Chouze sur Loire is a small village on the north banks of the Loire, one which you could easily zip through with a passing ‘that was a nice place’, but you will be missing out on its secrets.
Like many of the villages on the banks of the River Loire it has contributed to the wealth of the area and its rich trade. The river Loire after all was the main thoroughfare for the area and a vast array of goods were shipped along the river, timber to build houses in Nantes, oranges and spices for the wealthy chateaux owners and later for Cointreau and Combier to make their renowned liquers.
However, take a detour from the road at Chouze sur Loire down to the river. There you will find the vestiges of an old port, a cobbled road and some extremely pretty houses facing the river. You might even spot an old Loire river barque with a decorated mast. Each boat mast had a rigid ‘flag’ showing either the mariner’s trade or a suitor’s love emblem for someone on a passing boat.
So that’s Chouze sur Loire, but what other secrets does it hold? The last Sunday of May each year it holds a festival – Festival des Quais – and Chouze sur Loire becomes alive again as it celebrates its heritage.
During the day there is a chance to sample local food and wine, listen to music and enjoy special events with the children. There are marked pedestrian walks of 4k, 8 k and 12k along the Loire, passing gardens and watermills along the way.
And the festivities continue into the evening too! There’s Irish music, an illuminated show celebrating life on the River Loire and a grande finale of fireworks, something which the French do spectacularly well.
Make a date in your diary to visit on 30th May if you are in the Saumur, Bourgueil or Chinon area, it’s within easy reach. Too late to plan a holiday this year, well the Festival is always the last Sunday in May, which happily coincides with the English Bank Holiday each year. It really is a good time to visit this part of France, local asparagus and strawberries are ready, the evenings are light and warm and the first bottles of the previous year’s wine are available.