Left bank of the Loire River
The Domaine Rousseau Frères. A hideaway to taste the grey wine and discover the very latest certified Touraine wines from 2001: Le Noble Joué. This wine exists since the ninth century and was served at Louis XI’s table. A grey wine made from 3 noble pinots grapes: the pinot meunier, which gives it its freshness; the pinot gris, which gives it robustness; and the pinot noir with tiny grains, which gives it its fineness. Its vintage, the Autumnal, a Touraine from a blend of cabernet and côt, gives an aromatic red wine with notes of fresh fruit. The malvoisie, an ancient Greek grape, also to be found in the Savoy and in Switzerland, is harvested late, which makes it a mellow and soft wine. www.rousseau-freres.com
Le Bout du Monde. To lunch out on a peninsula where the Loire and Cher rivers meet. Christophe Roublin has set out a terrace surrounded by water and corn fields where it is a delight to eat in summer. His cooking is based on local produce from small producers, with local river fish bought directly from the fishermen. A good wine list of local wines from Touraine and surrounding areas, which Christopher is happy to advise on, being an expert in the matter himself. Tel.: +33 2 47 43 51 50
The Château and grounds. Finished in 1536, it is the last of the great Loire châteaux. On the brink of destruction, it was saved by Dr. Joachim Carvallo who renovated it entirely and created the most beautiful gardens as seen today with water, ornamental and vegetable gardens, labyrinths, woods etc…A wonderful day out – both castle and gardens can be visited.
La Douce Terrasse . At the entrance of the grounds, the restaurant offers a market menu, salads, cheese, a lunchtime meal and a special feed and visit menu. www.chateauvillandry.com
Azay le Rideau
Domaine du Château de l’Aulée. One of the most up to date properties where wine tourism is concerned. L’Aulée is the story of Marielle Henrion, a woman passionate about wine, and her husband Armand, originally from Touraine, who have run the estate since 2004. A nineteenth century estate with beautiful wine stores and a barrel cellar dating from 1874. Their wine range covers AOC Touraine Azay-Le-Rideau, Chinon, and Crément de Loire with a Brut 1856 which is 100% chenin, a vintage produced especially for the 150 years of the estate. Here, many themed visits are organised such as the Aulée Vine path visit, unaccompanied, but with an audio guide. Evening entertainment including winemaker’s meals and soirées with musical interludes and story-telling… www.laulee.com
The Chateau de Saché and the Balzac Museum. . Honoré de Balzac stayed at the château de Saché. He found the necessary inspiration in the Indre Valley for several of his books, such as Le Père Goriot and most of all The Lys dans la Vallée. The Museum, together with a tiny room he used to write in, is entirely devoted to this great writer. www.museebalzac.fr
Max Ernst, the German painter involved in the Dada movement, resided at Huismes from 1955 to 1963. He created works of art inspired by the Touraine: The Gardens of France and Homage to Léonard. His Fountain, a sculpture done in 1967, decorates a square in Amboise. Max Ernst’s house may be visited together with his artist’s studio, the garden and the sculpture wall. By Appointment Saturday and Sunday. 12 rue de la Chancellerie. Tel.: +33 6 89 93 52 23
Château du Rivau. A space full of magic, poetry, madly creative, an imaginary museum outdoors. The garden’s layout is inspired by legends and fairy tales. Modern art mingles with expansive vegetation. 14 classified “remarkable gardens” with a collection of over 450 different varieties of perfumed roses and essences, the colours of which flourish at the rhythm of the seasons. The journey is signposted with pieces of art: Lilian Bourgeat’s oversized boots, Basserode’s giant legs run in between the trees. After the Rain, Nicole Tran Ba Vang’s Saké glass sits among the vegetation and collects water from the sky… The Château is no exception. Owned by Eric and Patricia Laigneau, it once hosted Joan of Arc and her fellow comrades in arms. Rabelais cited Riveau in Gargantua. The Cardinal of Richelieu, whose sister was married to the master of the house, spared the château from being dismantled. Collections of antiques, period furniture and hunting trophies share the space with works by contemporary artists of world fame. www.chateaudurivau.com
L’Auberge de Jable. This is Carole and Philip Schilling’s restaurant in the heart of the Chinon vines. A special address, where the chef, an artist, proposes only local produce on his menu. Tel.: +33 2 47 95 47 95
One enters Richelieu through three monumental gates surrounded by battlements, which in turn are surrounded by moats. Cardinal Richelieu’s town is a perfect example of sixteenth century urbanism. The Cardinal’s castle has been completely dismantled; the Espace Richelieu is in a classified national trust town house and is devoted to Louis XIII’s famous minister and his town. www.ville-richelieu.fr
Le Chateau de Chargé. “Loire Valley Retreat” is a beautiful building, a sixteenth and seventeenth century castle, whose wine store was built a century later to fulfill its winemaking vocation. Jérôme and Charlotte Field, a French/English couple, hold Touraine and its wines at heart. Over 40 Saumur, Bourgueil, Sancerre wines, and their local Chinon, can be discovered and tasted in moderation. Guided tours may be arranged to local vineyards. Quite a discovery is the Domaine Alcofribas, a wine from poetic agriculture made by three winemakers at La Roche Clermault. www.loirevalleyretreat.com
La Devinière, Vines on Rabelais’ estate!
Rabelais’ charming rural manor house with its peculiar loggia and outside staircase dominates the valley, the vines and on the horizon the Château de Coudray-Montpensier, which in his writings, becomes that of Grandgousier and later was truly acquired by Latécoère. Further afield one can make out Seuillé Abbey, battlefield of Picrocholines against Brother Jean des Entonnoirs. In the midst of Rabelean countryside.
Forming a bridge between La Devinière, now a museum, and the countryside around, a hectare of vines has just been planted as a righteous homage to the one who sang wine and so appreciated a good bottle. Cabernet and chenin grapes, the work in the vineyard has been allotted to the students of the local agricultural college. The Rabelaisvintage has arrived! www.musée-rabelais.fr
Le Château de la Doré. A curiosity! It is within the park in the last century that the Earl Odart planted every European grape in order to study them. This castle was Mata Hari’s home during the 1914-1918 war. Today it is in private hands.
The castle, a former royal fortress, holds forth on the banks of the Vienne. It was the residence of Henri II Plantagenêt, future King of England, and then during the Hundred Year War, it was home to the heir apparent Charles VII where Joan of Arc came to recognise him to save France. www.forteressechinon.fr
In memory of this historic moment, Joan has her statue astride her horse on the square. Her dwellings at the Maison du Gran Carroi are still visible in the heart of the city from the Middle Ages. Rabelais’ town house is to be found at the top of the rue Lamproie. In the old Saint Mexme college, now a cultural centre, one can admire the abstract stained glass windows made according to the cartons of the painter Olivier Debré.
The Tourist Office proposes a tour ‘Let us tell you all about Chinon’. www.chinon-valdeloire.com
Horse drawn carriage rides of the town ‘Les Attelages de Cuzay’. www.attelages-cuzay.com
The Rabelais bric-a-brac sale is held on the third Sunday in the month. Promenade des docteurs Mattraits.
The Right bank of the River Loire. Let us take a journey and discover the landscapes and the AOC Montlouis-sur loire, Bourgueil, Vouvray.
Domaine de la Chevalerie. For over 400 years, the Caslot family has produced certified Bourgueil, one of the most renowned Loire Valley wines. The Chevalerie 2007 vintage gives an intense mineralised red wine with spicy notes, crimson overtones and notes of wet grass and smoke, very pleasant on the palate. In the summer, the estate offers “Hoeing Days” in the vineyards, coupled with a tour of the estate. www.domainedelachevalerie.fr
Maison des Vins Bourgueil. Over a hundred Bourgueil wines to discover in the Jean Carmet Space, a place dedicated to the great actor and wine connoisseur who was from the area. 18, place de l’Eglise. www.vinbourgueil.com
Le Manoir de Restigné. A high class hotel in the heart of the AOC Bourgueil region includes Le Chai restaurant mastered by Chef Damien Cousseau who uses primarly local and very fresh products. The wine selection comprises a lot of interesting organic wines . Tel.: +33 2 47 97 00 06. www.manoirderestigne.com
Foulque Nerra’s Middle Age dungeon and the château built under the reign of Louis XI. Charles VIII and Anne of Brittany were married at the château de Langeais. www.chateau-de-langeais.com
Clos de la Meslerie
A former winemaking property bought up and re-styled by a young New York investor. This is not just any old story! Since 2001, Peter Hahn, with the help of skilled winemakers Vincent Carème in Vouvray and Damien Delecheneau in Amboise, devotes himself to his passion and the result is good. A large, welcoming pile, surrounded by vineyards for a small estate following organic agriculture methods (hand picking and squashing). Only one cuvee in 100% white chenin grape certified Vouvray and no more than 5000 bottles a year, selected by the Wines of France magazine – and us! Vouvray. Tel.: +33 6 08 76 97 87. www.lameslerie.com
La Grange de Meslay
An old thirteenth century fortified farm and outbuildings with striking architecture. Maître Richter is responsible for turning this place into an art and music haven, renowned worldwide for its summer concerts since 1963. www.meslay.com
L’Epicurien. One does not hesitate to drop in here for a meal at Didier Frébout’s restaurant. Behind a somewhat kitch and outdated décor, a masterchef orchestrates generous and creative menus. The locals just love it! Tel.: +33 2 47 56 10 34
Candes Saint Martin
Another village awarded “Best village in France” – the region is full of them! This hollyhocks filled village is to be found where the Vienne meets the Loire. In the twelfth century abbey church, a simple paved stone on the floor marks the place where the Bishop of Tours, Saint Martin, died in 397. www.collegialedecandes.com
L’Atelier de Calder. From 1963 until his death, the American sculptor and artist Alexander Calder set up home in Saché. One of his mobiles is to be seen on the square opposite the church.
Moored on the riverbank is the Amarante - a traditional boat awaiting to transport you across the tranquil waters of both rivers. Tel.: +33 2 47 95 80 85. www.loireterroir.com
Montsoreau, les pieds dans l’eau !
The château at the edge of the river inspired Alexandre Dumas for his novel La Dame de Montsoreau. The romantic story of the beautiful Diane de Méridor under the reign of Henri III from which Claude Brulé made a television series. www.chateau-montsoreau.com
The Loire Valley Wine Market in a troglodytic site. 7, chemin de la Loire. Tel.: +33 2 41 38 15 05
Enjoyable browsing on the second Sunday of each month on the dock along the Loire.
Abbaye Royale de Fontevraud
Founded in 1101 by the preacher Robert d’Abrissel, it is the largest monastical city in Europe, inherited from the Middle-Ages. The abbey threaded its history with royal abbesses and gentry. Under its dome lie famous people such as Aliénor d’Aquitaine, Queen of France, her husband Henri II and their son Richard the Lion Heart, which emphasises the importance of the abbey in the Plantagenêt era. Later, the four youngest daughters of Louis XV were educated in the house of Bourbon, and under Napoleon III, Fontevraud became a prison. www.abbayedefontevraud.com
L’Orangerie. A bar with terrace in the old orangery.
L’Atelier. The literary café situated between the amazing roman kitchens and the refectory.
Le Saint-Lazare. A gastronomic restaurant in the cloisters of the Prieuré.
La Licorne. A house in a garden where it is pleasant to relax and enjoy a quiet lunchtime break to savour regional dishes. Allée Sainte Catherine. Tel.: +33 2 41 51 72 49