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.

Comeuppance

I told Sheila what would happen if she didn't behave.

I told Sheila what would happen if she didn’t behave! ha ha!

I did warn her that retribution would follow!  We found this photo going through old albums.  I think it was in Châteauneuf-duPape. Doesn’t seem to have had much effect.  I’ll have to try again.

à bientôt
Brian

Gites in the Loire Valley

Reflections of a Saumur Bridge

The Pont Cessart from Saumur to l'ile Offard.

The Pont Cessart from Saumur to l’ile Offard.

We had just eaten in one of our favourite restaurants,  l’Auberge de la Reine de Sicile,  on the Ile Offard when, walking back to the mainland for the traditional 14th. July fireworks we noticed the Pont Cessart perfectly reflected in the mirror of the Loire.

à bientôt
Brian et Sheila

Bastille Night 2014 at le Reine de Scile
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A starburst of Lavender

A starburst or rather a lavenburst.  A lavender plant here at le Clos des Guyons

A starburst or rather a lavenburst. A lavender plant here at le Clos des Guyons

Bon été

Brian

Earlier post on our local wild flowers
Gites in the Loire Valley

La Rochelle – An annual dose of stress

The horologe (clock tower) in the Old Port at La Rochelle.

The horloge (clock tower) in the Old Port at La Rochelle.

This year, as is normal, we headed down to La Rochelle for the start of the national celebrations of Sheila’s birthday. Like the Queen these celebrations normally go on for several weeks but the first event is always our annual pilgrimage to La Rochelle where at midnight we order two glasses of bubbles and raise a toast under the clock tower in the Old Harbour.

What is also understood is that we really need this wine because getting there involves an immense amount of stress. Every year is different but a lot of stress nevertheless.  The reason for this is that Sheila foolishly chose to be born in the same week that La Rochelle hosts the “Francofolies” a huge rock and pop extravaganza which attracts more than 400,000 people in the week and this year French icon Johny Halliday (the French Elvis) is appearing. The resulting traffic chaos is helped by the city closing the largest car park and turning it into a tented city.  In addition the road system has been partly pedestrianised and becomes incomprehensible not helped by the installation of hydraulic ramps which stop you going anywhere where you would remotely want to go.  I’ll just relate our experiences over the past three years:-

Old Port La Rochelle

Old Port La Rochelle

First year: I spent the compulsory hour trying to fathom the temporary road system.  I suddenly swapped lanes on account of there being a bloody great lump of concrete lying in it.  As a result someone hammered on their car horn and gave me a load of abuse.  I of course retaliated with the statutory finger as tradition demands.  He then screeched back in reverse, wound his window down and called me a bastard.  I told him to go **** himself.  He then opened the car door.  I opened mine.  He then had a change of mind and charged off down the road leaving a smell of burning rubber.  By this time everyone behind was banging their car horns and shouting abuse.  Rather than fight the whole of La Rochelle I wearily conceded defeat and drove on.  Welcome to La Rochelle.

Second Year:  Couldn’t get anywhere near the hotel and so, having dropped Sheila in the vicinity,  (“Can’t walk very far because of ma back”), I finally parked the car in the Place Verdun, a Himalayan hike from the hotel.  It is so far away from the hotel that seasons can change by the time you finally reach your destination.  And the season did change.  As I trudged up the streets with my bag over my shoulder and hauling Sheila’s container behind me, the heavens opened and torrential rain was bouncing from the pavement.  Despite using several bars as temporary shelter I was totally drenched by the time I reached the hotel.  I stood in front of the reception in an ever increasing pool of rainwater with my hair plastered to my head.  “Is it raining”?, asked the receptionist.
No, I just had an idea that it would be fun to jump in the sodding harbour I thought, through gritted teeth.
“Oh you should have said”, the receptionist said helpfully, “we would have lowered the ramps for you”.
“Might have been a good idea to tell me that before I walked from the Place Verdun in a monsoon”, I growled.
“It’s on our website” she smiled.
“No it isn’t”.
“It is”.
“Isn’t”
“Is”
“Isn’t”
She then cleverly avoided a diplomatic incident by offering us an upgrade to a room with harbour views which would have cost about a zillion Euros to rent normally.  So, as usual, greed overcame my principles.

Franco Follies, La Rochelle

Francofolies, La Rochelle

Third Year:  Having been driving around in circles for even longer than normal I finally lost it and drove up a one way street – only to meet someone coming the other way.  We exchanged the customary robust greetings, complete with gestures but this time we both clearly felt that honour had been upheld so continued serenely on our way.
La Rochelle?! overall, it would be less hassle to spend a weekend in Baghdad.

This year: praise god, there wasn’t any great problems apart from waiting on a car park for half an hour hoping someone would soon leave their car parking space for us to jump into and Sheila being in a foul mood because the weather had turned gloomy and windy or some other reason any or all of which was undoubtedly my fault.  But she cheered up when we found THE most amazing restaurant for her birthday evening about which I’ll do a separate post shortly.

Bon Vacance!
Brian

A Trip round the South of France or the Holiday from Hell
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The Singing Nuns of Doué la Fontaine

A group of Nuns enjoying themselves - no reason why they shouldn't of course!

A group of  Nuns enjoying themselves during a fête- no reason why they shouldn’t of course!

Went to our nearby town of Doué la Fontaine the other day where there was a fête in progress.  I forget what the reason for the festivities were, (if any is needed), but everyone seemed to be having a good time including the nuns who were singing and dancing along with the best of them!

à bientôt
Brian

Le Puy Notre Dame
Too Many Loire Village Festivals
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Is Asparagus an aphrodisiac?

Pasta with asparagus, lardons, mozzerella and basil.

Pasta with asparagus, lardons, mushrooms, onions, cream and scattered with parmesan

We are celebrating the arrival of our lovely garden asparagus again – a wonderful time of the year and in abundance in our vegetable garden.

There are so many recipes to try with it both fresh and raw, we have it in quiches, soups, salads, pastas – the list is endless. Our favourite is in pasta with mushrooms, lardons, onions and cooked asparagus thrown in at the last minute. Apparently in ancient times, asparagus was renowned as an aphrodisiac! Regardless of its powers to put you in the mood though, this savory vegetable contains a stimulating blend of nutrients, making this member of the lily family alongside onions, leeks and garlic a fantastic food for your health. We will have to let you know if it lies true to its ‘aphrodisiac’ reputation, (Brian insists that this is a fallacy – as with oysters and he’s eaten enough so he should know)!  but one thing we can vouch for is it causes stinky pee!  Scientists aren’t entirely sure why. Most evidence seems to suggest that not everyone can smell the odor and some scientists think that not everyone produces it. Either way, there are no harmful effects.

And so we will continue enjoying our harvest and sharing garden produce with our Clos des Guyons guests during their stay! Not sure if they will let us know about the asparagus aphrodisiac affects though!!! That would be telling wouldn’t it!!

The asparagus season has about another week to go and we’re now into cherries – and that’s another story!

Bon Appetit

Sheila and Brian

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A 170 Year Old Champagne

An 170 year old nectar.

An 170 year old nectar.

Those of you who know me or who have done one of our Loire Wine Tours will be aware that I am unashamedly biased in favour of our two local sparklers “Saumur Brut” and “Crémant de Loire”.  I am not a fan of the upstart “Champagne”.  And I am in good company with many wine writers both here in France and abroad considering that the average standard of our sparkling wine is superior to the average standard of the sparkling wine made in Champagne.  Therefore I very rarely write about the latter. However, I make an exception in this case because it is a truly unique story.  170 years ago a ship sunk in the Baltic.  On board were

168 bottles of Champagne from the houses of Veuve Clicquot, Ponsardin, Heidsieck and Juglar.  In 2010 the bottles were discovered, still intact, lying at a depth of 50 metres. They were salvaged, chemically analysed and tasted.  The results of this research has given an intriguing idea of the tastes of wine lovers in the middle of the XIXth. century. Philip Jeandet, professor of Food Chemistry at the University of Reims, (in Champagne of course) said that it was still an impressive wine, with a long length and notes of tobacco and leather.  Professional wine tasters said that, despite it’s age, the wine still seemed young with floral notes and lots of fruit.  Which is some achievement.

So what have we learned:  Firstly that the wine must have been very well made indeed and secondly that, if you wish to keep your wine for as long as possible, put it under 50 metres of sea water.

So I’m going to raise a glass of Crémant de Loire to those anonymous winemakers of 170 years ago – and hope like hell I don’t find any taste of leather in the wine!

Bon Dégustation
Brian
Loire Valley Wine Tours
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