26 October 2010


We stumbled across another privately owned chateau on the way home from Poitiers the day that it rained on and off all day. This one was at Dissay, which is about half way between Poitiers and Chatellerault.

  Although privately owned, you can visit the chateau on a few days each year, details of which can be found here. It is a very fine building in the truly grand Loire style. It was built by Pierre d'Amboise, Bishop of Poitiers in the fifteenth century.

  The village of Dissay has a slightly sad and down-at-heel feel to it. Or at least it did on the day we passed through. Maybe the grey skies and showers didn't help to make it look more appealing.


It would be nice to look around the house and grounds, if we could possibly manage to be chez nous on one of the days it is open to the public.
One of the interesting things we have found about our own village of Le Grand-Pressigny is that whatever the weather has been doing all day, come apéro time, the wind usually dies down, the rain stops and the sun comes out. The day we passed through Dissay was no exception. By the time we got home the skies were blue and we could sit on our little terrace enjoying the early evening entertainment provided by the church bells and the swallows. In the shadow of our own, very special, chateau.


22 October 2010


The Loire Valley area is pretty much wall-to-wall châteaux. There are big ones, small ones and absolutely huge ones. Some are beautiful and very popular as tourist destinations. Others are more every-day and less well known. Wherever you go, you are likely to see one peeping over the top of some trees. Or you will pass a magnificent set of gates and a long, long wall that conceals a château that you might just glimpse one across a well-groomed lawn or through some trees.


They are everywhere and quite a lot of them are still privately owned. We spotted the château at Palluau-sur-Indre from the road and decided to go into the village for a better look. Ken wrote about it here. I found his blog post when I put the château into Google.

When we enquired at the little tourist office in the town about the château, we learned that it was recently under new ownership and was due to re-open soon. The young lady we spoke to did not say how soon "soon" was but she did say that the new owner was a M. Norton.


The hotel in town was also very much closed up. It looked like it must have been quite something in its day. It also is due to re-open soon. I got the impression it had the same new owner. Lucky M. Norton. Getting both the château and the hotel ready for visitors must be quite a major undertaking.

There is a fine church at the foot of the château, which is very much not closed up. It was beautiful inside and there were signs that a wedding had recently taken place there.

We liked the little town of Palluau. It will be nice to go back for another look around some day, when the château has reopened for visitors.

18 October 2010


During our second week's holiday in August, Nick went fishing with our friend Andy (and his little dog, Jamie), so Pat and I went for a girls' day out. We went shopping to Tours and decided to have lunch at a restaurant called "Le Clos" at Chambray-lès-Tours. It's right next to Leroy Merlin on the road that goes south towards St-Maure.

It wasn't called "Le Clos" the last time I ate there. It was just a perfectly ordinary Itialian restaurant that served good pizzas. Nick and I had called for a quick lunch a few times when we were visitin Leroy's for some DIY stuff.

As Pat and I walked up the steps I was so busy telling her how good the pizzas were that I didn't notice the smart new sign by the front door. When we stepped inside I soon realised that the decor and layout were completely different. The place had lovely subtle colours and nice music playing instead of the gaudy red and green uniform of the pizza restaurant. I got the feeling that we were in for something rather special and I was right. It always helps when the other diners look happy and content, not anxious or fidgety, and especially if they are being served red wine from a smart decanter into the big wine glasses !!

We opted for two courses, mains and dessert. The menu was very tempting but we didn't think we would be able to manage three. We each ordered a different white fish dish for main course and they were delicious. It wasn't until we had been eating for a few minutes that we realised we had been given the wrong ones. This was an error on the part of the young waiter, who had asked who had ordered which, then put them down in front of us the wrong way round. They looked so similar but I was eating the one with chorizo in, that Pat had chosen. It hardly mattered. We had had difficulty in making up our minds anyway. I'm sure we could have chosen anything off the menu and loved it - except for andouillette !!

We both chose the same dessert. It was a fabulous strawberry tart which looked spectacular and was served with a little pot of thick cream and a blob of ginger ice-cream. It tasted divine.
We were impressed. It wasn't as cheap as a quick pizza would have been but it was excellent. Another really good dining experience and another restaurant to add to our ever lengthening list of great places to eat.

14 October 2010


PART ONE While we were in Le Grand-Pressigny in August, our friends Pat and Andy came to visit. They had been touring France with their caravan so they stayed on the campsite in the village for almost a week. On the Saturday we took them to Loches market.

Andy, Jamie their dachshund, Pat and Nick

We always enjoy a visit to Loches. The market there really is excellent (Wednesdays and Saturdays, but you have to be there before it closed at midday). There was the usual huge variety of quality stalls and the sun shone, too, which was lovely.
The town was busy as usual so we employed our tried and tested method to ensure we got lunch. This is to turn up at your chosen restaurant at 12.00 pm, midday, on the dot. We have found that if you leave it until 12.30 or 1.00 pm, if you haven't previously reserved a table, you could be out of luck.

We chose a restaurant called "L'entre Acte", where we have eaten a few times before. At 12.05 pm it was empty. Half an hour later, it was full. We all had two courses and, as usual, it was excellent and good value.

After lunch we had a walk round town, enjoying the sunshine. The market was gone but the shops were still open. We went into one of our favourite shops, that sells old fashioned-looking bits and bobs for the house. It looks like sort of brand new bric-a-brac. Pat chose a present for her friend who loves anything French.

We went the pretty way home, showing off some of our favourite little villages to our friends. They were impressed and we felt very content and smug, that we had chosed to live in such a wonderful spot in France.

10 October 2010


It rained on and off during our first week in Le Grand-Pressigny in August. One day when the sky looked particularly threatening, we decided to leave the motorcycles at home and go for a ride in the car. We fancied going somewhere we had not ventured before and, thinking it would be a good idea to go where there might be shelter from the rain, entertainment, and perhaps a bite to eat, we decided to go to Poitiers.

Apart from flying into the airport, and making a visit to the Harley Davidson shop, we had never been to Poitiers before. Both of those places are on the outskirts so they hardly count as a visit to the city. We found that actually getting into the city was hard work.

We fought our way into the centre in heavy traffic and tried to find somewhere to park. It wasn't easy. All the car parks appeared full and we circled round the centre of town a couple of times until we spotted a space on the roadside. It didn't cost a lot to park using the parking meter, once we had actually found the meter, but the maximum time allowed was only two hours.


We are always fairly choosey about where we leave our car, not wanting to come back to find a dent in it - we have often cringed at some of the manoeuvres we have observed in France when people are attempting to park a car.


We found that Poitiers is a lovely city. There are many beautiful old buildings in the city centre and it is a smart and bustling place with shops and restaurants a-plenty. Which is a good job, as we had to keep diving into them during the heavy rain that occurred every few minutes all afternoon.


The place had a very grand feel to it. There were also lots of young people around suggesting the presence of a college or university. It was lively and cosmopolitan - well it certainly seemed so to me, as I fast become more of a country bumpkin each day. It's history goes back to Roman times and you can read a bit about it here.
Not being too good at remembering names, dates and details, I won't embarrass myself by attempting to give a history lesson on Poitiers here. Suffice it to say, Poitiers has been the site of many a gruesome battle over the centuries, some of which profoundly changed the future of France and what we now know as Europe.

There were no battles on the streets the day we were there, except for those people who were trying to hang on to their umbrellas in the wind.

During one particularly heavy cloudburst, we dived into a shopping centre and sat at a little table, watching the world go by whilst we had a coffee. The rain pounded on the glass roof of the building. The street outside became a little river and people splashed as they dashed along, jackets held over their heads.


Minutes later, the sun came out again. It was suddenly blue sky and warm sunshine. So we took our opportunity to find our way back through the maze of elegant streets, with its old-fashioned shops right next to modern fashion emporiums, to our car which was, thankfully, still in one piece, exactly where we had left it.
I am not really a city person any more. When I was younger, I loved the hustle and bustle of shops and cafes. Nowadays I prefer the peace and quiet of the countryside and felt slightly out of my depth in such a busy place. Having said that, I would definitely go back to Poitiers to explore the place and its history some more. That's if I can find somewhere to park the car for more than just a couple of hours.

5 October 2010


Early in the first week of our August holiday, we went for a ride to La Corroirie, on the road north of Loches towards Montresor.

It felt really good to be on the motorcycles again. The only hiccup was that they had been standing out in the rain for a while the previous day and water got into the seat of my bike through the stitching along the seams of the seat. The water then came out again when I sat on it, resulting in a damp posterior on what was otherwise a lovely warm and sunny day. I was not complaining though, the seat on my new "baby Harley" was exquisitely comfortable.

La Corroirie is a 12th century fortified farming complex including a chapel. If you would like to read more, Ken of Living the Life in St-Aignan wrote about it here. It now offers B&B accommodation for guests. It's a fascinating place and well worth a visit.


After our photo-shoot we continued our road trip through many of the lovely villages that we were already very familiar with, then home along the quiet back lanes. The weather was perfect for motorcycling - dry and sunny and not too warm. It was absolute bliss. By the time we got home we had done 125 kilometres and I had enjoyed every minute.