Frenchtown Inn: A Remote, Tranquil Lakeside Retreat in Yuba County
Following the trail along the lake at Frenchtown Inn, I startled a sleeping doe. She was hidden from view in a thicket beside the water and bolted upon hearing my footsteps. A few yards into her dash, she glanced behind and must have assumed I posed no threat. She slowed to bounce over the high grasses and then stopped about 50 feet away to return my gaze. While I admired her nimble beauty, she quickly lost interest in me and started nibbling on the grass. It was a lovely introduction to the abundant wildlife on this 100-acre retreat in a remote swath of Yuba County.
Further along the trail, the sound of my footsteps triggered a cascade of activity as birds and animals dove under the water, darted through the grasses, and flew up through the branches of the trees lining the lake. Dragonflies and hummingbirds greeted me along the path. A white egret stood watch over the lake as ducks and geese skimmed lazily across the surface. When I stopped walking to look back across the lake, a frog jumped onto my foot and stared up at me. He was cute, but I told him he was no prince.
The Frenchtown Inn is a little-known retreat in a virtually unknown destination. It’s located about an hour and a half northeast of Sacramento, in the northern Sierra Foothills near the western edge of the Tahoe National Forest. While the main attraction is the remote setting with idyllic lake views and rich wildlife, there are handful of other nearby attractions including Collins Lake, Bullard’s Bar, vestiges of pioneer Gold Rush towns, and the South Yuba River State Park and historic Bridgeport Covered Bridge.
With a growing number of vineyards and winemakers in the region, wine tasting rooms have also begun to spring up. There are currently over a dozen tasting rooms on the newly-created North Sierra Wine Trail map, including the Frenchtown Inn itself, which pours wines of two local winemakers on Saturday afternoons.
The tasting room and the ranch-style inn were both were originally built with a hacienda flair in the late 1960s by the founder of Shakey’s Pizza. Current owner Charles Sharp purchased the property 20 years ago with the dream of developing a retreat for groups and families.
The Frenchtown Inn offers five handsomely-furnished guest rooms, including two with private, in-suite baths. The largest room, Dahlia, offers a king-size bed, a private bath with a jetted spa tub, a fireplace, and large sliding glass windows that opens to a view of the lake. The Rose room also offers a private bath, large sliding glass windows, and views of the lake, but with a queen size bed. Two other rooms are furnished with queen beds while the fifth room offers two twins.
The inn features a large great room with a communal dining table and an adobe-style fireplace, a full kitchen with provisions for making breakfast, and a wall of glass sliders that open to a covered patio overlooking the lake. The table and chairs on the patio provide a quiet perch for watching the lake throughout the day with changing the light. At dawn, mist rises and rolls across the glassy water. Later in the day, the surface of the lake ripples with afternoon breezes. At dusk, the lake becomes still again as the stars shine overhead and the frogs and crickets serenade the inn’s guests.