Did you know...?
In Beauce, with its immense linear horizons, the sky occupies 80% of the landscape. It is the perfect place to admire stunning sunsets at dusk and the star-speckled sky before dawn.
Since the 15th century, the vast stretches of windy plain here have led to the installation of many windmills. Most of the old wooden post mills have disappeared, but the stone-built Artenay windmill still turns its roof to this very day, so that its blades face the wind. The modern-day landscape is scattered with wind turbines!
Yet, Beauce is not just a land of plains! The valley crossed by the rivers Oeuf and Essonne also offers an undulating environment. Here, nestling on a small hilltop overlooking the River Rimarde, stands the Yèvre-le-châtel fortress, in the heart of one of the Most Beautiful Villages of France. From Pithiviers to Malesherbes, the Essonne valley, partly listed as a 'natural protected area', is pure paradise for hiking enthusiasts.
Pithiviers, fondant or puff?
Beauce is a nourishing earth with its field crops of wheat, sugar beet and barley. Visitors are more surprised to learn that cress and saffron are also grown here. However, THE local gourmet speciality is undoubtedly the Pithiviers, a sweet cake or pastry. But which one will you prefer? The puff pastry version or the sweet fondant cake version? Time will tell...
Amateurs claim that the true Pithiviers recipe is the fondant one. Of Roman tradition, the recipe is indeed the oldest. The puff pastry Pithiviers was first made in the 18th century. But, when it comes down to food, it's all a question of taste, so try... and decide for yourself...
I discovered an organ... a perfume organ.
Here, you can contemplate the wheat fields as far as the eye can see... but there's not a lavender field in sight! The Château de Chamerolles is nevertheless home to the perfume museum: a trail through centuries of perfume, fragrance, toiletries and personal hygiene.
So why here? Because Loiret is part of the 'cosmetic valley', the world's first competitiveness cluster in the field of perfumery and cosmetics. Over your visit, you will discover several exceptional pieces: a reverberatory furnace, a toilet commode, bathtubs, perfume burners and... a perfume organ! Yet, not a single musical note to be heard! No, this organ is a semi-circular piece of furniture, used to organise the bottles that contain the raw materials required to create a perfume.
Paysage de Beauce © Comfuté Steeve Harpon
Paysage de Beauce
Orgue à parfums Château de Chamerolles © B. Voisin
Château de Chamerolles © B. Voisin
Village de Yèvre-le-Châtel
Make sure you don't miss...
The Musée du Théâtre Forain (touring theatre museum)
Following in the footsteps of Molière, commedia dell'arte and the mobile theatres that once enlivened French villages, the museum covers four centuries of touring theatre. Delve back into the worlds of Pierrot, Colombine and Harlequin via decors, costumes, accessories, posters, booklets, scale-models, etc. Commented and interactive tours, demonstrations, children's workshops and live performances are all on the agenda.
The village of Yèvre-le-Châtel
The medieval village of Yèvre-le-Châtel is listed among the 'Most Beautiful Villages of France'. It boasts fine stone-built houses, a magnificent 13th century ruin (formerly the Church of Saint-Lubin) and a remarkable fortress (also 13th century) which was recently restored. Only Montargis and this fortress, bordered with deep ditches, three-metre thick ramparts and four imposing towers, succeeded in resisting English occupation during the Hundred Years' War.
The Château de Chamerolles
Now the property of the Loiret Council, the Château de Chamerolles was built as from the year 1500 by Lancelot du Lac, chamberlain to King Louis XII. The fortress suffered extensive damage during the German occupation in 1940, to be entirely restored in the 1990s and converted into a perfume museum. In an area where the cosmetics industry is highly developed, the museum includes a 'Perfume Walk' - a trail through centuries of perfume, fragrance, toiletries and personal hygiene – and a number of exhibition rooms with period decor and furnishings. The tour includes several exceptional pieces and a unique set of perfume bottles created by the most illustrious glass artists. Near the château, the Renaissance garden has been reproduced with its six plant beds.
What to bring home?
A Pithiviers of course, a dessert that owes its name to its town of origin and now comes in two versions: the puff pastry Pithiviers with ground almonds and similar to the traditional French 'Galette des Rois'; and the iced Pithiviers, a cake made with ground almonds, caster sugar, icing sugar and kirsch.