Thursday, 21 October 2021

Historical Graffiti Tour in the Loire Valley

Messages from the past scratched into the stone. 

 

16C graffiti in the chapel of the Chateau of Chenonceau, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Graffiti in the chapel of the Chateau of Chenonceau.



This one hour long tour takes place at either the Chateau of Chenonceau or the Donjon of Loches. In both cases you will see some extraordinary and unique graffiti, but the two sites are quite different, so talk to me about which you might prefer.

Graffiti stags in a staircase tower, Donjon de Loches, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Graffiti stags, probably 16C, Loches.
 


Even though we rarely know the names of those who made the marks or the messages, each of the examples you will see tell a story about their times. They are almost always associated with conflict (the Reformation and Wars of Religion, the World Wars, the Revolution). None of them are well known and few guides have any real information about them or even point them out.

16C graffiti by Protestant soldiers, Loches, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
16C Lifesize graffiti soldiers, Loches.
 
Very little study has been made of the graffiti, but my research indicates that these are not idle scratch marks. They are extensive and made by people who really wanted to get a message across, from the 16C to modern times. In all cases the graffiti are absolutely unique and you will not see anything like them elsewhere. In fact, don't even think of them as graffiti -- they are messages from the past, and in some cases, works of art. 16C street art -- except it's not in the street! I cannot stress enough how unique this graffiti is and how little known, except to a few local experts.

16C graffiti by Protestant soldiers, Loches, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Lifesize graffiti of soldiers dueling, Loches.
 

Itinerary
Chateau of Chenonceau
*meet at the Sphinxes on the driveway in front of the Chateau of Chenonceau.
*at the Chateau of Chenonceau: see WWII graffiti on the river wall, WWI graffiti in the Long Gallery and mysterious and important 16C graffiti in the chapel.
*afterwards you have the opportunity to explore the rest of the chateau at your own pace. 

Painted river boat graffiti, Loches, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Painted river boat, Loches.
 

Donjon of Loches
*meet at the Porte Royale (Royal Gate) of the Cité Royal (Royal Citadel) in Loches.

*at the Donjon (keep) of Loches: see a painted river boat in a prison cell, an entire room carved with religious motifs and lifesize soldiers, many messages and drawings on the staircase walls, paintings by Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan on the walls of his prison cell.
*afterwards you have the opportunity to explore the rest of the citadel at your own pace.



WWI graffiti, Chateau of Chenonceau, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
WWI graffiti at the Chateau of Chenonceau.


Now your eye is in you will see more graffiti. Don't miss the witch marks and the Revolutionary messages!

Cross of Lorraine and V for Victory graffiti on the river wall at the Chateau of Chenonceau, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
WWII graffiti in the grounds of the Chateau of Chenonceau.


This tour as a whole or partially, can be customized to fit your preferences - please inquire!

Painted decoration on the prison cell of Ludovico Sforza, Loches, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
16C wall paintings by Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan, in his prison cell, Loches.

 

Duration: 1 hour.

16C Wall paintings by Ludovico Sforza in his prison cell, Loches, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
16C Wall paintings by Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan, in his prison cell, Loches.

 


This is a walking tour. At the Chateau of Chenonceau the paths are gravel and no need to take the stairs to see graffiti. At the Donjon of Loches there are quite a few stairs, in narrow spiral towers.
 
Price: €75 for groups of up to 4 people. Admission tickets are not included.

Booking: email admin@tourtheloire.com at least one day before you wish to take the tour. Tours can be conducted on any day of the week, throughout the year, at a time to suit you.

About the Guide: I am Susan Walter. I specialise in story telling, the weaving together of this fact and that, this character and their relationship with another. It is a technique which brings alive the history of what is sometimes just stones to look at, but those stones may lead to something wonderfully evocative and provide a better understanding of the past. Much of the history of the Loire Valley is about important characters which you will have heard of, but there is a great deal of hidden history too -- characters who have been forgotten in modern times, motivations for deeds which seem inexplicable can become clear, how different life was then, but also how similar. If you want to know who would graffiti a royal chapel and why, and why it isn't who most guides will tell you it is, then take a tour with me. If you want to know about the history of bathing and personal hygiene, and how that isn't quite what you think it is, then take a tour with me. If you want to meet fascinating characters from history who really made a difference, often women, then take a tour with me.

WWI graffiti at the Chateau de Chenonceau, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
WWI graffiti in the Chateau of Chenonceau.

English speaking, born and raised in Australia, I lived for 12 years in England, where I worked for the National Trust in their Historic Buildings Conservation Department, and now in the UNESCO World Heritage Listed Loire Valley for more than a decade. I am an active heritage and nature conservation professional with experience of working with conservators and curators to care for historic objects and buildings, and with ecologists caring for our natural environment. Deeply embedded in the local scene I speak quite good French and enjoy life in a small village near some fabulous chateaux and lovely countryside. I'm always happy to talk about life in France and am friends with many wine makers and local food producers.

Sunday, 17 October 2021

Frost Damage in the Loire Valley Vineyards

We hope that when you visit the Loire Valley you will support local small scale wine estates. These are usually family run, and you will probably never have heard of them. But they are making great small batch artisanal wines that reflect the long traditions of working with chenin blanc, sauvignon blanc, cot (malbec), gamay and cabernet franc in the Loire Valley. This year it is more important than ever to support the small producers because all of them in this area have been affected by the cold snap that frosted the vines in mid-April. The loss of this year's vintage, or part of it, is a severe blow.

Frost damaged vine, Chinon, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Frost damaged vine, Chinon. The leaf buds on the left are dead so there will be no fruit producing growth from them.

To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website.

Wednesday, 13 October 2021

World War Two French Resistance in the Loire Valley – La Roche Posay Hostage Crisis.

La Roche Posay is a small spa town about a ten minutes car journey from where we live. The water here is high in selenium and is the basis of skin care products in l’Oréal’s La Roche Posay range. L’Oréal owns much of the commercial centre of town and before the Covid19 pandemic there were big plans announced of a huge investment into the community infrastructure to turn the town into a luxury spa resort with access to cutting edge skin care treatments. If you have an intractable skin condition in France, your doctor may well give you a prescription for two weeks in La Roche Posay to ‘take the cure’, all paid for by your State health insurance. Visitors to the town’s spas are known as curistes. But that is today, when all is peaceful, if you are interested I will tell you about a frightening incident that occurred here 76 years ago, only a day after the liberation of Paris.

 

Square Abbe Brand, La Roche Posay, Vienne, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
The square in La Roche Posay is named after a local hero of the Second World War.

 

To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website.

Saturday, 9 October 2021

Oysters in the Loire Valley

Oysters are super popular in France and here in the Touraine Loire Valley we are close enough to the Atlantic coast that certain oyster producers come up regularly with fresh oysters for the markets. The types to look out for are the Creuse (hollow), the Pousse en Claire (saltmarsh pond grown) and the Fine. The Creuse is the most available and affordable, the Fines and Claires the most prized for their meatiness and flavour. They are normally eaten au naturel, or with a few drops of shallot vinegar. If you like fresh oysters, let us know and we will try to make sure the restaurant is serving them the day of your tour.

Oysters at a market, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Oysters at my local market.


To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website. If you would like an idea of how your tour might look and sound, please check out our YouTube channel.

Tuesday, 5 October 2021

October Rose in the Loire Valley

If you see pink bales of hay or silage in the fields in the Loire Valley you know that the farmer is supporting breast cancer awareness and research. The pink plastic indicates the farmer has donated to a cancer charity. Agriculture is the biggest economic sector in the Loire Valley and 50% of people in agriculture here are women, so it is not surprising that support for October Rose is strong.
To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website.

Tuesday, 28 September 2021

Classic Car Fun in France

This was a fun day out, recreating a classic traffic jam in the style of the 1970s when everyone went on holidays to the coast at the same time.

 

To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website. If you would like an idea of how your tour might look and sound, please check out our YouTube channel.

Friday, 24 September 2021

Driving in the Loire Valley Countryside in a Classic Citroen Car

This is the famous N10, the route many French people took when they headed for their summer holidays on the Atlantic coast. It is also the route of the old pilgrim road to Spain. Why not join us and do part of it in style, in a vehicle entirely suited to the road's heyday.


To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website. If you would like an idea of how your tour might look and sound, please check out our YouTube channel.

Monday, 20 September 2021

Driving Through Canola Fields in France in a Classic Citroen Car

This is the view from our classic Citroen cars in the springtime in the Loire Valley. Why not come and join us?

To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website. If you would like an idea of how your tour might look and sound, please check out our YouTube channel.

Thursday, 16 September 2021

Clafoutis for Dessert in the Loire Valley

Clafoutis is a dessert for the all too brief cherry season. I make it about once a week when we have cherries, and all the traditional workers restaurants serve it. It’s a home baking classic here, not something that you buy at the patisserie. If you want to try it let us know when you book a tour with us. If it's cherry season, there will be clafoutis.

Homemade clafoutis. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Homemade clafoutis, with homegrown cherries.

To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website.

Sunday, 12 September 2021

A Brief History of French Bread Ovens

Bread has been a staple in France for centuries, and central France is the biggest producer of wheat in Western Europe. To find out how bread has been prepared over the centuries and how the ovens developed from communal facilities in the Middle ages to steam injection temperature controlled modern technology book a tour with us.

Baker's oven, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Modern steam injected baker's oven in our village.

To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website.

Tuesday, 7 September 2021

Driving a Classic Car Through a Small French Town

Join us for a drive.
 
 
To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website. If you would like an idea of how your tour might look and sound, please check out our YouTube channel.

Friday, 3 September 2021

Slow Travel in the Loire Valley

 Join us for a drive through a village in the Loire Valley.


 

To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website. If you would like an idea of how your tour might look and sound, please check out our YouTube channel.

Monday, 30 August 2021

Driving Through a Village in the Loire Valley in a Classic Citroen Car

 A small village in the Touraine Loire Valley, traversed in a Traction Avant. This could be you on a tour with us.


 
 
To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website. If you would like an idea of how your tour might look and sound, please check out our YouTube channel.

Friday, 27 August 2021

Walnuts in the Loire Valley

The Touraine Loire Valley is famous for its walnuts (Fr. les noix), although it does not hold an AOC for them as some other regions do. Still, there is a walnut tree in almost every field and along roadsides. There is no real need to possess your own walnut to secure a year round supply – just go for a walk in October and pick them up off the ground – everyone does it. If you like to know about trees or are interested in the lesser known detail of culinary traditions, book a tour with us. We can give you all sorts of fascinating insights into walnuts.

Walnut tree in a field, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.

To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website. If you would like an idea of how your tour might look and sound, please check out our YouTube channel.

Monday, 23 August 2021

Do You Want to Walk in Rural France?

Are you reasonably fit and active and can walk 10 kilometres in a morning? Would you rather have a half day walking along a river bank, along a valley then up the valley sides learning about World War II history, seeing a tower built by Richard the Lionheart, a picturesque church and some troglodyte caves than spending hours in a chateau looking a rich people's furniture? Let us know and we will take you to see Saint Rémy sur Creuse. I hope you are ready to do a bit of steep climbing (but not too much...). Or we can walk through the vineyards and troglodyte caves at Souzay-Champigny. It's your choice.

Church, Saint Remy sur Creuse, Vienne, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
This church can be reached by a lovely walk along the river and up on to the plateau beyond.


To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website. If you would like an idea of how your tour might look and sound, please check out our YouTube channel.

Thursday, 19 August 2021

Traces of the Second World War in the Loire Valley

Everywhere you go in the Loire Valley was touched by the Second World War but it can be almost impossible to find the traces unless you are with an experienced local guide. For example, if you visit Loches, you need to look up at certain buildings. You will see the ricochet marks of bullets at attic window level, but they would be easy to miss without someone who knows which buildings and what those pock marks in the stone are. You will not read it in any tourist literature. 

Town hall and Porte Picois, Loches, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
If you look carefully you can see bullet ricochet marks in the old town gate (under the clock).

 

To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website. If you would like an idea of how your tour might look and sound, please check out our YouTube channel.

Sunday, 15 August 2021

Shopping in the Loire Valley

The City of Tours, and smaller towns like Amboise, Azay le Rideau, Chinon, Blois and Loches have a nice selection of independent boutiques selling fashion (new and second-hand), lingerie, fashion accessories, leather goods, household linen, kitchenware, jewellery, cosmetics, wine, cheese, baked goods, art, antiques and flowers. If you would like to spend a half day shopping for unique gifts and souvenirs just let us know and we can plan an itinerary for you.

Second-hand clothing boutique, Loches, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Second-hand clothing boutique.


To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website. If you would like an idea of how your tour might look and sound, please check out our YouTube channel.

Wednesday, 11 August 2021

Visit the Chateau of Amboise in the Loire Valley

Visit the Chateau Royal of Amboise with us in a 1953 Citroen. It is one of the most famous of the Loire Valley chateau, and steeped in history. We show you just a few highlights of what the chateau has to offer, focusing on the lovely grounds.


We are working with the chateau to develop an exclusive visit using our cars, finishing with aperatif on the terrace.

To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website. If you would like an idea of how your tour might look and sound, please check out our YouTube channel.

Saturday, 7 August 2021

Discovering Door Nails in the Loire Valley

You might not think door nails are very interesting, but you'd be wrong. Check out our 2 minute video on the subject. If you take a tour with us, this is the sort of fascinating trivia you will learn (and be able to impress your friends with later). We touch on the big stuff too, of course, but we like to make your tour fun and unique.


 

To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website.

Tuesday, 3 August 2021

Location Scouting and Background Research for Authors in the Loire Valley

One of the jobs we find ourselves doing from time to time doesn't involve traditional visits to chateaux and wineries, and quite often the client isn't even present. Sometimes we are contacted by authors who are in the early stages of writing a book set in the Loire Valley. Our local knowledge of the geography, properties and history is invaluable in helping writers piece together plausible stories. We find that the period that seems to fascinate authors is the Second World War, and our own interest in this rather hidden history means that we can often help where others could not.

Refugees near Preuilly sur Claise June 1940, Indre et Loire, France.
Refugees from Paris in June 1940 heading for Bordeaux and overnighting at a farm near where we live.

If you are an author and would like someone on the ground who can answer your questions about the Loire Valley please get in touch.We understand that discretion and confidentiality are important to authors, particularly in the early stages of researching a new book.

To enquire about our private and confidential services for authors email us or use our contact form.

Friday, 30 July 2021

A Vintage Citroen Sign in the Loire Valley

Imagine our delight to discover this vintage Citroen sign on the gable end of a building in a village. A bit of research has revealed that it is a rather rare example from between the Wars. If you share our enthusiasm for petroliana and objects associated with that most French of car manufacturers, Citroen, why not book a tour with us. You never know what you might see.


Vintage Citroen sign on a building, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.

 

To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website.

Monday, 26 July 2021

Take a Video Tour of a Typical Loire Valley Village

 We've made a video about a tiny village near where we live. I hope you enjoy it.


To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website.

Thursday, 22 July 2021

Who Lives at Chenonceau?


The Chateau of Chenonceau is home to the largest colony of House Martins in the Touraine Loire Valley. Their mud nests can be seen tucked up under cornices and decorative friezes on the chateau. The adult birds are a delight to watch, with their rapid aerial sallies and twittering conversation. Birdwatchers will be captivated. The birds and their nests are protected by law.

Young House Martins in the nest, Chateau of Chenonceau, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Young House Martins in the nest on the Chateau of Chenonceau.

To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website.

Wednesday, 14 July 2021

Out on the Terrace of a Loire Valley Chateau


Not all chateaux let you out onto the balconies, but Chenonceau does, and it provides some lovely photo opportunities.


View from a balcony at the Chateau of Chenonceau, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.


To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website.

Thursday, 8 July 2021

Filming at the Chateau Royal d'Amboise

 Here I am with our 1953 Citroen Traction Avant Celéstine, preparing to film at the chateau of Amboise. It was really a thrill to have the opportunity.

Citroen Traction Avant at the Chateau Royal d'Amboise, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.


To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website.

Sunday, 4 July 2021

World War Two French Resistance in the Loire Valley – Victor’s Story

Recently an American contact of mine mentioned staying at the Chateau de Pray, near Amboise, and it prompted me to mention that I had been contacted by the son of someone who had worked there and had been in the Resistance. He wanted me, and indeed the world, to know his father’s remarkable story, so I am always delighted to pass it on whenever travellers express an interest in the French Resistance. It is, like all these stories, very moving and full of ordinary people doing extraordinary things and if you want to hear it let us know when you book your tour with us.

Victor Maitrejean in 1950.
Victor Maitrejean in 1950.

 To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website.

Wednesday, 30 June 2021

The Hanging Signs of Loches in the Loire Valley

 One of the charming features of the old centre of the medieval town of Loches are artisan made painted metal hanging signs above many of the shops. Each of them is unique and a quirky take on the goods sold within. You could easily spend a couple of hours on the trail, photographing them all. When we take you to Loches we'll be sure to point out the really good ones to you.

Hanging sign over a bakery, Loches, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.


To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website.

Saturday, 26 June 2021

Nostalgic Motoring in the Loire Valley

We participate in events dedicated to promoting the old RN10, once a major route from Paris to Bordeaux, and before that, a medieval pilgrim route from France to Spain. This is a short video made by us as we drove home in our classic Citroen, Célestine, along the D910 (as it is now designated on the maps). If you would like to indulge in a bit of nostalgic motoring along classic routes in a classic car, book a tour with us.


 

To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website.

Tuesday, 22 June 2021

Michelin Signs in the Loire Valley

The Loire Valley is particularly rich in old concrete pillars with enamel plaques, placed at intersections to tell you where you are. From the end of the First World War to the beginning of the Second World War responsibility for road signage was taken up by those interested in promoting private motorcar touring. Michelin is the most well known, but the early motoring clubs, like the Automobile Club de l'Ouest, who run the famous 24 hour races at Le Mans, also sponsored road signs. If you have an interest in motoring history then book a tour with us.

Michelin road sign, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.

 

To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website.

Friday, 18 June 2021

The Young French Workers of the Second World War

 

This memorial to 'Groupement 34 des Chantiers de la Jeunesse' (Group 34 of the Youth Public Works) members who died in the Second World War is fixed to a building in the market place in Mezières-en-Brenne, a small town in central France.

 

Memorial to the Chantiers Jeunesse (youth workers) who lost their lives in the Second World War, Indre, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.

Les Chantiers de la Jeunesse Française (CJF) was a paramilitary organisation which existed between 1940 and 1944. It was intended as a means of training and moulding young French men. The armistice between France and Germany in 1940 ended compulsory French military service and the CJF was quickly set up as a sort of subsitute for those in the Zone Libre and North Africa. The young men joined initially for a voluntary 6 month stint (later for a compulsory 8 months) and lived in camps under quasi-military rules. The officers were serving military or demobilised reserves. They performed community service work, especially forestry.

If you would like to hear more about the heroism and suffering of these young men, book a tour with us.  To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website.

Monday, 14 June 2021

Valencay Cheese, a Loire Valley Speciality

Valençay cheese is a goats milk cheese that comes from the Berry, in the area around the town of Valençay. Like the other goats cheeses of the Loire Valley it is a raw milk cheese, coated in ash and salt and eaten at about three weeks old. 

Valencay cheese, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Pure white inside.


 If you are a fan of goats cheeses, let us introduce you to our favourite.

To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website.


Thursday, 10 June 2021

Fabulous Medieval Fortresses in the Anglin Valley

 ‘Castles’ in France fall into three broad categories: Medieval fortresses ie proper defensive castles; Renaissance luxury country houses built by the aristocracy, and what most people call ‘chateaux’; and 19C luxury country houses, often closely mimicking their Renaissance forebears, but built by wealthy industrialists.

Chateau de Forges, Vienne, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Chateau de Forges.



Most of the attention in the Loire Valley focuses on the 16th century Renaissance chateaux, but if you step just a little outside the UNESCO World Heritage area you could encounter some entirely different chateaux.If you would like to see some chateaux that are fine examples of surviving medieval fortresses let us know when you book your tour with us.

To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website.

Sunday, 6 June 2021

Truffles in the Loire Valley

Black Truffle Tuber melanosporum (Fr. Truffe noire) is native to the Loire Valley, but has long since disappeared from the wild. According to my expert botanist friend François the best place to find truffles was under isolated oak trees in the middle of wheat fields, but fifty years of modern farming practices and fungicides sprayed on wheat crops have destroyed the habitat for truffles. Nowadays they are cultivated, in orchards planted with inoculated oak trees. Black Truffles fruit in the winter, and over winter there is a series of specialist markets in the otherwise undistinguished village of Marigny-Marmande.

Buying a truffle at a market, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Me buying a truffle at the market.



If you would like to learn more about truffles how truffles are cultivated, and maybe even experience the pungent savoury atmosphere at the truffle market, let us know when you book your tour with us.

To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website.

Wednesday, 2 June 2021

Joan of Arc in the Loire Valley -- The Chateau of Rivau and the War Stallions

 
The chateau of Rivau, near Chinon, was built in 1420 so when Joan saw it would have been quite shiny and new. She came here after her meeting with Charles VII, as the Chateau supplied the war stallions she had been granted. The existing stables at the chateau are several centuries later though, so she definitely would not recognise those. Nevertheless, it is a lovely place to visit, with a fairytale 15th century castle in a charming blend of decorative and defensive styles, and an extensive and beautiful garden. 

 

Chateau de Rivau, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.

To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website.

Saturday, 29 May 2021

Cheese in the Loire Valley

In my experience travellers to the Loire Valley are divided into two sorts of people. The first are already fans of goats cheese. The others are people who have tried goats cheese elsewhere, and think they don’t like goats cheese. Once they try any of the Loire Valley cheeses they discover a new food that they love, and from then on are hooked.


Selles sur Cher and Sainte Maure de Touraine goat cheese, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Selles sur Cher and Sainte Maure de Touraine goat cheese.

All of the traditional cheeses in the Loire Valley are goats milk cheeses (usually referred to as ‘chevre’ in French) and the area is known for them. The biggest selling goats cheeses in France come from here and there are protections in place to ensure the product is what the label says it is. If you would like to learn about how they are made (as well as taste some of course) then let us know when you book your tour with us.

To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website.

Tuesday, 25 May 2021

Pears In the Loire Valley

 

Like apples and cherries, pears do extremely well in the Loire Valley. The perfect climate for them here has resulted in many very old gnarled pear trees in farmyards and along country roadsides. These old, semi-wild pear trees have fruit that is very large and woody. They are not for eating fresh, and even cooked they are not always successful, so mostly now they become food for omnivorous wildlife such as martens and badgers.

Pears on the tree. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Doyenne de Comice and Nashi pears in my orchard.

To find out the surprising ways pears are (or were) used in the Loire Valley and why there are so many pear trees in the landscape book a tour with us.

 

To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website.

Friday, 21 May 2021

A Conversation About Bread in France

Organic bread at a market, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Organic sourdough bread at my local market.
 

A few months ago I had the pleasure of having a conversation with Annie Sargent from Join Us In France about bread. She recorded our conversation as one of her weekly podcasts, and you can listen to it here [link].

Using a baguette vending machine, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Using the baguette vending machine in a nearby village.

To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website.


Monday, 17 May 2021

World War Two French Resistance in the Loire Valley – Remembering the Communists.

8 May is Victory in Europe Day and there will be commemorations all over to celebrate the end of the Second World War in Europe. The memorial plaque on the town hall in the photo is in a tiny village in the Touraine Loire Valley and names two local Communists who joined the Resistance and were killed. The ceremony in the village will begin at the town hall, with the laying of wreaths, then villagers will march to the cemetery, a few hundred metres away, where more wreaths will be laid at the foot of the War Memorial. Then there will be drinks and cake in the village hall.

 

Memorial plaque to Communist French Resistance fighters in a small village, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.

If you would like to learn more about the Resistance in the Touraine Loire Valley and hear the stories of personal courage from ordinary people then book a tour with us.


To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website.

Thursday, 13 May 2021

Joan of Arc in the Loire Valley: Chinon and Convincing the King

When she first arrived in Sainte Catherine de Fierbois, near Tours, from the north-east of France, Joan stayed in the pilgrim hostelry, dressed in men's clothing, with her six male companions, on her way to see the Dauphin Charles, on 4 and 5 March 1429. From here she wrote Charles a letter requesting to see him. He responded favourably and sent two men to escort her to Chinon.

Medieval pilgrim hostel (now town hall), Sainte Catherine de Fierbois, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Medieval pilgrim hostelry (now town hall) that Joan stayed in.


If you want to know how the rest of the story goes, book a tour with us.

To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website.

Sunday, 9 May 2021

Apples in the Loire Valley

Apples are the most popular fruit in France, with each French person eating on average 16 kilos of apples annually (followed by 12kg of bananas and 10 kg of oranges). The three most popular eating and culinary apple varieties in France are Golden Delicious, Granny Smith and Reine des Reinettes. In France there is no prejudice against apples that are not red, and sweet, not too acidic apples that retain their form when cooked are preferred.

Organic orchardist at a market, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
My local organic orchardist at the market, with an old variety of apple that he has been unable to identify.


When people think of apples and France they normally bring to mind Brittany and Normandy. But we would like to introduce you to the dessert apples of the Touraine Loire Valley.


To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website.

Wednesday, 5 May 2021

Joan of Arc in the Loire Valley

Joan of Arc, or Jeanne d’Arc as she is called in French, spent most of the part of her life that history regards as significant in the Loire Valley. Mind you, that’s not a very long time – she arrived here from her birthplace in the north-east in March 1429, and just over a year later she was captured by the Burgundians and her fate sealed. Living as I do in the Loire Valley, I ‘meet’ Joan in Chinon, Loches, Tours and Sainte Catherine de Fierbois. Orléans, also in the Loire Valley, where her association with the city is better known, is a bit far east for me and outside my home territory, so I won’t relate events there. Following in the footsteps of Joan of Arc in the Touraine Loire Valley will take you through some of the most attractive landscapes and towns the area has to offer.

Statue of Joan of Arc, Sainte Catherine de Fierbois, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.

Of course, Joan can be encountered in literally any and every French church all over the country. Curiously though, the focus on her as a cult figure is relatively recent. She has always been a heroine for genuinely saving the kingdom of France, but it was not until after the shock of the Prussian invasion in 1870-71 that campaigning really gained popular momentum to have her declared a saint. She was adopted as a symbol of French independence and resistance, and all over France communities raised money to erect statues in her honour. She was finally declared a saint in 1920.

 To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website.

Saturday, 1 May 2021

Cherries in the Loire Valley

Cherries are one of my favourite fruits, but I never lived anywhere that they grew well until I moved to the Loire Valley. They absolutely thrive here and many people have one in their garden. I have eight in my orchard. They also grow wild in the forests, and are a part of the indigenous mix of broadleaf decidous species in natural woodland here. If you love cherries too, let us know when you book your tour with us.

Cherries. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.

To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website.

Tuesday, 27 April 2021

Claudette Comes Home

We went up to Saint Pierre des Corps to pick up Claudette, who has been languishing in our garage there for the whole of the pandemic. She's had a flat battery, so driven nowhere because of that and because a lot of the time we were not allowed to go there due to lockdowns. So we picked up a new battery from Classic Auto-Elec in Nazelles-Négrons, Simon changed the battery over -- a bit fiddly and stressful in a Traction Avant and involves taking the bonnet (hood) completely off (and more to the point, getting the unco-operative thing back on again!). Then we noticed she was leaking petrol from the fuel pump, so I quickly phoned our expert mechanic Jean-Louis to see if he thought we were going to catch fire. He reassured me that the fuel pump seal was dry from lack of running the car and would most likely plump back up once we drove a bit. We checked it when we stopped for lunch and it seemed fine, and we got her to the mechanics for her pre-roadworthy service with no problems. We will keep her at home now until travellers start returning to the Loire Valley and we are working.

Citroen Traction Avant, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.

 

 

To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website. If you would like an idea of how your tour might look and sound, please check out our YouTube channel.

Friday, 23 April 2021

Baguette Vending Machines in the Loire Valley

Increasingly, as the population in rural France ages and declines, village bakeries are struggling. Yet French law demands that everyone have access to fresh bread. When a bakery closes, often when the baker retires and no one takes the business over, small villages can be left with no supplier of bread in the community.

Using a baguette vending machine, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.

Find out about the modern solution that many villages are coming up with when you take a tour with us.


To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website.

Monday, 19 April 2021

What We Know About Joan of Arc


For someone of seemingly legendary status, we know a remarkable amount about Joan of Arc. One of the things we at Loire Valley Time Travel know is that she isn't just associated with Orléans, as many people believe. We think there are much more interesting sites associated with her at Loches, in Tours and in Chinon, and we would be delighted to show clients these place. We also know with astonishing detail quite quirky facts, such as exactly where her armour was made, how much it weighed, what it looked like, what it was made of, who paid for it and what colour her war horse was.

The site where Joan's armour was made (now a second-hand designer clothing shop).
The site in Tours where Joan of Arc's armour was made.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website. If you want to go shopping at independent boutiques like the one in the photo, just ask and we will build it into your tour.

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

Fighting Frost in the Loire Valley Vineyards

The past few days have seen many dramatic photos of vineyards in France apparently on fire. After a warm spell which caused the leaf buds to open ('burst' as it is called) there followed a cold snap. Winemakers scrambled to get supplies of paraffin candles (sometimes called smudge candles) and hay bales to burn, hoping to raise the temperature in the vineyards by enough to save this year's vintage. In these modern times, the winemaker receives temperature readings on his or her mobile phone, and an alarm when the temperature goes below the danger point. It means a disturbed nights sleep, and cold dirty work in the early hours of the morning. And sadly, this year, it has been to little avail.

Frost candles in a Vouvray vineyard, Indre et Loire, France.

We hope that when you visit the Loire Valley you will support local small scale wine estates. These are usually family run, and you will probably never have heard of them. But they are making great small batch artisanal wines that reflect the long traditions of working with chenin blanc, sauvignon blanc, cot (malbec), gamay and cabernet franc in the Loire Valley. 

The photo above was taken by our friend and colleague, Laetitia Rey [link]. She's an independent specialist wine tourism guide living in the heart of our favourite local appellation, Vouvray. If you would like a full day of wine tasting and winery visits, let us know and we will put you in touch with Laetitia. If you would like a more varied day of chateaux visits, a great lunch (with local wine) and a visit to a market, cheese producer or winery, contact us and we will design personalised tour for you with us.

To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website.

Friday, 9 April 2021

Gourmet and Specialist Markets in the Loire Valley

Street markets are common everywhere in France. Everywhere has its weekly market where locals pick up their regular supply of fresh fruit and vegetables, meat and dairy. But lots of places also have special annual gourmet markets. I’ve written already about the truffle market at Marigny-Marmande, and two other favourites of mine are the saffron market in my own village and the combined art and food market, called L’Art et Lard, held in a nearby village.

My own village, population 1000, was one of the medieval centres of saffron growing in medieval times and the annual saffron market is a 20th century revival of a medieval tradition. If you want to experience a gourmet market let us know when you book your tour with us.

Pressing apples into juice at a fair, Indre et Loire, France. Photo by Loire Valley Time Travel.
Pressing apples into juice at a local fair.

 To enquire about our private guided tours of chateaux, wineries, markets and more email us or use our contact form. More tour ideas can be found on the Loire Valley Time Travel website.