About our Loire Valley Gites and Wine Tours

The XVIIIth. Century entrance to our Loire Gites

The XVIII Century Entrance to our Loire Valley Gites in France

Highly Commended by our TRIPADVISOR guests, (rated 5/5).


We receive many emails from our blog readers asking what exactly we do  here in the Loire so we thought that we’d do this static post which explains just that.

The Lounge in le Sauvignon gite.

The Lounge in le Sauvignon gite.

Le Clos des Guyons is a former winemakers house in the village of Le Puy Notre Dame in the Loire Valley.  The village is designated by two french accolades:- Village de Charme and Petite Cité de Caractére. We arrived in the region in 2001 and purchased the property in 2003 on the retirement of the then winemaker, Robert Guyons. His wine, the Domaine des Guyons, still produces wine but the current winemaker, Franck Bimont, uses a larger wine chai on the other side of the village, although we still use our existing tanks for storage on occasions.

We have found that the property is perfect both for normal gite holiday rentals and for wine tours as not only are we perfectly placed to access the bulk of the chateaux and historical sights of this famous region, but we are in the middle of a mass of wine appellations and, since 2008, Le Puy Notre Dame now has its own appellation of Saumur-Puy Notre Dame.

Situated on a quiet road on the edge of the village we are adjacent to the vineyards but, at the same time, only a few minutes walk from the bakery, bar and the two excellent village restaurants:- Le Bouchon Ponot and Le Puy à Vins.

With over 13 years of experience living in the area we have developed a mass of information which is freely available to our guests, many of which return to see us year after year and we thank them enormously for their loyalty and trust!

Brian has worked for years in wine retailing in the UK and has a Wines and Spirit Education Trust Ltd Higher Diploma qualification and so his knowledge plus relationships with local winemakers makes a wine tour here interesting, unique and enjoyable. Not only is Le Puy Notre Dame the newest appellation in the Loire but it has over 50 winemakers each putting their own unique interpretation on the local wines.

The courtyard at our gites

The courtyard at our gites

We have two holiday rental properties, “Le Sauvignon” and “Le Chenin” the former for four or six people and the latter for two.  We opened for business after one full year of renovation and both gites are now fully equipped to the exacting standards laid down by the main French gite organisation, “Les Gîtes de France” who, incidentally carry out regular inspections which is very rare if not unique amongst gite rental companies.   At the same time we have tried to preserve the original ambiance as far as possible.

Access to Le Clos des Guyons and to our gites is through the huge XVIII Century gates which guard the property.  We are quite proud of the attractiveness of our courtyard and garden and try our best to make it one of the prettiest in the village. The garden itself is of the courtyard and contains a wooden terraced area and above ground swimming pool (heated mid May to September) great for a quick swim to add to our guests pleasure.  Behind that is a productive vegetable garden which allows us to share fresh salad, asparagus and other vegetables in season.

Of course this blog is primarily about our lives here in the Loire Valley, so the individual posts tend not to carry specific information either the wine tours or our gite holiday rentals.  To find details of availability, tariffs, accommodation details, ‘What do do whilst staying here’, etc. etc, you can go to our extensive website:- www.closdesguyons.com or, use the contact widget on the right hand sidebar to contact us for more information.

Talking about the Grape Varieties on one of our Loire Valley Wine Tours

Talking about the Grape Varieties and vineyards on one of our Loire Valley Wine Tours

à bientôt?

Sheila and Brian

Loire Gite Holiday Rentals and Wine Tours

6 rue du Moulins,

49260 Le Puy Notre Dame, France.


Aperitifs on Arrival in the Loire

Herbs at our Gites

Sage, variegated sage, basil, thyme, savory and lemon mint in our herb garden

When our Loire Gite and Wine Tour Guests arrive here at Le Clos des Guyons we always do extensive aperitifs in the courtyard or on the wooden decked terrace around the pool area. Always accompanied by a bottle or two of the region’s famous sparkling wine, one of the talking points is always the “Cochonaille d’Anjou”.  A bit of a specialty of our region although I’m sure it exists in other French regions too.  It can be either a hot pork dish or, for an aperitif, a plate of saucisson, local rillauds (an Anjou speciallity, a sort of caramellised belly pork), and any other pork related items although we often use a lamb saucisson as well.  How the dish is presented is, of course, entirely at the creators discretion and here at Le Clos des Guyons it gives us an opportunity to use tomatoes and herbs straight from the garden!






Another Great Festival for our Gite Guests to Enjoy.

Gites in the Loire Valley

Brazilian dancers in the Rue St. Nicholas in Saumur

There are so many Fetes here in the Loire Valley in Summer.  More than enough to keep our gite guests at Le Clos des Guyons happy!

One which we have forgotten to mention is the annual Fete of Rue St Nicholas in Saumur, with consists of two days of  musical entertainment with many musicians, dancers singers and oh yes,  Brian’s favourite, (although it does tend to interfere with his football watching), those Brazilian dancers again (sadly not so much to dance about for Brazil anymore but we all enjoyed our evenings viewing the World Cup, both in Saumur and in our village of Le Puy Notre Dame)!

So what could be better than visiting one of the chic restaurants in the little rue (as we did) .. eating … or sitting outside on the terraces of one of the many bars with your favourite glass of Saumur wine just watching the festivities and the world go by?!  Great – and we are not complaining!!

It’s congratulations to the The Festival Committee “Saint Nicolas” for their organisation – they really do a fantastic job for everyone.


Loire Valley gites and Wine Tours

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Too many Loire Village Festivals?

Before the Grand Prix, Le Puy Notre Dame

For the first time Le Puy Notre Dame did “Les Grandes Tablées du Regalade” on the Friday night before the Grand Prix Retro at the weekend. Roads were closed off.  Music, food and wine (Saumur Puy Notre Dame of course) flowed and the latter at a fraction of the normal restaurant cost.  It was a lovely ambiance and much enjoyment by everyone into the early hours!

On Monday morning I went to the village bar, (Chez Sonia), as normal for my morning coffee.  I sat outside in the morning sunshine with a group of villagers who, after all the ‘bonjours’ and handshakes, sat quietly without the normal animated chatter.  Finally Jean-Yves, the chef in the Bouchon Ponot muttered, “C’est bien le calme”  which triggered nods of heads and many Oui, Oui, Oui’s.  “C’est aussi bien retrouver notre village” said Stephane who had been the mainstay in organizing  much of the festivities which we have had in the village over the past few weeks.

Grand Prix Retro, Le Puy Notre Dame

Pre 1935 Classic Cars racing around Le Puy Notre Dame on the annual festival at the end of July.

Basically what was happening was a sort of stunned reaction to a series of fêtes which really started with Jean-Yves’ birthday party in June, went on through to the first “Fête de la Musique”, then into the 18th Grand Prix Retro Weekend – the first “les Grandes Tablées du Regalade”, when the rue du Collégiale was closed and filled with tables and chairs in the road, music, wine and evening meals served for around 400 people with several hundred being refused!  The next day was the “Nocturne” when a couple of hundred classic cars and motorbikes raced around the village in the evening. This was followed by a meal in the Salle de Fête for the participants and then, here at Le Clos des Guyons, we do a BBQ/meal for around 30 people being gite guests, friends and neighbours on Sunday, the day of the “Grand Prix” proper.  As a consequence of all this, people were pretty shattered.  Jean-Yves had around nine hours sleep over three days not helped by constant temperatures of over 30°C and even hotter in that kitchen!

Don’t get me wrong ………….. everyone had a thoroughly great time and all the Fêtes were an overwhelmingly great success.  But, to create the great atmosphere in Le Puy Notre Dame or “l’ambiance Ponot” as it is known locally, it’s not easy and there is an incredible amount of organisation and work which goes on behind the scenes.

BBQ at Gites in the Loire Valley

BBQ held on the Sunday of the Grand Prix Retro here at Le Clos des Guyons for around 30 friends including gite guests and neighbours. Here we all are enjoying sunshine food and Saumur wines.This year, after previous years of boiling in the hot sun, we decided to hold it in one of the old barns. Why it has taken us 10 years to do this I do not know!!

I can’t do as much as I like to help because we have our own gite and wine tour guests to look after but we owe a great debt of gratitude to all those villagers who freely give their time and expertise to making our village such an attractive place to visit.

Bravo to all!

And now to and join our guests at Le Clos des Guyons for some relaxation!!



Gite Holidays in the Loire Valley

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Loire Valley Wine Tours

A tasting of Loire Wines at the Domaine de  la Reniére.  L to R. Ian (guest), René (the winemaker), Lydia (guests friend) and Debbie (guest).

Wine Tours of the Loire Valley

Entrance to la Domaine de la Reniére, Le Puy Notre Dame

I took our Clos des Guyons guests to visit Domaine de la Reniére in les Caves, the oldest Domaine in Le Puy Notre Dame.

It is always interesting listening to this master vigneron, René, talking with passion and pride about his wines! René-Hughes Gay, owner and winemaker of the vignoble de la famille GAY,  which has been in the same family since 1636 when a parcel of vines was given to an ancestor by the local lord.  René tells us that all the winemakers that have preceded him have also been given the name of “René” hence the name Domaine de Reniére!!

Wine Tasting in the Loire Valley

One of René’s vineyards looking towards the Gothic Church in Le Puy Notre Dame.

Naturally lots of changes have occurred in the vineyard over the years and now the culture of the vignes is very strict with respect of the physological and biological balance of the vines. The terroir is argilo calcair and the appellations are:- AOC Saumur Blanc, Saumur Rouge, Saumur Puy Notre Dame, Coteaux de Saumur, Cabernet de Saumur and Rosé de Loire.

All his wines are of excellent quality and value, with his Saumur Blancs being particularly elegant and mindblowing.

After each visit you really can’t leave without lasting memories and a yearning for a return visit!

I thought I would share an extract from Ian and Debbie’s lovely review sourced from TripAdvisor June 13 2014)

“Le Clos de Guyons – how a gite should be and - a true french experience.”

... If you are at all interested in the local wine (this must be one of the best wine areas in France) you must go visit some of the local vignerons, of which there are plenty. But to really appreciate the visit ask Brian to take you to one of the local wine tours and meet the people who actually make it. Forget the TV stereo type of so called wine connoisseurs, Brian truly knows and appreciates wine and will take the time to explain the processes show you the vineyard and help you enjoy the results – funny how the wine is so much more enjoyable when you know what effort has gone into it. There is no obligation to make a purchase but we couldn’t resist the superb wines at the prices offered. I can also recommend the post tour visit to the local Tabac – all part of French village life. My only complaint – we were only there for four days! Would we go back – absolutely!

Thankyou very much Ian and Debbie! We enjoyed our time with you too!
A votré!!
Visit our NEW website and facebook page for more information.
Alongside our Wine Tours we offer two charmingly restored self catering holiday gites “Le Sauvignon” and “Le Chenin” complete with heated swimming pool for a refreshing swim (mid May to September) all ready for relaxation and enjoyment!
Bonne Vacances!!


Exploring the Vineyards of Le Puy Notre Dame

Exploring the Vineyards of Le Puy Notre Dame

Today we have sunny blue skies and heat leaning towards 40 degrees, but our Clos des Guyons guests were not deterred from going on a ‘Vineyard Discovery Wine Tour and Tasting’ in the village.  They enjoyed visiting the vineyards and magnificent vistas around the heart of Le Puy Notre Dame, one of France’s loveliest Loire wine regions (but then we are a little biased as we live here!) before visiting a highly reputed winery and tasting the wines of Saumur Puy Notre Dame.

The underground world of Le Puy Notre Dam

The underground world of Le Puy Notre Dame

Brian gave an intensive tutored wine tasting from a diverse and distinctive range of the Domaine de la Paleine’s re-known award winning medal winners and various vintages of whites, reds, rosés, sweet and sparkling. Appellations:- Anjou Blanc , Cabernet d’Anjou , Cabernet de Saumur , Coteaux de Saumur , Crémant de Loire, Saumur Brut , Saumur Champigny , Saumur Puy-Notre-Dame.

The last glass was a sparkling and refreshing ‘Crémant de Loire’ (“with notes of pears in rich syrup while maintaining the freshness of fruits – perfect with gateau aperos”) which couldn’t have been better chosen to end such a hot afternoon!

Wine tasting in Le Puy Notre Dame

In the ‘Tasting Room’ at the Domaine de la Paleine, a leading 32 hectare biodynamic winery owned by Marc et Laurence Vincent!

At the end of the wine tasting everyone concluded that they now had a bigger understanding of viticulture and appreciation of wine than before.  They had enjoyed learning so much from Brian about how the wine was made, the colours, aromas, individual taste sensations, characters and qualities.

The wines of the Domaine de la Paleine are exquisite.

Voila – it had been an interesting afternoon!

Bonne degustations a tous!

A votré Sheila

Web Site and Facebook Page

LE CLOS DES GUYONS.  Not only do we run Loire Wine Tours from here but we also offer two charming 3-Star Accredited Gites de France self-catering holiday gites “Le Sauvignon” (sleeps 4/6) and “Le Chenin” (sleeps 2/3) situated on the edge of the village surrounded by vines. HEATED Swimming Pool. FREE WiFi. FREE use of bikes.

Le Puy Notre Dame is a pretty medieval wine village on the route Saint Jacques de Compostelle and Anjou wine route, boasting its own artisan bakery, café, pharmacie, hairdresser, post office (novel it’s in the café!), huge Gothic Collegiale and two restaurants (one restaurant recently awarded a Trip Advisor Excellence label for 2014 and the other our local traditional French Bistro where you can drop in for coffee or glass of wine), all these within walking distance of the gites! It’ a perfect place for an enjoyable holiday. Alongside our holiday gites we offer Wine Tour and Wine Tasting Holidays, including our popular ‘One Day Immersion in Wine Tour’ where you can spend a day immersing yourself in the wines and food of Le Puy Notre Dame A bientot perhaps?!


Gites in the Loire Valley

John, Brian, Geoffrey, me and Robbi enjoying a wonderful meal in Saumur.  A typical balmy night around 10pm in the evening.

Bastille Day is celebrated on the 14th July each year in France.  The formal name is La Féte Nationale and also known as Le Quatorze Juillet! This commemorates the beginning of the French Revolution with the storming of the Bastille on the 14th July 1789 as well as the Féte de la Federation which celebrated the unity of the French people on the 14th July 1790. The day has the oldest and largest regular military parade amongst the democratic nations on the morning of the 14th in Paris on the Champs Elysées in front of the President and French officials and other foreign guests.  Here in Le Puy Notre Dame, as in all villages and towns throughout France, there is the local parade at the monument where wreaths are placed and the La Marseilles is sung, followed by the Vin d’honneur in the Salle of the Mairie.

Loire Valley Gites

One of the stunning desserts at L’Auberge de Reine de Sicile.

In the evening everywhere bursts into party mode!

And so we headed off to Saumur, with our Clos des Guyons guest and friend Geoffrey, to meet our new American friends, Robbi and John who are now proud owners of a house in France and will no doubt enjoy all the joy but also all the trials and tribulations which comes with it!.

This year we chose to eat in the Auberge Reine de Sicile, a great little restaurant tucked away in a side street on the island in Saumur or as we say, “entre les ponts”, (between the bridges).  We know the owners very well and have ate there since they acquired the restaurant many years ago.  The restaurant has been awarded a 2014 Certificate of Excellence by Trip Advisor.  We were not disappointed, a friendly welcome awaited us, good wine, good food …. and those desserts!

We just managed to finish our long meal in time to admire the firework display over the Loire.  They are always so memorable and last night was certainly no exception!

Vive la France!




Gites in the Loire Valley

Wedding photo taken yesterday outside the Mairie in Le Puy Notre Dame, of our charming next door neighbours, Veronique et Laurent, here in rue du Moulin, Le Puy Notre Dame, with a delighted Vincent at the side blowing bubbles over his parents!  Laurent looking suitably terrified!

Saturday afternoon was a very important day for our next door neighbours who were finally tying the knot!!  There was lots of excitement and plenty of cars in the rue all decorated with ribbons, flowers and broomsticks!  As the time approached for the ceremony, there was lots of deafening car tooting in the procession for the short journey to the village Mairie ……. followed by us at the end!  We all then waited finally for ‘the bride’ to arrive and there were big cheers as she surprised everyone arriving in a fabulous open topped Porsche sports car, covered with ribbons galore!  She looked perfectly lovely in her electrique blue embroidered gown and bouquet of white roses and lillies interspersed with tiny pearls. Wow! We were all so happy for her!

Marriage in Le Puy Notre Dame

Luc being all official!

The Maire himself was unable to perform the ceremony as he had another official rendezvous, and so his official deputy, Luc Jourdan, one of our local winemakers, arrived looking very smart and proudly wearing his blue, white and red official sash.  We all crowded into the Salle de Marriage where there was a big table and huge chairs for the bride and groom and witnesses to sit.  At the end of an emotional exchanging of vows, Vincent, their son, stepped in with the little white cushion holding his parents rings, then followed a few gasps as they struggled to get the rings on fingers, thankfully it was okay in the end so lots of applaude, laughter  …. and yes relief!!

It was so nice to share this special occasion with their family and friends and to see them looking so happy.

Afterwards we enjoyed the traditional Vin d’Honneur with plenty of glasses of Saumur wines of course and galettes.

We really wish them many years of joy and happiness together!

Just to explain there is an incredible amount of complex legal paperwork for a marriage in France (c’est normale in France for everything really), including medical certificate, proof of celibacy certificate, proof of domicile certificate, Livret de Famille, birth certificate, valid Passport, affidavit of laws and customers and numerous other requirements which I won’t mention here!  Tricky but worth it! For overseas couples planning a wedding I would say it’s probably best to get married in your own country and have a religious ceremony in France or your romantic honeymoon!!  Also the only way of getting married is by the local Maire or his Deputy. There is often a church service as well but that counts as a blessing and not a legal marriage.

A votré


Gites in the Loire Valley