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

Le Puy Notre Dame
Too Many Loire Village Festivals
Gites in the Loire Valley
Loire Wine Tours

Doué la Fontaine

October in Anjou

There are times when the term la Douceur Angevine really does live up to it’s name. The term means the sweetness of life in Anjou and Saumur and throughout France the term is used to describe the region adding to the fame of its wine, history, culture and, of course, its chateaux. It doesn’t just mean its mild weather either, but the general laid back, relaxed attitude to life. The picture was taken on a Sunday morning from within the Bar le France, (as usual I have to say that it is “le France” and not as you would expect “la France” nobody really seems to be quite sure why)! The bar is also a licensed betting shop called a “PMU” and that is how it is normally referred to. For me It’s a meeting place for what a group of us call our “charity work” i.e., making sure that bars continue to survive in these hard economic times. It’s hard, selfless work but someone has to do it.  The temperature was around 28°C, not bad for late October and the stall that you can see in the background is selling shellfish from the region’s Atlantic seaboard.

à bientôt


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


Wine Cave

Deep in part of the 150klms. of cave under Le Puy Notre Dame

As we are enjoying fantastic sunny weather and temperatures are sizzling, we had a great idea to leave the heat and the azure blue skies above ground and take our five guests, Carole, Rob, Dan, Dawn and Andy on an afternoon visit under ground to keep cool!  There are many kilometres of underground caves and passages in Le Puy Notre Dame (indeed we have our own called ‘Le Caves Ragot’ with a history of treasure hiddden by villagers during the revolution – allegedly).

Above is a picture of our guests with Brian visiting one of the many cave’s in the village, which belongs to the Domaine de la Paleine, producer of AOC Saumur Champigny and AOC Saumur Puy Notre Dame wines. The owner, Monsieur Marc Vincent, is also President of the AOC Saumur Puy Notre Dame wine appellation.

Wine tasting Group

In the elegant tasting rooms at le Domaine de la Paleine

It had been an interesting afternoon not only visiting this top class Domaine and learning from Brian his expert knowledge of the principles of wine making but also the analysis of tasting, and so we had a laugh trying to understand the tasting vocabulary!  Yes the principal vocabulary terms are important to appreciate what you are tasting and is in general a common language, but sometimes other words and expressions have been said in humour (well perhaps)? particularly if the wine is unexpectedly bad!  I have actually heard ‘Merde! C’est le vin pour en enfant‘!  for example at a recent tasting and dispersed with ‘toute suite’!  Robert Louis Stevenson once said that wine was bottled poetry – but not in that case obviously!!

And so we finally returned to Le Clos des Guyons and that hot sunshine for a refreshing dip in the pool – wonderful!

In addition to the historic chateaux and manoirs, activities below ground are well worth a visit in this region, with its many troglodyte caves, mushroom caves, fouee restaurants and wine cellars!  We even have a troglodyte conservation zoo where the animals are kept in old quarries including one which has been converted into the largest aviary in western europe.

If you would like to find out more about our region, Loire Valley wines and wine tastings, then why not take a look at our website to see what we offer our holidaymakers either with or without accommodation in our

zoo at doué la fontaine

Part of the magnificient South American Aviary at the Bioparc, Doué la Fontaine.

charming self catering holiday gites in the heart of the village and the vines of beautiful Le Puy Notre Dame with its historical Collegiale Church on the pilgrim route to St Jacques de Compostelle.



Loire Valley Wine Tours.

A Proud Achievement and an Embarrasment.

first guiness

First Guinness in Le Puy Notre Dame

I think that we have every right to be proud of our achievements since arriving in France over 10 years ago.  We have become well-integrated, our French gets better all the time and we have very many French friends and acquaintances.  However, above all this I think that my biggest cause for self-congratulation is in persuading Sonia, “la patronne” of our village bar here in Le Puy Notre Dame to order Guinness making it, as far as I am aware, the only bar between Saumur and Vihiers where you can buy the Irish nectar.  The picture is of the first “demi” being pulled.  The system is one I have never seen before.  Sonia pours the Guinness from a can and then puts it on  a small plate attached to the machine which then shakes which causes the  traditional Guinness head to develop.  One of our guests over Christmas who happens to be Irish tried it and said that it compares favourably with Guinness from his homeland.  After a few hours of experimentation it is also proven that it also revitalises flat beer and sparkling wine. – a small step for mankind but a giant leap for clients in the bar.  The only problem is that, having been instrumental in getting Sonia to order it, I feel compelled to keep drinking it so any help from people living locally would be appreciated!!

I am not quite so proud of the second incident which I am about to relate which was, frankly, bloody embarrassing.

We were in the Intermarché supermarket in Doué la Fontaine and I asked a question regarding a particular joint of meat on the butchery counter.  To identify the joint in question I reached over and pointed at it.  The glass that separates the public from the meat is sort of curved and I rested my wrist on the edge – big mistake!!  The glass exploded with a huge bang and shattered into hundreds of small pieces which covered all the meat in the display cabinet which, being Christmas was of the more expensive sort,  being things like venison, guinea fowl stuffed with cépes, confit de canard etc, etc.   The supermarket was packed and they must all have been warmed by the furious red glow coming from my face.  It’s now in the hands of the two Assurance companies so we’ll see what happens.

A day or two later I went into a bar in Doué and joined a group of guys by the bar to discover that one of them was saying that some “mec”, (bloke), had broken the glass in Intermarché and that they had thrown away all the meat in the cabinet – at a value of over €3,000!!  “Yes, I know who did it”, I interjected, “I know him very well” . “”Well, who was it”? was the response.  “Errr…me” I replied.  Which of course cued much uproarious hilarity, totally over the top in my opinion!!  Although “mon copain” Didier did come up with the idea that  I should go to see the Manager of the rival supermarket, “Super-U”, and ask for a reward for sabotaging the opposition’s meat sales just two days before Christmas.  I’ll have a think about that one!!

Have a good 2012!


Gite vacation lets in the Loire Valley