When equiping a gîte with crockery, glasses and cutlery, one must bear in mind the ease of replacement in case of breakages or loss. Glasses and plates inevitably get broken from time to time, and cutlery can slowly disappear as it gets lost or misplaced. They need to be replaced with items that match or after a while you end up with a random hotch-potch of table settings that don't convey the right quality image.
We forgot this rule when we were on holiday in Brittany, when we stumbled across a nice little shop selling a vast range of nothing but white porcelain. We bought a set of four oven-proof lasagne trays (one for each available oven shelf), to replace other supercheap ones that weren't coping very well with being put in the oven. And inevitably, one of the four we bought got broken. They're the type of tray you can use directly from the oven, to serve the meal, so we have to have four the same.
Getting a replacement wasn't easy. The shop is about 4 hours' drive away, and neither the shop nor the factory will ship by post because they are fed up with things getting broken. So a personal visit is necessary. And it so happens that if you are prepared to take a relaxed or creative approach to the concept of something being "on the way" to somewhere else, a visit to the factory is not out of the question if you are travelling between our place and Paris.
And since we were off to a concert in Paris, and also wanting a short break, we ambled down and stayed overnight at a B&B in this lovely Chateau de la Brosse, not too far from the factory. It's run by a Dutch couple, the latest in a line of recent owners who have done various renovations. Previous couples in this rôle have divorced, so they are avoiding the curse by not getting married. The renovations are excellent; I don't think I have seen a chateau in such excellent repair. The outside walls in particular are bright, clean, and recently refurbished by a master of the craft over a period of some eight months. The rooms are spacious and comfortable, and children are not allowed, so the place is peaceful and the decoration has a better chance of maintaining its condition.
As it turns out the couple are also car racing enthusiasts who have friends in Holland who, from time to time, are looking for good group accommodation for about 25 people, not far from Le Mans. Could be right up our street.