Category Archives: Patrimoine

Traces of World War 1 from the people of Parcay Les Pins


A very special exhibition ‘Traces of World War 1’ opens this May,  where the people of Parçay-les-Pins tell their stories by means of objects, images and testimonies. The aim is to show traces of the past to better understand and comprehend how it was.

Parcay Les Pins is very privileged to have a museum of national status in the village centre. It is dedicated to the French sculptor, Jules Desbois, who was born in Parcay Les Pins. He was a friend of Augustus Rodin and Camille Claudel.

‘Traces of the Great War in Parcay Les Pins’ opens on 23rd May until 1st November 2015 at the Musée Jules Desbois, Place d’Eglise, Parcay Les Pins, France.

Website: Musée Jules Desbois


The museum also contains the very beautiful works of Jules Desbois as well as the, no doubt, very stirring reminiscences which will be part of this exhibition. Do not miss them!

More photos to be added, when available.


Graded grains make finer flour – Le Moulin Boutard, Bourgueil

I was kicking myself as I typed the title for this post!  We could never fathom the French system to classify flour and know which one to use and yet the famous catch phrase for a well known UK flour held the answer.

Graded grains make finer flour!

A few years ago  we  met Madame and Monsieur Piaumier, owners of the Moulin Boutard, at a Craft Fair in the grounds of the Chateau at Giseux. Monsieur Piaumier explained the finer the flour the ‘whiter’ it is, the higher the category the nearer it is to the wholemeal flour which we were looking for.

So the flour we use now ranges from Type 55 for making croissants, Type 65 for pizza dough, through to Type 170 for rustic wholemeal bread. We also get rye flour, spelt and a speciality mix of chestnut flour, fig and hazel nut for cookies.

This website gives some good descriptions of the different types.

The Flour Bin – Home and Artisan Bakers Supplies

Through the generations

In the nineteenth century, there were no less than 22 water mills on the River Changeon., but they closed one after the other when industrialised production of flour and bakery goods started to arrive.

The Moulin Boutard was a true water mill until 1956, when it too was mechanised to keep pace with the demands of the market. It is the only mill still operating in the Bourgueil area.

The mill is owned by the Piaumier family, a family with a traditions of seven generations of millers. The family member who will make it the eight generation is currently working in a mill near Tours.

A Short History 

The changes at the Moulin Boutard over the years demonstrate how life changed so much more quickly from the 19th century onwards compared with when it was built by the monks of Bourgueil in the XII century.

1850 – The mill was extended

1928 – Mr. Albert Piaumier became as tenant operator of the mill

1930 – A diesel engine was installed and it is still in operation today,

1957 – The production rate is increased by the modernisation of equipment and it is then possible to mill 300 kg of wheat per hour instead of 100 kg.

1963 – Cleaning equipment and storage is installed.

1966 – A bulk tank is installed for receipt of wheat. This is the first mill equipped with this system in Indre-et-Loire. Also machinery installed for the manufacture of animal feed.

1974, – The son of Albert Piaumier, Paul, bought the Moulin Boutard from Madame Garnier Moreau.

I983 – A major change in the milling equipment increasing throughput up to 10 quintals (ie 100 kg) per hour.

1998 – Moulin Boutard gets organic certification

Graded grains make finer flour

Graded grains make finer flour

Ets Piaumier et Fils, Moulin Boutard, 37140 Bourgueil


Phone Apps for Saumur and the Loire Valley

1 telephoneHow quickly things have changed. The slow dial up connection when we first arrived here 15 years ago, now that seems more like a caveman chipping  at his tablet of stone.  People still live in caves, but with modern comforts,  in this part of the Loire Valley, but things have moved on fast for everyone.

We live in an exciting world, where we can fly over our house with Google maps, visit the chateaux from our sofa and plan a walk around Saumur whilst sitting in the garden on an iPod touch, phone or tablet.

At Les Mortiers there is a wireless connection to all our properties, ipod docks and phone signals and wifi that works all around.

Previously, we wished for a high speed internet connection like the sophisticated folk who lived in the towns and it took a while before it finally arrived at Parcay Les Pins. Guests ran around waving mobile phones in the air to get a signal.  The meaning of ‘mobile’ meant being mobile, climbing steps, venturing on to the raised filter bed or even driving to an area where there was half reasonable reception.

So here are just a few applications I’ve found which you might like to try when preparing for your holiday – or just enjoy a virtual holiday to brighten the day.

Saumur Touristic’Tour

In French, but some planned walks around Saumur which are easy to follow. It is mainly written in English and packed with local information and history, maps and photographs. It seems to have lots of potential to be a very useful app. when more is added to it.

iTunes Search:  Saumur Touristic’Tour

Chateaux de la Loire

Mainly in French, but a list of 66 chateaux and the distance to each from your location with links to the websites for most of the chateaux. Fun to use.

iTunes Search – Vallée des Rois Tour

Fontevraud Abbey

Henry II king of England and count of Anjou, his wife Eleanor of Aquitaine along with their son King Richard the Lionheart were buried at Fontevraud Abbey although it is rumoured the remains were removed during the French Revolution. Fontevraud Abbey is the largest collection of monastic buildings in France. This app. gives a tour of the Abbaye and a rather complicated Agenda (Events List) which is best skipped. Do not be put off by the French text as there are three good videos.

iTunes Search:  Fontevraud

and they are all free!

Finally a Cellar is a ‘must have’ for visitors to France

We have found the  app. Cellar is invaluable for cataloguing our wine and a very useful reference to look at stocks when we are tempted to overbuy – it even gives statistics and a total value of your collection! There’s a wish list, a cellar with creaky doors and the good reason for not putting the car in  the garage!

iTunes Search – Cellar – manage your wine collection in style at a pocket money price of 4.49 euros

ITunes Search:  Cellar Manage your wine

What is the connection between Miss France and chillies?

Miss France 2012 is visiting La Fleche on February 5th and there will be a chance to see the crown specially designed for her by Julien d’Orcel displayed in the window of one of the jewellers.

So why did I notice this? It happens that whilst on holiday in the Pyrennes we went to Espilette, having seen there was a Chilli Festival there about the time we were in the area.

We saw hundreds, no thousands, no millions (now I exagerate) of chillies, but we also made a discovery. Espillete is the birthplace of Agnes Souret who was the first Miss France.  It is a charming story of how she won the title.

In 1920, after suffering the rigours of the First World War, a Parisien journalist took an initiative to raise moral. He initiated the first competition for the most beautiful woman in France.  “La plus belle femme de France”. The journalist responsible for this grand scheme was  Maurice De Waleffe, the founder of Paris Midi.

1700 girls applied and 49 were shortlisted.  Then, each week, for 7 weeks, the photographs of 7 candidates were shown on cinema screens throughout France. A voting slip was given to everyone as they entered the cinema.

Agnes had sent a faded photo of her first communion with a letter saying that she was only 17 and did she have to cross the whole of France to try her luck?

Agnes Souret was a resounding winner and so became famous throughout France and farther afield, an innocent 17 year old girl with a Basque mother and Breton father was “La plus belle Femme de France”.

So often a charming story has a sad ending and this was so for Agnes Souret, for soon after here reign as Miss France, she died from appendicitis.

The crown will be displayed in the jewellers at 29 High Street, La Fleche, Dept 72, on Wednesday, February 8, from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. A chance for budding princesses to go and have a look as Wednesday is not a school day for French children.

Terra Botanica – Just the place for families

Arm wrestle with a Pirate

Just the place for an Easter visit with children. Terra Botanica, near Angers in the Loire Valley, opens it gates again on April 9th. There are 11 hectares of gardens, aquatic areas and greenhouses.

Young adventurers looking for a life on the ocean waves or parents interested in spices and tropical plants should discover ‘De caps et d’épices’ (area C7)

Land Ahoy for Young Pirates!

Young brigands can try their strength against a pirate, spy oncoming vessels or look for treasure in a dead man’s chest!

Shipwrecked on Treasure Island

And if that does not rock your boat, then enter the glasshouse and experience the tropical heat of the Spice Islands.

This place is fun with a capital F,  yet at the same time inspires to care for our fragile environment. No preaching, just well presented information and entertainment for all ages.

‘De caps et d’épices’ is just one of 40 areas at Terra Botanica.

Terra Botanica, Angers

Journey to the centre of your digestion.

Terra Botanica is a full day’s outing, easy access and parking, all in a beautiful setting. The catering is excellent and sensibly priced: fresh salads, creative and healthy hamburgers all made from local sourced ingredients and served in recyclable containers.

Visit:                                  Terra Botanica

How to get there:         Directions

Jewellery Salon at Turquant, near Saumur


Travelling west along the south bank of the Loire from Saumur, you soon arrive at the village of Turquant with its troglodyte dwellings and craft shops. At any time it is worth a visit.

In February the village offers something extra.  Turquant will be hosting the second Salon of Jewellers.  The French title is more attractive ‘Le Salon des Créateurs de Bijoux’.

A dozen professional jewellers in one place. It has got to be tempting to visit. Different styles, different materials from craftspeople all demonstrating the highest skills of their profession.

Future masters will also be given a chance to display their skills too.  The pupils from the Institute of Bijouterie in Saumur will be there throughout the weekend.

Practical details:

Dates:   Friday 11th February 15h to 19h and Saturday 12th and Sunday 13th Feburary, 10h to 19h

Entry:   Free

Chouze sur Loire 8 eme Festival des Quais

Local  residents of Chouze alongside the River Loire.

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.

Art, Loire, Terroir – it’s all there on 30th May

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.

and into the evening too!
Irish music, water spectacle and fireworks too.

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.