Category Archives: Loire Information

A cycling holiday in the Loire Valley

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This post was going to be about safety and cycling, but there are so many excellent websites dealing with this that my mind switched to options for a cycling holiday in the Loire.  The different nationalities, ages, abilities and ways guests have enjoyed cycling from Les Mortiers is interesting too.

There is a link to a cycling safety website is given below. The site has many other useful links on the subject and worth looking at if you are considering cycling on holiday.

A well seasoned and keen cyclist might look for a specialist offer, where everything is provided,  at a price. However, the region is so well provided for cyclists that, unless you want to spend  every day on the saddle, then being free to pedal as you wish, when you wish and as the weather suits you is a good option.  If your partner or the family do  not share your enthusiasm for a daily ride, then self-catering with cycles provided, or bringing your own, is a good option.

The wide spectrum of people who cycle for instance from our own property is interesting.  Here are a few examples:

  • Keen cyclists from the USA, one family brought their bikes in their suitcases.
  • A father who cycled each morning for the bread with both his children on one bike, one at the front and one at the rear.
  • A family who brought a tag along bike with them, the first we had seen but very popular now.
  • A lady from the Netherlands with a bike with hydraulic brakes.  Mike was in awe!
  • An Estate Agent  from Canada who was privileged to visit Cyfac, a local and highly renowned company making high end cycles and frames for many of the bikes in international races. He was awestruck by the bike he was given to road test
  • A New Zealand girl traveller sponsored on a cycle trip around the world and currently in South America. Her bike was wrapped with inner tubes to mask its value against theft.
  • Guests who have pushed themselves to the limit, not having ridden since childhood and not walking far the next day!
  • An amateur cyclist from the USA who rides like a professional and even helped us put the roof on the new extension to our house!
  • And a family who experienced an exploding tyre whilst they had stopped at Lac Rillé for a picnic! It happened during the excessively hot summer.
  • And, of course, like many of our guests a short cycle in the morning for fresh bread and croissants or  a coffee in the bar.

The countryside, quiet roads and forest routes in Anjou and Touraine are perfect for cycling, whatever your style. The slide show link below has some views from cycle rides around where we live. For the less adventurous a ride to Lac Pincemaille is a pleasant outing with well marked trails through the forests, whereas the more experienced venture to Bourgueil, along the banks of the Loire or as far as Chinon. Information is readily available for the many routes marked around the region. The most famous being the Loire a Velo. We have a library of local cycle routes for our guests including maps for the local area and further afield for the more intrepid or those who carry bikes on their car wishing to cycle a particular route.We have cycles available for your use and a rescue service, if required.

Just for interest, below are some Solex bikes which were for sale at a recent Vide Grenier (car boot sale).

P1050350

Cycling around Les Mortiers

A site with some useful guidance about cycling and keeping children safe.

www.frenchholiday.co.uk

 

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

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.

Loire Valley Footprint

Footprint Loire Valley

A June Holiday in the Loire – just in time to order this new guide book.

Footprint Loire Valley is full-colour travel guide to the Loire Valley and includes a singl, large format popout map of the region.

If you have a UK address then the exchange rates favour an order on amazon.co.uk.  Links for both sites below.

Amazon.co.uk

Amazon.fr

Roger Moss, who wrote this book also has a website of wonderful photography.

And how was 2009 for you?

For many 2009 was not a good year –  economic crises, falling currency values, unemployment. However, there are going to be some great memories of 2009.  So far the wines of Bourgueil and Saumur-Champigny ,and now Chinon.

The Fete du Vin at Panzoult is every 1st May and a visit has been on the ‘wish list’ for a long time. This year – success!  How fortunate to join the viticulteurs of Panzoult in celebrating the 2009 Chinon.

The  day started with a visit to Domaine Hérault where Eric Hérault produces a consistently good Chinon every year. The 2009 Chinon, full of promise, and the 2009 Vielle Vignes is already rich and silky.  A good benchmark to start the day.

The cave at Domaine Hérault is magnificent.  Arriving at the same time as Eric Hérault’s mother, she explained the cave was discovered ‘par hazard’ by the family dog who had disappeared into the fallen rock. Further investigation revealed this huge cave, originally excavated to provide stone for Le Chateau close by,  and now serves as a magnificent and welcoming place for degustation.

We then wandered down happily to the Fete du Vin and the Cave des Vignerons of Panzoult, hearing music and merriment as we approached.

Fete du Vin - May 2010

The cave at Panzoult is dedicated to wine, with purpose built niches and  a bar for each viticulture. The stone around each niche is carved, delicate, erotic, sensual, suggestive……..

Just under 20 viticulteurs from the commune welcome visitors in this magnificent cave.  There is no entry fee, but for degustation a glass is essential- a bargain at 2 € with so many wines to taste.

So here goes ….

Tasting so many wines in one day was a challenge.  We decided to stay with Chinon 2009 red so as not to get too ‘confused’.   It was essential to crache (spit) in order to stay the course.

Was the wine or did I really think the personality of the viticultuers influenced my opinion of each wine?  There is something to be said for a degustation with the viticulteur, rather than the confusing array of bottles on a supermarket shelf.

If  the choice was only four, it would probably be:

Domaine Héraut

Françoise et Francis Desbourdes

Domaine Grosbois

François Caille

There were many more and a long list of visits to make in the Panzoult area.

We were sustained by fouées, baked in the enormous fireplace in the deepest part of the cave.  with a choice of rillettes, beurre d’escargot et fromage de chevre.  We ate a picnic at midi overlooking the vines in this beautiful little valley and returned home tired by very happy.

Links;   Cave des Vignerons de Panzoult