Rue Sainte, One of the many charming

Rue Sainte, one of the many charming “rues” in Le Puy Notre Dame

The sun is shining and it’s 30°C. Medieval Le Puy Notre Dame is full of little tiny rues darting off in all directions and so to relax and discover new walks is one of life’s pleasures here.

This is a photograph of rue Sainte which is a pretty little walk downhill looking towards Cix with a fabulous vista and is one of the most charming rues in the village. I am sure many of our guests will have already discovered this on their walks. We love it! On the roadside there are lots of hollyhocks and rambling roses interspersed with wild flowers and it just gets better as you descend into the vineyards you can see the bunches of grapes are so beautiful and beginning to ripen – it won’t be long before the vendage, (grape harvest), starts.  Perhaps as little as three weeks if the weather holds.

Of course this walk has advantages in that ……. it’s only minutes from the bar too for a glass or two of chilled Chenin Blanc!  Hang on Brian did you say you wanted to come with me!!!!!  Oh no, you’ll already be there.

Looking forward to another day and another lovely walk – perhaps another glass of wine too!


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Happy 2015 from us all in the Loire Valley.

Happy 2015 from us all in the Loire Valley.

Bonjour Everyone,

People around the world have been busy celebrating Christmas and at Clos des Guyons it has been go go go too, but one that we have thoroughly enjoyed with guests and friends, which included not only the usual Christmas festivities but birthday celebrations along the way too!

As we are step into a fresh New Year, Brian and I wish our clients, family and friends a marvellous New Year filled with joy and treasured moments ahead.

Its the start of the slow season for us now for a while and so we are looking forward to peace and tranquility to recharge our batteries!

But we would like to say a big thankyou for all the wonderful support, friendship and encouragement given by our Clos des Guyons guests old and new, it is so appreciated. This year we have clocked TEN years running our gites in Le Puy Notre Dame and many happy memories have been made during this time.

May the year 2015 be a beautiful, blessed and magical New Year for you all.

We hope a visit to the Loire Valley may be one of your holiday destinations to enjoy in 2015.

With Much Love and of course ‘Bon Santé’



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.


Sheila and Brian and

How much does a French Vineyard Cost?


A vineyard in the Loire side village of Montsoreau. How would you like to own something like this?

Imagine a beautiful warm evening, you are sitting on your terrace, sipping a glass of your own luscious wine as the sun sets behind your rolling vineyards.  This scenario has long been a dream for many lovers of French wine and culture but how much will it cost?  Let’s have a look.

We’ll leave aside the cost of tools and equipment which can vary enormously depending on a number of factors but is always a huge expenditure but we’ll concentrate here on what is clearly the biggest expense of all which is of course, the vineyard itself and the valuation of that depends on a multitude of factors including the appellation, the region and the position and orientation of the vineyards.

So, to give you an idea, here are the current average prices throughout France.  Cheapest appellation vineyards are probably priced at around €10 000 per hectare, (an hectare is 2.47 acres), in regions like Gaillac in the south west or Valençay in the Loire, whilst a hectare of vineyard in the Nantais, (Muscadet) would come even cheaper at €8 000.  At the other end of the scale are vineyards in Margaux which would come in at €1m per hectare and just next door in Paulliac you could expect to pay up to double that for the privilege of owning an hectare of vines, but then again the appellation is the home of three of the most expensive wines in the world:- the Chateaux Latour; Mouton Rothschild and Lafite Rothschild.

If you’re into Champagne be prepared to fork out €1m.  In the middle range are Châteauneuf de Pape at €350 000 with €140 000 required to make a glass of grassy, fruity Sancerre and €95 000 for a sturdy Crozes-Hermitage from the Northern Rhone.

Here in the Western Loire it’s quite complicated not least because of the multitude and complexity of appellations.  A hectare of Anjou or Anjou Village would probably set you back some €13 000 with another €3 000 required for vines in the Coteaux du Layon.  The “lieu-dit” of Quarts du Chaume would cost €18 000 as would Savenierre near Angers.  A Saumur hectare would be around €17 000 and here in the new appellation of Saumur Puy Notre Dame you would have to pay up to €36 000.  In the better known and longer established appellation of Saumur-Champigny you would be looking at €56 000 on average.

So there you go, have a look down the back of the sofa and see what you can afford!

à bientôt

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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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Wine tasting at Festivini

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!


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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.

Restaurant on the Loire

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.