December 5, 2010

Our Trip to the Loire Valley

Window Sun

Our trip to the Loire in October (which now seems like a lifetime ago) was really amazing...and wonderful...and well, interesting...
We encountered a few minor hiccups along the way, but were determined not to let them ruin our trip.

To start things off, I spent most of the night before our departure curled up on the bathroom floor with what I think was food poisoning.  By the time I was able to crawl my sorry butt out of bed that Saturday morning, the mere thought of spending 8 hours in a car was so horrific we decided to postpone the trip by one day.  No big deal.  We had the entire week to enjoy our holiday and explore the Loire.   
Or so we thought....


Sunday morning we took off, well rested and ready for our vacation.

The drive up was uneventful, other than a freak snowstorm near Clermont Ferrand, and we arrived in the Loire Valley, impressed by the wide, rambling river and awestruck by the pale white beauty of the villages.  After a bit of a struggle with our temperamental GPS we found our gîte and settled in.

We spent the next two days exploring Angers and Saumur, tasting local food and wine, visiting a couple of Châteaux and generally enjoying our time away when we noticed that the gas stations in the region were slowly running out of fuel and shutting down due to the national strikes.
And when you're staying in a rural area and relying on your car to get around, that kind of puts a damper on things.
By the afternoon of day three we were stuck in our gîte because we couldn't find any fuel at all and had less than a half a tank left.  After much discussion we decided to pack up and leave early in the hopes that we would find fuel a bit further south, and hopefully enough to get us home. (we did)

Thus the Saturday-Saturday booking at the gîte turned into a Sunday-Thursday booking.  And two of those five days were spent driving back and forth from home.  It was disappointing to say the least.  We didn't get the chance to visit friends in southern Brittany, see Nantes and Tours, or visit any cheese makers.
We've decided that we simply have to go back.  There's far too much that we missed!

Our gîte

Living roomBlue doorA quiet place to readFireplace in our gîte
Now about our gîte...
It took us a while to find the right place, but our patience finally paid off.  Because we were traveling with our two chihuahuas, it meant that most vacation rentals were crossed off the list due to their no pet policy.
We finally stumbled across La Roche à Vent.
What a gem!
Our house was spacious and comfortable and we had gorgeous white cows as our neighbors.  The owners, John and Patricia, were friendly, offered fabulous restaurant recommendations and loved the dogs.  I would go back and stay there in a heartbeat.

Another attraction in the little village of le Thoureil is Le Tasting Room, where we spent a happy two hours learning about the wines of the Loire Valley with the very informative and passionate Cathy Shore and Nigel Henton.
Of course two hours learning about Loire Valley wines barely scratched the surface - with more than a dozen grape varieties and 65 appellations, the region offers something for everyone.  We tasted both a white and a red that are definitely worth going back for. 

le Thoureil

Loire River

Our neighbors

Autumn leaves


The Loire Valley, or what little we saw of it, was wonderful.  We enjoyed every precious minute and vow to return.
Fingers crossed there won't be any strikes, fuel shortages or illness next time! Pin It


Betty C. said...

Your gîte looks EXACTLY like the gîte my godmother and her husband stayed in in 1996, and it was near Saumur. I wonder if it's the same one?

Anyway, the Loire Valley is a glorious area. I only regret that the three years I spent there were spent changing diapers, being pregnant, all the while holding down a job...other than the châteaux, I didn't visit much.

Maybe you and I can meet up there someday?

Susan said...

My favorite region of beautiful. My brother lives there, near Orleans.

chcmichel said...

We love the Loire Valley but have not been there for a few years. We defintely need to go back. There are clearly more grape varieties it seems than the Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Franc and Muscadet that I have tasted up to now. Too bad your trip had to be cut short.

Jean Brookes said...

Ah - you have fallen under the charm of the Loire Valley. I thought you might ....... said...

Very good.

Chez Loulou said...

Really? How funny! Maybe it was?
I would love to go with you! You can show me your old haunts. Maybe in 2011?

You're lucky! Hope you take advantage and visit often.

It was our first visit and we were charmed beyond belief. And the wine was wonderful as well.
Yes, our trip was cut short, but we'll go back!

It wasn't difficult. :)
I can't imagine anyone not falling under her spell.

Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...

The Loire Valley is a place we still have to explore. The end of October was not a good time to travel. We normally drive from home to Calais and fill with fuel there there so we have a full tank through the UK. This year we filled up mid stream as we were too worried there would bo no fuel left at Calais. As it happend there was no problem but....

Graet photos. Diane

Dedene said...

You really caught the beauty of the region. It's always fun to have unexpected adventures.

Anne in Oxfordshire said...

Thanks for sharing Loulou ... Definitely a place for me to consider visiting :-) :-)

Emm said...

That looks like a wonderful place to stay. I'm adding it to my little list for the next exploratory trip.

Word verification is "froto." Maybe I'll get the ring, too!

Brenna [fabuleuxdestin] said...

The gite looks amazing!

Kerry Hand said...

Outside of Saumur there is an Abby, now restored after being a prison. I was gobsmacked to find the church there, was the burial place of Henry the 2nd, his wife Eleanor of Acquitane and (bits of) their son Henry the Liohheart. When you thin of who those people were !!!!
Katherine Hepburn was Eleanor in a great movie. "The Lion in Winter"

wcs said...

And the next time we'll definitely get together while you're here!

Holly Bruns said...

Lovely photographs!

lady jane grey said...

I see the Loire Valley is now in British hands - a gite by John & Patricia, wine tasting by Kathy & Nigel...

Mlle Paradis said...

too too bad your trip was cut short. it's a gorgeous part of the world. in fact you're giving me ideas....

my hubby will say "here we go again!"

Chez Loulou said...

You'll have to go and check it out. Such a beautiful place!

The week definitely was an adventure! With lots of unexpected twists and turns. :)

I think you would really love it. There is a lot to see and we barely scratched the surface. I can't wait to go back.

Great word verification!
I hope you get to visit soon.

We loved the gîte! I highly recommend it.

I wanted to visit that Abbey, but we didn't have the chance. It is on the list for next time.

Chez Loulou said...

We look forward to that! :)

Thank you. I'm glad you enjoyed them!

Mlle Paradis
Let me know how your trip goes!

Chez Loulou said...

Lady Jane
Cathy Shore is a friend of a friend who came highly recommended and the gîte was one of the few still open who would take dogs.