Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Meet the Locals and Hear Their Stories in the Loire Valley

Because we know the area intimately we can take you to all sorts of places that you might not otherwise see. Along the way we will often talk to locals who know the story of what we have come to see.

For example, not many people outside the Touraine Loire Valley realise that the great American sculptor Alexander Calder lived for many years just outside a small village here. His house is now run by a foundation that provides a residency for young artists, and in the market square there is one of his standing mobiles.

Clients talking to a local in Saché.
If we are going in that direction we usually stop to admire the mobile, and our clients are amazed that, like many works of art in France, you can get right up close to it, with no barrier. Calder was a well known figure in the village and well within living memory. Sometimes a friendly local will approach us to tell us about the statue, which they are very proud of, and if we are lucky they will be someone who knew Calder personally. Then there are tales of drinking with the great man in the bar across the street.

If you like the idea of not just visiting the famous chateaux, but are open to serendipidous encounters, email us and book a tour. If nothing else, the iconic cars we use will ensure a conversation starts up somewhere we stop.

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Where are the Loire Chateaux?

The Loire River is very long and many of the administrative districts along its length make reference to it. Several French départements (counties) have the word 'Loire' in their name, for example, the one where we are based, which is Indre et Loire. The départements are grouped together into Regions. You would think that the Region in which the UNESCO World Heritage area is situated along with the most famous of the Loire Valley chateau would have been called something sensible which gave international visitors some clue when they were researching their holiday.

Curiously though, the Region was called Centre until the beginning of this year -- an anonymous name that was completely unhelpful to visitors who were not familiar with French geography. Happily, after considerable argument in administrative circles, we are now part of the Centre-Val de Loire Region. So if you are wanting to visit the chateaux of the Loire, search for them in Centre-Val de Loire. (Insider tip: also use the name of the old province in this area, Touraine, which is what many local people still use for this area.)

And if you really want to get the best from visiting the chateaux, email us and ask us to custom design a tour of your favourite Loire Valley chateaux.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Visiting Goat Cheese Producers in the Touraine Loire Valley

If your dream holiday is to get dressed up in silly hats, coats and overshoes, get to taste lots of goats cheese and talk to French cheesemakers, then we can help you!

Amie and Marc, goat farmers and cheese producers 
from Michigan at Fromagerie Moreau Pontlevoy.
If you are interested in French goat cheeses we can include a visit to a producer in your customised tour. It can be as simple as popping into a farm shop on our way to a chateau and sampling some local cheese, or it can be a full farm visit where we see the goats, dairy and aging rooms (and you have to wear the silly outfit...). If your interest extends to French cheeses in general, we can visit a specialist cheese refiner who takes cheese from all over and ages them until they are at their peak of perfection. Or we could visit a winery that is co-owned by a cheese merchant and have him make a selection of local specialities that we pair with his wine.

Email us and tell us you love cheese. We'll make sure to include some in your tour.