We don’t often talk about lodging places here on EverywhereOnce because so often they’re just not that memorable. We generally choose basic places to sleep and shower and to use as a base to explore an area. But staying at La Maréchalerie was almost as much of an experience as touring the surrounding Loire Valley.
Our stay began with a warm welcome from our host, Danny, who immediately offered us coffee, tea or a glass of locally produced wine. One glass of wine turned into several as Danny engaged us for over an hour, taking a genuine interest in our travels as well as sharing his near encyclopedic knowledge about the region and its history. Slightly inebriated we eventually headed to our room, clutching a specially-created binder burgeoning with maps and other information for crafting an itinerary in the Loire.
If you like meeting locals and fellow travelers, swapping stories, and working on your rusty French, one of La Maréchalerie’s amenities is an exceptionally congenial environment—purposely engineered that way by its proprietors.
Breakfast is served at a large, communal table rather than the numerous smaller ones in the room. And unlike in other similar places we’ve stayed, guests here are not left to fend for themselves amongst strangers. Every morning, Danny, who lives next door to La Maréchalerie, turned up at the breakfast table to chat, introduce newcomers, and dole out advice on the day’s activities.
Fellow lodgers we met during our stay hailed from France, Germany, the Netherlands, Canada, Belgium, and Russia, along with a Venezuelan couple on honeymoon. Occasionally Danny popped up during the day offering surprise gifts like fresh-picked strawberries from the garden.
Our hostess, Patricia, meanwhile, playfully commanded people to “say something in French” when they entered the room. Fellow guests, particularly the women, seemed eager to help me hone my French skills. Any awkwardness I felt about attempting to speak the language vanished in their company. They initiated conversations, patiently waited while I sought correct words and conjugated verbs, and politely corrected mistakes and mispronunciations.
The hospitality was on full display during our last night at La Maréchalerie. On Saturdays, Danny and Patricia invite guests to dine with them. (And their pet parrot, Chouchou, who made the rounds among guests.) The evening began and ended with a generous variety of liqueurs, some of which were made by our hosts, including ones crafted from pears, bay leaves, and black roses that grow on their property. In between, as the red wine flowed, they flawlessly served a dozen diners a four-course meal: white asparagus soufflé, beef bourguignon, mixed green salad, and banana mousse.
Set in an 18th century blacksmith shop, La Maréchalerie is casual and charmingly rustic with dark antique furniture and exposed wooden beams. There are plenty of lodging places in the Loire Valley, some of which are closer to the main châteaux, less expensive or more luxurious. But here, along with a bed and breakfast, you’re offered something extra: a true generosity of spirit delivered with French savoir faire…and wine.