A Morning Stroll Around Le Puy Notre Dame

Gites in Loire Valley

Part of the old village walls of Le Puy Notre Dame

 Le Puy Notre Dame 2Le Puy Notre Dame 2 Le Puy Notre Dame 2It was the beginning of July and the day had started dry and hot.  I felt it was time to take my morning stroll around our village of Le Puy Notre Dame, in the heart of the Loire Valley, a beautiful part of the world we have been lucky enough to call home for the last seven years or so. I imagine all French villages have a character unique to them, but Le Puy too has a certain quirkiness which I find delightful for many reasons (not just because of its reputation for making fantastic wines)! As I start off, I hear a cockerel’s serenade accompanied by hens clucking contentedly from a nearby shed, obviously enjoying telling the world what clever creatures they are in laying their eggs, as hens do! I walk along the narrow Rue St Jacques, just a one minute’s walk from Le Clos des Guyons, it’s such a tiny rue with no real significance, except, that is, until you start to reach the top and then you get it … the lovely smells drifting from the boulangerie.  Smells that get your taste-buds into overdrive, you know the kind I mean, of delicious croissants, pain au chocolat, brioches and warm dough, all en-route to the shop counters from the kitchens where Franck, the village boulanger, is beavering away by the hot ovens ‘tres content’ and proud that the villagers are happily buying his bread.  People are to-ing and fro-ing armed with little paper bags, ornate cake boxes and loaded with armfuls of baguettes, probably not all for themselves, orders are for neighbours, sons, daughters and husbands who will be arriving home for lunch very soon. I call in, take my place in the queue and finally reach the counter to greet Sylvie, the wife of Franck the boulanger, to order my own baguette and then placing it under my arm I bid the customary ‘Aurevoir Monsieurs/Dammes’ and everyone reciprocates.  Now, with hot bread under my arm, I begin to feel the day has begun. As I walk on further, I begin to experience the rhythm of this relaxed village. There are ladies still in dressing gowns opening their wooden window shutters. I see the postman, unlocking the post boxes to distribute the mail, (no-one here has an individual post box – we all simply walk to the cluster of boxes at the end of our rue, where our names are printed on them). Such a good idea because we all know his arrival time and then we head off to collect our letters knowing it is time to converse with neighbours, to talk about the weather perhaps or state of health, especially in my case over the last year when I have made many friends enquiring as to my progress, or Brian’s during last year, when he dislocated his shoulder.  Today the conversation will be about the iniquities of the French Tax system because it is those that Monsieur Le Facteur is placing in each post box. I pass by opened windows and hear conversations of family and friends, the clattering of  pots and pans and drifting smells from kitchens as they are preparing dejeuner – of course the most important part of their day!  They see me and shout ‘Bonjour Madame’ as if I was a long lost friend.  Of course, I respond accordingly, smiling and think how friendly everyone here is and how happy I am to be so well accepted.The pleasantries in France are a delight which I always enjoy.  I am prepared for the normal ‘Bonjour Madame’ or, wickedly, and said with a cheeky grin, ‘Bonjour Mademoiselle’, as the French love to joke, but then I wait to see what else they will think of next.  There is ‘Bon Appétit’, of course, but it will then depend on the time.  Almost every greeting from about 11.30am. is ‘Bon Appétit’, a simple assumption that from midday onwards everyone will be eating.  In my case it can sometimes be ‘Bon Sante’, or on  passing a friend who is working it will be ‘Bon Courage’, then after lunch it will be ‘Bon Apris Midi’, or even ‘Bon Peinture’ if you are working with paint, ‘Bon Jardinage’ if you are working in your garden or ‘Bon Arrosage’ if you are watering plants, it goes on, always finding something to wish you!  Sometimes it is just ‘Bon Ap’, which kills two birds with two stones covering ‘Bon Appétit’ and ‘Bon Apris Midi’ at the same time! And everywhere a pause for a handshake or, from people you know well, four kisses, two on each cheek and then a little chattering to follow! As I approach the top of Rue Notre Dame I reach the Eglise, our lovely church in Le Puy Notre Dame, an incarnation of angevine gothic architecture with its tall triple steeples, seen from far afield because it is of great size and importance, being on the route of St Jacques de Compostelle.  I hear music and a choir singing, pushing the never-locked door open I stand on the top step and for a few moments watch the people inside practicing for a concert at the weekend, it brings alive this old building, and makes me wonder what was it like when the pilgrims flocked to it on this very road, many centuries ago, to see the sacred treasure brought back by the Crusaders from Jerusalem in the XIIth century. The treasure is the Holy Virgin’s Waistband  made of linen and silk.  The story is that Anne of Brittany, and Anne of Austria, who later bore Louis XIV the future King of France, borrowed the relic which they believed encouraged fertility.  Even now, young mothers can be seen in their praying for a safe childbirth and each year there is a pilgrimage to Saint Ceinture with an evening of prayers and singing.  It is important for this village not to forget its treasure and the many centuries of history.  It is also typical of this most complicated of people, how they seem effortlessly to combine the aggressive secularity of their state with a deep if undemonstrative reverence for the Catholic Church.

Le Puy Notre Dame

Resident of Le Puy Notre Dame

As I enter La Poste to take my letters and cards for posting, I find lots of people patiently waiting their turn and, in the meantime, wishing ‘Bonjour’ on entry and ‘Aurevoir’ on departure.  And, because time is now ticking on, the odd ‘Bon Appétit. The time has come now to start thinking of returning home for dejeuner, in fact, I decide to return by a different route and head down a small, narrow road called Rue Sainte. On walking down this steep old road, with its marvellous vista of fields and vineyards, framed by a tall turret at the side of a small Chateau, I pass little houses and some residents here have their duvets and blankets dangling casually from the bedroom windows (a custom you see so often over here in villages – giving the bedding a blow of fresh air) and there are many opened windows, again with fine cooking smells pervading. As I get towards the bottom of the hill I quite unexpectedly start to hear someone chiselling, probably at the old tuffeau stone, and then I hear a man singing an old French song in time with his banging.  His deep voice is just a delight to hear, so tuneful, and I have to slow my pace so I can enjoy his repertoire; little does he know he has an admirer! The flowers either side of the old tuffeau walls are hollyhocks buried deep into the ground and are waving high above my head.  Blue, pink, maroon, white, yellow, then there are the little orange poppies and blue cornflowers attracting colourful butterflies interspersed with bees skilfully and single-mindedly collecting their pollen. The sun is now shining strongly as we approach midday and I see a tiny brown and white dog with remarkably pointed ears tranquilised in the sunshine, sitting on the ledge of an upstairs window, watching me curiously as I stroll by. There are other dogs too, either sleeping contentedly in the heat or barking in their courtyards and gardens, letting you know they are bored and waiting for the owners to arrive home for lunch – after all it has  been a long morning for them too since they were given their petit dejeuner! Finally, I have reached my home in Rue du Moulin, the last house in the village that rests at the side of a walnut grove and a sea of vines. All is peaceful here and our neighbours Robert and Jeanette, with their little grandson, Joshua, are wishing ‘Bon Appétit’ as I pass their door, Joshua makes the sound of an angry lion and threatens to eat me, a repertoire taught to him by Brian when they both got bored over a particularly long meal the other week.  With my baguette still under my arm, I am finally greeted by Meg, our border collie dog, jumping for joy that I have returned. Brian too is eagerly awaiting my return, after all it is noon and our turn to eat! As I make our lunch, I think how strange it is that chores like buying the baguettes and posting letters can become such a pleasure and delight. Soon our lunchtime hunger will be sated and, in a spirit of solidarity with the rest of the village, there will be time for a short siesta.  That’s the way daily life evolves here – and we’re not complaining!Le Puy Notre Dame 2

Bon Appétit Toute le Monde!

Sheila Warren-Barcroft (alias Madame Brian souvent) !


accommodation in loire valley


Loire Valley Wine Tours

Salon des Vins at Thouars

The Salon des Vins et Terroirs at l’Orangerie du Chateau in Thouars is one of my favorite wine calendar rendezvous.  This Wine Fair is a relatively relaxed and friendly event. It has a complete personality of its own unlike for instance the Salon des Vins de Loire held earlier in the year in Angers which is the showcase of the rich Loire Valley terroirs and is for the main players in the world of wine – large scale retail and catering buyers, vintners, importers, operators and journalists.  This time I had to go on my own as Brian was leading a wine tasting group here in Le Puy Notre Dame. First created in 1947, the annual Salon des Vins et Terroirs was held on the 28, 29 and 30 March with over 105 viticulteurs representing 50 wine appellations locally and throughout other regions of France. Producers were not only from Nord Deux Sevres, Saumur, Anjou, Touraine, Centre-Loire and the Nantais but from as far away as Alsace, Beaujolais, Gaillac, Provence, the Herault in the South of France and Marcillac Valon in the Aveyron, to name but a few! Marcillac is an up and coming wine appellation for uniquely red wines and is a small department with vines sitting on steep, terraced vineyards along the southern slopes of the rugged hills that surround the Vallon de Marcillac. A lovely area. And so the salon is a  great opportunity to walk through the halls with your ‘drop and stop’ glass meeting all the different winemakers, exchanging views whilst sharing a tasting of his wines and discussing his vineyards – a lot can be learned!


Domaine des Costes Rouges, Marcillac-Vallon.  Costes Rouge literally means red slopes and that is exactly what the vineyards are.

I am always happy to say hello to vignerons I know and of course to see Franck Bimont, the vigneron at the Domaine des Guyons who always represents Le Puy Notre Dame at the event.   Of course I tasted his Saumur Puy Notre Dame ‘Odyssée’ (characterstic deep garnet coloured red with flavours of red and black fruits evolving in the mouth to a long rich finish), along with his vin blancs ‘Vent du Nord’ (delicate aromas of white fruits, fresh in the mouth, full and elegant) and ‘L’Ardile’ (beautiful golden yellow in colour with a nose of violets, smokey with a note of toast – a powerful, complex, substantial wine with a unique character). His wines are highly recommended. This event is not just about wine though.  There is a huge hall devoted to food producers from far and wide, with breads of all sizes and shapes, delicious patisseries, olives, sausage specialities (thin black sanglier sausage from Corsica), loads of patés, foies gras, oysters and mussels from the Vendée and Brittany coasts, jams, cheeses from everywhere including Cantal (which I love), chocolates, nougats, the list goes on!  It demonstrates that eating is just as important as drinking! The event is organised by volunteers of the Thouarsais area. An entrance fee of 3 Euros includes a complimentary wine tasting glass and ‘wine pourer’ for the customary “Drop and Stop” degustations.

Loire Valley Wine Tours

Domaine de Cru d’Arche, Sauterne,Bordeaux

After a day like this you appreciate more that wine goes hand in hand with pleasure and conviviality which is so much the passion of French culture and one of many reasons why I enjoy ‘Living in the Loire!  It has always been my pleasure and will continue to be so for a long time to come!

Bon Salon à tous!


Visit our NEW website to find out more about our Wine Tours and Gite Holiday Accommodation in the Loire Valley, self-catering holidays with pool and selection of Loire Valley Wine Tours from one to three day breaks, in the pretty medieval wine village of Le Puy Notre Dame in France’s Royal Valley.


le puy a vins

In Le Puy a Vins Restaurant with our regular guests and friends, Jim and Sue from Kent, who came to Le Clos des Guyons for a March break.

It’s always been a bit difficult for us to eat at Le Puy a Vins Restaurant at 10 rue des hotels, in our village of Le Puy Notre Dame, as we are such good friend of Jean-Yves who is’ le patron’ of the older village restaurant, le Bouchon Ponot  but, as he was on holiday, we ate at le Puy A Vins Restaurant without feeling guilty!  Situated in a wonderful position at the side of the gothic, Collegiale church, the restaurant is just a five minute walk from our holiday accommodation gites “Le Sauvignon” and “Le Chenin” at Le Clos des Guyons  in rue du Moulin.

The ambiance of the restaurant is lovely, with a warm welcome, nice fresh tablecloths and lots of softly lit candles making it all the more inviting. The food was prepared by their excellent chef, David Beaufreton, who offers lots of culinary creativity.  This was accompanied by a bottle of 2010 AOC Saumur “Puy Notre Dame” Vin Rouge made by fifth generation winemaker Bruno Albert of the  ‘Domaine du Vieux Pressoir’ situated in the adjoining commune of  le Vaudelnay. Of course we were not disappointed!  This Domaine now has 26 hectares of AOC Saumur  and Saumur-Puy Notre Dame vineyards located on two hills of different terroir (Turonian and Jurassic) and a high reputation for excellent wines.

We liked the restaurant wine list having an extensive range of over 60 Loire wines, all from the Loire Valley but with an emphasis on the local wines within a 20 kilometre radius. Romain Amblard, is in charge of the wines and he has made his clients very spoilt for choice!

Le Puy a Vins Restaurant offers ‘Cuisine Gourmande” to its customers and is open all the year round for service at midday and evenings. Lunchtimes prices are a  two course menu at 14 Euros or a three course menu for 18 Euros. Evening prices ares a two course menu at 19 Euros or a three course menu at 24 Euros. We are looking forward to making another visit very soon and recommending to our guests but don’t tell Jean-Yves who’s restaurant we will, of course, continue to frequent as well!  In fact we are very lucky indeed to have two quality restaurants in such a small village.

Bon appétit a tous! Sheila and Brian

Gites in the Loire Valley

See all our restaurant reviews here



Chateau de Monserault

The magnificent Chateau de Montsoreau situated on the banks of the Loire – a lovely day out!

We had never visited this Chateau and so when we received an invitation by the Chateau to share an afternoon with other partners in tourism, it was a perfect opportunity to visit. There were lots of friendly staff to welcome us (with excellent English too) explaining the planned afternoon events, which included a tour of the Chateau with its great views from the turrets and gardens, followed by a river boat trip on the Loire. Well that was just going to be great!

Our guests holidaying this week, Jim and Sue from Plaxtol, were taken by surprise when we invited them to join us and they didn’t hesitate to accept our offer!

Drive from Saumur along the Loire and you will find this Chateau, built in the 15th century and known as  “La Dame de Montsoreau”.  It’s another well preserved medieval ‘gem’ beautifully situated on the confluence of La Loire and La Vienne so you can see where the rivers meet. It was a strategic fortress controlling river traffic between Chinon and Saumur.

In fabulous sunshine we strolled around and enjoyed the Chateau’s wealth of history.  Although it has a sparse interior we did find that  the many well presented displays of sound and vision transported you into the past life of the sailors and their typical Loire boats were really interesting. The turrets are a great place to take photographs of the Loire and enjoy its magical and panoramic views too. We were reminded throughout the castle that Alexandre Dumas‘s novel La Dame de Montsoreau is based upon the amorous escapades of two ladies who occupied the castle during the reign of King Henri III!

If you are visiting the Loire Valley then this a lovely day out. So easy to combine a Chateau visit with the historical village of Montsoreau with its great walks up and around the little rues, not to  mention along the top side of the coteaux in the vast and stunning vineyards which are a reminder that we are in the wine producing area of Saumur Champigny.  Held each second Sunday in the month is a Brocante (flea market) which swarms all day with visitors. There are several nice bars and restaurants where you can chill out a little and rest your feet, not to mention the boulangerie where you can buy sandwiches and picnic on the banks of the Loire which we do sometimes. It’s not hard to see why the village has been awarded two labels: “Village of Charm” and a  “Plus Beaux Village de France”. As a bonus for our Clos des Guyons visitors this year we will passing on to them a 10% entrance fee discount on their day out!


Traditional Boat on the Loire

A trip on a traditional Loire Boat

What better way to enjoy the Loire scenery than to cruise along the river! We embarked on the little traditional wooden cabined boat known as a ‘Toues Cabanées’ seating just ten passengers!  Have to say I was a little alarmed when I first saw it sailing down the river to collect us as I had been expecting a bigger boat(?!) and with my background of feeling anxious on water, Brian was having a bit of a giggle especially when I had to mount the steep little plank and be gripped tightly on either side to stop me from wobbling and falling in.  (Won’t mention the joke that just at that moment a Pompiers (Fire Brigade) speedboat came rushing past causing lots of waves, so Brian was laughing and jesting that they had arrived because they had heard Sheila was here and their emergency services could be required at any moment)!!  BUT … I boarded and disembarked safely and fooled everyone of course!!! So nothing to worry about and I do recommend this to our visitors this year. As we quietly moved along the water and the side of the beautiful Chateau we enjoyed excellent views including the little houses at Candes St Martin. It was one of the most relaxing things I have experienced in France. What made it more memorable was the hot sunshine temperature of 25 degrees!   Apparently these boat trips will be running certain days of the week in June, July and August from Candes St Martin.  Other boat trips are available throughout the season from Saumur, La Ménitré, Saint Mathurin and Angers, offering more extensive programmes.

We are looking forward to doing more Loire scenery cruising this summer!


Sheila and Brian

Why not take a look at our NEW website giving extensive details of our charming and well restored Gites “Le Sauvignon” and “Le Chenin” well situated in the pretty little medieval wine producing village of Saumur Puy Notre Dame in the Val de Loire known as the Cité de Vignerons and on the route to St Jacques de Compostelle.  The Loire Valley is a fantastic place to take a relaxing holiday and can be combined with a Wine Tasting and Wine Tour with us if you wish. At Le Clos des Guyons we offer One day ‘Vineyard Discoveries’ and other ‘Wine Tours and Tastings (with or without accommodation) enabling both amateurs and professionals alike the opportunity to taste the diverse wines of  the Loire with its 69 appellations AND it’s always made enjoyable for everyone!

Please contact us for more details. Thankyou.




Aperitifs in the Loire

Barbara and Nick enjoying nibbles and a few flutes of Saumur Brut Sparkling Wine.

It’s been ‘Apero Time’ outside in the courtyard at Le Clos des Guyons this week and our new guests enjoyed the arrival of some wonderful warm Spring sunshine to make their stay in Le Puy Notre Dame complete with temperatures at times up to 25 degrees!  We’ve even got the first asparagus popping through.

Barbara and Nick from Tasmania, who headed to the Loire for a short stay here, enjoyed daily strolls around the village and nearby Chavannes, Sanziers and Vaudelnay, where they were fascinated by the architecture of many beautiful mansions and gateways to be found. Also the many underground caves and and cellars  -  indeed this is the complex basement of the village incorporating 100′s of kilometres of wine cellars and mushroom caves.  Of course they had visits to the Cafe/bar for refreshments after their excercise and to the two restaurants for a lunchtime value ‘Plat du Jour’ at Jean Yve’s Le Bouchon Ponot and neighbouring Le Puy a Vins.  Food is always the essence of French life and culture and so to be part of France you have to be part of the food too! And this is one of our great passions of French life!!

Being wine lovers, on their last day they managed to indulge in a wine visit and tasting session of Loire wines with Brian before they left for their journey to Paris.  Also, courtesy of the Domaine de la Paleine, whose wines they tasted, they managed to organise a delivery of their chosen favourites to be forwarded on to Paris for their extended holiday stay.

Bonne degustations Barbara and Nick and happy memories for us both – we loved to hear of your amazing travel adventures and feel honoured you came to stay with us in Le Puy Notre Dame!


Why not visit our NEW website www.closdesguyons.com?  If you are interested in coming to the Loire Valley combining relaxation with tasting Loire wines, then take a look at our holiday accommodation.  We have Three Star ‘Gites de France’ gites and are ideally situated in the village both for wine domaine tours and tastings, sightseeing and walking to the local restaurants and artisan boulangerie too!


Map of the Wine Appellations of the Loire

Map of the Wine Appellations of the Loire

In February, we accepted our annual  invitation to the 2014  Salon des Vins, one of France’s largest Trade Wine Fairs held at the Parc des Exhibitions d’ Angers and the largest Regional Wine Fair in France. This event is when the entire, enormous  Loire Valley Wine region comes together with 550 Exhibitors in an exhibition area of 15,000 square metres, offering an ever increasing range of reds, rosés, whites, dry, sweet, still and sparklings. The map above which myself and friend Bob are discussing, gives an idea of the multitude of appellations which cover the length of the Loire. This year there were between 8,500 and 9,000 visitors, being a slight increase on last year which contradicts those who said that numbers were down.  

Wine Tasting in the Loire

‘ Wine tasting at Le Salon des Vins de Loire

There are, however, valid points of view particularly about the cost for wine makers being 1 200€ for a shared stall and 2 000€ for an independent one.  And don’t forget that they already pay large annual  subscriptions to “Inter-Loire” who organise the show.  One idea put to me whilst I was tasting the medal winners was why didn’t the organizers think about lifting the ‘professionals only’ restriction on the last day, opening it up to the public with a small admission fee and the potential for wine makers to extend their list of clients.  Good question!  Anyway these are questions for the future and we shall continue to enjoy the show no matter what the format.

We  love meeting  both well known local producers and those from further afield always being eager to taste their new offerings and find  new ‘hidden gems’ and new producers – and we do our best but always run out of time as the day is so busy!

And so we joined the swarm of visitors in the entrance hall and ventured into the designated tasting areas to quickly familiarise ourselves with the tables of wines and  afterwards we ventured into the nearside area for the lucky medal winners.

Wine Tours of the Loire Valley

One of the multitude of Tasting Tables

Amongst the fine display of wines we were particularly happy to see the new appellation of Saumur Le Puy Notre Dame Rouge from Domaine de l’Enchantoir  had received a gold medal for their 2011.  Bravo to Pierre et Bridgitt Van Den Boom who are receiving more and more awards each year but this one was well deserved, being a delicious example of Saumur Puy Notre Dame, tasting of rich fresh blackcurrants  with a  savoury twist.  Equally good for this appellation was the offering from Marc Vincent at la Paleine, (rich, velvety and spicy),  and Bruno Albert at the Domaine de Vieux Pressoir (2012 –  red fruits, cherries and spices).

Award winning Saumur Blanc from "Robert et Marcel", the Saumur Co-operative.

Award winning Saumur Blanc from “Robert et Marcel”, the Saumur Co-operative.

 Another familiar name, ROBERT ET MARCEL, previously the Caves des Vignerons de Saumur, had received an array of awards and we really enjoyed tasting their 2011 Blanc, which  had a distinct taste of lychees and pineapples with a citrus fruit finish and a long length. Definitely a good start for them under their new brand name!

We  want to mention that we met Anthony and his wife Stephanie from the Famille HUET being now the fifth generation of winemakers from Domaine de Montfort situated on Route de Brossay, in the beautiful small village of Montfort, just a five minute drive from Le Puy Notre Dame.    Domaine de Montfort is a family Domaine of 15 hectares of vines.  They enjoyed sharing their wines with us including their Bronze Medal winner, Saumur 2013 Blanc, a dry white wine, having a golden reflection and  tasting lively with citrus, mineral aromas and fruity. Very refreshingly zingy – perfect for the hot summer  evenings to come!  The majority of this vineyard we learned is on flints and limestone not like the rest of the Saumur appellation and therefore the flint gives a different taste and aroma. They have lots of passion for their winemaking and we want to pay them a visit soon perhaps with one of our wine tour guests.

We visited the Domaine des Guyons stand and chatted away to Franck Bimont, who was eager to share his latest cuvées.

Domaine de Monfort

Anthony et Stephanie Huet from the Domaine de Montfort

This Domaine is always a treasure trove of new wines so it was not to be missed!

Some other gems were:-

La Domaine du Petit Clocher from Cléré sur Layon produced the most superb Crémant de Loire, my favourite sparkler in the show:- 100% Chardonnay, buttery, full of toast and enlivened by a zing of acidity.  Congratulations to Jean-Noel and his team.

One of my favourite reds was a quirky rouge from Sancerre:-  Mattias and Emilé Roblin have produced a light 2012 which was brimming over with Pinot Noir fruit.  Perfect for summer drinking.

The most stunning white I tasted was a 2009 Savennieres from the Clos de Closel, cuvée Clos de Papillon.  This wine was not only majestic but it restored my faith in Savennieres which had been rapidly eroding:-  Rich caramelly nose, lots of white fruit with an overlay of citron.  Dry, mouth filling and complex.  A great success.

By the way, the date for next year’s edition is already organised for the 2nd – 4th February 2015 and is in our diary!

A big bravo to all the organisers of this huge event despite its difficulties of clashing with other important wine events on these dates.  Bizarre they can’t co-ordinate it better especially as the cost to hire the stands at these fairs is really astronomical and so important for the winemakers to capitalise effectively on their expenditure and effort.

Loire Valley Wine Tours

And Santé! from us all at Le Clos des Guyons (Pat, Bob, Sheila, myself) and Franck Bimont from the Domaine des Guyons.

A bientot

Brian at Loire Valley Wine Tours

We offer self catering holidays at Le Clos des Guyons.  Our accommodation has been awarded  ‘Three Stars’ with the ‘Gites de France’ network and you can stay in either ‘Le Sauvignon’ for 4-6 persons and ‘Le Chenin’ for 2-3 persons. An ideal place to recharge your batteries and enjoy a half day or full day wine tour and tasting during your stay.  See our new website for details:- http://www.closdesguyons.com


Why the Saumur Wine Producing Cooperative was re-branded “ROBERT ET MARCEL”

The new label of the Saumur wine co-operative

The new label of the Saumur wine cooperative

The ‘Caves des Vignerons de Saumur’, Route de Samoussay, Saint-Cyr-en-Bourg   is the Saumur Cooperative, about 12 kilometres from our gites at Le Clos des Guyons and a  real must visit for our guests during their holiday!  The tour begins with a large, twelfth century vaulted cellar and from there it continues in the maze of 100 kms of underground galleries. Indeed an underground ‘safari’ and great place to visit, taste and buy wines of the region.

And now a change! If you did not know – everyone is talking about their new brand name of “Robert et Marcel”.

Initially we thought why would they want to call a Cooperative Cave Robert and Marcel but apparently the reason for the new name is that Robert and Marcel Neau  were the names of the founding Chairman and Director back in 1957 and hence the Cooperative wanted to put this story forward.  Marc Bonnin  became President of the winery in January 2013.

The new name was unveiled on November 14th 2013, so  with continual quality improvement over the past few years and a respectable haul of medals, a new logo and new marketing strategy, they have chosen this concept to be at the heart of their new strategy whilst all employees are now  apparently called Robert or Marcel!

At first, the new brand will apply to wines sold in the basement of the Cooperative at Saint-Cyr-en-Bourg, which annually hosts 56,000 customers a year, the biggest individual selling point in the Val-de-Loire (10% of turnover of the cooperative, or  2.5 million€ ).

Afterwards the label Robert and Marcel will be available throughout region in 2014 through Alliance Loire, responsible for marketing the wines of the cooperative, and finally at the national level in 2015.

Good Luck to the new initiative!!

A bientot!


Wine Tours of the Loire Valley

Hotel Le Bussy, Montsoreau – Restaurant Review

Hotel le Bussy, Montsoreau

Since we moved to the region in 2001 one of the things that we have noticed is that it is actually quite difficult to eat anywhere with really great views of the Loire.  There are some restaurants of varying standards but they are few and far between.  However, one that we have found only recently, (don’t know why because it’s not far away), is the Hotel Le Bussay in Montsoreau, just the other side of Saumur.

Montsoreau is one of the “Plus Beau Villages de France” and worth a visit just for that.  It has a famous Chateau and a stroll on the “coteaux” the narrow, winding streets on the hillside opposite the chateau, is well worth the time and effort.  The hotel is just past the Chateau, heading East towards Candes-Saint-Martin on the higher road which passes in front of the Chateau although there is a track up to the restaurant which goes from the road alongside the Loire.  It starts just past the Chateau again heading East.

The Hotel is one side of the higher road and the restaurant on the other, overlooking both the river and the Chateau and the views are truly stunning. We have only eaten there at lunchtime because we called in on the last day before it closed for the winter so we can’t say what the full evening dinner is like.  Lunch was the typical three course formula which is so common in these parts.  For around 12€ it was extremely good value, simple local produce mostly cooked on a giant BBQ outside the kitchen.  As in any eating establishment around here it provided good, well made wine from local producers.  So, well prepared and tasty, to be fair, not exactly a gastronomic masterpiece but, then again, what would you expect for that price.   Certainly when the restaurant re-opens at the start of the season, we will be eating off the menu and, if it is as good as the ambiance, I’m sure that we won’t be disappointed.

Brian and Sheila

Restaurant Reviews

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