursions. I cannot report on any of them as we did not leave Roanne.

Special credit goes to the Continental breakfast in the room. All the usual suspects are present, served in Alessi and Stelton, as well as some unexpected extras, such as great Comté and a soft local cheese, Salami, some cornbread rectangles with smoked salmon and cream cheese, wonderful pastries as well as croissant and baguette and sourdough,  homemade yoghurt with fresh vanilla, some parmesan choux pastry puffs and of course, home-made jams and preserves. I force myself to eat it, despite being full from the night before. And because the night before included a wine flight, we were rather late in surfacing the next day and so happy with what we’d eaten that I forgot about the trains and the intersection and didn’t  ask to move room. I know. Shocking.

There is  comfortable bar and I name-check all the designer pieces which I covet. The Bouroullec sofas, the Cestita Lamp, the Octo pendants over the reception desk all present and correct. Interesting and tasteful art. It’s all speaking to me and what it’s saying is all good. Understated yet luxurious, this is my sort of hotel.  For £250 plus a night it seems like reasonable value compared to Paris hotels of the same classification and it could teach some big name Michelin-starred food hotels in the UK a thing or two about design and style.

And weather permitting you can sit in the elegant garden, where they can make a decent pot of tea and if you are very lucky you will have the chocolate tart that we were given. The best I have ever eaten.

But all good things come to an end. C wants to leave two hours before the time I think is appropriate for departure. One of our tedious repeating arguments is the airport one. I like to get there just the two hours before, but in order to achieve that I have to ignore the stress radiater sitting in the kitchen chair, doing his Rain Man impersonation. Here I give in because I am not in the mood for I told you so and I think we may meander back on some scenic roads. I am of course deluding myself.

As they bring out the car I see the scratches and dents and feel sick. I ask C whether he’s seen them. He says not. We have not taken the car out of the garage all weekend. We look at the car hire papers and they show a little cross against the worst bits. Straight into lawyer mode I am starting to consider all the ways that this might be an issue and as C was a lawyer in a former life we have a healthy debate in the car about the contract and enforcement and evidence and I forget all about the food and want to kick myself for our once-in-a-lifetime, devil-may-care “excess” bravado. Naturally, they just look at it and sign the final receipt without a murmur. Tip: don’t find trouble till it finds you.

And here’s a link to the hotel website. Make sure you look at it before you go, to help you choose the right room. Obviously we didn’t.

Breakfast. Worth the journey.

Breakfast. Worth the journey.

Halloween helper

Halloween helper

 Yes, I remember it well.

Yes, I remember it well.

Roanne.

Roanne.

The Loire.

The Loire.