Elodie Brought in breakfast this morning because she knows of a ‘Votre Artisan Boulanger’ (your craftsman baker) who handmakes everything including the Croissant and pain au Chocolat which is like a rectangular croissant with chocolate in the middle. Holy Harry his product is good!
Chantal came in again this morning to take us on a road trip covering a couple of villages in the area. Once again a font of knowledge and a good driver, is there anything this woman can’t do? Yes computers and associated apparatus are not her thing also she is so tiny crocodile wrestling could be out of the question!
A little bit of geography here, Angers is situated on the Maine River, a very short river only 12 klm long but quite wide. It flows into the mighty Loire River just South West of the city at a place called Bouchemaine (the end of the river Maine).
The Loire is the longest river in France. With a length of 1,012 kilometres, it drains an area of 117,054 km2 or more than a fifth of France’s land area, and is the 171st longest river in the world. It is often referred to as the last wild river in Europe and as such has UNESCO protection.
From Wikipedia – A wild river (United States, Australia, & New Zealand) or heritage river (Canada) is a river or a river system designated by a government to be protected and kept “relatively untouched by development and are therefore in near natural condition, with all, or almost all, of their natural values intact.”
The soil here is very fertile, the Loire Valley has been called the “Garden of France” and is studded with over a thousand châteaux, each with distinct architectural styles covering a wide range of variations, from the early medieval to the late Renaissance period. They were originally created as feudal strongholds in the strategic divide between southern and northern France; now many are privately owned. Actually thinking of buying one myself so you can all holiday with me!
A few snaps around Bouchemaine.
A nice relaxing beer at one of the small restaurants in town and off to Savennieres a small area producing the Savennières wine. Savennières is a white wine produced from the grape variety Chenin blanc, and is almost always dry.
There are three Appellation d’origine contrôlées (AOCs) for Savennières wine: Savennières, covering most of the vineyards, and the enclaves Savennières-Roche-aux-Moines and Savennières-Coulée-de-Serrant.
The area allowed for Savennières AOC spreads over 3 hills of schist (a particular type of metamorphic rock) located on the right (northwest) bank of the Loire river, totaling about 300 hectares (740 acres), situated in three communes: Savennières, Bouchemaine and La Possonnière. Of these, about 146 hectares (360 acres) are actually planted with vineyards. Savennières-Roche-aux-Moines covers 33 hectares (82 acres) and Savennières-Coulée-de-Serrant covers 7 hectares (17 acres).
The top enclave of Savennières, Coulée de Serrant, consists of a single estate run by Nicolas Joly. The wine produced by Joly from this appellation is labelled Clos de la Coulée de Serrant, and is mentioned by many critics as one of the world’s top dry white wines.
Coulée de Serrant was first planted in 1130 by Cistercian monks.
After this little excursion Elodie and I went for a walk on Ile St Aubin, what a beautiful spot this is. It is only 2 klm from the town centre but a popular spot for picnic, walking, cycling and enjoying nature. It is only accessible from April through summer, a lot of it is underwater during winter. For access you leave your car in the car park and ride the cable run ferry which two men and hopefully the riders pull their way across the water by pulling on a cable. It is a nature reserve and is home to a lot of rare species of birds and plants.
I had suggested to Elodie that I would like to cycle in the Loire Valley before I knew it she had organised two bikes for us and a friend with a bike and we were having a day of it. Elodie packed lunch (baguette of course and a couple of extra goodies – she had already put two big bottles of water in the freezer) and we were away. It was a fabulous day for a ride temps did get up around 30 but quite a bit of the ride is on shaded paths. Cycling is so well catered for here with everything (including pedestrians I think) having to give way to bikes, bike paths everywhere and well marked out with easy (mostly) to follow signs. We cycled through the city and out into the country side through cute villages and very productive farmland mainly growing vegetables and flowers. Along the levee which saves these fertile flat areas from being ravaged by floods on a regular basis and through lovely shaded paths especially constructed along the edge of the Maine river. Not many photos of the day, I never did develope the skill of riding with no hands!
Here is a bit of fun that we noted on the map but the girls had not seen before. Every now and then you come to a small waterway that has to be crossed so of course there is a boat provided. It is a small boat attached by chain to either side of the waterway (max 8 people or what will fit with bikes which is about 4) and accessed by a well constructed concrete ramp and steps. As you can see from the photos you pull the chain to the side you are on which brings the boat in, load up then pull the chain from the other end which pulls you across to unload. What a great idea!
At almost the end of the ride we came to a bar on the riverside (gotta love the drinking rules in France – apparently the Mayor turns a blind eye to this one as it is so popular) well we thought we had earned a pint so had one it was very cold and very enjoyable! After that the last couple of klm was rather slow. A very early night had by all.
This brings to an end my time in Angers and what a fabulous time it has been, a full list of activities and lovely people. Thanks Elodie I am so glad I made it to Angers. I am on the train again this morning to stay with the family of another of Gabby and Tom’s au pairs. The last stop before home. More about that later.
Certainly not looking forward to Cooma winter after the good weather that looks like holding until I leave France.