On the right bank of the Loire, the AOC Touraine-Mesland are to be found together with the Coteaux du Vendômois and some outstanding châteaux.
The present town hall was once a school where the writer Honoré de Balzac, originally from Tours, studied.
The Benedictine Abbey of the Trinity is a masterpiece of Gothic splendor, the chevet, the cloister and the front were made by Jean de Beauce in 1508. Ronsard’s country was Vendôme and its area, as it was also for Joachim du Bellay, Musset et Balzac – a poet’s paradise.
Le Saint-Georges. A lively place to eat at night with good brasserie style cooking. Wine may be ordered by the glass and Eric and Vincent Bergougneux are delighted to encourage you to taste local wines such as a Domaine du Four à Chaux, coteaux du Vendômois – awarded a gold medal in 2010 from Dominique Noguet’s estate in Thoré la Rochette, a fine, mineral, suave wine. Tel.: 02 54 67 42 10
The Château de la Poissonière was where the humanist poet Pierre de Ronsard was born in 1524. This large manor house includes parts from the Italian Renaissance and is open to the public together with a rose garden and the grounds. Tel.: +33 2 54 72 40 05
The village church proudly displays the Ronsard coat of arms above the door. In his works, he relates to such places as La Fontaine Bellerie, the Gastine forest and l’Isle Verte – all places he himself liked to wander around.
The Plessis Sasnières garden. A modern garden mixing rare and unusual plants, a vegetable garden, a tea house, and a shop. It is pure pleasure to visit this remarkable garden. www.jardin- plessis-sasnieres.fr
Awarded one of the most beautiful villages in France with its collection of well-preserved old houses and the St Genest church –it is a good example of Roman art.
Le Relais d’Antan. This restaurant on the banks of the Loire River offers traditional fare and is worth a lunchtime stop. Tel.: +33 2 54 86 61 33
Thoré la Rochette
The Domaine Colin. This property’s vineyard is worked biodynamically. Coming from a long line of winemakers, Patrice and Valerie Colin have re-instated the Pineau d’Aunis, a grey wine, from one of the oldest grapes in France, which was planted in the thirteenth century at the request of Henri II Plantagenet. The Aunis Bodin Pineau vintage has been acclaimed by Jean Pierre Coffe – a light summer wine, slightly peppery with ripe fruit overtones. www.patrice-colin.fr
Records exist of Henri IV buying two bottles of Montrieux wine. At the Gré du Loir, Le Vert Galand housed his love affair with Gabrielle d’Estrée at the Château de Bonaventure.
Emile Herredia owns a cellar in the freestone and an historic vineyard which he manages like a poet using traditional methods. Drilling of the wine barrels, crushing and screw-pressing, cane pruning, harvest by hand and ploughing with a horse over an eight hectare plot. His vin de table “The glass of Poets”, a deep structured red, fine, mineral and fruity deserves to be discovered. He completes his range with monovarietal vintages for the Coteaux du Vendômois, a dry white chenin, an ancient vintage, which was introduced by Saint Martin, and a Pinot D’Aunis originated from vines that are over 170 years old. Tel.: +33 6 84 23 35 40. 43 rue de Montrieux 41110 NAVEIL. www.domainemontrieux.fr
A typical troglodytic village where houses and wine stores are dug out of the freestone. Wine cellars rub shoulders with various artists’ and craftsmen’s workshops. To discover at leisure.
Across the waters, on the left bank is Touraine and… So many castles!
Situated on the Cher River, on the Touraine boundary, Chenonceau is one of the Loire valley’s most famous castles. There is a 35 hectares vineyard planted with Sauvignon grapes. At the entrance of the park, the eighteenth century cellars contain ultra-modern wine stores to make a certified origin Touraine, which is for sale in the shop. www.chenonceau.com
Au Gâteau Breton. An inn and brasserie which is from Brittany only in name. One can eat pleasantly here in the wake of the castle. Tel.: +33 2 47 23 90 14
The Château Royal d’Amboise. This château, which proudly dominates the Loire, belonged to the crown as from 1431. Royal residence to Charles VII through to Francois I, the château retains French history and the reign of the Valois. The chapel houses the tomb of Leonardo da Vinci. In the nineteenth century this castle served as the prison for the Emir Abd-el-Kader.
Chez Bruno. A wine bar across from the castle offering wine by the glass and bottles to take away or taste on the premises and a menu chalked up daily. The Guichard family promotes local dishes and wines to accompany them.
The estate has 90 hectares of certified Touraine Amboise, Touraine Lussault and Mont Louis vines. Visits of the wine stores in Chanteloup. Tel.: +33 2 47 57 73 49.
Clos Lucé Castle
The last residence of Leonardo da Vinci. Built in 1471 the pink brick and freestone façade characterises elegant fifteenth century architecture. Charles VIII’s royal estate, the Clos was used as a summer residence by French kings for 200 years. A residence of Louise of Savoy and her children, the Duke of Angouleme, future François I and his sister Marguerite of Navarre, it welcome the illustrious Leonardo da Vinci in 1516. The painter and friend of François I remained here until his death in 1519.
The incredibly rich museum and park designed by Jean Saint Bris are dedicated to the master of La Joconde. The “engines and machinery” displayed in the heart of nature are in homage to the visionary genius that Leonardo da Vinci was. www.vinci-closluce.com
L’Auberge du Prieuré. Located within the Clos Lucé – this restaurant, complete with terrace and garden, hosts “period meals” in the Renaissance theme. 2 rue du Clos Lucé – 37400 Amboise.