The restaurant at the end of the rainbow
TEXT: HANNAH JANE THOMPSON | PHOTOS © HOTEL LE STELSIA
Many restaurants claim to be inspired by the natural world, but at the Michelin-starred Le Jasmin in the Lot-et-Garonne, France, head chef Xavier Lesueur barely has to peek outside the window to see dazzling creativity.
Le Jasmin is located within the 31-bedroom Le Château Hôtel Le Stelsia, a 700-year-old castle, whose walls are literally painted in all the colours of the rainbow. No, your eyes do not deceive you: in his design, hotel co-founder and architect Jacques Bru made liberal use of purple, blue, green and pink paint, intending to infuse the place with fairytale magic.
Guests are invited to see the 23-hectare site – five minutes’ drive from Villeneuve-sur-Lot – as a sumptuous playground, with co-founder Philippe Ginestet aiming to “simplify luxury hospitality” and “redefine architecture”.
But it’s not only fun and games; in 2018, the hotel’s 20-seat gastronomic restaurant won a prestigious Michelin star, retaining the accolade in 2019 even as it changed chefs.
The site brings a distinctly sophisticated air, with white tablecloths and Champagne-gold decor indicating a chic oasis within. And it is here that the natural world really does make an appearance: guests can choose from an ever-changing ‘terroir’ menu, which might include local foie gras de canard, farmyard veal, or lamb from the nearby Pyrenees.
Fittingly, for a hotel built on childlike wonder, the dessert menu is just as fabulous, including creations in fruit and grand cru chocolate from high-end patissier Florian Declerq. A popular option is the ‘Menu Découverte’, where guests can sit back with no idea of what they will receive (allergies notwithstanding) leaving the chefs free to present whatever they can imagine.
As Laure Barjou, marketing manager, says: “Lesueur and Declerq are real artists.” It’s a fitting description for chefs who work within such brightly-coloured walls, where creativity is served not only in the decor, but also on Le Jasmin’s perfectly-appointed plates.