Loire Valley Wine Tours

A tasting of Loire Wines at the Domaine de  la Reniére.  L to R. Ian (guest), René (the winemaker), Lydia (guests friend) and Debbie (guest).

Wine Tours of the Loire Valley

Entrance to la Domaine de la Reniére, Le Puy Notre Dame

I took our Clos des Guyons guests to visit Domaine de la Reniére in les Caves, the oldest Domaine in Le Puy Notre Dame.

It is always interesting listening to this master vigneron, René, talking with passion and pride about his wines! René-Hughes Gay, owner and winemaker of the vignoble de la famille GAY,  which has been in the same family since 1636 when a parcel of vines was given to an ancestor by the local lord.  René tells us that all the winemakers that have preceded him have also been given the name of “René” hence the name Domaine de Reniére!!

Wine Tasting in the Loire Valley

One of René’s vineyards looking towards the Gothic Church in Le Puy Notre Dame.

Naturally lots of changes have occurred in the vineyard over the years and now the culture of the vignes is very strict with respect of the physological and biological balance of the vines. The terroir is argilo calcair and the appellations are:- AOC Saumur Blanc, Saumur Rouge, Saumur Puy Notre Dame, Coteaux de Saumur, Cabernet de Saumur and Rosé de Loire.

All his wines are of excellent quality and value, with his Saumur Blancs being particularly elegant and mindblowing.

After each visit you really can’t leave without lasting memories and a yearning for a return visit!

I thought I would share an extract from Ian and Debbie’s lovely review sourced from TripAdvisor June 13 2014)

“Le Clos de Guyons – how a gite should be and – a true french experience.”

... If you are at all interested in the local wine (this must be one of the best wine areas in France) you must go visit some of the local vignerons, of which there are plenty. But to really appreciate the visit ask Brian to take you to one of the local wine tours and meet the people who actually make it. Forget the TV stereo type of so called wine connoisseurs, Brian truly knows and appreciates wine and will take the time to explain the processes show you the vineyard and help you enjoy the results – funny how the wine is so much more enjoyable when you know what effort has gone into it. There is no obligation to make a purchase but we couldn’t resist the superb wines at the prices offered. I can also recommend the post tour visit to the local Tabac – all part of French village life. My only complaint – we were only there for four days! Would we go back – absolutely!

Thankyou very much Ian and Debbie! We enjoyed our time with you too!
A votré!!
Visit our NEW website and facebook page for more information.
Alongside our Wine Tours we offer two charmingly restored self catering holiday gites “Le Sauvignon” and “Le Chenin” complete with heated swimming pool for a refreshing swim (mid May to September) all ready for relaxation and enjoyment!
Bonne Vacances!!


Exploring the Vineyards of Le Puy Notre Dame

Exploring the Vineyards of Le Puy Notre Dame

Today we have sunny blue skies and heat leaning towards 40 degrees, but our Clos des Guyons guests were not deterred from going on a ‘Vineyard Discovery Wine Tour and Tasting’ in the village.  They enjoyed visiting the vineyards and magnificent vistas around the heart of Le Puy Notre Dame, one of France’s loveliest Loire wine regions (but then we are a little biased as we live here!) before visiting a highly reputed winery and tasting the wines of Saumur Puy Notre Dame.

The underground world of Le Puy Notre Dam

The underground world of Le Puy Notre Dame

Brian gave an intensive tutored wine tasting from a diverse and distinctive range of the Domaine de la Paleine’s re-known award winning medal winners and various vintages of whites, reds, rosés, sweet and sparkling. Appellations:- Anjou Blanc , Cabernet d’Anjou , Cabernet de Saumur , Coteaux de Saumur , Crémant de Loire, Saumur Brut , Saumur Champigny , Saumur Puy-Notre-Dame.

The last glass was a sparkling and refreshing ‘Crémant de Loire’ (“with notes of pears in rich syrup while maintaining the freshness of fruits – perfect with gateau aperos”) which couldn’t have been better chosen to end such a hot afternoon!

Wine tasting in Le Puy Notre Dame

In the ‘Tasting Room’ at the Domaine de la Paleine, a leading 32 hectare biodynamic winery owned by Marc et Laurence Vincent!

At the end of the wine tasting everyone concluded that they now had a bigger understanding of viticulture and appreciation of wine than before.  They had enjoyed learning so much from Brian about how the wine was made, the colours, aromas, individual taste sensations, characters and qualities.

The wines of the Domaine de la Paleine are exquisite.

Voila – it had been an interesting afternoon!

Bonne degustations a tous!

A votré Sheila

Web Site and Facebook Page

LE CLOS DES GUYONS.  Not only do we run Loire Wine Tours from here but we also offer two charming 3-Star Accredited Gites de France self-catering holiday gites “Le Sauvignon” (sleeps 4/6) and “Le Chenin” (sleeps 2/3) situated on the edge of the village surrounded by vines. HEATED Swimming Pool. FREE WiFi. FREE use of bikes.

Le Puy Notre Dame is a pretty medieval wine village on the route Saint Jacques de Compostelle and Anjou wine route, boasting its own artisan bakery, café, pharmacie, hairdresser, post office (novel it’s in the café!), huge Gothic Collegiale and two restaurants (one restaurant recently awarded a Trip Advisor Excellence label for 2014 and the other our local traditional French Bistro where you can drop in for coffee or glass of wine), all these within walking distance of the gites! It’ a perfect place for an enjoyable holiday. Alongside our holiday gites we offer Wine Tour and Wine Tasting Holidays, including our popular ‘One Day Immersion in Wine Tour’ where you can spend a day immersing yourself in the wines and food of Le Puy Notre Dame A bientot perhaps?!


Gites in the Loire Valley

John, Brian, Geoffrey, me and Robbi enjoying a wonderful meal in Saumur.  A typical balmy night around 10pm in the evening.

Bastille Day is celebrated on the 14th July each year in France.  The formal name is La Féte Nationale and also known as Le Quatorze Juillet! This commemorates the beginning of the French Revolution with the storming of the Bastille on the 14th July 1789 as well as the Féte de la Federation which celebrated the unity of the French people on the 14th July 1790. The day has the oldest and largest regular military parade amongst the democratic nations on the morning of the 14th in Paris on the Champs Elysées in front of the President and French officials and other foreign guests.  Here in Le Puy Notre Dame, as in all villages and towns throughout France, there is the local parade at the monument where wreaths are placed and the La Marseilles is sung, followed by the Vin d’honneur in the Salle of the Mairie.

Loire Valley Gites

One of the stunning desserts at L’Auberge de Reine de Sicile.

In the evening everywhere bursts into party mode!

And so we headed off to Saumur, with our Clos des Guyons guest and friend Geoffrey, to meet our new American friends, Robbi and John who are now proud owners of a house in France and will no doubt enjoy all the joy but also all the trials and tribulations which comes with it!.

This year we chose to eat in the Auberge Reine de Sicile, a great little restaurant tucked away in a side street on the island in Saumur or as we say, “entre les ponts”, (between the bridges).  We know the owners very well and have ate there since they acquired the restaurant many years ago.  The restaurant has been awarded a 2014 Certificate of Excellence by Trip Advisor.  We were not disappointed, a friendly welcome awaited us, good wine, good food …. and those desserts!

We just managed to finish our long meal in time to admire the firework display over the Loire.  They are always so memorable and last night was certainly no exception!

Vive la France!




Gites in the Loire Valley

Wedding photo taken yesterday outside the Mairie in Le Puy Notre Dame, of our charming next door neighbours, Veronique et Laurent, here in rue du Moulin, Le Puy Notre Dame, with a delighted Vincent at the side blowing bubbles over his parents!  Laurent looking suitably terrified!

Saturday afternoon was a very important day for our next door neighbours who were finally tying the knot!!  There was lots of excitement and plenty of cars in the rue all decorated with ribbons, flowers and broomsticks!  As the time approached for the ceremony, there was lots of deafening car tooting in the procession for the short journey to the village Mairie ……. followed by us at the end!  We all then waited finally for ‘the bride’ to arrive and there were big cheers as she surprised everyone arriving in a fabulous open topped Porsche sports car, covered with ribbons galore!  She looked perfectly lovely in her electrique blue embroidered gown and bouquet of white roses and lillies interspersed with tiny pearls. Wow! We were all so happy for her!

Marriage in Le Puy Notre Dame

Luc being all official!

The Maire himself was unable to perform the ceremony as he had another official rendezvous, and so his official deputy, Luc Jourdan, one of our local winemakers, arrived looking very smart and proudly wearing his blue, white and red official sash.  We all crowded into the Salle de Marriage where there was a big table and huge chairs for the bride and groom and witnesses to sit.  At the end of an emotional exchanging of vows, Vincent, their son, stepped in with the little white cushion holding his parents rings, then followed a few gasps as they struggled to get the rings on fingers, thankfully it was okay in the end so lots of applaude, laughter  …. and yes relief!!

It was so nice to share this special occasion with their family and friends and to see them looking so happy.

Afterwards we enjoyed the traditional Vin d’Honneur with plenty of glasses of Saumur wines of course and galettes.

We really wish them many years of joy and happiness together!

Just to explain there is an incredible amount of complex legal paperwork for a marriage in France (c’est normale in France for everything really), including medical certificate, proof of celibacy certificate, proof of domicile certificate, Livret de Famille, birth certificate, valid Passport, affidavit of laws and customers and numerous other requirements which I won’t mention here!  Tricky but worth it! For overseas couples planning a wedding I would say it’s probably best to get married in your own country and have a religious ceremony in France or your romantic honeymoon!!  Also the only way of getting married is by the local Maire or his Deputy. There is often a church service as well but that counts as a blessing and not a legal marriage.

A votré


Gites in the Loire Valley


Le Grande Picnic at Doué la Fontaine – NAPPES ET PANIERS!

fête à Doué la Fontaine

This is Doué’s own festival. Primarily for the residents although, of course, there’s nothing to stop anyone else from joining in.

gites in the loire valley

Everyone enjoyed the fête – no matter what their age

Thursday evening 3 July saw our local town of Doué la Fontaine host their Fete l’Eté organised by the Ville de Doué la Fontaine! This event is held every year and we love it.  Primarily created for the residents, there is no advertising outside the town and everyone knows each other thus creating a huge family atmosphere.  When we arrived we were shouted over to join Christian and Didier two of Brian’s cronies from their Sunday Morning “Route de Vin” (Café de Ville, – Café d’Anjou –  Café du Marché etc.)!

In the centre ville, in front of le Bar le France, (and it is “le” France not “la” as you might think),  900 people arrived with bags and baskets of picnic goodies. The boulangerie sold out of bread, quiche and patisserie. Everyone scattered around the numerous long rows of tables decorated with pretty red and white checked tablecloths.

Out everything came, plates, serviettes, glasses, wine, bottles of Ricard and various apero drinks, nuts and nibbles, at least one family bought a ragout in a thermos flask. and they chinked glasses before devouring their plates of delicious picnics!  It was great for the children (the rues had been blocked off so they could play safely so no worries for the parents).

Loire Valley Wine Tours

Everybody having a great time as the evening wore on!

To add to the children’s delight there was a special entertainer to keep them amused by cleverly twisting magical balloons into animals for the girls and swords for the little boys to fight and torment the little girls with!

Finally was the Musical Soirée by 10 musicians all with various trumpets, cornets, symbols, drums and tubas!!!  Most of the time they spent standing on chairs and tables giving the occasional Basque Corridor fanfare on the trumpet which was always met with raucous cheers and “Oles”!

It was a brilliant fun evening and much felicitations to the musicians from nearby Faye de l’Anjou who entertained all night long with les chansons francaise and contributed greatly to the success of the evening!


à bientôt


Gites in the Loire Valley, Gites du val de loire

A Chef’s Birthday Party!

Gites in the Loire Valley

Philippe dancing on a table – he’s our local Pharmacist and also a really great guy!

Our regular gite guests and those who have been on our Loire Valley Wine Tours will know one of the two village restaurants particularly well, yes”Le Bouchon Ponot” and its owner and Chef, Jean-Yves. Yesterday (Sunday) he held his 60th Birthday Party for friends and family. Originally it was going to be held on a lovely site on the side of the river Thouet.  Sadly, however, after weeks of glorious sunshine and rocketing temperatures, we had a tremendous thunderstorm, receiving over six weeks average rainfall in the space of a few hours and the result was that the site was totally inundated with the soil just too wet to risk anything on the following day.

Loire Valley Gites

Me with friend Jacques, chief party photographer.  It’s a long time since I’ve looked slim!  Thanks Jacques!

As a result Jean-Yves decided, at the last moment to move everything to the Salle de Fête here in Le Puy Notre Dame.  For people like Sheila and I, who didn’t check our phone messages, it meant an interesting half hour or so exploring the pretty lanes and vineyards and admiring the newly opened sunflowers around the hamlet of Sanziers -where we had no success whatsoever in finding the site! Finally, we decided to head on back to the village bar where all became clear!  As it happened the day was one of full sunshine and high temperatures so we could probably all of passed an idyllic day by the river as was originally intended. Mais c’est la vie.

So the guests started to arrive in dribs and drabs as the word spread around about the new location and finally, by about 1pm, around 150 had arrived so we could start the party!  First up was plates of Jean-Yves famous paté, “à la maison” and assorted other nibbles accompanied by mini “foué” or “foucé” breads.  These are a local speciality and they are similar to pitta bread but baked in a wood fired oven.  You cut one side of the bread and fill it like a “purse” with paté or whatever else you have at hand.  The foué were cooked on site by our friend, Stéphane, who does these ‘Events’ for a living.  Definitely they are a meal in themselves and were accompanied by glass after glass of our excellent, local sparkling village wine, not to mention the cocktail fountain of vodka based orange juice. You just held your glass under the never-ending stream.

After that we sat down at the long tables to enjoy plates of charcuterie, mixed salads etc., lots of bread, and then hot roasted ham accompanied by haricot beans cooked with onions and various herbs.  Finally plates of cheeses and delicious assorted desserts.

Loire Valley Wine Tours

Sheila, having a quiet moment away from the dance floor. That’s Jean-Yves sitting on her shoulder (also taking a breather)!

All the time there was, of course, endless laughter and chatter as we all met up with friends and neighbours.  Jean Yves was busy opening his presents. All very lively, but, after the meal, things really got going with the Disco and the dance floor was filled to capacity with joyful revellers happily punching the air to Queen’s “We Will Rock You” (in fact it was replayed several times – by public demand so to speak!) as were other assorted rock anthems. And so many, many hours later, after the consumption of a mammoth amount of wine and the consumption of even more nibbly foué breads, people started to drift away, some still dancing, others still singing not always with a lot of clarity, and others who weren’t quite sure what planet they were on.

The next morning I went into the village bar as normal to be met by a succession of bleary, red-rimmed eyes and the occasional grunt.  At least the strong French coffee served a useful purpose.

Jean Yves was amazingly open for business as usual for his lunchtime clients, happy that we had all shared a terrific birthday party with him, although rumor has it that he quickly retired to his bed after the end of the lunchtime service and he was noticeable by his absence when Sonia’s bar was full of people watching the France v Nigeria World Cup Match later that evening…………………..!

à bientôt


Gites Holiday Accommodation in the Loire Valley