15 January 2010


When we arrived in Le Grand-Pressigny on Boxing Day, within hours we were doing one of our favourite things - eating out.

We actually got to the cottage a good hour sooner than we had expected - in fact we made it in a record time of 11½ hours door to door which included a stop at Leroy Merlin in Rouen. We were installed for apéro time and had already arranged to eat with Barrie at GrandMa's in the village for our first evening.

On Sunday we had lunch at Les Tilleuls in Barrou.

On Monday we fully intended to drive over to Chinon for lunch as it was our wedding anniversary. 15 years. Chinon still remains our favourite town in France but Monday is not a good day to find lunch anywhere and it can be a bit hit and miss. The between-Christmas-and-New-Year doldrums makes it even more uncertain. We have had lunch there a few times at a restaurant called L'Ardoise which is excellent but it was grotty weather - cold and rainy - so we decided to stay nice and cosy and make a start on the decorating upstairs. So we had lunch and dinner at home.

The Auberge du Val de Vienne at Sazilly

Tuesday was a real treat. Earlier in the year we had been given a tip by Jim Budd of Jim's Loire about a restaurant called Auberge du Val de Vienne at Sazilly. This village is on the south bank of the Vienne between Chinon and L'Isle-Bouchard. We had had lunch there twice before and this time we had a reservation for five of us; Alex, Nicole, Barrie and us. Quite a party and we were really looking forward to it.

The distinctive restaurant sign.

The restaurant has a really cute sign made of a copper saucepan and kitchen tools. Inside the decor is traditional. The service is excellent and unintrusive and the food is fantastic. On each of our three visits we had the lunchtime menu which is a bargain at 16.50€ a head. The wine list is extensive and has enough choices in every price range to make any diner feel comfortable.

Out of the five of us, three chose the duck and two the beef for the main course. The price includes amuse-bouche and dessert. We drank two bottles of good wine but there was still no need for a sharp intake of breath when "l'addition" arrived. It was superb.

On Wednesday we plodded on with the decorating. It was another miserable day weather-wise but perfect for getting on with the job. In the afternoon we visited Gaynor and Tim who had moved into their new holiday home in Le Petit-Pressigny only two days before. They were unbelievably tidy and organised considering they had only been there for two days. Perhaps the fact that we could fit our whole cottage into their living room could have something to do with it !! (It's difficult to be tidy when work is in progress and space is limited.) We toasted their arrival with a bottle of Vouvray and they plied us with mincepies as we passed a happy couple of hours with them. That also counts as eating out, then !

Of course they are within walking distance of the region's famous Michelin starred restaurant, La Promenade ! Lucky people. We weren't tempted this time - although we have been once before.

Thursday was New Year's Eve. We were only half way through the week and we had lots more eating out to do yet.


  1. The restaurant at Sazilly is very good; have been there quite a few times. And right opposite is the wine-grower Charles Joguet, a chinon house now lead by Fraçois-Xavier Barc. Try their Petites Roches 2006, which is one of their cheaper ones. Good enough pour me!

  2. Henri - we had a bottle of Joguet on the day, I believe.

  3. Haven't we chosen the best country for this dining out lark?

    How is your liver? (no alcohol inference this but aimed at the richness of the food)

  4. FF - I know what you mean. One of the great advantages of having a holiday home, or hiring a gite, or even camping, is that you can feed yourself a balanced diet in between the meals out.
    On the holidays where we stayed in hotels for a few nights we were desperate for plain vegetables after the first couple of days.
    We love it, though.

  5. Jean,
    Reading your blog brought back some wonderful memories of our 2007 and 2008 trips to the Loire.
    Sue and I stayed 3 nights at a great B&B at Chinon run by a couple, Helene and Jean. On returning the following year to say hello unannounced, Helene opened the door and with surprise welcomed us in for tea. We spent a couple of hours chatting when she told us that she had star ratings for her guests. Usually its guests that rate where they stay but Helene told us that we were given maximum guest stars. How could we not return again to Chinon.

  6. Hi Jean,
    We have made a note of your recommendations for places to eat in the area and will, over time, hope to visit them all! At Easter we'll make a point of walking to La Promenade and booking a table- I'm sure we can conjure up a reason to celebrate or just treat ourselves!

  7. Leon and Sue - what a frightening thought - wonder how many stars we got on the occasions we turned up as scruffy, smelly bikers, with only one vaguely clean t-shirt left in the panniers to wear to dinner ?? !!

    Gaynor - we find that lunchtime is a good way to sample the food and service of a new restaurant without breaking the bank. Even better if you only have to stagger up the hill afterwards !

  8. Jean, La Promenade was on our to-do-list last year, but we were in to much of a hurry to get to Susan and Simon in Preuilly :). Is it really worth the detour (and the money)?

  9. Martine - I would say yes. I hesitate to give advice on a place where we have only eaten once but it was fabulous. We couldn't justify eating there regularly but it was worth every cent.
    We don't mind how much we pay for a meal so long as it's worth it. I feel peeved if we only pay 15€ and it's rubbish.