Dorothy Dunnett

France - 'Sevigny', the Loire and Lyon

Monica Murray's candidate for Sevigny and a restaurant that might just be the Dame's House

I have spent many happy hours on holiday following descriptions from Dorothy's books and trying to find places which may or may not have existed. My two favourite places for Dunnett quests are the area around Blois and Lyons. I've had great fun following the rooftop race and visiting La Guiche, Chouzy and other sites mentioned and I think I have finally found Sevigny. Called Chateau de la Vicomte Vauperreux, this chateau is the only one I've found that is situated on bank of the Loire, between Blois and Chouzy, within easy strolling distance for Phillipa to reach the river!

Many of the roads and buildings in Vieux Lyon and the Presqu'isle mentioned in Checkmate are easy to find and well worth a visit. The position of the Hotel Gaultier in the Rue Merciere could apply to any of three restaurants but one, La Traboulerie, has so many similarities that the Dame could appear at any moment! It still has a traboule leading from the river quay into an open courtyard that you can explore and photograph, if you dont mind kitchen workers staring at you as if you are insane. The courtyard matches the description very closely, with open galleries, red plasterwork and a tower enclosing a second spiral staircase. All this, together with the decor inside had convinced me even before the final proof - objects and decorations were placed in small wall niches around the room and when I looked up above our table there was a large iron key! I would have tried to grab it and run but I know there are no interesting houses left in the Rue da la Cerisaie.

Chateau de la Vicomte Vauperreux

Kathleen Shaw is another reader who has visited the area and says:

I would recommend it to anyone, and there is a great deal to see, not just the chateaux but also the old towns and the forests, such as the forest of Amboise, and of course the forest of Chambord, which is of a size to match the chateau. I was lucky enough to stay in Amboise for a month in the summer, during which time I visited Blois, Chambord, Chenonceau, Azay-le-Rideau, Villandry, Nitray and more. I didn't get to the more mediaeval (rather than Renaissance) places, such as Angers, Chinon, Loches... Next time perhaps.
Unfortunately many of the chateaux are not fully furnished, and what furniture there is may not be that which was originally there, and is often from several different periods, although I saw a cabinet at Blois which was a gift for the wedding of Francois II and Mary Queen of Scots. The chateaux are still wonderful though.

For anyone planning a visit or who wants to see pictures of the chateaux, she recommends the website at - lots of information for anyone with a smattering of French.



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