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"If you've never eaten a brioche with fresh Ste. Maure goat cheese, honey, and walnuts for breakfast, then you haven't been to the Loire," says Laurent Dutheil, who is justifiably proud of the simple breakfasts he serves at his 23-room hotel in the western corner of the valley.
Dutheil also produces dozens of fragrant artisanal jams such as apple-lavender and quince-cinnamon. (Sadly, they aren't for sale, but you can buy Dutheil's recipe book, Jam in the Cupboard.) The traditional foods fit well with the hotel's venerable atmosphere: Diderot is housed in a sprawling 15th-century home that the Chinon-born Dutheil, along with his two sisters, Martine and Francoise, bought and renovated six years ago.
Dutheil tackled structural issues, taking care to keep the exposed oak beams and original stone walls intact, while his sisters refurbished the rooms with cheerful striped wallpaper, toile bedding, and 19th-century armoires they scavenged on trips to Paris. The largest room, which sleeps four, has double windows with views of a courtyard.
In the distance lie vineyards full of the red Chinon grapes much loved by 16th-century novelist and satirist François Rabelais.
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