Thursday, September 17, 2015

FRANCE | Cély, Seine-et-Marne

Cély is above Fleury-en-Bière, west of Barbizon. Southeast is
Fontainebleau and Avon (Gare, INSEAD). Photos by JT Marlin.
Alice and I are staying for about a week at the home of friends in Cély, Seine-et-Marne. The village has 1,200 residents who live privately behind walls.

The main nonresidential village attraction is the Château de Cély, with its 18-hole golf course (rated "magnifique").

The village's full name is Cély-en-Bière. The Bière refers to an alleged river in the area, a river so small that it is on no map I have seen, nor have I spotted any signs of it on the ground.

The Department of Seine-et-Marne extends in a long oval east of Paris and south to Fontainebleau, where INSEAD is based, at the lower right of the map.

I thought this must be the Bière but no signs confirmed this.
The covered area was where people once washed clothing.
The capital of the department is Melun, to the north. We have driven there three times – on our way to Vaux-le-Vicomte, the home of Louis XIV's first Finance Minister, on our way back, and to drop someone off at the train station.

The Cély Mairie and memorial
to the dead from WW1, WW2. 
There is also a train station at Fontainebleau and I recommend using that one even if it is farther. The train station at Melun is designed to be commuter-friendly, whereas the Fontainebleau station in Avon is impressively visitor-friendly.

Cély is easy to get to nowadays, since it is just off the Autoroute du Soleil on the way to the Riviera. It was once a busier place. It still has signs for a Boulanger-Patissier and a Restaurant-Bar that must as recently as five years ago have been centers of life in the community.

Map of Cély in front of the Mairie.
The new roads make nearby villages accessible for shopping and village stores couldn't compete. Its residents are happy to be a non-commercial bedroom-and-family community.
Alice in front of the white pizza van, which
was parked in front of the Mairie. We had
better food waiting at home.

Those who live in the village seem prosperous. The area's main employers are educational and health-care institutions and the golf and country club at the Château. Most residents are retired or work in other busier villages or towns.

This is a very different place from next-door Barbizon, which is approximately the same size but where a relative frenzy of socialization is the village's raison d'être.

The Mairie (village hall) in Cély is remarkably imposing for such as small village.

The war memorial in front of the Mairie is a stark reminder of the deaths of so many "children of the village" in World War I – some 40 people (on all four sides of the obelisk). The much smaller number of World War II dead are listed around the base.

We have heard that some people live in Cély because of the excellent multi-lingual Lycée in Fontainebleau or work for  INSEAD.

Lunch with two friends served by Genia.

The map of Cély above shows the Château and golf course at the north end. The Château is a draw for retirees - during the week there seems to be ample capacity for more golfers.

The only food for sale in Cély seems to be lunch at the Château or a pop-by pizza store in a van parked in front of the Mairie. It seems to be a regular visitor to the town because it had an active clientèle. See photo of Alice with the white pizza truck in the background. It had a generator to run the oven.

We had fine food at home. See photo of us eating at home with two visitors from Paris. The cook, who lives in a separate house on the property, is standing with her tarte de poires.

At the top of the list of our favorites among her home-cooked offerings are her brie and camembert soufflés, quiche Lorrainecanard à l'orange, tarte de pommes, and tarte de poires, supplemented by home-made apricot and raspberry jam.

Tarte tatin with pears.
Ready to share in any leftovers was Sydney, the resident cat. Here is a photo of Sydney helping me write this post.

Profiteroles at the Château.
Sidney stays outdoors at night and goes out without a fuss. In the morning she comes in to eat and socialize.

We tried out the lunch food at the Château de Cély. There is a full menu with an emphasis on meat dishes.

The desserts were especially good. The profiteroles were made the French way, ice cream in warm pastry shells with ample whipped cream. In Paris we have had them swimming in chocolate. The tarte tatin was made with large pieces of caramelized pears. The crust was originally cooked on top and the tarte is then turned upside down to show the pears.
Alice at the Château de Cély.

We can't comment much on the golf course, except to say that it has 18 holes, par 72, a driving range, a spa and a club store. It gets four out of five stars on various golf-course rating systems.

The Château itself looks lovely, takes in residents and seems to be a prospering institution. One doesn't have to be a member to have lunch there.

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