Thursday, April 11, 2013

From the Loire to the Auvergne to Lyon

  Now that we're in Lyon we have Internet access where we're staying (the McDonald's in Vichy wasn't really the best place to post from), so I'm posting a rundown of our past 6 days.

   Last Friday, our last full day in Ancenis, the weather was pretty miserable and Ann wasn't feeling that great, so I took the train into Nantes, a short 20 minute ride. Nantes is one of France's largest cities, and was the capital of the old duchy of Brittany before France conquered Brittany in 1488. I spent a few hours wandering around Nantes, visiting the massive chateau palace of the Dukes of Brittany.

     On Saturday we left Ancenis for the fairly short drive to Bourgueil in the Touraine region of the Loire Valley. On the way we stopped at the beautiful medieval village of Candes Saint-Martin on the Vienne River.

     After checking into our hotel in Bourgueil (La Promenade) and having lunch there, which consisted of a large plate of charcuterie that had been made by Ludo, one of the proprietors, we took a drive to visit Domaine de la Chevalerie. Chevalerie is one of the finest wine producers in Bourgueil, making 5 or 6 different cuvees of Cabernet Franc wines from separate vineyard parcels. The wines we tasted were really magnificent, as was their ancient stone cellar beneath the property. In addition to visiting Chevalerie, we made a brief stop to get a view of the chateau in Ussé.

      That night we had dinner at La Promenade, which is a hangout for local vintners and wine lovers. The next morning we headed for the Allier department in the Auvergne, where we were going to spend 2 nights with Cathy and Jim Baxter, British friends who have a house in Chantelle. On the way we made a few stops, including Langeais and Azay-le-Rideau, both of which have magnificent chateaus.



The weather was iffy during our stay in Chantelle, and we spent a fair amount of the time just sitting around with the Baxters and their French friend Ghislaine, eating and drinking various wines from the Loire, Saint Pourcain (the local AOC), and Burgundy, where Ghislane lives. We also took a walk into the center of Chantelle and visited the ancient Abbey of Chantelle, which is still in use.

After leaving Chantelle on Tuesday morning we drove to the nearby city of Roanne, where we planned to stay one night and return our car. On the way we passed through magnificent countryside and stopped at a couple of beautiful villages, including Ambierle and St. Haon le Chatel.

Curious (and safe) cat in Ambierle

St. Haon le Chatel

     We then checked into our hotel in Roanne, returned the car, and took a walk around the center of the city. Roanne isn't a city geared to tourism, with few hotels and restaurants, but there are some beautiful old buildings in the center. The short time we spent there was sufficient, but it was interesting to see a city that is basically a working town. Unfortunately, our one chance to try a Cote Roannaise wine (100% Gamay) was a major disappointment, as our dinner wine was barely drinkable.
Rainbow over Roanne

     Wednesday morning we walked across the street from our hotel to the train station and took the train to Lyon, a one hour trip through some beautiful countryside. In Lyon we were staying at an apartment near the center of the city which we rented from Corinne, whom we had rented from several years ago. One of the big attractions of the apartment, in addition to its location, is the view of the basilica of Notre Dame de Fourviere from the balcony of our 8th floor apartment. In addition, Corinne's cat, Neko, reluctantly agreed to pose for my blog.
Fourviere from our terrace

Fourviere from the river


  1. Beautiful pictures Bob! Wish we were there.

  2. Ah, Lyon. I'll never forget the foods available in the train station there. Truly a food-lover's town.