The Silver Fox

A couple of years ago when Maurice and I did the Orient Express trip we talked with the chef after one of the splendid meals and he told us he had a B&B in Provence. I noted the name because I thought it would be really great to stay there so when we were going to be in the area we were able to book a room. We had a lot of trouble finding it as it is on a very narrow dirt road outside of a small village called Marnas but it was worth the trip. It is called l’Atelier du Renard Argenté, the Silver Fox.

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The entry.

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The grouunds were large with lavender and fruit trees everywhere and chairs set up to enjoy the view.

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There was a swimming pool too.

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Here is the view from upstairs looking down into the living room. It was all decorated by the chef’s wife, Gail, who once worked in Paris at The George V. She had such good taste and there were lovely things everywhere. Our room was lovely too.

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The table set for dinner. The chef, Christian, was there to cook since it was the week-end, otherwise he would be on the Orient Express. He has been the chef there for 34 years.

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Breakfast. Such attention to detail. We were so full from dinner that we could hardly do justice to it. Just an elegant, peaceful place. We may go back in the autumn for a truffle week-end.

The Orient Express

So we finally made it to the train, the reason we came to Venice. It was a fabulous experience. We had read that you get to see the most scenery by going from Venice to Paris rather than the other way around which we did.

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Where we checked in.

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As walked down to our car we were greeted by these nice men.

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This was Stefano who took care of everyone on our car. He was such a pleasant person. I have to say that everyone on the train was friendly, pleasant and helpful.

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You go down this corridor to get to the rooms or further on to the restaurant and bar.

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Our room.

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We had a sink in the room for brushing teeth, etc. The toilet and shower were down the hall.

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The table set for lunch in the restaurant car.

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This lady, taking photos as we left Venice, had on this hat right out of the 1920’s.She could have been in a English murder mystery. Some people dressed up for lunch, but everyone dressed up for dinner down to evening gowns, diamonds and tuxedos.

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The restaurant. Everything was done so beautifully.

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A drink in the bar.

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The menu for dinner.

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What was offered. Note the lamb.

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The lamb was from the salt marshes of Mont St Michel. My, it was good. When the chef came by I told him, “This is the best lamb I have ever had in my life!” He autographed my menu for me and when he heard Maurice speaking French he put it the website for his L’Atelier du Renard Argenté in the Châteauneuf-du-Pape region in Provence as well as his phone number. We could be potential clients. His name is Christian Bodiguel and the beautiful website is http://www.renarda.com . Everyone in the kitchen, by the way, was French. The waiters were Italian, and there was a mix of nationalities for the rest of the staff.

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I was so stuffed and I guess the chef could tell, so he sent over this sherbert with Poire (pear) liquor on it said to aid digestion.

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Afterwards we had a drink in the bar and listened to a pianist which was pleasant.

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The train went through Northern Italy, Austria, Switzerland and, while we slept, into France. We woke up about 7 AM, had a small breakfast in our room and, before we knew it, we were in Paris at the Gare de l’Est. It was just an unforgettable experience.

The Orient Express

I think everyone has heard of the Orient Express, the famous train that used to run between London and Istanbul with links to points beyond. It was made even more famous by the book and then movie (several of them) by Agatha Christie called Murder on the Orient Express. There is an exhibit of the Orient Express at the l’Institut du Monde Arabe and they have actually somehow (I would love to see how) brought in four cars from the original Orient Express and set them up outside the museum for visitors to look at, inside and out. Two of the cars are even the ones used in the movie, the version with Albert Finney as Hercule Poirot. As I read “Organized by the World Arab Institute and the French national rail company SNCF, the exhibition highlights the luxury that travelers experienced on board this icon of transport.” Can it be matched for glamor or romance? Not to me. Originally a twice-weekly trip between Paris and Istanbul via Strasbourg, Vienna, Budapest and Bucharest, passengers made the last part of their journey to Istanbul by ferry. Now the trip is only between London and Venice.

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An engine set up outside the museum which you can see in the background.

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The train had hot and cold running water, heating and gas lights.

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A poster-behind glass, thus the reflection-of the famous movie.

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An old map showing the routes. As you can see, once you reached Istanbul, you crossed the water by ferry (you see this in the movie) and then could continue on to such places as Egypt and Ankara.

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Tables were set up with antique items from days gone by.

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Cigarettes of course. Look at that low price.

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Decorative touches done by Lalique, the famous French glass designer.

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The service area, seen in the movie, where tea and coffee were prepared. There were little video screens showing scenes from the movie.

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I took this just because I liked the lighting behind.

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Some more of the beautiful, elegant decorations.

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I saw the exhibit late on Friday night and saw this on the way home.

As per my wine glass dregs “reading,” I suppose I really did need a little bit more excitement in my life because, as the fates would have it, I find myself here in Venice of all places – soon to board the Orient Express!