LE CLOS DES GUYONS 2015 GRAND PRIX RETRO BBQ!

Gites le Puy Notre Dame

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!

Sante!
Brian and Sheila

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Comeuppance

I told Sheila what would happen if she didn't behave.

I told Sheila what would happen if she didn’t behave! ha ha!

I did warn her that retribution would follow!  We found this photo going through old albums.  I think it was in Châteauneuf-duPape. Doesn’t seem to have had much effect.  I’ll have to try again.

à bientôt
Brian

Gites in the Loire Valley

Is Asparagus an aphrodisiac?

Pasta with asparagus, lardons, mozzerella and basil.

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!

Bon Appetit

Sheila and Brian

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CHRISTMAS GREETINGS FROM ‘LE CLOS DES GUYONS’ IN LE PUY NOTRE DAME.

Aperitifs on Christmas Eve here at Le Clos des Guyons in the Loire Valley.

Aperitifs on Christmas Eve here at Le Clos des Guyons  in the Loire Valley, France.

From our guests and neighbours at Le Clos des Guyons, Le Puy Notre Dame, in the heart of the Val de Loire, we are raising our glasses to wish all our lovely clients both old and new, friends and family far away, a “Joyeux Noel” and “Very Merry Christmas”!

the local "tuffeau" limestone.  Totally inefficient of course but what a centre-piece!

The 300 year old traditional Loire fireplace made from the local “tuffeau” limestone. Totally inefficient of course but what a centre-piece!

Here we are in the photograph (Sheila is missing because she is taking it) with our neighbours and current guests from Kent and New Hampshire, USA, in our Salon in front of a roaring fire at the start of our Christmas Eve Reveillon, sharing conversation and aperitifs over a Magnum of the Domaine de la Paleine’s Saumur sparkling wine.  It was such a perfect Christmassy evening before the feasting of our delicious six course meal paired with other amazing Loire wines.

We sincerely hope you too enjoy a lovely Christmastime and holiday wherever you are!

There are lots of things to do over the next week, Christmas markets everywhere to enjoy with all the local artisan production of gift ideas, foods and wines and Chateaux and castles to visit ALSO last but not least our Wine Tour around the Le Puy vineyards and Wine Tasting in the village.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS AND MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU ALL!

Sheila and Brian

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A Treasure in Cars

Millions of Eros worth of classic cars.  Forgotten in an old barn

Millions of euros worth of Classic Cars forgotten in an old barn!!

Les Deux-Sèvres is our adjoining Departement, just a few minutes down the road.  It is not particularly famous, very rural with a handful of large towns.  However, it is very much favoured by ex-pats who enjoy living in the countryside and the reasonable property prices. Echiré is a village of around 3 200 on the edge of Niort, one of the largest towns in les Deux-Sévres.  It is also the last place one would have expected to find …… ‘treasure’!  Not, it is true, a cashe of medieval objects which you would perhaps expect to find in a country as historic as France, in fact something much more modern but extremely valuable nevertheless.

The Ferrari 250 California, owned for a time by Alain Delon and worth it's weight in gold!.

The Ferrari 250 California, owned for a time by Alain Delon and literally worth it’s weight in gold!.

Roger Baillon was a haulier and also an avid collector of old vehicles.  He died in the early 2000’s and his collection, stored in a ramshackle barn, was simply forgotten about by his family and, when his son died recently, the inheritors of the estate asked for the collection to be valued.  I imagine that both the family and the valuer have still not recovered from the shock of the said valuation.
In fact, the collection, covered in dust, straw, old newspapers and old rubbish revealed some of the most valuable cars in the world. To name just a few:-
A Ferrari 250 California owned by the French film-star Alain Delon. Designed by Pinifarina, only 52 were ever made.  All of which have now disappeared.  The car behind the rubbish is now valued at a stunning 9 to 12 million Euros.  Alongside it was a 1948 A6G Gran SportTalbot Lago T26 formerly owned by King Farouk of Egypt.  Nearby was a Maserati A6G Grand Sport Frua dating from 1956 and now one of only three in existence and, behind a stack of empty oil drums a Hispano Suiza H6B dating from the 1930’s.
In all the collection included up to 300 vehicles and, despite the efforts of les Deux-Sévres to keep the collection in the Departement, it now looks as if it will be auctioned in Paris on the 6th February in Paris.  The total value is expected to be over 16 million Euros.

So, there you go, have a look in your old out-buildings, you never know.  I’ve had a look in mine and I’ve found an old bucket and a load of empty wine bottles.  No treasure for me then!

à bientôt
Brian

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Angers – The best place to live in France.

The stunning chateau at Angers

The stunning chateau at Angers

Angers is the prefecture of Maine et Loire the modern departement which roughly coincides with the ancient dukedom of Anjou, effectively its capital. It is part of the large and varied region of Pays de la Loire with its main town of Nantes. Like Anjou the region of Pays de la Loire is very different depending where you are, from the resorts, oyster beds and ports on the Atlantic Coast to the inland Loire of wine, chateaux and history.  One thing is certain however and that is that for the rest of France the region is one which the French themselves love and think is the best place to live.  For several years now both Nantes and Angers have  had the annual accolade of having, “La mieux vivre en France”,  the best life in France.  For the last three years a survey, carried out by the French daily L’Expresse,  has rated Angers the best with Nantes the second.  Every year the survey uses 24 different criteria  to reach it’s decision including things like greenspace, transport, health, leisure, crime and the general solidarity of its population.  It is very difficult to find one major reason but, for us the mildness of the climate and the way that we normally seem to avoid extremes of storms, hail, floods etc.  is very important.  For example, this year thousands of hectares of vines have been destroyed throughout famous French Wine Appellations such as Bordeaux, Burgundy and Champagne whilst here in the Saumur and Anjou we are looking forward to a  2014 Loire Vintage which the president of the winemakers association has called, “presque parfait” – almost perfect.  As storms and heavy hailstorms hit both North and South the meteorologist on TV explained the Anjou had escaped and, as always, was, “between the two”.

The Place de Ralliement in Angers.  Ancient buildings, Restaurants, theatre and a modern Tram system.  A snapshot of Angers.

La Place du Ralliement in Angers. Ancient buildings, restaurants, theatre and a modern tram system. A snapshot of Angers.

I have often mentioned the “Douceur Angevine”, the terms used to describe life in general in Anjou and which literally means the sweetness of life.  The term is far from being a myth and refers not just to the climate but to the general easy going, gentle way of life and the pleasant, pretty countryside fertile and full of livestock, crops and vines.  And through it all rolls the mighty Loire with it’s own riverside towns and chateaux and which effectively links the whole of this lovely region.

Angers itself has always been one of our favourite towns: clean, vibrant, dripping with history, full of museums and art galleries which reflect an intellectual side emanating from it’s famous university.  Add in the literally hundreds of bars, restaurants and theatres and it’s ongoing calendar of music both classic and modern and it’s very difficult to beat.  But, for all that, we would say that,for us, our pretty wine village of Le Puy Notre Dame with it’s gothic church, it’s vineyards and it’s position on both the Route du Vin and the Pilgrim’s route to St. Jacques de Compostelle is of course “the best of the best” but, being unashamedly biased, we would say that wouldn’t we and we are proud to think of ourselves as adopted “angevin”

à bientôt

Brian and Sheila

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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

Brian

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