Exploring the Loire Valley
Trip Start Jun 30, 2010
9Trip End Sep 26, 2010
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Where I stayed
We have been here over a week now. I don't know where the time has gone but we have managed to fit a lot in. There is so much to see and do here. The village we are living in has 15 houses and is about 25 minutes from Saumur which is on the Loire and much larger. There are villages every few kilometers around here. Some are quite large and others are tiny without a shop or any other facility. Our nearest village, Jumelles, has a small supermarket (which was closed on Wednesday when we rode in there). It also has a bakery, closed for summer holidays and a hairdresser, also closed for the holidays. The next town further up the road has a huge supermarket and plenty of facilities so we have no trouble getting things
We have planned our days around local markets. We go to a town on market day and manage to see the market, the town, the local wineries, etc. It works out quite well. The markets are amazing. Australian health inspectors would have a field day here. No plastic gloves, no hats and lots of flies and wasps. There are a lot of things I couldn’t eat after seeing them being sold there. The fruit and vegetables are good and some stalls look fine but we pass on the cooked chicken, etc. We also avoid the horse butcher. There is always a big queue but horse meat is one thing I have no intention of trying. It is fun to wander round the markets though, even if we don’t buy much.
We had a day in Bourgeuil – good market, great lunch and lots of wine tasting. Even Rob is trying a bit. For lunch in France, they have a 'plat du jour’. We choose that because it is usually good and we don’t have to work out what to have from the menu which we often can’t read properly anyway. We have had some great lunches that way – usually 3 course so we don’t need to eat much at night
We also had an interesting day in Chinon, where we went through the fortress there. It has all been renovated and opened to the public. The English commentary there was excellent so we were very impressed. It is nice to know what they are talking about. Our knowledge of French history is rather limited.
One day we went to Turquant where there are a lot of caves built into the cliff. We did a 5 km self guided walk around places of interest built into the cliffs. As well as the houses, mushroom farming, apple tapping, etc on the tour, there were also wineries and art galleries to visit. The wine tasting early in the morning was a bit much but I managed – just had bubbly instead of morning coffee. It was a really interesting walk and there just happened to be a nice little restaurant in town too. It was very hot for walking but the caves were cool.
Saturday we went to Angers, a much bigger town of 160,000 people (and a much larger market). We explored the town and found our way up to the chateau at the top of the hill. The churches and buildings in some of these towns are just amazing. The gardens and flower baskets are also beautiful everywhere we go. We went on a little tourist train there but were disappointed because the commentary was in French. We had an English translation but it is hard to read and watch where you are going at the same time. It was a very hot day so we were weary by the time we got home.
Sunday we went to a local Agricultural Comice (Show) that some English people had told us about. That was a real eye opener. No-one spoke any English but a lot of the music (country and western) was in English. I think the theme must have been Wild West because there were cowboys and Indians everywhere. They had a parade of floats with stage coaches and covered wagons – definitely not what we expected in France. They also had ploughing competitions as well as the usual show activities. One of the rides was a bucking rodeo bull. Of course they had lots of wine tasting – and the wines were very good too. I just have to be careful not to buy too much because I haven’t got the time to drink it. I am slowly learning more about how it works here, even with my limited French. Saumur is a big area for ‘Cremant de Loire’ (bubbly) which suits me fine. They are not allowed to call it Champagne here either – wrong area. It was another hot day so very dry and dusty. I didn’t expect it to be so dry here.
Monday it rained nearly all day. We cleaned the house and did some washing (a sure way to make it rain). Then we went off to explore another nearby mid sized town, Bauge. We walked around a bit but the rain didn’t ease for long. Found another nice place for lunch, had a look at the rather bedraggled market stalls in the rain and went into the Bauge Chateau to keep dry. After a run of hot weather, the rain has cooled things off nicely even though it slows down the getting out and seeing things.
Today we are in Saumur and I am doing this at an Internet Cafe where we are having lunch. Hope I can send it okay.
Until next week
Carol & Rob