Just on an hour’s drive south of Calais, wedged in between Le Touquet and Arras, in the historic Somme valleys, is Chateau Bermicourt. Built in 1826, the ancestral Chateau served as the HQ for the Royal tank Corps in the Great War; and during WWII it was occupied by German forces. Although the Chateau is still a private residence lived in by the young de la Border family, its out buildings have been developed into a trendy 10-roomed hotel and restaurant.
Enter the estate through the Chateau’s imposing wrought iron gates, then halfway up the drive turn left towards the old stable block. Facing the hotel building, in the gravel car park, with views of the Chateau, is an immense sycamore tree showcasing a spacious ‘tree house’ room, complete with bathroom, television and an elegant terrace; just beyond the lofty tree is a two-bedroom cottage ‘La Maison de Flore’. The hotel building has a stone archway which connects the two huge barn conversions. These offer accommodations and a restaurant and face one another across a lawned courtyard. All but for the UPVC windows and doors, the conversion has been a sympathetic one, providing most modern day creature comforts.
Chateau Bermicourt has been in the de la Border family for generations. Now its future rests with Sebastien who, after attending a Parisian catering school and converting the Chateau’s out buildings, took over the running of his family’s estate in 2005, leaving behind city life and a promising sporting career.
The dining room, adjacent to the small reception and behind a glass door leading off the courtyard, was packed with locals and resident guests alike.
The contemporary interiors were minimalist with a concrete floor, brick walls, metal framed tables with wooden inlays, comfortable leather chairs, and views to either the enclosed courtyard or the vegetable garden and paddock, where I saw Chef Sebastien gathering herbs.
A waiter carried over the black-board menu which, after ably translating for me, appeared to offer interesting dining options and, at a set price of €30, great value too. The menu changes frequently, the waiter explained, depending on what Sebastien brought back from the local market.
We feasted on cream of pumpkin soup for starters, monk fish as our main, with a selection of seasonal vegetables and creamy mash potatoes; and for dessert, chocolate and chicory mousse. The ingredients were wholesome and cooked to perfection, the portions generous and not overly embellished – and the recommended wine, Roussette de Savoie Marestel, a floral, honeyed dry white, completed the meal perfectly. That Sebastien has earned La Cour de Remi a gastronomic reputation is evidenced by the rapturous sounds of approval at neighbouring tables.
The interiors of each room are individual. Room 7 for instance is a fabulously large suite with plenty of space to move around in. Although minimalist in style it ticked all the boxes – large sofas, a wonderfully comfortable bed, a modern bathroom with two facing baths, flat-screen television with satellite, quality bedding, a mini-bar and a Nespresso machine for some decent coffee.
Breakfast in the dining room, with views of sunshine streaming into the vegetable garden and paddock, was a selection of treats consisting of warm-from-the-oven buttery brioche, nutty bread, home-made jams, slivers of cheese, cured ham, freshly squeezed orange juice, locally sourced yoghurt and possibly the best coffee in France.
Peaceful with rustic charm – this is a fabulous find in Pas de Calais, with plenty to see and do in the area. It has all the characteristics to be an idyllic location for a rural break, and within easy reach of the Eurotunnel.
Room prices start at €85 per night; suites and the tree house are €160; the cottage rate is €140.
La Cour de Remi, 1, rue Baillet, 82130 Bermicourt, Pas de Calais, France
Tel +33-3-210-33333 www.lacourderemi.com