Flemish embassy in Amance

In the centre of the village of Vicq, a beautiful and vast residence in natural regional stone accompanies the church. Once the presbytery, it hasn't lost its serenity. Today Gerda Peeters and André Meewis are the cordial hosts. The garden and interior restoration were contemplated and realised by their son designer and philosopher. As for the kitchen, the son master chef shared his expertise. The whole joins Gîtes de France as a bed and breakfast and is honored with four épis in the ranking of the network. The site and its owners merit le détour.

Kitchen mistress

As a young wife, not to disappoint her husband, Gerda engages herself in cooking with Gaston Clément's standard guide of cooking of the fifties. Since several years now she switched to la cuisine haut-marnaise with regional products: recipes with Langres, escargots, asparagus of Varennes, local meat, Emmental of Bassigny, homemade jams... As a chef of the Slagmolen in Belgium, honored by Michelin, her son advises her with his savoir faire. Gerda is a discernable lover of cooking, it's in the air everywhere. Dressed in a big white apron she arouses our taste, speaking of her progrès aux amandes et chocolat, faisselles of fresh cheese, served on a coulis of blackcurrants or blackberries, covered with fresh cream and berries. Her suppliers are all friends of the house who she recommends to visitors during their stay.

Design and peace of a jardin de curé

The site, secluded from the street, presents a long bright facade and a large courtyard guarded by Saint Joseph in stone. And then the jardin de curé, such a beautiful harmony of plants and trees: plums, medlars, hazelnut trees, chestnut trees… And in the centre a little oseraie. Water flows, the stream is very close. The philosopher has designed it all and even prohibited the construction of a terrace in front of the beautiful ensemble of stairs: that would have been an aberration of taste, of culture, aesthetics and be dysfunctional. A big table on the lawn will do for having there the copious breakfasts. The other meals are served in the kitchen, a matter of ambiance, of sharing the space where Gerda, assisted by André, prepares the fine dishes. Her cooking has no secrets.

A little monastic, but not ascetic

At the first floor, there are three rooms for b&b, although the mansarde is used only as a spare room. A pity, knowing that this could be a hiding place from the world! Functional, bright, simple, the rooms apply to tranquility of the body and mind. All of a sudden Gerda interrupts: 'The experts of Gîtes de France tried to force me in posing draperies, out of the question, and out of style, I don't want to ridicule my b&b'. She insisted in conserving the dwelling as it used to be, a little monastic, but not ascetic. It's a success!

A certain image of France for their compatriots

How did this Belgian couple, which originated between the Rhine and the Meuse, manage to settle at a few kilometers of the sources of the Meuse? Things started thanks to a friend, Yvonne Knevels, also a designer, who came for a training course at the Ecole nationale de vannerie in Fayl-Billot. From there the address became known. The building was left inhabited since the disappearance of abbot Geoffroy. After seventeen years, the old presbytery revives. In Belgium tourist guides, books and even national television have shown interest in their tasteful restoration. 3000 e-mails arrived the week following the broadcast. Today Le Presbytère has become a kind of embassy for Belgian tourists visiting the south of the Haute-Marne. Gerda and André engage themselves in giving them an image of France and accompany them in the discovery of the Pays de Langres.

Michel Thénard

Source: La Croix Hebdo de la Haute-Marne