|Peanuts growing in glass|
So off we sped, following the hotel's chef, David Royer, who cooks "95% bio", which translates as organic, as he bombed through the French countryside for the next 10 minutes.
We arrived at a little garden of Eden, all created from scratch four years ago by the bubbly, smiley Nicole. High points? The peanuts, growing down into a long glass container; the spiral herb and flower garden; the co-planting to keep pests at a minimum; and Nicole's enthusiasm that we sniff every leaf, taste every flower, smell every bloom.
I began to find myself trying to work out how to say, "Do you need an intern?" in French, because wouldn't it be wonderful to come work here and learn how to make such a perfect organic garden, that's all farmed by hand – "No machinery" – that not only tastes good but looks a picture too?
We left, finally, after stopping for tea in the little patio and being shown the dried flowers in jars she uses for enfusions. How, we wanted to know, does she stop the petals from turning brown? But sadly beyond our school French...
"Is your restaurant locovore?" Which usually means 30km.
"Smaller than that," David said.
Then, making a perfect circle, we went back to Les Orangeries for dinner at its restaurant, served in an impossibly pretty, stone-walled courtyard with the carriage door open to the little lane which runs behind and the golden evening sunlight. First course: salmon sprinkled with leaves and flowers from Nicole's Jardin des Possibles. Perfect.