24-25 August: The Loire Valley… and a break from Truffy

Author: Mr A

Location: Sancerre, Loire Valley, France

Saturday: We headed down from the Bourgogne region, dropping several hundred metres to the River Loire Valley, and watched the thermometer rise 16 degrees centigrade to the early 30s. The next few days forecast are even hotter. I suggested we look for some alternative accomodation to our hot tin box with no air conditioning. Given its high season and the Loire valley…we will need some luck.

Meanwhile we have some lovely wines from Sancerre to taste. Catherine had spotted this winery advertising on the France Passion scheme that we belong to where French producers (of wine or cheese, or honey..or pretty much anything!) will let a self contained motorhome park on their property for the night if they sample the goods. Not a bad deal. We arrived at the Eric Louis winery and were parked up with free power and water…sorted…how good is that?

Parked up by the tasting room

Next it was a quick 30 kilometre bike ride along the Canal Lateral a la Loire, which was built to provide an alternative route for navigation to the unreliable waters of the Loire river.

Oh how embarrassing. It isn’t until mid afternoon that we realise we are in team colours!

Then it was a visit to the hilltop village of Sancerre with its multitude of restaurants and wine shops. We soon worked up a thirst for a wine tasting!

An old railway viaduct now serves as a cycleway access up to the medieval hilltop village of Sancerre
A beautiful panorama from the top of the village
Many medieval buildings remain in the village adding much character to the winding streets
Mrs A heads down another quiet cobbled street
Every building has its own story to tell
Sancerre is surrounded by Sancerre grapes – commonly known as Sauvignon Blanc
The flinty soils add to they flavour of the grapes
Our route back to Truffy took us winding through the vines
Rows of grapevines are in all directions

This is, for us, one of the delights of travelling in France – to taste the local wines and try to better understand how the varying terroir impacts the flavour (counting both aroma and taste here). In this area, a mix of limestone and flint soils gave us a real long spectrum of flavours to juggle with. We prefer the flintier, more mineral characteristics, but it was good to do a taste check as the Sancerre sav blancs here are top class.

Caroline takes us through a good selection of wines

We were made to feel so welcome by Caroline, who thankfully spoke good English, which allowed us to get into a more in depth discussion than our halting French allows. I mentioned to her we were looking for somewhere to stay out of the motorhome and she said the winemaker was just opening up a place for accomodation not far away and called him for us. So we will check it out tomorrow! How’s that for friendly French service?

Sunday: Another glorious day dawned so it was off to explore the other direction down the Loire river.

The first part of our ride was along the towpath of the canal
Not all of the towpath was gravel…but the bikes still made it along the grassy banks
A nice cup of tea at the halfway mark

It was a fabulous cycleway, and we soon had 30km under our belt and arrived at the small town of La Charité-sur-Loire.

Crossing the Loire River onto one of the islands
The ever changing river, new islands appear and disappear with each flood

We had a quick poke about, admiring a 900 year old UNESCO listed church, but more importantly settled on a lunch venue with a view of the river.

Benedictine monastery, founded in 1059
Literally hundreds of years of history has passed these walls by
A mishmash of buildings over the centuries makes this corner look slightly awkward
Inside the Priory Church of Notre-Dame, a combination of 11th and 12th century architecture
Magnificent ceilings and walls built to last

Pizza “sans fromage” (no cheese) for madam and something super cheesy for me, a kind of a creamy penne pasta with a baked top. Apparently called a gratin. Well we did still have to ride back in 36 degrees centigrade in the sun…phew…needed those calories.

Looking back at La Charité-sur-Loire from our lunch spot on the island

We arrived back at Truffy a little hot and bothered but soon packed him up and pottered up to our accomodation for the night, a room in a newly restored house out in the sticks. We were warmly greeted by the host and settled in. We discovered we were sharing the house with other guests, and so had to close our door, and the AC was only in the shared area, so we were stifling. We opened the windows and there were no fly screens so the mossies attacked in force. At one stage during the night we seriously considered moving back into Truff, who was a little miffed I think we had abandoned him at the first sign of another heatwave.

Anyway…all a bit of miscommunication with no ill intent. So a not so good night’s sleep, but a decision made to use the next day as a driving day as it was going to be a another blaster. We just decided…lets go to Brittany!

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