Tag Archives: Loire Valley

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

 

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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

A day in the life of a wobbly jelly.

A day in the life of ………. but which day, everyday is different. One of the things I love about working from home is that my work changes with the seasons. This post is just about today – tomorrow who knows!  In a few months, perhaps a different account of my daily life.

I’ve read a lot recently about the Jelly Movement! I am beginning to get what it is about, although I am sure my interpretation of a wobbly jelly is not quite the same. I wobble from job to job as they need doing. There’s inspiration while I’m weeding, seeing other areas of the garden to improve, planning new projects for our three gites in the Loire Valley or how to answer tricky questions from the anglers from all over the world, who contact us each day asking about using the silk lines we make here in France.

Wobbly Jelly from Cardtastic - Stylish Photographic Cards

 

I seek inspiration and perhaps this Jelly thing might be for me, where folks get together but doing their own work, bounce ideas off each other and learn. New ideas inspire me.  The big question is: Am I organised enough to commit to this? Would my daily routine (?read on…..) allow me to do this?

Today started at 7.30 am in the garden. It was just too hot yesterday and both the plants and I were wilting with the heat.  This morning, lovely fresh cool air and I work on one of the shrubberies before the sun got round to there. Then time to move on and check out the plants in the poly tunnel.

What a surprise was waiting for me as I walk round the corner of the barn to go the poly tunnel. The English cherry tree we planted when my granddaughter, Tia, was born was in full bloom. She will be 9 years old in June and it seems like yesterday when we planted the tree.  This beautiful tree has exploded overnight into wands of candy floss.  There will be cherries for us later and some for the birds too.

The church clock in our village, Parcay Les Pins, strikes and I forget to count the chimes.  No problem, it strikes before the hour and then after the hour. In the past it was to ensure that workers on the land or in the vines knew the time of day. It still works for me, I never wear a watch and if the wind is in the wrong direction I do not hear it at all and get extra time in the garden before other duties call.

A break at 11.00 am (‘Elevenses” – so English) with Mike. We run Phoenix Lines making fishing lines in pure silk for trout and salmon fishing and run courses on making bamboo fishing rods, so a quick discussion on where we are and what needs doing.

Today we sat under the garden abri with James who is building a second deck by the swimming pool. The shade under the abri was welcome, it is absolutely scorching around the pool. When the plum tree by the decking grows a little more there will be some lovely shade there to sit and read a book or magazine. It was heavily pruned this winter and at the moment it looks like something from science fiction.

Too hot to work outside now, so off to one of the gites to take photographs of the changes we have made.  I will probably do the same tomorrow, as I know, when I look at them this evening, there will be something out of place or not to my liking. I can be so fussy about details!

Lunch was so easy today, lots of ratatouille bottled last September which seems to be lasting too well. It’s so nice to have garden produce still at this time of year.

La Poste arrives whilst we are having lunch in the garden. We went paperless from 1st April, so all incoming papers, bank statements and so on will need to be scanned sometime today and then filed electronically. Perhaps it will make us more efficient and empty some much need drawer space – watch this space!

After lunch, I check the phone messages we might have missed between us. Whoops, our friends Any and Didier have phoned to say they have bought 10 litres of Aubance, one of the Loire’s best sweet wines, for us when they visited a favourite viticulteur. We have forgotten to collect it and the weather is getting hotter. It needs bottling and storing properly.

La Poste has delivered orders for fishing lines, invoices to do, packaging and more admin. Monday is the day for the bulk of my paperwork, but our friendly lady from La Poste keeps delivering more each day. It’s part of our daily routine to walk to the post box half way down the drive. The excitement mounts when she drives in to the yard instead of stopping at the post box. It could be a parcel or something that requires a signature. It is surprising how the visit from La Poste quickly became an important part of our daily lives.

My next job is to sort 70 new paperbacks for our Book Swap ready for our new arrivals due soon. There are now 250 paperback books for our guests to swap holiday reads for more of the same. It’s not compulsory to swap and any book half read at the end of a holiday can be taken home to keep.

Mike finishes work and goes to collect the wine from Any and Didier. It’s 6.15 pm now and this wobby jelly is going to swim in the pool and then to smarten up a little for his return and lighting the barbecue…

…….. and just as I took that decision, the phone rang. Florian Stephan, one of France’s best known fly tiers has phoned.  He lives nearby and is off to an Angling Fair early tomorrow morning.  He would like to take some more of our fly lines with him. Each one of our lines has an individual care instruction so more preparation to get them ready for him……… an extra glass of wine with the barbecue is starting to look like a reasonable reward.

So it’s time to record the orders and print the care instructions for the lines, finalise some invoices for our gite guests coming from the USA and The Netherlands.

Mike returns with steak for the barbeuce and the Aubance, apparently it is very good, the barbecue is lit and it starting to smell good. I think I will just wobble across there and have a glass of wine.

Tomorrow’s another day!

10 tips for questions you might not think to ask when booking a holiday with young children.

 

You’ve found the holiday property which looks just perfect for your family. The photos are drop dead gorgeous, the sun seems to shine every day, the rural idyll you are looking for. That’s it, that’s the one for the perfect family holiday, perhaps the first time you have been away since the children were born.

But hang on a minute, it is so easy to get carried away and when you arrive find that the holiday you thought would soothe away all the stresses and strains is going to involve some compromises, some extra expense you had not thought about or worse still, driving miles with young children just to find somewhere for the perfect meal in a local bistro that existed only in your dreams.

Here are 10 questions you might not think to ask when booking a holiday with young children.

  1. Is there information provided on child friendly places to visit and places to eat which welcome young children.
  2. Is there equipment for young children eg high chair, cots, potties, bottle sterilisers, safety gates, and are there any supplementary charges these.
  3. Is the pool warm enough for children to use every day during their stay.
  4. Are there any neighbours and would a crying baby upset them?  Settling a child to new surroundings can be stressful enough, but coping with complaints the next morning only adds to the stress.
  5. Are the cleaning materials used eco-friendly, eg no dangerous chemicals left within reach or used for cleaning the property.
  6. Is there a Doctor’s surgery close by, with someone to help with translation.
  7. Is the property owner resident and familiar with local emergency services and the local hospital.
  8. Is the property pushchair friendly in order to walk to the local boulangerie or buy fresh food locally
  9. Is there any traffic noise and how far in the property from the road.
  10. What are the memorable things about the property that children will remember and take home with them, eg collecting eggs from the chickens, patting a donkey, learning about how vegetables grow or the names of wild flowers.

These tips are based on personal experience and comments from guests who have stayed in holiday properties with young children.

www.frenchholiday.co.uk

 

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.