Another Fantastic Stay at Manoir de Malagorse, Cuzance
On a press trip to the France’s delicious Perigord region in May 2016 I was lucky enough to spend the night at the most incredible place. While it is technically a hotel, Manoir de Malagorse, just outside Cuzance in the Lot region of South West France is more like a beautiful, idyllic home that you have been invited to stay at. Writing about travel as I do I rarely go back to the same place twice, constantly chasing new content, but that night I just knew I had to bring my family back for another stay. So, after leaving the Loire Valley behind us we jumped in the car and headed down into the Dordogne Valley to start the next leg of our journey.
Aside from how beautiful everything is, and how warm the welcome is when you arrive from your hosts Anna (an English physiotherapist who swapped the ski slopes for the countryside to open the Manoir) and Abel (a French chef who serves up the most delicious food, knows a lot about local wine and repaints the whole Manoir every off season) is the peace and quiet. I know I am lucky that my parents live in a patch of idilic countryside I can visit whenever I need a break from the city, but there is something about arriving at the Manoir, that by the time you’ve got settled into your room and headed downstairs for tea in big, English-style mugs and a couple of pieces of Abel’s delicious homemade banana cake, everything just melts away.
I booked the room I stayed in at the top of the house the last time I visited for my parents, so I took a beautiful, airy room on the first floor overlooking the driveway and the gardens. As I’d enjoyed during my last stay, the room was so beautiful and airy, with all the little details thought of from fresh cut flowers from the garden on the coffee table and by the bath, a mix of miniature and full size L’Occitane Verbena toiletries and a welcome note scented with fresh herbs, again cut from the garden on the bed. These little touches are lovely; but they’re hotel touches. What photos can’t capture is that feeling of home at the Manoir; while we did when we went out, it is not a place you bother to lock your bedroom doors when there are other guests, and while I’d scrabble around for shoes in a hotel, it felt totally natural to run up the stairs in bare feet to ask to borrow my mothers wrap when we were getting ready to go out for dinner, as I’d not yet put on my heels.
By the time we’d had our tea and cake, and my Dad had recovered from the drive the sun was finally out for the first time during out trip, so Gossie (named after the champagne Gosset!) the family dog took us for a walk. And yes, I really mean the dog took us for a walk; we set off and she followed. When we tried to deviate from her planned route (which is the route they suggest for walkers up at the house) she sat down and refused to budge. Otherwise, she ran ahead a little for each leg, so that we had no choice but to follow her down country lanes, through the village, up a farm track and past fields of truffle trees (below!)
If you prefer less active pets/ activities, instead of being taken for a walk you can always curl up with a good book outside in the sunshine, where Caramel the now domesticated stray will come and snooze next to you. Very friendly and much better behaved that a certain other feral cat currently stalking my home (I’m looking at you Camilla!) he makes for excellent furry company on a sunny day.
On our first night it was a national holiday so we did not really want to leave, so we let the Manoir know ahead we’d be staying in for some of Abel’s excellent cooking. So, after a white wine aperitif with some excellent warm cheese puffs in the nook with Anna, Abel and an Australian couple who were also staying, we settled down at a table by the dining room table for supper, starting with his signature scallops; perfectly cooked and tender, sitting on a bed of spring peas, stopped with a fresh mint vinaigrette. I may or may not have mopped my bowl with a bit of bread when I had finished so not to waste any of it…
Abel chose a delicious local Bergerac for us to go with, which we happily sipped as we headed into the next course; a fantastic piece of local beef from a farmer they knew well, served on a potato rosti with a fantastically rich jus, local asparagus, a braised salad onion and some aubergine. Very clean plates all round!
After a cheese course of local, award winning Rocamadour AOC goats cheese (you can read my post about visiting a Rocamadour goats cheese farm here) drizzled with local honey and walnuts (the typical serving for this cheese, the Perigord region are very proud of their local ingredients!) we had a beautifully light strawberry tart served on a soaked sponge. By far the very best meal of the trip so far.
Whatever you have planned for your days while you’re staying at the Manoir (I’ve got some guides for what to do in the Lot and Dordogne departments coming up), make sure you leave enough time for what has been, the three times I’ve enjoyed it, consistently the best hotel breakfast I’ve ever had. After waking up to the smell for fresh brioche wafting up from the main kitchen, head down for the most incredible spread of fresh and spice poached fruits, homemade yogurt pots, French pastries, fresh bread and brioche with homemade jams from their friends fruits, fresh juices and cereals. Pots of tea and coffee are made to order, as are beautifully soft boiled eggs. My not eating proper breakfasts would not be a thing if this was the spread I got every morning!
More than anywhere else I’ve ever stayed before, I urge you to book a stay at the Manoir, either if you’re looking to explore the area, or just relax by the pool and indulge in excellent food and wine. Everything you need to know about booking a trip is on their website, and Anna is also super helpful over email – as well as sorting our our reservation and dinner for the first night, she also sorted our taxi for us out for dinner at another of the best places I’ve ever been and was desperate to go back to, Chateau de la Treyne for the second night. Everything you need to book is on their website, and be sure to let them know I sent you!