Dear Guests and Readers, 

There is no time more fitting than to say Thank You and to wish you all a Happy Christmas holiday and a New Year of good health and happiness.

 The village of Le Puy has looked spectacularly pretty with its street decorations of sparkling lights and Christmas trees. The Church has been illuminated for the whole of the twelve days of Christmas and the Crèche has looked magnificent.  It was created by Robert, our neighbour opposite, who has accepted all compliments with much shrugging of shoulders and dutiful protestations of modesty.

The Collegiate Church at Christmas

Le Puy Notre Dame

So, now it’s the time for out with the old and in with the new. Have I made any New Year’s Resolutions? Well it is a great opportunity to attempt to fulfill long-harbored ideas, however, hand on heart the answer is no I have not – as I never keep them.  A New Year’s resolution is something that goes in one year and out the other!

Old Alfie got it right:

 “Ring out the old, ring in the new,
Ring, happy bells, across the snow:
The year is going, let him go;
Ring out the false, ring in the true”.
~Alfred, Lord Tennyson, 1850

Anyway, everyone will be happy to know that, for the first time in three years, my husband and I have started the New Year with no accidents or illnesses and the subsequent breakneck car journeys to the ‘Urgences’ in Saumur. No excruciatingly painful and throbbing gall bladders, dislocated shoulders, broken wrists or painful discs, causing us to miss out on the Reveillon festive fun and the gastronomic delights of the New Year.  We have had several phone calls and emails this week enquiring about our current state of health and if we didn’t get to the phone immediately it was thought we were once more down at the hospital, (it being generally accepted that we have now established a lasting New Year tradition). But, thankfully, we can confirm we have managed to escape intact – our luck has finally turned – though Brian adds a note of caution, saying that January hasn’t finished yet!  

We had great fun singing a new song at various festive gatherings. It is not the traditional version of course, it’s all to do with drinks and called “Les Douze Boissons de Noël”! and it goes like this:- 

Le premier jour de Noël mon amour m’a donné une bouteille de Rémy Martin.

Le deuxième jour de Noël mon amour m’a donné deux verres de rosé et une bouteille de Rémy Martin.

Le troisième  jour de Noël, trois bières blondes,           etc  Le quatrième jour de Noël, quatre grands Bourgognes,etcLe cinquième jour de Noël, cinq verres de vins rouges,etc.

Le sixième     jour de Noël, six flacons de cidre, etc.  Le septième   jour de Noël, sept flutes de champagne,  etc.  Le huitiéme   jour de Noël, huit verres de Beaujolais,   etc.  Le neuvième  jour de Noël, neuf crèmes de Menthe,     etc.  Le dixiéme    jour de Noël, dix verres de Kir, etc.  L’onziéme     jour de Noël, onze verres de pastis,etc.  and then culminates in “Alka Seltzer”   err…. yes ……. it normally does!!  

We are currently managing to extend hospitalities with our friends by sharing the traditional cake called the Galette de Rois (everyone queuing up at the local Boulangerie to buy it). It is a sort of cake (King Cake) celebrating Epiphany.  It is made of pastry filled with almond paste called frangipane. Inside the cake is hidden a small gift.. It is accompanied by that refreshing flute of Saumur Brut, such lovely stuff!  I have so far found une fevre (the tiny gift) in my slice of galette on two occasions and hence been awarded the golden paper crown being made ‘King’ for the occasion and with many bravos and hand clapping it has been placed on my head and  worn for the remainder of the evening.  The said person awarded this crown is supposed to invite everyone back to their home to share another galette and so at this rate we will never manage to get back to normality!   

On Saturday evening, it’s time for the annual ‘vin d’honneur’ a la Salle de Fetes du Puy Notre Dame where all the villagers are invited to share an informal and  convivial soirée with a glass or two of the village wine, whilst we are informed of what’s in store for the new year. (Great plans are afoot, together with copious amounts of money, to improve several aspects of the village in view of its newly acquired tourist status as a Petite Cite de Character and Village de Charme).   Of course all the glasses of wine are handed around at the end of the evening and not the beginning, a stunning example of good sense, given that most members of the council are wine makers. It is an excellent tradition, the quality of wine first class and the evening’s conviviality of meeting both old and new neighbours, with customary handshakes, most enjoyable.  In our case the new Maire, Monsieur Jean-Luc Claeys, the village Doctor, is a truly honorable and well respected man who also enjoys a few glasses au bar with the locals, although, in this respect, his predecessor Monsieur Dominic Monnier, deserves an honorable mention.  

Let us express our deep gratitude to all of our faithful guests (now good friends) who return to holiday in our gites every year and to explore the regions wine at Le Clos des Guyons and all those future guests who will be holidaying here for the first time this year in our little corner of the world!  Not to mention as well the many blog readers who send us so many interesting e-mails.

 Sincere best wishes from myself and Brian for this coming year. ‘Thank You’ again for all your support and comments in 2008 which has driven our enthusiasm for what we do here and we are looking forward to sharing aperitifs at the start of the season with you once more.  The sunshine, blue skies and beautiful evening sunsets are already on order for you! 

Time now to start drawing up a list of jobs to be done for 2009 – Oh ….Brian has now just gone through the door muttering about going up to the bar, amazing the effect the word, “list” has on him.  Although, in all fairness, I must say, that his list of work has been endless for the last five years, ever since we arrived here without a habitable room in the place and what is now the garden and pool area, an extremely overgrown vegetable garden!  With a bit of luck we may finally have a permanent bedroom before the holiday season starts in earnest!  Finalement! 

Voeux Sincères pour une très et heureuse année!

Sante! Sheila and Brian

Gites and wine tours in the Loire Valley



  1. Just moved to LPND last week from San Francisco, California and will be here for at least 6 months. I have never been here before but feel like we know a bit about it from your entertaining and informative blog. I sure will see each other about the village. My wife will join me next week with her little pug dog Susie. Cheers


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