|Trees are blooming in the Loire Valley|
We are empty-nesters for the first time since arriving. Ben and Emily and Christie and Alex are all safely home. It’s just us old retirees left to wander about the country-side. A bit of research is needed as we have a long list of possibilities. We have discovered two more “porte-ouvertes” in the neighborhood. They are offering snacks of “fouée” a local bread specialty which we’ve never tasted.
We also are in process of washing sheets. And it IS a process. We have a washer/dryer – that is, the same machine both washes and dries.
|sheet drying - a bit of Gerry-rigging needed, but it works in absence of a clothesline|
I think it is unusual for visitors to this “gîte rural”(holiday rental in the country) to be doing their own sheets and towels, or for that matter staying for 2 months. Most who rent will be here for a one week vacation. The washer is a convenience for families who may need to wash some clothes during their stay. But we have requested to wash our own sheets and towels because there is an 8 Euro rental fee per person for each week for fresh linens. That would add significantly to our cost and we are certainly able to wash these ourselves. The rental linens of course would be beautifully pressed and our self-washed linens won’t be. But we can sleep on slightly wrinkled linen sheets. The money saved each week easily pays for one castle admission per person that week. A good trade we think.
So the plan developed at breakfast is: Visit the “porte-ouverte” at Domaine d’Asseray in Vauchrétien
At the Domaine d’Asseray, we were welcomed to a tasting station where a delightful young lady, the girlfriend of the owner’s son, guided our tasting.
She understands English but speaks in French. At first, we
had the tasting station all to ourselves and both the owner and his wife greeted us and answered questions about their wines.
But suddenly, the number of people
in this warehouse setting increased dramatically and the staff was hustling to
accommodate them all. Two garrulous French men from about 50 miles south of
here joined us and my innocent question about their “vrac” containers (plastic
jugs for getting wine straight from the barrel) was answered with a very long
lesson in drinking and storing wines – all in French. And then he told us about a 3-star attraction near them called Puy de Feu, an historical
amusement park that even the Michelin Guide says is a “must-see” attraction.
The wines here are good and we purchase a few after which we
are invited to snack on some “fouée”. Fouée is a local specialty – basically a
pita made from flour, salt, and yeast.
|Our hostess at Domaine d'Asseray in Vauchrétien|
|The owner on left helping a customer|
|wines produced by this producer|
|Fouée looks like little pitas|
|Cooking the fouée - notice that the grill is portable - it can be towed behind a car.|
|Six fouée lined up on the grill outside.|
|Mine is filled with rillettes of pork - a cold, shredded pork. Delicious.|
Now we’re ready to start our outing du jour – chasing part of the Green Guide tour. We’re not going far – 55 km (35 miles) round trip, but we’re traveling little country roads in search of – well, cool things.
|Our route for the day - 26 km (about 18 miles) one way|
We only get a few kilometres down the road when we come to Coutures which has a small church right where the road curves to the left. We stop and have a look. (This isn’t even mentioned in the Green Guide, but we think it’s cool.) The church is locked but worth a look around anyway.
|Church at Coutures|
|Small café along the street in Coutures. Not much room for sitting out, but feeling warm and sunny none the less.|
We also watch people going to the Mairie (town hall) to vote. Today is the national primary election. We know now that Marie Le Pen and Emmanual Macron will face each other in the national election on May 8. About 80% of the French voted in the primary. They seem to take their democratic responsibilities much more seriously than we Americans do.
Our first Green Guide goal is to find a menhir that is supposed to be near the road just before Gennes (pronounced zhen). We’re watching for signs, but it turns out, the location is no mystery – it’s right on the roadside. [Apologies for the black dot on some of the photos. My camera has developed a spec of dust on the inside lens mirror and the only solution is to buy a new camera. Dave says he can photoshop these once we get home.]
Next we’re looking for a ruined Roman Amphitheatre in Gennes There are signs posted in the town and we are able to find it easily. Only, it’s not open until June and there’s a fence so we can’t see anything. Oh well, on to the next thing – the Madeleine Dolmen, still in Gennes.
In fact, this dolmen had been used to store farm equipment and as a bake oven, so it’s a bit damaged, but still impressive.
|Could this be a neolithic person?|
Next, into the town itself to find the ruins of St Eusèbe. (pronounced ewseb)
This church dominates the hill in town and overlooks the Loire River. Built in the 11th century on the remains of gallo-roman foundations, the church bell tower was bombed in 1940 and 1944.
|Loire River seen from St. Eusèbe|
|11th century walls used to enclose the nave of the church|
We search out one more dolmen in the countryside around Gennes and almost miss it in the undergrowth that has grown up around it. Oh, and it's not sign-posted.
We next cross the river to Les Rosiers-sur-Loire to look at another church.This church built and renovated between the 13th and 16th centuries boasts an unusual tower.
|The tower is pierced with renaissance style windows on the right.|
Onward to the Eglise Notre-Dame de Cunault.
|The front of this church is very plain|
|Nave of Notre-Dame de Cunault|
|Main entrance to the church - not handicap accessible, I daresay|
|The capitals (tops) of pillars were carved and painted|
|Notre-Dame de Cunault|
Once back at the car, we grab a little picnic snack and watch some locals playing “boules” in the parking lot which is covered in small stones.
Our last tour stop of the day (wait, how many is this?) is a ruined castle and a church in Trèves.
|Nave of the church at Trèves|
Sightseeing done, we head back to Brissac for one more wine open house – this time at the Domaine de Mailles.
The happy campers:
The wines here are probably the best we have tasted so far and we end up buying more wine to bring back to our wine “cellar” – ok, our wine counter in the dining room.
|The vintner (in blue striped shirt) is quite young here.|
|Janis, Lynn and Dave tasting Domaine de Mailles wine with our hostess in the back.|
|Janis, Clark, Lynn and Dave at Domaine de Mailles|
Whew. No wonder I’m tired.