Saturday, March 3, 2018

Chateaux & Wine, Loire Valley- Part 2

Trip date: May 2017


In Amboise, we woke to drizzly skies but I really didn't mind, it was day three in the Loire Valley and we were going to the local market along the river!

The Amboise Sunday market is quite large, selling everything from live fowl, plants, cheeses, charcuterie, prepared food like paella, clothes, kitchen appliances, etc. You name it, they probably have it. I've been to so many markets all over the world but there is always something unfamiliar, in this market it was the Tourteau Fromagé, a French cheesecake of a sort with a charcoal dome. So cool looking!
This being the Loire Valley, what would the market be without a wine tasting? We passed by a tiny stand with quite the crowd of men around, all obviously friends with the man pouring the wine. I spoke some bad French and he started pouring for us too. He was quite the character, an outright flirt actually! And not bad wine either.

We left the market and took a quick stroll through town to do a bit of shopping before making our way back to the Hotel le Manoir to check out. Amboise was a fantastic stop on our trip, it's a bit touristy in parts but there is also so much local vibe. And there's the pretty chateau of course! I loved it!
We hadn't seen much budding or greenery in the vineyards over the last two days and we had found out while speaking to Emily that this was due to the horrible frost the area encountered the month before. Some growers experienced damage to between 60 and 90% of their crops! This was on top of a serious frost situation in 2016 also. Now driving west we finally saw more green in the vineyards which was a nice sight.

We arrived in the Chinon AOC and made our way to the village of Saint-Germain-sur-Vienne. We were en route to visit some friends of Forest's who invited us to join them for lunch, tour their vineyards, and taste their wine. That is a very nice offer and we were looking forward to it. Imagine our surprise when we drove up a gated road that led to a beautiful chateau!
Chateau du Petit Thouars has been in Sébastian's family since the 17th century; after the passing of his father he and his wife D'arcy and their two children moved into the chateau full time. He took over the helm of the business while his children play happily in the grand rooms decorated with gorgeous paintings and antiques. We were absolutely delighted to be having lunch with the family, drinking their wines, and hearing stories of the chateau and vineyards. To be clear, this was my first time dining in a private chateau!!!

After lunch, Sébastian took us on a walk around the vast property, the vineyards, the cave, and then we settled in to taste through his lineup. His Chenin Blanc and rosé were absolutely lovely! And the Chinons were so refined and at such an incredible price point! More shopping took place before we bid him and his family thank you and goodbye. By the way, the chateau has some really wonderful visits/tours and they also have a farmhouse on the property that is available on Airbnb, go check them out!

We drove the short distance to Fontevraud L'Abbaye and checked into the Domaine de Mestre, originally an abbey from the 12th century. The main house is now a hotel and restaurant, and our two-bed room up the flight of stairs could not have been more charming!
We enjoyed a lovely Savennièrs outside in the courtyard, surrounded by old stone buildings that use to make up the abbey's farm. I think the proprietor thought we were quite posh as this was one of their most expensive bottles at 45Euro, but we hadn't spent a dime all afternoon and I really wanted to try it!

The nearby town of Montsoreau lies on the Loire River about halfway between Tours and Angers. We drove in to take a look at the Chateau Montsoreau, the only chateau in the Loire Valley to have been built directly on the riverbed. After being owned by 20+ different families since the 1500's, the chateau is now an art museum.

Another glass of wine with a castle view was had on the terrace of the restaurant Le Montsorelli before moving inside for a very good dinner. The restaurant offered a prix fixe for 29Euros and we chose a Bourgueil from the nearby AOC to accompany our meal. This is a pretty small wine region in the Loire and a wine that was also on my list to try since I've never seen it on a menu in the states. It was lovely!

Back at the hotel, we decided on a cognac nightcap before turning in. Another fantastic day!

Our room included breakfast which was served across the courtyard in a building that could have been an old stone barn. There were pastries, cheeses, rillets, meats, eggs, etc. Exactly how I like to start my day.

Forest and I had read that there was a dolman nearby so after checking out and getting directions from the hotel owner we drove around the small roads that cut through vineyards and farms in search of it.
We could not find it. Back and forth on the road, we stopped a local and he pointed back the way we came. We turned around and drove until we passed a sign saying DOLMAN pointing in the direction from which we just drove. We stopped on a farm and asked the man in his garden and he claimed to know nothing about it. The sign was just outside his drive! Maddening! We finally gave up and headed to Saumur.
The Loire River is more populated here, the town of Saumur spreading onto a large island in the middle. The Chateau de Saumur was built in the 10th century as a castle before becoming a chateau and has also been used as an army barracks and a prison.
There's quite a bit of construction happening now, those old houses need renovations from time to time! But the gold fleur de lis flagpole remains uncovered and shines brightly in the sun. It's a beautiful chateau to walk around with fabulous views down onto the town and the river.

And then it was time to start making our way back to Paris. One last stop, this time in Tours as I really wanted to visit the Cathedral. I was not disappointed!
Built in 1547 this gothic church is massive and filled with incredible stained glass windows, towering vaults, and pretty chapels. It is well worth even a quick stop in Tours should you be in the area.

We went in search of lunch and being as it was a Monday and a holiday there wasn't much open. We came across Le Turon and luckily were given the last available table. What an unexpected delicious lunch we had! An amuse bouche, beautiful plating, and one last delicious bottle of Loire Valley wine.
On the road back to Paris, we passed fields of mustard seed, so bright it looked like someone spilled buckets of yellow paint across them! The smell of the fields and the vineyards and the river all mixing together; I loved spending time in this region.

Bottom line... like great wine at even better prices? Dramatic scenery? History? Chateaux? Get yourself to the Loire Valley!

All Loire Valley photos here.

Other posts from this trip:
Chateaux & Wine, Loire Valley- Part-1 here.

4 comments:

  1. What a cool place to visit , loved the pictures!

    Valerie
    Travel Blogger

    ReplyDelete
  2. Such a beautiful place! I'd love to visit.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You should Marissa! It's very affordable and incredibly gorgeous!

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