27 April 2009


I collected my replacement Harley in July 2004. The year up to that point had been such a roller-coaster ride that we decided we needed a proper holiday - a normal holiday. So in September we set off on the bikes for France and stayed in a great little gite at Avoine, just north of Chinon.

Once there we put the chairs out in the sunshine and thought yes, this is it, this is where we feel at home.

One of the obstacles to buying a holiday home -"maison secondaire" or "maison de campagne" in France had been deciding where. Nick loves the sea so we considered the Brittany coast. Property is much more expensive there so finding somewhere we could afford would be difficult.

He also loves the mountains and big open spaces so we pressed our noses against estate agents windows in the Drome. That's a beautiful area and Die is twinned with Wirksworth in Derbyshire. But we decided the journey by road would take up too much of our holiday each time and we didn't expect to go by air very often.

Pete & Cyn had bought a place up in the hills near Perpignan but that was a very long drive from the ferry ports. Some ex-friends (people I had lost touch with) had a place in Vraison la Romaine. This is another lovely part of France with good wine, but they were teachers so got 13 weeks away from work each year - very different from our 30 days. If it took them 2 or 3 days to get there, no problem.

So we considered all the benefits of the Loire region:

1. Good weather a lot of the time and usually much better than at home.

2. Great food and wine.

3. Lovely roads for motorcycling - not too busy and hardly any hairpin bends!

4. Lots to do. Chateaux, winetasting, markets, fishing, loads of small village events.

5. A manageable travelling distance from home by road with several ferry routes to choose from. 2 very useful airports, Poitiers and Tours, with Limoges a third option only about another hour's drive away.

6. There still seemed to be ample affordable property, although prices were steadily creeping up. I was beginning to think that if we didn't do it soon, we would have missed the chance.

If we needed any more convincing, a glance through our photo album would do it.

The chateau at Chinon

The town Langeais seen from the Chateau there

Azay le Rideau

A shop in Chinon

In the tool museum at Chinon. (I could show you the mushroom museum, too,

but maybe that's just a liitle too sad!)


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