Bonne Paques et bonjour à tous!

Our season has started and so busy days with guests arriving and departing!  Brian, has been urgently attending to the garden (after the Siberien winter in February when we were all shivering in the coldest temperatures in living memory, although we did escape well compared to other regions of France). The annual DIY list around the house and garden seems to be longer than ever and so I am of course giving my usual contribution of making numerous drinks and lots of morale support as is all wives with bad backs can do!

It’s really wonderful being able to get outside and to see the village come back to life again after everyone has been confined indoors at the side of wood burning fires but, most importantly,  it’s just great being able to converse together again in the rues in this lovely spring sunshine exchanging news, things like new baby arrivals, family visits, general chat. But we are sadly experiencing a generation change here in the village and so we are losing some of the old and familiar friendly faces which we have known since we arrived in Le Puy Notre Dame. The Eglise has been full on each occasion as we have bid our last goodbyes, too many times to tell the truth – this being a stark reminder of how years pass us by all too quickly.

Good news is that Brian no longer needs now to search for vigne souche (old vines),  for our fire – we had the mildest first part of winter ever I think but actually ran out of wood with the heavy demand of cold temperatures in February. So where is the best place to enquire for old vines? Of course, it is the local bar! A group of people jumped to his rescue, it’s amazing how many have huge stacks of souche,  and in return for their generosity, a pitcher or two of wine was shared – not a bad deal!

Prav et Elspeth

Prav and Elspeth in the restaurant

Our first Wine Tour Guests for 2012 arrived and here is a picture of Prav and Elspeth from London, enjoying a lovely meal on their last night in the Bouchon Ponot which also happened to be Prav’s birthday celebration too.

This relaxing meal was earned after a busy afternoon of wine tasting and touring including a long walk through the underground caves (this is not to mention the inadvertent car drive over a rough vineyard track, as Brian took the wrong turning on route) –how many years has he lived in Le Puy Notre Dame now?!!  However, we all enjoyed the surprise exploring!!

Le Puy is currently basking in a lovely cloudless blue spring sky again today! The village flowers have sprung into bloom and we have a wonderful colourful display of tulips, daffodils and hyacinths warming our hearts!  And the best bit of all is I have heard the first cuckoo, we’ve enjoyed the first asparagus and the first swallows have arrived!

Sylvia and Franck, at the Boulangerie, have returned from their two week vacance (thank goodness because it is always so inconvenient for everyone when they are away but we admit they do need a rest sometimes)!

Sonia, in the Café/bar, has also resumed normal opening hours after a long vacance, (Brian is convinced that it is illegal for a French bar to close for more than one week at a time) and her beautiful vases of fresh flowers are displayed on the bar counter and tables.

Sophie, our Tourist Officer, has announced she will be reopening the Office of Tourism next week and  Jean-Yves in the restaurant is sharpening his knives in the kitchen to prepare his gastronomy!

So what’s new on the wine front? Well, currently in the vineyards around Le Puy you can see work going on, many old vines have been replaced by young vines now they are no longer being productive; sarments (vine cuttings) being gathered ready for burning, and everyone looking definitely happier now the severe Siberian cold weather has gone away.  Most vignes now have been pruned and fixed to the wires and the lovely warm temperatures these past few weeks mean that the first very tiny shoots are beginning to appear!

There was a recent reunion between vignerons in the village to celebrate their recent ‘medal haul’ at the Concourse General Agricole at the Salon de l’Agriculture de Paris in March. This event was attended by Monsieur Jean Luc Claeys, Maire du Puy Notre Dame, Monsieur Dominique Monnier, Conseiller General and Jean-Marcel Supiot, Maire du Vaudelnay . ‘Felicitations’ on this success!

Just to mention another new bar in Saumur before I finish!

As you know we like bars, and this one is called simply Number 7. 

Number 7, Saumur

Number 7, Saumur

Number 7, Saumur,  is centrally located and easy to find being opposite the Office of Tourism at the side of the bridge overlooking the Loire.

The Baby Grand Piano, Number 7, Saumur

It has very cheery décor not to mention the lovely white baby grand piano in the corner and the bath in the toilets!  Note that it was bath that I said, instead of a sink to wash your hands there is a designer bath!  Just nice to be different isn’t it!  The décor includes lamp shades covered in heavy knitted woollen fabrics and the other floor standing lamp shades are dressed in fur muffs.  It all sounds quirky but it works well with a lovely spring green colour themed throughout. Drinks prices are the same as all the other bars, choices are good and ten out of ten for the ambiance – very relaxing. It’s well recommended and it’s also possible to have a fixed price ‘menu du jour’ at lunchtime either outside or in their lovely little restaurant at the rear.  By the way I am not sure if anyone actually plays that lovely piano, but perhaps one night when we are there we will find out!

Hope you like my pictures – one of Brian sitting outside in the sunshine with his café calva! And not forgetting that bath!

Number 7, Saumur

'The Bath' Number 7, Saumur

So, on that note I have to dash as I am being summoned for duties again outside!

But  before I go, I hope you have a very happy and wonderful Easter weekend and toast your health with a glass of Loire Valley wine!

Be well and be happy.

Bonne Paques !

Sheila and Brian

Loire Valley Wine Tours