Guérande a lot more than ramparts!!!

It was that time again to go visit one of my favs places in my  west coast of France. The place is not far from me about 1h30 in a free toll road to heaven.  I did some errands in the morning and home by 13h, we sat to have our goodie lunch, and finally done by 14h we set out on our way.  I had contacted a local friend (now living in Canada!) to meet us there ,and set out to see Guérande again, in the Loire Atlantique dept 44 (old Brittany) now part of the region of Pays de la Loire. There was the 2nd edition of Village Vignerons festivities for local Loire muscadet wine tastings as well!

The city of Guérande we have been several times there and even collect my Loire wines there at the parent’s home of the winemaker.  This time we set out for another quick look at the town and take part in the festival. Easy on the road N165 to exit 15 and onwards on the D774 to the Porte or gate Vannetaise just by the ramparts walls of Guérande. Here , we always get a nice metered parking and this time was no exception parking right in front of the gate! The rest is on foot!

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Let me tell you a bit on the transports: The transport here is mainly roads and car is king. The D213 road , nicknamed the Route Bleue (Blue Road) , is a tourist road, which, from the start of the route, leads to Moutier-en-Retz; It connects to Nantes-Saint-Nazaire to the city center, several departmentals roads cross the Blue Road; D 233 leads to Saint-Molf; D 51 heads towards Saint-Lyphard. The D 247 joins Saint-André-des-Eaux ; D 774a reached the peninsula of the Saillé after crossing the salt marshes.  Finally the D 99 leads to the Turballe, after being passed through Clis. The D 774, via Herbignac, joins the dept 56 of Morbihan by connecting on the National road N165 which leads from Nantes to Vannes. (my road usually) . The bus network is Lila, never used it. There are many bicycle paths and one created for the region connecting to the European network here call Vélocéan, which follows the Atlantic coastline in the Loire-Atlantique department. And is served by 4 routes of the network, me never used it.

The city urban part occupies the top of a hillside that dominates a territory almost entirely surrounded by water, salty or sweet, called the Guérande Peninsula. The history of the town itself is strongly marked by the presence of salt marshes that have made its richness.  It is located 17 km from Saint-Nazaire, also at 44 km (about 27 mi) from Vannes and 67 km from Nantes.

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A bit of history I like

The first known signs of the existence of the present locality date from the second half of the 4C. The High Middle Ages is a period disturbed by the differences between Francs and Bretons. It is then Breton under Merovingian domination, then by the Norman invasions. The first known written reference of the town is from  1206. In the 14C, the city was drawn into the war of the Succession of Brittany, which pitted Jean de Montfort with Charles de Blois. It ends with the signature of a treaty  in 1365. At the end of the 15C, the city was the refuge for almost a month of  Anne of Brittany and her court fleeing the plague which then raged in Nantes. The Duchess will maintain privileged ties with Guérande throughout her reign.

  A first church was located on the present site along the centuries, according to tradition, under the aegis of the king of Vannes, Waroc’h II. This religious building, probably modest, would be at the origin of the current urban settlement. After the transferred of the relics of Saint-Aubin of Angers, a second larger church was built in the late 9C or 10C ,and it was the Church of Saint Aubin. This church will be very quickly surrounded by a cemetery between the 10C and 12C. One of the sarcophagus found under the present choir, at the bedside level, in the 19C was deposited in the lower chapel or crypt of the Collegiate Church. The incursions of the Normans, with significant consequences in the region, needed the reconstruction of the church, in Late Roman style.  This phase began after the middle of the 12C and ended with the construction of the main façade in the 13C. After the sack of Guérande by the troops of Louis de La Cerda in 1342 in the context of the War of Succession of Brittany, the ruined Collegiate Church is rebuilt from 1380 in Gothic style; with the south transept and the Crypt done in the 14C , the north transept is then resumed and the choir and bedside are rebuilt in the 15C. A new Gothic façade finishes the church, the frame on the transepts is laid in 1541. The cemetery extends from this time to the north of the Collegiate Church, until its displacement to place Sainte-Anne in the 19C, at the site of the present place John XXIII, thus creating the present place Saint-Aubin. In 1705, a hurricane destroyed the campanile of Renaissance style at the top of the façade. A new arrow is built, it will be destroyed by a storm in 1785. In 1789-1790,during the French revolution, the Church is dilapidated, the pipes of the organ are melted, the bells also. The church will temporarily serve the worship of the temporay supreme being. The Church St Aubin was returned to Catholic worship in 1802 under the Concordat. Some beautiful stained glass; an always beautiful church to visit!

Right around the Church Saint Aubin (see post) and the wonderful Halles (covered market -see post)  you have a wonderful market and especially fish and seafood , and other local products on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturday morning . The building is a nice covered market and the morning markets overflow into the place Saint Aubin, Place de la Psalette areas. City of Guerande on the marketshttps://www.ville-guerande.fr/pratique-vos-demarches/tourisme-et-decouvertes/marches

Now another reason to come this day was the 2nd Edition of the Village Vignerons; or the independent winemakers of the Nantes region. We come here and get our house wines all the way from here to Amboise in Touraine. These are wonderful wines not yet too known ,very affordable and good winemaking with lots of history behind.  For France, this is still small ,regional fanfare but its gaining nicely thanks to folks like me!! The official name of the organizers are the Association de Vignerons Indépendants Nantais. This official webpage tells of their extension:https://www.vignerons-independants-pays-de-la-loire.fr/vignobles/vignoble-nantes/

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The event took place at the Place du Vieux Marché. You buy a glass with the icon of the independent vignerons for 3€ and this allows you to taste up to 3 different wines per winery. Therefore, there were 10 wineries and we tasted 33 wines!!! Not all drank mind you, there is a proper way of spitting most of it. It was done with plenty of children games that my friend’s son really enjoyed and got us into it! there were troubadours singing trios parading the place and goodies from oysters, to foie gras, pate,and jellies/honeys from the area. 

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However, the main thing was the wine and mostly Muscadet Sévre et Marne sur lie, but also, chardonnays, malvoises, gamay, glolleau, melon de Bourgogne,  old berligou red (Breton Ducal wine), 4754 a extinct grape from the 1800’s still kept a parcel here, and of course cabernet franc and apple juice and crémant bubbly wines, sauvignon gris, grape juice,  you name all done on site by families of many generations; my real France!! All was set up in a circular motion around the square of the old market in Place du Vieux Marché.  The welcome or Accueil center where you purchase your glass and get a map of the presenters and a coupon to play on the nose senses challenge to win bottles of wines.  Some of the other producers on site were Servanne Bigot of the Conserverie Les Bocaux Locos with lots of canned, jar goodies, Les Chévres du Cougou with good goat cheese from the best area, Nicolas Josso with its oysters, and mussels etc all yummy!

We started of course with No 1 on the list Château de Fromenteau, and owners Anne and Christian Braud.  We continue with Domaine du Champ Chapron, of Carmen Suteau, Domaine Ménard Gaborit of Philippe Ménard, Château du Coing of Véronique Gunther Chéreau. Vignobles Jaumouillé of Gaêtan Jaumouillé, Domaine Le Jardin d’Edouard , with  Edouard Massart, Domaine le Moulin de la Touche of Vincent Hérissé. Vignoble Marchais of Philippe Marchais (still a provider to us). Domaine Poiron Dabin of Jean-Michel Poiron (still a provider to us). Domaine de la Coche with Laurent Guitteny, and Domaine Pierre-Luc Bouchaud with Pierre-Luc Bouchaud.

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And of course we load up as usual, the idea of coming to these things is not just to taste but to encounter the owners, learn more on wine (always time for that even for old pros like me) ,and buy some of the better ones on a foursome panel (me and my 3 boys, sadly my dear late wife Martine would have love it).

We purchased our favorites from domaine poiron dabin, domaine de la coche, vignobles marchais , and domaine le moulin de la touché. And we pickup some ideas to come back! First, the Vignobles Marchais have a lodging in barrels made into a cabin you can stay and rent it includes aperitif drink to start, a basket of breakfast, and a tour tasting of the property. We did it later and it is fun, good for a repeat! The cabin barrel is right between the vineyards! The other was the Domaine Poiron Dabin , they have a bigger selection of wines including the ones we purchase too, the Berligou Red 2015. This is a grape  ordered planted here by the Dukes of Brittany from 1460 after a gift made by the Duke of Burgundy, Charles the Reckless (téméraire)  cousin of Duke François II of Brittany! here you have a walk escape in the vineyards in early morning to find bottles hidden in their grape plot, middle of the enigma you will have a picnic meal, encounters with members of the wine making team that will take you to the cellar for tastings. This was done too and is a lot of fun drinking those bottles in the middle of the vineyards!!

Another possibility with Poiron Dabin, and Philippe is very talkative guy!!! just my type lol!! jointly with the La Toue de Nantes will give you a boat ride call Régal vigneron, on the boat Libellule a replica of the traditional boats of the region navigating by the Sévre river and later the Maine river with beautiful natural views and fairy tell lights, you will meet a winemaker  like him very passionate about his trade and will taste several bottles.  A wonderful tour indeed; try it! La Toue de Nantes webpage see last entry for the Poiron Dabin trip: https://www.latouedenantes.fr/balades-a-lannee/

My fav winemakers from this region webpages!

Vignobles Marchais: https://www.vignoblemarchais.fr/

Domaine Poiron Dabin: http://www.poiron-dabin.com/fr/accueil/

Some additional webpages to help you plan your trip are:

The La Baule-Guérande tourist office on Guérande: https://en.labaule-guerande.com/guerande-the-medieval-one.html

The city of Guérande on things to see: https://www.ville-guerande.fr/pratique-vos-demarches/tourisme-et-decouvertes/visiter-la-cite-medievale

The Loire Atlantique dept 44 on Guérande: https://www.atlantic-loire-valley.com/suggestions/gu%C3%A9rande

There you go a wonderful one day trip as many able to do here in my belle France, wonderful west of France off the coast and rivers of my beloved Bretagne (and some parts that were like Guérande). Enjoy the tour of Guérande, worth the detour.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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