Tag Archives: France

5 Family Fun days in France

Something for everyone, from inflatable fun by the River Loire for younger children, swinging through the forest for all ages in Saumur to an amazing theme park with a trip through the ages for the whole family.

1.     Saumur Forest Adventures

A 5 hectare park where you can follow different games, climb from tree to tree, climb a rope ladder, swing on a pendulum to name just a few. Paintball and Laser games in the forest available too. The routes are graded according to age and there is a special area for the very young climbers.  Perfect for families for a whole day’s entertainment in their parkland.

11223661_850096755079516_4333872771115806030_n

Saumur Forest Adventures

Facebook page

Re-opens for 2017 on April 1st.

2.     Lulu Parc

Lulu Parc is by the River Loire and aimed at younger children, inflatables, bouncy castles, zip wires and rides. The rides and inflatables are graded by height of the children. Next to the park is a ‘ginguette’, the name for an open-air eating place by water, which usually has evening entertainment.

lulu-parc

Lulu Parc

Facebook Page

Quai de la Loire, 37210 Rochecorbon

3.     Lac Rille

The trains at Lac Rille delight young children and parents alike as they run along by the lake. The steam and diesel trains have been beautifully renovated by a team of volunteers. By the lake is also a collection of climbing frames and dens made from natural wood forms, including a chance to make music out of wood.  The café which forms part of the campsite is open to the public and serves excellent ice-cream as well as drinks and snacks.

The area is a stopping off point for migrating birds and on the far side of the lake is a marked nature walk, bird hide and information board.

IMG_2891.jpg

 A walk around Lac de Rillé

Facebook Page

4.     Puy de Fou

Something for all ages at Puy de Fou. It was voted the best theme park in the world, but ironically not as well known as some of the bigger names. A tremendous visit  which is bound to catch the imagination of the whole family. It is essential to book in advance. Each event is a huge extravaganza with special effects,  well researched historical content and a dash of artistic licence to complete the performance.

4972508226_0741e27612_z.jpg

Puy de Fou Spectacles

Facebook Page – over 1 million likes on their page.

5. Leonardo Da Vinci

Leonardo Da Vinci spent the last three years of his life at Clos Lucé, Amboise, which now houses models of many of his designs. In the grounds are working models of his designs displaying his amazing ingenuity.  It is well worth a visit and, being inter-active is great for children. A video of these amazing machines taken during one of our visits is available here

3734680045_90a6700a76_z

Chateau de Clos Lucé

Facebook Page

Just 5 of family fun days out enjoyed by guests at www.frenchholiday.co.uk

2cv-and-chicken

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Cointreau or Combier – or both!

combier

Sun-dried orange peels from the West Indies, local spices from the south of France, alcohol from France’s northwest, and secret ingredients from the Loire Valley – a formula that became the world’s first triple sec. It sounds wonderful. It happened in Saumur and was the inspiration of Jean-Baptiste Combier after countless years experimentation to make the perfect recipe.

Combier orange liqueur was first available in 1834 in Saumur. Cointreau followed 41 years after in nearby Angers. Both Combier at Saumur and Cointreau, near Angers, are situated on the River Loire which was used for a main river for transporting goods, such oranges from the West Indies upwards from the coast and then onward by canal to Paris.

Combier is still in the same premises where Jean-Baptiste Combier and his brother opened a confectionery shop in Rue Saint Nicolas, Saumur,  in 1834. In back of his shop, he developed alcohols and liquors with his still to fill its sweets and chocolates and created the famous “Triple Sec” liqueur.

His dream of inventing something new and original was a great success and was only followed later by Cointreau. It is worth a visit to see the beautiful copper stills, sample some of the huge range of liqueurs made there and come away with a selection of your favourites. Visit Combier

Cut and paste the link below to see a  video about Combier (in French)  with some great photography showing some of their other syrups and liquers too and also what goes in to making their products.

http://tv.bpifrance.fr/Combier-createur-de-saveurs-depuis-1834_v3041.html

To end,  just for fun, here are a few recipes (not cocktails) using Triple Sec, but visit and you will come away with more than Triple Sec.

Margarita Cake

Over the Top French toast made with Triple Sec

Two simple ideas – add Cassis liqueur to home-made ice cream for something quite special or a dash of Combier Fruits of the Forest liqueur makes a fresh fruit salad into something special.

The difference between the two could be the subject of great debate, but far better to spend the time sampling them both with friends. The link below gives a comparison of both drinks.

cocktails

Comparison between Combier and Cointreau for Margaritas and Cocktails

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

Bust

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

Footnotes:

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

How much more can we do to save the environment?

This is not a personal cry for help or a plea for the greater good.  It is more pondering what we can do as responsible individuals and also with the selfish wish to reduce our own running costs.

We have achieved a lot in the last 15 years turning what was a rather neglected farmhouse and out-buildings into our home, a workshop for making silk fishing lines and 3 gites, not necessarily in that order and with constant investment in both time and money. I would not dare to guess how much!

Our Eco-Friendly strategy was probably the first ever to be published for a gite business in France. It has grown incrementally, initially in small steps with eco-friendly cleaning products – low energy bulbs – natural fabrics and so on, a leap forward with solar water heating over 10 years ago, followed by more small initiatives, then another leap with geothermic heating to replace energy guzzling gas heating in the gites, a few more steps and then our latest project of photovoltaic cells and a wind turbine.

P1020784

We still keep chipping away at the little holes too. A planned schedule to move from halogen bulbs to LED bulbs where appropriate and with a quick payback to fund the next phase. In one gite the consumption of 750 watts of lighting in spotlights (Poppas) is now reduced to 60 watts. A few more bulbs have been put into critical areas and all checked to see that the lights still provide the right ambiance.

We do not know what comes next, we just keep chipping away at it. Suggestions are very welcome.

First take a look at our Eco-Friendliness here.  You will find a lot I have not included here, but there must be more?

What is driving like in France – update

Driving in France is changing. None of the plus points in my previous post have changed, but regulations to ensure public safety are coming into force this year.

Here is a brief summary of the points which holidaymakers should be aware.

Control of speed.

Radar detectors have been illegal for some time, but now radar warnings on satnav equipment are also illegal. New systems will not include this facility, but it will be necessary to update existing ones systems so this information is no longer available.  The non-technologically inclined driver may find difficult to disengage this function although the website for our own Garmin was very helpful.

For the police, enforcing the new law will not be an easy task particularly as many vehicles now come with embedded software systems.

Nonetheless, the penalty for the new offence is steep – a fine of up to 1500 € and the loss of up to 6 points on a driver’s licence.

Using a mobile phone whilst driving.

 The fine has been increased for using a telephone whilst driving to 135 € and the loss of 3 points on your licence.  (The French systems deducts points rather than adds them!)

Straying on to the hard shoulder

The principal cause of drivers staring on to the hard shoulder is driver fatigue and up till now, straying temporarily into the emergency lane on autoroutes in France was not an offence. Under pressure from autoroute companies anxious for the safety of their workforces, the French government has introduced a new offence, effectively  clipping the hard shoulder, for which the penalty will be 135 €. Also, the existing fine for driving on the hard shoulder on French autoroutes increases from 35 € to 135 €.

Motorcyclists – high viz clothing and number plate requirements

Motorcyclists riding a motor-bike with an engine capacity exceeding 125 c.c. must wear a reflective garment. The French Department of Transport has still to define the criteria for reflective garments and the measure compelling motor-cyclists on French roads to wear something hi-viz will not come into effect before 1st January 2013. In the case of non-compliance, the offender would be liable to a fine of 68 € with a 2 point licence deduction.

There is also an alteration to the law concerning non-conforming number plates which applies to all road-users but especially bikers. The penalty for driving with a non-conforming plate increases from 68 € to 135 €. The Ministry of Transport will also introduce a new regulation concerning the size of registration plates carried by motor-bikes with the aim of making motor bikes more identifiable, especially if flashed by a speed camera.

In-car breathalysers

Local authorities have already begun to introduce on-board driver’s breath testing equipment on French school buses and such equipment will become mandatory in all vehicles in July 2012. Breathalysers will be for sale in supermarkets.

Subsequently to writing this article, The Daily Mail has published a very useful article summarising what you should be aware of.