Saturday, 30 April 2016

Watching Experts at Work

Old buildings and objects require a lot of maintenance, and much of the important conservation work at chateaux takes place between the end of September and the beginning of April. Far from spoiling your visit, this can often enhance it. You can see close up the detailed work of repairing and maintaining these priceless buildings and their contents.

Sometimes the conservator is even happy to talk about his or her work and can provide fascinating behind the scenes facts about how a decorative element was made or the particular problems of caring for certain objects. 

October and March are ideal times to visit if you are interested in how the chateaux are cared for. Visitor numbers are low, but the weather is often mild - just the sort of time delicate conservation work will be scheduled. After all you can't do precision work with frozen hands, and many old fashioned materials cannot be used when it is too cold.

If you are interested in the behind the scenes management of historic monuments email us and ask about tours in the spring or autumn. We can't guarantee you will get to talk to a conservator, but we will do our best to give you an idea of what goes in to the care of the wonderful Loire chateaux.

Saturday, 16 April 2016

On the Road with Loire Valley Time Travel

If you're travelling in a group of between four and seven people, we have a real treat in store for you; a 1950's style convoy.

We have two 1950's Citroën Traction Avant cars, and a second driver. When we have larger groups we use both cars and drivers, and take to the road in convoy. Travelling with just the one car always causes people to stop and stare, travelling with two cars in convoy makes people forget their inhibition and wave to us as we pass.

When we stop, we get into converstaion with people who remember the cars from their childhood, or who learnt to drive in one, and we often return to the cars to discover people having their picture taken with them.

If you're travelling in a group, and would like to see the chateaux of the Loire valley in 1950's style, email us, and we will design your special day out.

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

French Farmers Markets

Every village and town in the Touraine Loire Valley has a weekly market. Often they are very small, just a few stalls selling the basics. Locally grown fruit and vegetables, a local butcher, an oyster farmer up from the coast and a local goats cheese producer would be a typical mix.

Some of the markets are much more extensive and lively though. We have a particular fondness for Loches market and often encourage clients to include it in their itinerary. It has 220 vendors who come on Wednesdays and Saturdays (that's 34 stalls for every 1000 persons in Loches!). It is the second most important market in the area. It is big enough to offer plenty of choice, but not so big as to be overwhelming. The streets in the old centre of town are pedestrianised on market day and the local population all turns out to support it. Markets like this depend on the resident population, and almost every household will purchase certain items from the market. It is a great chance to chat to friends and find out more about your food, directly from the producers.

We've written about Loches market a number of times on our daily blog, Days on the Claise. In 'The Offal Butcher' and 'The Tarte Tatin Man' we wrote about specific stalls. In 'Local Green Asparagus!' we wrote about how pleased we were that a local asparagus producer now sells green asparagus at Loches market, when previously it had been more or less unobtainable (the local taste is for white asparagus). In 'Blessed are the Cheesemakers' we included a section on the various cheese stalls in Loches market. In 'The Last Market Day Before Christmas' we describe going to Loches market just before Christmas. In 'On the Road Again' we wrote about house hunting and the part Loches market played in our choice to live where we do.

If you would like to experience a typical French morning at the market, email us and ask us to plan an itinerary for you that includes Loches market. We will be delighted to share it with you!