Monday, September 15, 2014

Festival de la Tomate - Chateau de la Bourdaisiere

During July while painting French tomatoes nonstop for the August Sketch Letter I had my eye on the  prize.

A visit to the annual Festival de la Tomate held the second weekend in September at chateau de la Bourdaisiere in the Loire Vallée.

Yesterday I joined a journalists group visiting the tomato fete. Just a short 55-minute TGV train ride from Paris.

This year's fete had a tie-in theme appropriately with Disney's Ratatouille.

We entered the chateau now a lovely three-star 32-room hotel for our tomato fete introduction.

Country luxury hotels are, thank goodness, short on the Marie-Antoinette syndrome that's taken over too many Paris hotels. The chateau particularly has a feeling of a cabinet of curiosities - very intriguing.

The owner of the chateau, Prince Louis Albert de Broglie informally joined us to explain the details of his great endeavor - preserving over 640 heritage tomatoes and developing biodiversity farms that can feed up to 50 families.

We set off to see the property, visiting farms and cultivation plots, the Prince leading the way and proudly explaining the progress they've made. The gardens were designated a national tomato conservatory in 1998.

Tomatoes everywhere and simply magnificent.

Purveyors displayed the many varieties.

The Prince shares his just-picked bounty with us. Sweet as honey.

Not just tomatoes are cultivated at the chateau, but more than 240 varieties of rare Dahlias are grown by resident expert, Mme. Martine de Roquefeuil/a>.

A sea of exquisite specimens in the gardens and inside the hotel.

Time to taste those tomatoes.

A 4-course meal was served every dish tomato-influenced.

Firstly a plate of the most divine tomato varieties with a light balsamic dressing. 

The main plat was roti de porc au Romarin and of course Ratatouille, that famous Provençal stew of summer vegetables, plus a savory tomato flan and tomato bread.

To follow a fine chevre of the Loire Vallée, St. Maure, served with delicious tomato jam made at the chateau.

Naturally I raced off to buy a jar only to find another jar of tomato  jam waiting in our goodie bags at departure. Can one ever have too much tomato jam? Two bottles should keep me going until next September's Festival de la Tomate hopefully.

The affable Prince joined us at lunch. He could not be more relaxed or charming.

Naturally I gave him my August Tomato Sketch Letter but I forgot to take a picture of him holding it unfortunately. It's not everyday you get to give a prince your artwork...

There were tents selling wonderful country-made items: pain d'epice, nougats, gardening tools, gardening books, plants, holistic creams for the event. And the chateau has fabulous gift shops with many designs from Le Prince Jardinier, the mark of the chateau, including the Prince's own vest design in Bordeaux velvet.

I regret not picking up a bar or two of his tomato soap. The tomato bath salts looked enticing though to have a bathtub in tiny Paris apartments is a luxury not many can boast of.

The Prince took over Deyrolle on 46, rue du Bac and breathed new life into it. When there was a fire in 2008 he rallyed artists and others to contribute to an auction that rebuilt and repaired the devastating damage. Deyrolle is a must-visit when you come to Paris. A step back in time to a magical  world.

The trip to the Festival de la Tomate was magical indeed. I felt all green and ecological afterwards. Bear came along bien sur and plans to return next year. Meanwhile this upcoming weekend is Jours de Patrimoine, so the chateau will be open and free to the public - a truly lovely way to spend a weekend afternoon exploring the gardens and supping on a tomato lunch non?


  1. All I can say is WOW ! on your post!

  2. Foodwalker3:24 PM

    I loved today's blog. Just gorgeous and so appealing. Guess more my thing than pastries but those are beautiful, too.

  3. Carolyn5:16 PM

    Wonderful, wonderful!!!!! Those tomatoes look so delicious, especially the salad with balsamic. I am going to go in search of some tomato jam. Maybe the Grenelle market on Wednesday morning? And then I need to get over to Deyrolle! How cute is the Prince with his wonderful vest, green sneakers and backwards hat!!! Fabulous paintings Carol, and such an interesting post!

  4. What a rich colorful delicious post.
    J'adore les tomates..Coeur de Boeuf the most..and field tomatoes..yes:)
    And cherry ..sweet!
    Your aquarelle is one of my favorites..
    I just saw that I missed a festival de an adjacent town..It could never be like this..
    But..I will go next yr!
    I love les ardoises quadrillees.Forgive the lack of accent..I am on my small netbook..English clavier.
    The dahlia lady is so pretty..Not like me when I was deadheading mine today~
    I have been pickling..preserving..jamming..
    No confiture de tomate though..
    I must Google..
    Did make confitures aux funny as I wrote it on an ardoise this morning:)Brought me back to Provence!

  5. My favourite summer lunch, tomatoes drizzled with olive oil & shredded Basilica. sprinkled on top.
    How fantastic you got to eat with a Prince. Great post and your Tomatoe aquarelle is a treat.

  6. Carol, last week's visit to the Union Square Farmers Market showed me all sorts of displays of unusual perfectly ripe tomatoes...but no chateau, and certainly no charming prince in a splendid vest and ...could those have been sneakers on his feet?

    Somehow, I think that you might just have had the more marvelous experience, if not actually having more delicious tomatoes available.

    Ahhh, la belle France.

    Good also to see Bear on the scene.

    Getting cooler here. Time to bring out the socks, and sweaters and to contemplate actually switching the oven on and trying some baking.


    1. Glad you noticed the prince's pea green sneakers (baskets here) the same color as mine. But his have an ecological meaning...being GREEN etc.

  7. What a delightfully festive event!
    I would Love to attend.

  8. one of my favorite posts on your blog.....Superb!

  9. I love tomatoes, and love your painted tomatoes! And oh, my! Le Prince Jardiner..too cool. I didn't know the brand was based on a real person. The tomatoes are marvelous looking. What does tomato jam taste like? Not ketchup, I hope. Can you save enough that I can have a taste in November?

    1. Impossible request me thinks saving that jam till even next week.
      Delicious..sweet. Tomatoes are a fruit. Acidic but not too much.
      Perfect with creamy goat cheese. Yum

    2. Rats! LOL, I was seduced by your having two jars. It does sound delicious. I always love eating tomatoes as vegetables, but knowing they are a fruit. And rhubarb---that's vegetable that most consider a fruit. I'll have to find my own tomato jam.

    3. Its the hardest thing for me to have jam in the house and a spoon at the same time.

  10. What a wonderful excursion - a perfect day! Seems like a well kept secret for a must do day trip. Now I want to cook. Your August painting is lovely btw. Tomatoes and dahlias in one place! The Deyrolle botanicals look so nice. Really a beautiful beautiful post. Thx.

    1. Thank you Geri!
      It was a perfect summer-Fall day.
      Blue skies day indeed.

  11. What a fun day. Who knew I could be so entertained by tomatoes, but I am. Your meal looked delish and I am a little bonkers over the dahlias.


    1. You would love it if you're a dahlia person!!

  12. Only word: wonderful!!! Your drawings, photos! How do you know about these beautiful evenements?
    Tomorrow I'll arrive in Paris! I'm very happy!!!

    1. There are many ways to find out.
      This is an annual event always the second weekend in September.
      This weekend do not miss Ils Flotants at quai de Montebello near Notre Dame.
      Fabulous south-west France foodie event.

  13. What a treat to pop in here and enjoy your account of the day. Perfect weather with an Indian summer just now - perfect to add to the dahlias (reminds me of my granny's house, full of them - remember the fragrance) and tomato feast. I wish it wasn't in September. Next year we'll have to forget the kids' rentrée homework and sneak away to the Loire and find the Prince. He looks so charming and fun too. And what a spread! Your paintings! Wow, Carol!

    1. I'm sure you could go as press Jill!

  14. Clarity9:14 PM

    the Prince is doing such wonderful work. Thank you for the introduction to knowing about about it, and for your artwork. Always a treat!

  15. Tomatoes and dahlias! How wonderful! It looks like such a gorgeous spot and delicious lunch.

  16. Interesting that the phrase "cabinet of curiosities" is the same phrase the Prince used to describe the chateau in a Wall Street Journal article in 2013.

    1. Both Deyrolle and the chateau have similar eclectic decor best described this way.
      Have you been to Deyrolle?

  17. I would just ADORE this one! Do love my 'maters! Seeing this post reminds me of Peter Mayle's book "French Lessons," where he went to festivals all over France to taste different foods! This would get my vote!

  18. Deborah2:34 PM

    I am enjoying visiting again with Prince Louis Albert after about 8 years (so, thanks for the link!). He is certainly dashing as ever.


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