Thursday 25 July 2013

Stained Glass in the Loire Valley

All churches in France have lovely old stained glass right? It's one of the things you will want to see when you visit.

But what if you don't know much about stained glass and want to make sure you see something really special? Most of the stained glass in churches is 19th century -- so it's pretty and colourful and from highly skilled workshops, but you could see the equivalent back in North America or Australia. Hardly any really old (ie pre-Reformation) glass survives, even in France. There are perhaps half a dozen churches or chapels where original glass remains intact in the whole of the Loire Valley that we cover. And they are extra-ordinary! Far more vibrant and jewel like than the vast majority of 19th century examples. They are also relatively unknown and in quite unspoilt locations.

If you want to get away from the crowds, see gorgeous glass, and find out why it is so rare, email us and we will make a visit to one of these special places part of your itinerary.

Monday 15 July 2013

Visiting a Winemaker in the Loire Valley

The Loire Valley wineries welcome visitors all year round, but they are not like the large establishments you may be familiar with in North America or Australia. The wineries here are all about growing grapes and making wine -- and that's pretty much it. They don't have restaurants or art galleries or children's playgrounds or boutiques attached. They are just wineries, and when you visit you speak to the winemaker.

 A typical Chinon vineyard, in early spring.
We think that makes for a much more personal and intimate experience. When you visit a winery with us you don't get someone trained in customer service, you meet a winemaker. He or she most likely has made wine with their father and grandfather before taking over the business themselves. If they are lucky, there is a teenager in the family who is starting to take an interest, and the succession is assured.

Typically, the people working at Loire Valley wineries are family members, with perhaps one or two salaried staff. Everyone mucks in together and can turn their hand to everything, from pruning to picking to packing. Although the wineries are small and everyone is busy, because we have established a relationship with the winemakers, it is rare that they tell us we cannot bring a client to visit them, so with us, you can visit the Loire wineries any time you like.

If you would like the best possible experience at a small but high quality wine producer, email us and let us organise a session with a winemaker for you.

Wednesday 3 July 2013

International Art in the Loire

Art is everywhere in the Loire Valley and sometimes it is really unexpected. The chateaux are full of beautiful objects and fine paintings from the past, but more recent artworks of great significance can be encountered too.

The Arts are strongly supported in France, and the Loire Valley has attracted artists of international reknown to live and work here. Our art loving clients are amazed to see a large standing mobile by Alexander Calder in the middle of the picturesque village of Saché. They can walk right up and touch it, or have their photo taken with it.

If you want to enjoy art from throughout the ages, from medieval to modern, email us and we will design a tour so you discover the best the region has to offer.