A refreshing countryside escape

Last weekend (in the days before social distancing), Rémi and I decided that we both needed a little greenery and fresh air. So we did a quick search on Booking.com for a bed and breakfast outside of Paris and discovered Le Barn, a hotel/horse ranch just 45 minutes away by car! It ended up being the perfect weekend escape, giving us the opportunity to totally disconnect and just relax (and eat a lot of really good food!)

On Friday after work, we rented a car via a car-sharing app and headed out into the countryside! When we arrived, we were greeted by the sound of birds singing and fresh, damp country air. I had booked us a table in the hotel restaurant and oh my gosh was the food amazing! We got fried fish balls for a starter, along with some natural wine (wine made without sulfates, not to be confused with organic wine). And for the main course we shared a magnificent half-chicken stuffed with foie gras, magret de canard, sausage and mushrooms, with potatoes and chestnuts on the side! It was absolutely glorious! Luckily we had a fridge in our room, otherwise there’s no way we could have eaten it all!

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This was DIVINE!

When we checked in, the very nice staff at the reception said that we could have breakfast delivered to our room at no extra charge, so the next morning that’s what we did! It was so great to watch everyone walking past our window to get to the restaurant while we lounged in bed with our croissants – not a bad we to start the day! It was through all this people watching that we realized there were tons of parents with small children staying at the hotel, and eventually we realized why. There were all sorts of free activities for kids (and Marissa’s and Rémi’s haha!) that allowed the parents to keep an eye on them while also enjoying themselves. There were bikes just waiting to be borrowed, ping pong to be played, badminton, pétanque…and a bar, for the parents. 😛 After breakfast we thought we would follow the kids’ example and go bike riding! The countryside was so beautiful and we were incredibly lucky with the sunny weather. Along the way we encountered lots of animals, both big and small…

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Good morning!
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Breakfast in bed 😛

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Bike time!

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Frequent large animals crossings 😛
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My best impression of a deer haha!

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Rémi: Sheep Whisperer

We returned from our ride a bit late to have lunch, so instead we shared some cheese and charcuterie and decided to make a reservation for dinner, since the food was so good the night before. After our snack, it was time for the main event – a trip to the Nordic-style spa, including the outdoor jacuzzis! This was the moment I had been waiting all week for and it did not disappoint. Even though it was a bit chilly outside, the jacuzzis were so nice and warm and we had the place all to ourselves! Afterwards, Rémi enjoyed the sauna and hammam and I read my book. This is definitely a lifestyle I could get used to. 😊

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The hotel terrace
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Mmmmm cheese…
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THE JACUZZI! 😀

When we arrived in the restaurant for dinner, we were asked by the (very nice and attentive) waiter if we wanted the cocktail of the night – rum with pineapple juice and vanilla. He really didn’t even need to ask, it obviously sounded amazing, so we started with that and ordered the octopus with chickpeas as a starter. Then for the main course I had fish with roasted leeks, garlic cream and a fish egg pesto, and Rémi had a seriously delicious cassoulet. Afterwards, neither of us had room for dessert so we went to the lounge area and had some apricot juice instead. We could have watched the Smurfs movie (the Schtroumpfs in French!) with the kids in the game room, but instead we decided to go to sleep – we were pretty tired after a full day of biking, spa-ing, and eating! 😊

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So tasty.

The next morning, we decided to have breakfast back in the restaurant, where there was an even greater assortment of pastries and eggs cooked to order. Afterwards, we went to the front desk to ask what time check-out was and they were like, “Oh you can leave whenever you want, there’s no one checking in after you”. I couldn’t believe it, what kind of hotel is this?! Soothed by the knowledge that we could leave at any time, we went back to our room and I promptly fell back asleep. Rémi made one last trip to the spa while I snoozed and afterwards we decided to say goodbye to this perfect little hotel. We both agreed that we had to come back, there was so much more to explore and more food to eat! Plus, everything was just so easy and relaxed – we got breakfast in bed for no extra charge, the bikes were just lying around waiting to be taken, we could go to the spa whenever we wanted and there was no check-out time on Sunday! It felt so nice not to be restricted by the normal rules of a hotel and to come and go as we pleased by bike or car. Cross-country or international travel via train or plane is amazing, but sometimes the best trips can happen in your own backyard. 😊

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On the way back to Paris, we stopped by the town of Rambouillet to see the grounds of its chateau, and to get some pastries for the road.

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Statues all bundled up for winter!

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