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Great South West

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Central reservation office (United States)

1 800 735 2478

Indicate the code : TRAMA

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Michel Trama
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Grand Chef and Owner of Hotel Restaurant Michel Trama
Ma Route du Bonheur across the South West

Born in Constantine, I studied psychosociology in Washington, D.C. and in Montreal, and then did a year of preparatory classes for Arts Déco before leaving for Club Med, where I worked as a scuba diver. Upon joining Captain Cousteau, I met my future wife, Maryse, with whom I would later move to Paris. I first worked as a server in a pizzeria, and then, in the hall for a Greek restaurateur. I learned about cooking through August Escoffier’s and Michel Guérard’s books. I copied them, tried the recipes a thousand times, making mistakes almost every time. Basically, that’s the story of my life. I had never been to Puymirol before buying this forgotten building in 1978. There was the sunshine, birds singing, and grandmothers sitting on benches in the shade of century-old walls. We never left, having discovered a region with a wealth of diverse scenery, products, and people…

Relais & Châteaux proposes its Routes du Bonheur for your inspiration: they are suggestions of itineraries that you can adapt to your preferences and desired experiences. Our advisors are at your disposal to individualise your routes and help you make reservations at our properties.
Example for a 4 nights stay from 975€*
* Minimum indicative rate per person, subject to availability, on the basis of a double room with double occupancy, including accommodation, breakfast and dinner (menu, without beverages) in the properties suggested for the itinerary.
Activities on site and nearby must be reserved by you.

My Route du Bonheur
Stage 1: 1 day, 1 night

Michel Trama

The baroque elegance of an epicurean palace
Michel Trama
To this day, this house continues to tell its own story. The designer Jacques Garcia has returned it to its former state, with the goal of creating a “showcase for my cuisine.” This house, which once belonged to Raymond VII, Count of Toulouse, has a real soul. It’s even said that Leonardo da Vinci once stayed within these walls…With Maryse, our character and cuisine has grown here. And while we have received many honours, we just continue working on our “natural” garden in the centre of the fortified town of Puymirol - the first such one built in the Lot-et-Garonne, in the 13th century.

Close to the property...

"Our" Cloister

In 1998, I had a strong urge to add a cloister attached to our building. Designed by my friend Jean-Louis Costes, and given its final form by designer Jacques Garcia, it was inspired by the amazing Romanesque cloister at the Moissac abbey. Today, those who stay or visit get the feeling that it was always there! People come for the calm, or to “spend some moments in silence.” It’s also here that I organize a small truffle market every year.

My Pigeon Producer

It’s been almost thirty-five years that I’ve been working with the Verzeni family, in Palleville. Located in the Lauragais, this free-range poultry farmer was recommended to me at the time by my chef friend Jacques Maximin. We have since “grown” together, and I’ve remained loyal to this producer of top-quality poultry.

On the route...

The Agen Market

It’s a farmers’ market. A real market, dedicated to nature, where people still roll their ’’r’’. Here, people still count to the last penny. It’s a place of freedom, where you won’t be cheated. I go there once a week, on a Wednesday or Sunday morning, to buy beautiful regional vegetables, truffles, etc. For ’’fatty’’ products, go to the Valence-d’Agen market.

We can advise you on booking your route. Contact central reservations :

1 800 735 2478

Indicate the code : TRAMA

Calling from another country ? Click here

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Stage 2: 1 day, 1 night

Château de Mercuès

Live to the pulse of the historical vineyards and gourmet delights
Château de Mercuès
Its imposing round towers stand out from far off. You can sleep in the ’’Tower’’ suite, perched on top of the old castle, with a ceiling opening onto a magnificent frame; or you can try the ’’Bishop’s Room’’, whose floor is covered with a sundial. The place has hosted the greatest names. Upon leaving, General de Gaulle supposedly wrote: ’’From the Château de Mercuès, you see History rise towards you.’’

Close to the property...

Georges Vigouroux, Great Malbecs

Georges Vigouroux has restored the prestige of Château de Mercuès’ vineyards. Today, the superb Malbec is one of the jewels among Cahors wines, honoured in many competitions. His son, Bertrand Gabriel, a trained wine grower and oenologist, presents the latest vintages in the cellar located under the estate’s gardens. Of course, these great wines are on the menu at my restaurant…

Georges Vigouroux

Château Lagrézette, Caillac

It’s one of the most beautiful estates in Cahors - the Château Lagrézette - whose first Malbec vines were planted in the early 16th century. Now owned by Alain Dominique Perrin, the château is classified as a historical monument. I especially like the prestige vintage Le Pigeonnier, whose essence was captured by the famous oenologist Michel Rolland.

Lagrézette Castle

Cahors, Medieval Town

As the emblem of the city, the Valentré bridge is a real masterpiece of medieval military architecture. Its three fortified towers still dominate the Lot River, old alleys and tall houses. The medieval city was patiently restored, offering a visit back in time. At night, it’s easy to imagine knights emerging from secret passages. Unless it’s the excellent wine being served in the taverns of the old city…

We can advise you on booking your route. Contact central reservations :

1 800 735 2478

Indicate the code : TRAMA

Calling from another country ? Click here

Revenir en haut de page
Stage 3: 1 day, 1 night

Château de la Treyne

Overlooking the Dordogne river, true happiness awaits
Château de la Treyne
For over thirty years, Philippe Gombert’s family has been trying to perpetuate the rich history of this castle, whose foundations go back to the 14th century. The splendid French-style garden extends onto vast woodlands. The estate enjoys a magnificent setting and commands a unique view over the Dordogne. You can stroll under the shade of ancient cedars, between the Romanesque chapel and the river. And you can enjoy the fine cooking of Chef Stéphane Andrieux, in a Louis XIII décor.

Close to the property...

The Lascaux Cave, Montignac

I was very lucky to take a private tour of the Lascaux cave. We were a few special guests who got to visit this secret site, closed to the public in 1963 after climate and humidity problems were discovered. Some 1,900 depictions of animals, painted or carved, still decorate its walls. Although, a mere two hundred metres away, one can see a very high-quality reproduction of this incredible treasure from the Late Stone Age.

Lascaux Caves

Rocamadour

Before thinking of it as a village, Rocamadour is, for me, a goat cheese. It’s also one of my favourites. Served with a bit of walnut or hazelnut oil and a few truffle slivers, this raw milk cabécou is without compare. As well, for over 25 years, the eponymous village has been holding a festival for its cheese on the Pentecost weekend.

Truffle Market, Sarlat

Going to Serlat is really making two trips – the first, to the Middle Ages, the second, to the heart of the truffle world. In December, two markets – one for professionals, the other for the general public – line up stalls on which the “black diamonds” compete. I go there every year for the Truffle Festival. I like the atmosphere of the Périgord noir’s capital - its history, its heritage, and its revival, marked by the creations of architect Jean Nouvel.

We can advise you on booking your route. Contact central reservations :

1 800 735 2478

Indicate the code : TRAMA

Calling from another country ? Click here

Revenir en haut de page
Stage 4: 1 day, 1 night

La Chapelle Saint-Martin

Light, silence and diaphanous clouds
La Chapelle Saint-Martin
There’s a romantic and idyllic atmosphere in this beautiful house that once belonged to porcelain makers. Dating from the 14th century, it’s been kindly maintained by its owner and chef, Gilles Dudognon. A chapel, a wooden bridge, small ponds, and an old stable whose floor reveals – or almost – the whole history of the region. You’re in Limousin, already another country…

Close to the property...

Sylvie Coquet, and the New Porcelain of Limoges

Known the world over, a symbol of the French art de vivre, Limoges porcelain never ceases renewing itself. The daughter and granddaughter of great porcelain makers, Sylvie Coquet made a customised tasting plate for us, as well as porcelain bells, in which we serve our truffles. Here, the backdrop is as important as the flavours…

Sylvie Coquet

Musée de la Porcelaine, Limoges

After significant renovation and extension work, the Adrien Dubouché national porcelain museum reopened its doors in 2012. Founded in 1845, it still holds the largest public collection of porcelain in Limoges, with over 12,000 pieces of porcelain and earthenware. Here you can really plunge into the history of ceramics. From Antiquity artists to contemporary artists, the museum offers a stunning background to the world of ceramics.

Musée Dubouché

Limoges-Bénédictins railway station

It’s the kind of station one goes to without having a train to catch. The Limoges train station is one of France’s most impressive, and its architecture makes it a real attraction. A mix of late Art Nouveau, Art Deco, and Neoclassicism, this station – classified as a historic monument, and still in use today – is perhaps one of the city’s most important.

We can advise you on booking your route. Contact central reservations :

1 800 735 2478

Indicate the code : TRAMA

Calling from another country ? Click here

Texts : © Guides Gallimard