Having spent the last few weeks on really nice campsites we are starting to get high expectations .. . probably setting ourselves up for disappointment at some point, however it didn’t arrive today as we checked in to Camping Ile d’Offard (14.55 euro per night inclusive of electricity with an ACSI card), which is on an island in the middle of the Loire just across a bridge from Saumur.
It is a reasonably big site, but quite woody, so it doesn’t feel like everyone is on top of each other, although you could be mistaken for being in the UK as I would say that 75% of the vehicles on site are british. When we arrived I got talking to one of the numerous english couples who have been coming here for the last three years who were just on their way to the ‘Marche des vins’ and suggested that we went along if we had time. So, arms twisted, after we parked the van (and hung out the washing …. as we do have boring chores to do as well …. ) we headed over, bought two glasses for 4 euros each and wondered around the 40 stalls tasting the local wines
The area (Anjou) is known mostly for its ‘Cremant’ which is sparkly wine – both rose and white – but close to Saumur they do also produce quite a lot of red. We had planned at stopping at a couple of the vinyards to do some wine tasting whilst in the Loire valley, but the market was a little bit like all Christmases had come at once…. and all for only 4 euros each. If you are ever in the area on a Sunday around the 8th September I suggest you book somewhere to stay and pop along as not only did we learn alot about different types of wine, the process of making red and rose, we also got to taste alot as well… and we could walk home 🙂
Monday morning we decided to set off on the bikes and go in search of the troglodytes (houses built into the side of mountains) as the area is littered with them. As maps are over-rated, we ventured through the countryside finding some lovely little villages, a few chateaux and a couple of marhuana fields until we eventualy arrived at a little village called RocheMenier where they have restrored two farms which were troglodytes. Both farms were active until the early 1900’s when they died out, one of which farmed angora rabbits which may have been one of the contributing factors to its extinction … perhaps if it had stuck to goats or horses it would still be around – it was just way ahead of its time.
On the way back we cycled via Gennes and then back along the river through some pretty villages and stumbling across another troglodyte which was being used as a mushroom farm … eating type if you were concerned about my previous comment.
This morning we set off towards Montsoreau which is supposed to be one of Frances’ prettiest villages…. it isn’t, but the next village along which is called Candes Saint Martin is very attractive, so it was definately worth a visit and with the low mist across the Loire even the electricity pylons and nuclear power station looked beautiful 🙂
On the way back we cycled through vinyards and came across more troglodytes (which were more impressive than the ones we saw yesterday)and we then wondered into Saumur to have a look at the chateau and the old town before heading back to the motorhome for the monthly haircut 🙂