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.  Walso do an increasingly popular “One Day Immersion Tour” which includes a day visiting the vineyards, touring one of the best wineproperties in the Loire, lunch and assoerted nibbles.

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 small but 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.

Angers – The best place to live in France.

The stunning chateau at Angers

The stunning chateau at Angers

Angers is the prefecture of Maine et Loire the modern departement which roughly coincides with the ancient dukedom of Anjou, effectively its capital. It is part of the large and varied region of Pays de la Loire with its main town of Nantes. Like Anjou the region of Pays de la Loire is very different depending where you are, from the resorts, oyster beds and ports on the Atlantic Coast to the inland Loire of wine, chateaux and history.  One thing is certain however and that is that for the rest of France the region is one which the French themselves love and think is the best place to live.  For several years now both Nantes and Angers have  had the annual accolade of having, “La mieux vivre en France”,  the best life in France.  For the last three years a survey, carried out by the French daily L’Expresse,  has rated Angers the best with Nantes the second.  Every year the survey uses 24 different criteria  to reach it’s decision including things like greenspace, transport, health, leisure, crime and the general solidarity of its population.  It is very difficult to find one major reason but, for us the mildness of the climate and the way that we normally seem to avoid extremes of storms, hail, floods etc.  is very important.  For example, this year thousands of hectares of vines have been destroyed throughout famous French Wine Appellations such as Bordeaux, Burgundy and Champagne whilst here in the Saumur and Anjou we are looking forward to a  2014 Loire Vintage which the president of the winemakers association has called, “presque parfait” – almost perfect.  As storms and heavy hailstorms hit both North and South the meteorologist on TV explained the Anjou had escaped and, as always, was, “between the two”.

The Place de Ralliement in Angers.  Ancient buildings, Restaurants, theatre and a modern Tram system.  A snapshot of Angers.

La Place du Ralliement in Angers. Ancient buildings, restaurants, theatre and a modern tram system. A snapshot of Angers.

I have often mentioned the “Douceur Angevine”, the terms used to describe life in general in Anjou and which literally means the sweetness of life.  The term is far from being a myth and refers not just to the climate but to the general easy going, gentle way of life and the pleasant, pretty countryside fertile and full of livestock, crops and vines.  And through it all rolls the mighty Loire with it’s own riverside towns and chateaux and which effectively links the whole of this lovely region.

Angers itself has always been one of our favourite towns: clean, vibrant, dripping with history, full of museums and art galleries which reflect an intellectual side emanating from it’s famous university.  Add in the literally hundreds of bars, restaurants and theatres and it’s ongoing calendar of music both classic and modern and it’s very difficult to beat.  But, for all that, we would say that,for us, our pretty wine village of Le Puy Notre Dame with it’s gothic church, it’s vineyards and it’s position on both the Route du Vin and the Pilgrim’s route to St. Jacques de Compostelle is of course “the best of the best” but, being unashamedly biased, we would say that wouldn’t we and we are proud to think of ourselves as adopted “angevin”

à bientôt

Brian and Sheila

Gites in the Loire Valley

Loire Valley Wine Tours

One Day Immerssion in Wine Tour.

Language Minefields

Poster in a shoe shop in Doué la Fontaine. Don't think that they were quite aware of the nuances!

Poster in a shoe shop in Doué la Fontaine. Don’t think that they were quite aware of the nuances!

Many of our French friends think that English is very simple to learn and to start with, of course, they are quite right.  None of that confusing le and la or tu or vous.  But, my contention has always been that when a non-native speaker tries to go to another level the sheer complexity of possible constructions which English uses can lead to a whole minefield of potential “faux-pas”.  Of course for a non-french speaker French has exactly the same problems it’s just that I think that English probably has more of them.

This poster was in a shoe-shop in nearby Doué la Fontaine and obviously the publicist hasn’t really been made aware of another potential meaning!

Doué la Fontaine

October in Anjou

There are times when the term la Douceur Angevine really does live up to it’s name. The term means the sweetness of life in Anjou and Saumur and throughout France the term is used to describe the region adding to the fame of its wine, history, culture and, of course, its chateaux. It doesn’t just mean its mild weather either, but the general laid back, relaxed attitude to life. The picture was taken on a Sunday morning from within the Bar le France, (as usual I have to say that it is “le France” and not as you would expect “la France” nobody really seems to be quite sure why)! The bar is also a licensed betting shop called a “PMU” and that is how it is normally referred to. For me It’s a meeting place for what a group of us call our “charity work” i.e., making sure that bars continue to survive in these hard economic times. It’s hard, selfless work but someone has to do it.  The temperature was around 28°C, not bad for late October and the stall that you can see in the background is selling shellfish from the region’s Atlantic seaboard.

à bientôt


Gites in the Loire Valley

Crémant de Loire

Cremant de Loire

Must apologise for the shake on the video. I couldn’t get rid of it no matter what software I used!

Crémant de Loire is a sparkling wine from the Loire as the names suggests.  Normally appellations this size can produce wine of some questionable quality but what makes Crémant so special is the individual rules within the appellation.  For example everything has to be cut by hand and then put in the containers which you can see on the video.  Because it is a Loire appellation it allows grapes which are grown throughout the Saumurois, Anjou and the Touraine including Burgundy like cépages of the Eastern Loire, (Pinot Noir and Chardonnay over to the melon of the Nantais (Muscadet). Here, on the limestone soils of Saumur the pre-dominant white grape is Chenin (Blanc) although most Crémants are a blend.  This particular one from La Domaine de la Paleine is normally 80% Chenin and 20% Charrdonnay.  The Saumurois is France’s second largest producer of sparkling wine after Champagne and a combination of soil types, know-how, (or savoir faire, I suppose I should say) plus the severity of the appellation rules can make a wine full of flavour with fine, elegant bubbles and up there with the best.  There is also a Rosé version normally made with Cabernet Franc or Pineau d’Aunis but La Paleine does a very interesting one using Pinot Noir with a distinct taste of the fruit and “compost” that we traditionally associate with Pinot.  

Bon dégustation


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Floral dispay on the day of the festival


This morning we have wall to wall sunshine and a beautiful blue sky.  The church bells are ringing loudly to remind us that it’s a special day in the vllage of Le Puy Notre Dame (translated ‘the hill of our lady’) dominated by its massive Collegiale and imposing spires and pinnacles, built in 1163 (the choir was finished in 1182 followed by the Nave in 1208, and the towers sometime between 1225-1250). Today is the annual pilgrimage where a celebration and hommage is taking place to the Saint Centure starting with mass this morning and then glass of wine and picnic in the Salle de Fete, finishing with prayers again in the afternoon.

The history to this is that Le Puy had become known as Puy-la-Montagne by 1793 and the hill of Puy as Mary’s Mountain. William 9th, Duke of Aquitaine, is reputed to have brought back a waistband of the Virgin Mary from the Crusades and deposited it in the church. His granddaughter Eleanor of Aquitaine founded a Collegiale church to honour the relic which, according to legend, facilitated pregnancies and favoured the birth of a son. Louis XI founded a chapter about 1480 and this became a site of pilgrimage the Sunday after 8 September. The relic (Holy belt) can still be viewed here – it’s placed in a belt of fine silk and measures 1,60 m x 4 cm.  On the choir stalls at the back of the photo is the carving which became the emblem of Le Puy and it’s winemakers.

Le Puy Notre Dame became a stop on the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostelle and 17th century hostelries used by the pilgrims still exist showing clearly the scallop shell, a symbol of the route and badge of the hostelries.

And so there it is.

Why not come and pay a visit to our beautiful Collegiale and appreciate its rich history.  You won’t be disappointed.






Wine tasting at Festivini

Brian about to taste a glass of 2012 Coteaux du Layon

Enjoying a relaxing degustation at the ‘Festivini’ Festival Wine Market with old friend and neighbour, Hubert Deffois from Chateau de Brossay, a 45 hectare Domaine in Clere sur Layon, our old village where we lived for three happy years before arriving in Le Puy Notre Dame.  It’s situated on the high Layon south of Anjou and west of the Saumurois.

This Domaine has been in the family for four generations and is currently operated by Hubert and Raymond Deffois and family, producers of exquisite Coteaux du Layons alongside L’Anjou Blanc, Rosé de Loire, Cabernet d’Anjou, Anjou Rouge, Anjou Village, Crémant de Loire et Saumur Brut Rosé and Brut Rouge.

It’s well worth a visit and you are guaranteed a very warm welcome!

The vendage has now started and the sunny mild weather we are currently enjoying is very much welcomed.  Provided we have no unforeseen disasters it looks like 2014 will be an excellent vintage.  The only cloud on the horizon (literally) was an horrendous thunderstorm and cloudburst together with giant hailstones which hit us last Friday.  Luckily it was very isolated and does not appear to have caused any damage in the vineyards.  When I say isolated, here at Le Clos des Guyons it was rain and hailstones bouncing of the roofs, gutters couldn’t cope and one of our gite guests drove his car into one of our outbuildings because it was being damaged by the hail.  Meanwhile, about 300m. away Brian was sitting outside the bar with a group of friends in full, warm sunshine.

Here’s to a good vintage year for the vignerons!


Loire Valley Wine Tours


Today is the Wine Market in Place de la Republique Saumur, alongside the Loire. and what a wonderful afternoon with clear blue skies and temperatures in the thirties it was a lively afternoon!  The market is a part of the “Festivini” celebrations which is a two week long celebration of the wines of Anjou and Saumur.  It has many tastings throughout the region, gourmet meals with carefully chosen wine in such rarified atmospheres as the Royal Abbey at Fontenvraud and walks, bike rides, horse treks and carriage rides through several vineyards.  We arrived just after 2:00pm having eaten at the Hotel  le Bussy in nearby Montsoreau. This is a great place for Sunday Lunch havig superb views, not just of the Loire but also of the Château.

Restaurant on the Loire

Part of the enchanting terrace of the Hôtel le Bussy at Monsoreau

The menu is simple and quite restricted but the food is superbly well cooked and the “frites” are to die for.

The market was just starting to fill up again after the two hour lunch break and it was an ideal oppurtunity to get round easily and meet some of our old friends like Hubert Deffois from Château de Brossay in our first village of Cléré sur Layon.  A superb producer of exquisite Coteaux du Layons.  As usual our current village was represented by the Domaine de la Paleine and the Domaine d’Enchentoir whilst all the big sparkling houses of Saumur like Akerman, Gratien-Meyer and Langois Chateau were well represented.