Friends, guests and neighbours under the stars at midnight, very tired but happy, at the end of a fab weekend of festivities
This year was our ‘Twelfth’ Le Clos des Guyons 2015 Grand Prix Retro BBQ which we host for guests, friends and neighbours. As the weather was wet we decided to use our old Wine Chais – always a great venue for parties! Wines were courtesy of Robert Guyons, retired winemaker of ‘Domaine des Guyons’ now our home! – who brought his 1986 Saumur Blanc (a revelation to say the least) and there were many toasts to Robert for his generosity! Food was courtesy of Brian our hard working Chef! Oh and at the end we had a belated celebration toast to Sheila’s recent milestone birthday, with the delectable Chateau de Fesles Bonnezeaux, which we had been saving for the occasion. It was absolutely divine with our dessert of strawberry tarts!
The 19th Annual Grand Prix Retro of Le Puy Notre Dame (always the last Sunday in the month of July) started with the arrival early in the week of the pre 1935-classic car rally including sidecars and bikes. The village was buzzing with activity including the organising of the route with straw bales for barriers amongst other things. Events started on Friday evening 24th July, with the ‘Grande Regalade’ organised by the village L’Ambiance Ponote, a superb prelude to the weekend’s activities with huge long tables and chairs placed in the rue de la Collegiale for everyone to eat a fantastic meal together. This year we had spit roasted pig on the menu! Everyone had an aperitif brought around the tables by two volunteers with an old supermarket trolley full of different wines including of course Saumur Puy-Notre-Dame, it goes without saying we enjoy a few glasses of the village appellation on these occasions! We said the trolley idea reminded of the hostess trolley service on aircrafts, but of course these guys were far more entertaining with the banter as you can well imagine! This year the weather was unusually windy but nevertheless we soldiered on enjoying the music and singing whilst holding onto our wine glasses for fear of them tumbling from the tables!
The Saturday morning programme started with entrants having a day together rallying around various villages in the Loire (passing rue du Moulin on the way for our guests to enjoy)! Then a nocturnal village race starting at 9pm finishing at midnight! Sunday is the Grande Parade being a whole day of rallying and demonstrations ……… then for us at Le Clos des Guyons a continuation into the night of more food, wine and conviviality!
And so, here’s a toast to the ‘2016 Grand Prix Retro’ and, as it will be the 20th Anniversary, it’s going to be a three-day event …. full of surprises we are told! We have lots to look forward to and are awaiting the dates to be announced!
Brian and Sheila
Gites in the Loire Valley
Half-Day Loire Valley Wine Tours
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!
Le Puy Notre Dame
Too Many Loire Village Festivals
Gites in the Loire Valley
Loire Wine Tours
Pasta with asparagus, lardons, mushrooms, onions, cream and scattered with parmesan
We are celebrating the arrival of our lovely garden asparagus again – a wonderful time of the year and in abundance in our vegetable garden.
There are so many recipes to try with it both fresh and raw, we have it in quiches, soups, salads, pastas – the list is endless. Our favourite is in pasta with mushrooms, lardons, onions and cooked asparagus thrown in at the last minute. Apparently in ancient times, asparagus was renowned as an aphrodisiac! Regardless of its powers to put you in the mood though, this savory vegetable contains a stimulating blend of nutrients, making this member of the lily family alongside onions, leeks and garlic a fantastic food for your health. We will have to let you know if it lies true to its ‘aphrodisiac’ reputation, (Brian insists that this is a fallacy – as with oysters and he’s eaten enough so he should know)! but one thing we can vouch for is it causes stinky pee! Scientists aren’t entirely sure why. Most evidence seems to suggest that not everyone can smell the odor and some scientists think that not everyone produces it. Either way, there are no harmful effects.
And so we will continue enjoying our harvest and sharing garden produce with our Clos des Guyons guests during their stay! Not sure if they will let us know about the asparagus aphrodisiac affects though!!! That would be telling wouldn’t it!!
The asparagus season has about another week to go and we’re now into cherries – and that’s another story!
Sheila and Brian
Gites in the Loire Valley
Loire Valley Wine Tours
Not usually what you would expect to find outside a village bar in rural France.
I was in the village bar the other evening with a group of assorted locals, all busy finding the solutions to life, the universe and everything as one does when Stéphane, sitting on a bar-stool, next to me with his back to the bar and looking through the glass door, quietly said,
“There’s two lions outside”.
Immediately everyone said; “Ouaiss Stéphane”, using that long drawn out “oui” which generally translates as “yes, of course there is, keep taking the pills”- especially as Stéphane had been in the bar for a while and was, shall we say, relaxed.
“No there are”, he insisted – and there was!
Obviously they were part of the travelling circus which was setting up in nearby Saumur and leaving aside the moral question of animals in circus’ at least it was a change from seeing pink elephants.
It did get me thinking however about the difference in attitude between the UK and France over questions of health and safety. Imagine someone leaving a couple of lions in a street in England and think what the repercussions might have been. Here everyone soon returned to the conversation which, if memory serves me correctly, was about the second leg of the Monaco -Arsenal match. And that, apart from a passing glance from the odd driver or cyclist, was that. Of course we did try to persuade Stéphane to put his hand in so that we could see what happened but, although he was drunk, he clearly wasn’t that drunk.
Gite Holidays in the Loire Valley
The Gallette des Rois, (or Epiphany Cake) a very French tradition.
The seasonal tradition of having the cake Galette de Rois for Epiphany in France has at last come to an end for us after eating lots of them this year. Thank goodness and I say that because of all the calories we have consumed following Christmas! (The plus side though is they are so delicious). In the Loire region, as you can see from the photograph, it’s made from puff pastry and then filled with frangipane, jam or chocolate, Mmmmmm! Each gallette contains a plastic or porcelain feve (that is a small charm) with the finder being King for the duration of the occasion, who then wears the cardboard gold crown supplied with the cake and has the obligation to host an evening in the following year. The family tradition is for everyone to gather together and the youngest child (or adult) goes under the table and points out the guests, who are then given their portion of the cake; Easy! This year the tradition has had added appeal as 100 gold Napoléon coins have been hidden in random gallettes by leading French Patissiers giving a valuable surprise to the finder! Not us unfortunately. And as you can see in the picture we had our Galette with a glass or two of Anjou Rosé.
Until next year then. Bonne Galette
Now back to work again.
Sheila and Brian
Brian about to taste a glass of 2012 Coteaux du Layon
Enjoying a relaxing degustation at the ‘Festivini’ Festival Wine Market with old friend and neighbour, Hubert Deffois from Chateau de Brossay, a 45 hectare Domaine in Clere sur Layon, our old village where we lived for three happy years before arriving in Le Puy Notre Dame. It’s situated on the high Layon south of Anjou and west of the Saumurois.
This Domaine has been in the family for four generations and is currently operated by Hubert and Raymond Deffois and family, producers of exquisite Coteaux du Layons alongside L’Anjou Blanc, Rosé de Loire, Cabernet d’Anjou, Anjou Rouge, Anjou Village, Crémant de Loire et Saumur Brut Rosé and Brut Rouge.
It’s well worth a visit and you are guaranteed a very warm welcome!
The vendage has now started and the sunny mild weather we are currently enjoying is very much welcomed. Provided we have no unforeseen disasters it looks like 2014 will be an excellent vintage. The only cloud on the horizon (literally) was an horrendous thunderstorm and cloudburst together with giant hailstones which hit us last Friday. Luckily it was very isolated and does not appear to have caused any damage in the vineyards. When I say isolated, here at Le Clos des Guyons it was rain and hailstones bouncing of the roofs, gutters couldn’t cope and one of our gite guests drove his car into one of our outbuildings because it was being damaged by the hail. Meanwhile, about 300m. away Brian was sitting outside the bar with a group of friends in full, warm sunshine.
Here’s to a good vintage year for the vignerons!
Loire Valley Wine Tours
Today is the Wine Market in Place de la Republique Saumur, alongside the Loire. and what a wonderful afternoon with clear blue skies and temperatures in the thirties it was a lively afternoon! The market is a part of the “Festivini” celebrations which is a two week long celebration of the wines of Anjou and Saumur. It has many tastings throughout the region, gourmet meals with carefully chosen wine in such rarified atmospheres as the Royal Abbey at Fontenvraud and walks, bike rides, horse treks and carriage rides through several vineyards. We arrived just after 2:00pm having eaten at the Hotel le Bussy in nearby Montsoreau. This is a great place for Sunday Lunch havig superb views, not just of the Loire but also of the Château.
Part of the enchanting terrace of the Hôtel le Bussy at Monsoreau
The menu is simple and quite restricted but the food is superbly well cooked and the “frites” are to die for.
The market was just starting to fill up again after the two hour lunch break and it was an ideal oppurtunity to get round easily and meet some of our old friends like Hubert Deffois from Château de Brossay in our first village of Cléré sur Layon. A superb producer of exquisite Coteaux du Layons. As usual our current village was represented by the Domaine de la Paleine and the Domaine d’Enchentoir whilst all the big sparkling houses of Saumur like Akerman, Gratien-Meyer and Langois Chateau were well represented.