Courtyard at Le Clos des Guyons

Courtyard at Le Clos des Guyons

 Le Puy Notre Dame is surrounded by sun flowers and as you drive around the little narrow country lanes there are masses of bright yellow fields sometimes mixed in alongside rows of roses, newly baled hay, sweet corn and beautiful vibrant vines!

The Loire heat has been intense this summer and has been likened to the great heat in 2003, though if my memory serves me correctly we were definitely not quite as hot as that when I recall we had weeks of over 45 degrees and hot sticky nights!

At this time of the year the village is looking stunning with its pretty window boxes and hanging baskets in the rues, not to mention the new floral  wine barrels in the square.

The Loire certainly stands proud in its outstanding beauty!  Well we think so but we would say that wouldn’t we!



Vacation rentals in the Loire Valley




Wine tasting

In the tasting room, left to right:- Brian, Marc Vincent (owner of the Domaine de la Paleine, Le Puy Notre Dame) Peter, Denise, Sam, Janet, John, Barbara, Geoff and Claire with the red hat! (I am behind the camera taking the picture)!

“The sun shone all week, the wines at the Paleine were wonderful and our hosts were … well hospitable. Thank you Brian and Sheila for your wonderful gites and friendship. We enjoyed the wines – thank you for your knowledge Brian” (guests quote by Geoff and Claire from Sutton Coldfield).

“What a lovely week for the weather, lovely sunshine all the way, along with the wine tasting” (guests quote by Denise, Peter, Sam, Janet, Barbara and John from Coventry).

It’s a busy summer season at Le Clos des Guyons!  After lunch we arranged to take our guests on a private wine tour and tasting in the vineyards of  Domaine de la Paleine, a prestigious and highly regarded award winning biodynamic winery just around the corner in the heart of the Saumur Puy Notre Dame appellation.  With gorgeous blue skies and very hot temperatures we strolled into the vineyards. The vines  looked very vibrant and abundant with grapes at this time of the year (just another few weeks now to wait for the vendage and after a sizzling hot summer we are all looking forward to some fantastic wines to enjoy)!  During our visit Monsieur and Madame Vincent, the owners of the Domaine, offered us all a very warm welcome along with staff and, of course, Blackberry their friendly Alsation.

In the vineyards

Brian explains the parcels of vines, limestone soil of this region and pruning techniques!

Then after touring the vast underground caves of the Domaine (by flashlight on this occasion due to a temporary electrical fault), we headed into the tasting room to start sampling a whole range of appellation wines and vintages (25 …  I think we lost count … just so many)!   The Loire Valley is the only wine growing region in France which produces high quality wines in every style. Red, white and rosé, still and sparkling, from dry to sweet.   In fact, whatever your taste buds desires, there is always an excellent Loire Valley wine to suit!

At the end of the afternoon our guests gave Brian a spontaneous round of applause for his guided wine tour and  expert knowledge of wine, followed by a second applause to congratulate Monsieur Vincent for his exceptional quality wines and hospitality.

Undersdtanding the process

Understanding the wine making processes and machinery.

Bravo!  We had a really enjoyable afternoon together!  And afterwards?  Well ……… it had to be a short walk up to the Cafe/Bar for non alcoholic refreshments!


Wine Tours of the Loire Valley 




Here is a souvenir photograph of guests, friends and neighbours taken before we sat down at midday to enjoy our traditional barbecue held on the Sunday at the Grand Prix Retro BBQ In the courtyard at Le Clos des Guyons.

Everyone viewed the lovely classic cars, bikes and race which started early in the morning before returning for the barbecue.

Afterwards in the mid afternoon, viewing activities around the circuit were resumed for those who had the energy after eating an array of food washed down with lots of glasses of wine.

We are looking forward to next year’s event especially so with a slight change of programme planned seeing the return of the popular and exciting Saturday evening race in addition to the daytime race and activities on the Sunday.  So a busy weekend for next year again and we wait impatiently for the (27th July 2014).

Le Puy Notre Dame is a small French village with a dynamic team of organisers and volunteers. ‘Felicitations’ for all their hard work.

Le Clos des Guyons has two charmingly restored self catering gites available – so please take a look at our website:-


Sheila and Brian

La Cité Ponote and the 17th edition of the Grand Prix Retro

grand Prix Retro 2013, Le Puy Notre Dame

This year’s poster for the Grand Prix Retro in Le Puy Notre Dame.

Well it’s  surprising how the years  go by isn’t it and this weekend (it’s always the last Sunday in July) we’ve just had the 17th edition of the classic car event the Grand Prix Retro  in Le Puy Notre Dame. Always an amazing day to remember on the Le Puy calendar!

As usual well over 100 pre-1935 classic cars arrived for the weekend rally and race with about 40 motorbikes and motorbike-sidecar combinations of the same vintage to entertain our visitors and thousands of tourists who flood into the village as they race around the the narrow street circuit of this historic village and the surrounding vineyards, (sorry that is the cars race through the vineyards, not the visitors and tourists)!.

In fact we were lucky to view the rally tour on Saturday morning as it passed by Le Clos des Guyons in la rue du Moulin (route du vignoble) travelling on its way through the vineyards and countryside to Doué la Fontaine.  Our guests Jenni and Lee and ourselves were giving them all a friendly wave as they turned the corner, especially so when  our other guests Keith and Rita  arrived in their MG!

The first Le Grand Prix Retro , 1997

The programe from the first Grand Prix Retro in 1997 showing all the named car drivers. – All six of them!

It’s interesting to compare this year with the very 1st Grand Prix Retro!  Keith Herkes and his wife Rita who are frequent visitors to Le Clos des Guyons, always with one of their two vintage MGs, have told us that they came to the very first Grand Prix Retro  which was held on the 10th August 1997 and have the programme to prove it (priced at 10 francs incidentally)!  Amazingly there were just six cars then and the owners of every one got a mention in the text!

In what is becoming almost as much of a tradition as the Grand Prix itself we had our fun BBQ for friends, guests and neighbours and a good time was had by all.  Thanks to Robert Guyon for providing his superb 1994 Chenin and to the Domaine de la Paleine for a delectable 2011 Saumur Rouge.  We started off with aperitifs and flutes of refreshing sparkling Saumur Brut and Rose, then sat down to an array of pates and crudities, etc., moved on to barbecued sardines followed by a home-made pasta and Sheila’s sauce of tomatoes and basil from the garden along with meatballs, mushrooms and chorizo.  (I finished making the pasta at 03:00 in the morning). All of which was much appreciated by our 20 or so guests!

Grand Prix Retro, Le Puy Notre Dame

Classic cars passing the entrance to Le Clos des Guyons.

The weather was perfect that is until right at the end when a sudden, violent, squall arrived from nowhere, stripping the fabric fom the parasols and which resulted in much scurrying around, retrieving plates, glasses, wine bottles, hats, chairs and other assorted objects.  One of the fabric covers which got ripped from the parasol, left a face size hole and which, all in all, then made a perfect burka – although Sheila refused to wear it!   Mais, c’est la vie, life is full of problems but normal service was soon resumed albeit minus the parasols and the painstakingly erected, shade providing sheets!  Having said that we were, as usual, quite lucky because the neighbouring village of Montreuil-Bellay had an awful rainstorm whilst, north of the Loire and down in the south-west the wind and rain  was generally atrocious and severe hailstorms caused such extensive damage that several parts of the Champagne region lost up to half the potential 2013 crop!

The range of vehicles taking part is truly amazing going from Morgan, MG and Darmont to Amlicar whilst the motobIkes  featured Monet Goyan, Saroléa, New Map, Alycon and Norton.

Grand Prix Retro 2013, Le Puy Notre Dame

Me, modelling the mark 1 burka – parasol combo.

The vast majority of drivers are from France, the UK and Belgium.

Reading the local paper on the Monday there was a little muted criticism that every year is the same.  I find this rather odd in that, what do you expect from motor-cars?  They drive around a track, they can’t fly or burrow into the ground?!!  It’s rather like saying that formula one is boring because the cars drive around the circuit.  Strange that!  I believe that next year the nocturnal Saturday evening race is going to be organised.

Anyway, when I finally got away after the BBQ had finished and had a walk around the village, everyone seemed to be enjoying it immensely, the bar and the two restaurants were both full and the village was full of laughing, contented people.

Long may it continue and I raise my glass to the classic car Grand Prix Retro of Le Puy Notre Dame!

We enjoyed another very memorable day!

MG and BBQ

Keith and Rita’s MG and BBQ at Le Clos des Guyons.

à plus


Gites and vacation lets in the Loire Valley