Tag Archives: parcay les pins

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).

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Cycling around Les Mortiers

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

www.frenchholiday.co.uk

 

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.

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.

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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?

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!

What is driving in France like?

Rainbow on the A28

Stopping distance? No problem!

This year we’ve been asked more than ever for advice on driving in France for the first time. We’ve driven in Poland, Germany, Belgium and the United Kingdom within the last 12 months and have always felt a sense of relief to be back on French roads again.

The plus points

Uncrowded motorways with good surfaces which make for less stressful driving.

A compulsory reduction in speed during wet weather.

Roadsides which are generally clean, without drinks cans and polystyrene decorating the verge and polythene which looks as if it grows on the roadside trees.

Well maintained roads even in the smaller villages. Pot holes are rare.

Most lorries over 7.5 tonnes are banned from the roads and motorways at the weekends from 10.pm Saturday to 10 pm Sunday and also on public holidays. From early July to mid August the ban starts earlier – 7 am on the Saturday.

As well as Service Areas on the motorways there is a plentiful number of rest areas which often have children’s play areas, trees or artificial shade and picnic benches.

Cheaper fuel. Petrol tends to be very similar to UK prices (depending on the exchange rate) but diesel is 20% less. The Carrefour website at Calais has a ready conversion of their prices to the current exchange rate.  Link

Minus points

Motorway tolls –  an extra expense, but no constant changing of speed which saves fuel.

Directions tend to be posted at the last minute.

A new law – you must stop for anyone indicating they wish to cross the road!  This does not apply if they are within 50 m of a zebra crossing.  However, stopping for a pedestrian still causes some strange reactions.

The reputation of French drivers!

Driving in Style

This post is based on our own experiences, but you may have a different comment, a useful tip, an  interesting experience or amusing tale about driving in France to share?

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