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JERRY HULSE'S TRAVEL TIPS

February 16, 1992|JERRY HULSE

I have a favorite hideaway in California's Mother Lode country: Jane Way's Sutter Creek Inn. I mention it because next month, millions of blooms will flower at nearby Daffodil Hill, a spectacle that draws huge crowds annually to the Sierra foothills. With the floral show--and because of the popularity of the inn--travelers should book shelter now. Nineteen rooms in an old-fashioned cottage as well as cozy units in the garden. I discovered Sutter Creek Inn shortly after Jane Way opened for business 26 years ago. Although less than 40 miles from Sacramento, guests get the feeling that the calendar never got beyond the 19th Century. The two-story frame is set in a grassy yard facing Main Street. In summertime there's the sweet smell of wet honeysuckle and roses. Hollyhocks bloom. Guests nap in hammocks strung beneath magnolia and redwood trees. Nine of the 19 rooms have fireplaces. Others feature swinging beds. Of an evening, guests gather in the parlor beside a fire and an antique grandfather clock that ticks away the hours.

Breakfast at Sutter Creek Inn is a banquet. (This isn't your ordinary, run-of-the-mill B&B.) Fruit bowls, juices, Spanish omelets, fried potatoes, ham, eggs, biscuits, muffins, coffee from France. The menu changes daily, with Jane Way holding court at the breakfast table each morning.

Sutter Creek is a classic example of dozens of peaceful Mother Lode towns. Inns/antique shops line Main Street. Visitors do side trips to Gold Rush towns with names such as Coloma, Volcano, Fiddletown, Drytown and Jackson. At Jackson, the National Hotel has provided shelter to wayfarers since the 1860s. With its antiques/Victorian furnishings, the National is a fixture in the Mother Lode. Rates range up to $100. The latter is for a Saturday night spent in the Bordello Room with its red-blocked walls, huge bed and bath. Included is a $30 meal credit and a midnight visit by musicians and bar patrons doing a lively rendition of "When The Saints Come Marching In" as they enter/exit the room (with the occupants' OK).

Mountain men whoop it up in the saloon. Lanterns glow behind the bar. Entering the National Hotel is like passing through the twilight zone. Not fancy. But loads of fun.

Jane Way's Sutter Creek Inn, P.O. Box 385, Sutter Creek, Calif. 95685, (209) 267-5606. Rates:$48/$97.

National Hotel, 2 Water St., Jackson, Calif. 95642, (209) 223-0500. Rates: $25/$100.

For a list of other inns/hotels, plus details on dates of the Daffodil Hill floral spectacle, contact the Jackson Chamber of Commerce, Jackson 95642, (209) 223-0350.

A Letter From France: William T. Fleming, Jr., a career diplomat stationed in Abu Dhabi, writes from his new home in France: "My family recently purchased La Maison de la Resistance, a lovely turn-of-the-century home in Normandy. Since it is not possible for us to spend more than a few weeks each year in France, we are interested in sharing our home with other Americans eager to learn what it is like to live in a small medieval town in rural France--not just what it is like to be a tourist.

"Our balcony looks across miles of lush, rolling countryside; the view from the front of the house takes in ancient stone walls and towers of the terraced medieval town of Domfront. The name of our home was taken from the previous owner's role as a leader of the French Resistance during World War II (Allied pilots downed over Normandy were hidden in the home). The house is filled with character and is tastefully decorated with period pieces. Although La Maison de la Resistance exceeds the normal standards of quality and comfort found in rural European inns, guests will be disappointed if they expect a totally modernized, sterile edifice. They should be prepared for faded wallpaper, carpets worn over the years and little nicks and scratches on the woodwork that give character to this historic home. The weekly rate is $1,250 (peak season) and includes part-time cooking/housekeeping provided by the owner's delightful femme de M e nage. For eight people occupying the home, the cost comes to slightly over $20 per day per person. Furthermore, rental fees are payable in dollars, thus avoiding any foreign exchange fluctuation risks. This is an ideal base from which to explore attractions of the region."

For a brochure with additional information, write to France Authentique, P.O. Box 350, Pensacola, Fla. 32592.

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