Archive for October 29th, 2022

October 29, 2022

The toilettes (WC) in France !!

Well, this is a very special need and when we are traveling , essential to know where to go ! I like to dare talk about the toilettes (WC) , rest rooms and especially the public toilets of my belle France. Do you know how they came about? You know where they are if in need in the middle of a trip? Then, read on and feel at ease…literally. Hope you enjoy the post and get a joke as I.

My lovely Bretagne/Brittany/Breizh is at the top of the ranking of the regions best equipped with public toilets (WC). With 1,652 installations, our region has one public toilet for every 2,000 inhabitants, according to a study by the Water Academy. Brittany is obviously a region that shows good citizenship and pays attention to health issues, is also a very touristy region and the number of clean public toilets gives a good image ,Public toilets are toilets made available to passers-by or visitors to a site open to the public. Of course, I have to start with this info! They are all over usually by the church or city/town hall of a town.

A useful site to know and find public toilettes in my beautiful Morbihan dept 56:

In Paris there are nearly 435 sanisettes installed. Their access is free, and they are accessible to people with disabilities. In addition to toilet facilities, the City of Paris also has a large network of accessible toilets and urinals in its parks and gardens. In total, 300 toilets and urinals are accessible in the Parisian gardens: 7 Decaux sanisettes, 2 channel urinals, 5 “uritrottoirs” and 149 toilets which total 290 individual cabins. If a person is trapped in the room, call 33 (0) 1 30 79 79 79 who will do what is necessary for a repair to take place quickly. The only old remaining public toilet in Paris is located near the Maison de la Santé, boulevard Arago (14éme), it is the only example of a public toilet dating from the beginning of the 20C. The others were gradually withdrawn and/or destroyed.

The city of Paris on public toilettes:

The Paris tourist office on plublic toilettes:

A bit of old history of public toilettes let me to find this bit of info. Rome, 1C AD , the Emperor Vespasian had the idea of establishing a tax on the collection of urine, which was used in particular for the preparation of fabrics before dyeing, ammonia having cleansing properties, In order not to soil his pants by squatting on his toilet, Bert Vandegeim (Belg) would have tied his pants around his head like a turban. His wife would then have compared it with an Ottoman padischah, thus giving this name of “Turks” to the toilets just invented. The French still believe that the low toilets on which one must squat uncomfortably to carry out the needs ordained by nature, imposed on them by the Ottoman Empire. That’s why they call them “Turkish style” toilets, Why do we say in plural the toilets (toilettes)? The use of the plural toilets, to euphemistically designate a lavatory, dates from the 20C. Chiotte (toilet) feminine name derived from chier by 1885, used in the plural for “cabinets (of ease)”; use in the singular (20C) sometimes leads to a change to the masculine. So we say « toilettes » and not toilette.

I did a bit of research online and found some information on the WC, toilettes or rest rooms, It was only at the end of the 18C, when it was forbidden, by the King, to satisfy one’s natural needs on public roads, that public urinal projects began to emerge again. to alleviate difficulties in complying with this edict; and this in particular thanks to Antoine de Sartine, lieutenant general of police from 1759 to 1774, who decided to install “barrels of ease” in the streets of Paris.

In Paris, the people deposited their excrement in the road which is a public place to deposit their household waste. Residents of private dwellings used chamber pots. At Versailles, courtiers relieved themselves on the balconies, behind a curtain, a door or in the courtyard without hiding from it. In France, the toilet flush appeared in 1775, Alexander Cummings (UK) added a curved pipe in the shape of a U which prevents odors from rising. The water in this pipe was replaced with each flush. Before 1840, the modern toilet flush with the bowl was not widespread. In Paris between 1791 and 1869 the first urinals were born, it is then the appearance of the first vespasiennes. “Necessity” chalets are also emerging, which finally allows women to relieve themselves in a place other than their home. In 1857, Joseph Gayetty (USA) marketed the first packet of toilet paper. Roll-shaped toilet paper appeared around 1907.

The public toilettes on the Yvelines (78) and Versailles:

Like other French fashions of the 1680s, the word toilet was used in many countries, and originally referred to objects of hairdressing and body care arranged on a dressing table covered with cloth and lace, on which stood a mirror which could also be draped in lace; the set was a toilet. Then the word toilet was euphemistically adopted in expressions such as washroom . This change was related to the introduction of public toilets (as in trains) which required an indication on the door (WC or water closet eng) . In France, wash room(s) is another term that is generic and attributed to toilets. Initially, it was a small room in a house, a cabin, today an office, in which one retired in order to indulge in an intellectual occupation requiring intimacy and concentration: reading, painting, collecting singular historical, precious, natural science, Arts … work objects ..etc, even to arrange its appearance and dress. By destination as by euphemism, the washroom is therefore this small room where you can relieve your needs in complete privacy and without the possible scents or sounds inconveniencing the other people present, therefore strategically located away, even out of the way. It remains with the invention of the flush in the 16C, the place reintegrated with splendor the wealthy residences, always a little away from the living rooms and dining rooms, and became the lavatory or place of ease now employed throughout the Francophonie (French speaking world).

In 1834, a year after a major cholera epidemic, Count Claude-Philibert de Rambuteau. Prefect of the Seine, Haussmann’s predecessor, decided to apply the hygienist theories very fashionable at the time. He had 478 vespasiennes (as for Roman Emperor Vespasian ) installed along the main roads of Paris. First called “Rambuteau columns”, these individual pissing cubes earned him a lot of ridicule. Five years after this invention, advertisers were authorized to post on wooden panels backed by vespasiennes… which are therefore the ancestors of the Morris columns , these column-posters that were created in Haussmann’s time. The increase in car traffic is most certainly the first factor in the disappearance of pissotières (pissing cubes) in Paris, but their bad reputation is also not unrelated to their frequentation by homosexuals ,no longer tolerable, and from the 1960s, their disappearance, voted by the National Assembly, is recorded. Little by little, the urinals disappear one after the other, becoming ancient relics of a mythologized gay Paris. In November 1981, the first JCDecaux pissotière, a jewel of modernism, inaugurated a new era of mixed toilets, paying , and rid of homosexual hugs. It was in 1981 that Paris saw sanisettes flourish on its sidewalks for the first time. At the end of December of that same year, the capital had 59 in service.

The Public Toilettes site for all of France, you won’t be far from one ::)

The JC Decaux’s 433 gray sanisettes will soon be replaced in Paris. The new public toilets must be installed by the end of the current contract with JCDecaux, on December 5, 2024. Already managing more than 400 sanisettes in the city, JCDecaux has won the call for competition from the mayor of Paris to replace them with a new model by 2025. These are 435 new-generation automatic maintenance toilets ,which will be gradually deployed between 2024 and early 2025 to replace current equipment dating from 2009 , The sanitary facilities will be particularly sober, since water consumption will be reduced by nearly 2/3 and electricity consumption by 1/3 per compared to current equipment , But that’s not all: the teams in charge of cleaning the toilets will travel on cargo bikes or in electric vehicles for major repairs ,Result in the coming months…

The official JC Decaux on publit toilettes:

There you go folks, a public service from yours truly! Now no more worries on the run, and this road warrior appreciate them a lot. The in town/city public toilettes are an essential part of road travel ,and glad France is at the point of modernity. Again, hope you have enjoy the post as I.

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

October 29, 2022

The story of Mont Saint Michel !!!

I have come across one of my fav magazines Detours en France and saw an older article on the Mont Saint Michel. Even thus, written couple posts on it and lots of pictures, I decided to translate and do this post from the historical, architecture perspective of the magazine. Of course, this one will be on my black and white series, no pictures. Hope you enjoy this wonderful post on the story of the Mont Saint Michel as I.

And even thus it has gotten lots of attention from me, you, and others over the years and can be crowded at times and more pricey, the place is a must to visit at least once in your lifetime. We have been 3 times and even my boys have gone in school trips. A wonder of our world indeed.

At the very beginning of the 8C, Saint Michael had to appear three times in the dreams of Aubert, bishop of Avranches, for him to agree to build an oratory on what was then called Mont Tombe or tomb hill , In 709, according to tradition, Saint Michael appeared in Aubert’s sleep, asking him to establish a place of worship on Mount Tombe. Clearly visible in the middle of the bay that Avranches overlooks from the top of the cliff, this large rock accessible at low tide was deserted, occasionally sheltering hermits. But Saint Michael returns to him in a dream, a few nights later. The bishop, alarmed, sees in it a manifestation of the Evil One. He prays and fasts, hoping to find peace. In vain: the archangel appears to him again. This time, the dream turns into a nightmare since, while reiterating his request, the saint presses his index finger very hard on Aubert’s head. Awakened by the pain, he finds that his skull is sunk. The message, we will have understood, has passed! The skull of Saint Aubert, preciously preserved in a golden shrine in the Saint-Gervais Basilica in Avranches, has a spectacular feature: it is pierced with a hole 2 centimeters in diameter. In 2019, carbon 14 precisely dates this skull. It is that of a person who lived between 662 and 770. Is it Aubert? There is no formal proof, of course, but then the hole?

At the top of the rock he will find a bull tied to a stake, and the area he has trodden will determine the location and size of the church. On the spot, indeed, a bovine drew the plan of the church. There is also a huge pagan cult stone. How to clear it? A divine force then manifests itself, and the stone rolls down the slope to collapse at the foot of the mount. It is on it that the Chapel of Saint-Aubert will be erected. Not far away, moreover, is a fountain, which appeared by a miracle, it is said. It is for this reason that it is dedicated to the bishop… The church, capable of accommodating a hundred faithful, was consecrated in 709. Before that, Aubert took care to send monks to Italy, and more precisely in the Puglia region, to bring back precious relics from Monte Gargano, the oldest sanctuary in the West dedicated to the Archangel Michael. In turn, Mont Tombe will become a destination of pilgrimage… Thus was born Mont-Saint-Michel, at the same time as a chapter of twelve canons settled there.

Indeed, 20 km from Mont-Saint-Michel, in the middle of the polder created from the Middle Ages, stands Mont Dol. A legend attaches to this hill: the Homeric duel between the Saint and the devil. On the rock, to the left of the chapel, we can see the mark left by the buttocks and the claws of the devil struck down by the archangel. This would then have dug a fault (known as “Devil’s Hole”, on the other side of the chapel), where he would have precipitated his opponent. Which, sinking into the bowels of the earth, would have reappeared… on Mont Saint-Michel! With a jump, the archangel would have thrown himself on him. The imprint, left by his foot while propelling himself, appears in a rock, near the tower which bears the statue of the Virgin.

It should be understood that, from century to century, the buildings were added vertically, on the sides of the rock. They leaned on the older ones, as if they were trying to reach for the sky. Hence these crypts, whose pillars support the abbey church. Thus the Notre-Dame-sous-Terre Church, which is the old church where Aubert officiated; or the Gros-Piliers crypt, each of whose 10 columns measures 5 meters in circumference. The other originality of the sanctuary is to have adapted the traditional Benedictine architecture to the relief of the mount. Instead of occupying the center of the monastery, the cloister is at its summit: one meditates there between sky and sea. It communicates with the refectory, which constitutes the third floor of the rooms where the guests of the abbey ate. Below are the Guest Room, reserved for pilgrims of noble ancestry, and the chaplaincy (on the first level), which welcomed the poorest. Not forgetting the cellar and the Salle des Chevaliers, serving as a scriptorium. We call it “Merveille” or Wonder, the set formed by these six places.

The Benedictine Abbey of Mont Saint-Michel, one of the most remarkable examples of religious architecture from medieval times. Both homogeneous and composite, the famous abbey is made up of several buildings from different periods and styles, the oldest of which ,the Church of Notre-Dame-sous-Terre dates back to the 10C. In addition to its gigantic abbey church, whose summit culminates at more than 150 meters in height, the jewel of the architecture of the abbey is certainly the so-called building of the Merveille or wonder, on the northern flank of the rock. This masterpiece of Norman Gothic art, built in the 13C, has 3 superimposed levels, the last of which notably houses an extraordinary cloister.

The Abbey Church at the top and Gothic choir dated 15-16C , The spire 32 meters with a statue of the Archangel Saint Michael in wood and embossed copper covered with gold which weighs 410 kg for 4.5 meters in height posed on August 6, 1897, The Grand Degrée, a monumental staircase leads to the Saut Gauthier platform in front of the south portal of the church. As soon as you pass the gatehouse and the guard room, it becomes the interior Grand Degrée and runs along the abbey dwellings, beginning in the 13C, it was completed three centuries later. The Abbatial Logis built at the end of the 14C enlarged two centuries later they serve as the residence of the abbot. They comprise a central body, two square towers with crenellated terraces and a raised wing with an apartment at the top planned to be on one level with the abbey, The Monteux staircase offers a less frequent access route to the abbey with superb views of the shore, The Salle des Gardes has become access to the abbey since the 13C its name for visitors should deposit their weapons before penetrating further, it has a beautiful 15C fireplace.

The Gothic heart of the abbey is a marvel of finesse begun in 1452 and finished in 1521, It has three levels; the ambulatory which deserts five chapels; the triforium with mullions finally the high windows with small columns, some of which climb 25 meters in height, the radiant chapels, among others a 16C altarpiece in Nottingham alabaster depicting scenes from the Passion, The Châtelet built during the Hundred Years War, embedded between two towers, it completely blocked access to the abbey, reinforced by a barbican and the Claudine tower. The soldiers housed for the defense of the abbey were housed in the Perrine tower. built in the 15C they made the mount impregnable during the Hundred Years War, access to the village is done by three doors: the King’s gate protected by a barbican and a drawbridge gate of the advance equipped with a barbican and added at 16C; the gate of the Boulevard seven towers built mostly at the level of the walkway, reinforce the ramparts and facilitate the movement of the defenders. The Buildings of Fanils erected in 1828 on the site of the shops and haylofts of the abbey to house the guards of the prison, The Grande Rue main access to the abbey lined with shops and remarkable Renaissance buildings in pains de wood like the Maison de l’Arcade and the Auberge de la Siréne or in stone like the Hôtellerie de la Licorne, and restoration efforts like the Saint Pierre hotel, The Saint Pierre Church built in the 15-16C offers a modest interior but rich in the testimony of the many pilgrims who visit it, the cult of Saint Michael was transferred there in 1866.

The plan of the Merveille or wonder, has the Chaplaincy it serves as a defense for the pilgrims divided into two naves by a row of round columns this room is the oldest vestiges of constructions in the 12C, The guest room same dimensions as the previous layout of the two naves much more elegance reserved for visitors of high rank , kings etc. has three fireplaces two for roasting meats and the other for the comfort of visitors, The refectory located on the upper floor has a wooden paneled ceiling, the side walls leaving good the light the higher you go the closer you get to God and light, the refectory planned for 300 less never accommodated more than 60, Le Chartrier installed in a tower it housed the archives and the charters hence its name monastery, transferred to Saint Lô which disappeared in a fire in 1944 (WWII), The Cloister, a place of meditation and the only space of freedom for the monk, it is placed between heaven and earth on the top floor of the Merveille, The interior of the galleries is richly decorated, the current interior garden dates from 1965, The galleries of the Cloister decor recounts the story of creation by following the course of the sun just north, we can notice a nice symbol of heresy which refuses the divine light, The Scripterium or Knights’ Hall is divided into four naves by columns with capitals decorated with foliage, The light penetrates through the vast circular bays, two chimneys allow to fight against humidity to keep the books, The Cellar divided into three naves by two rows of square pillars it was connected by a staircase to the Saint Aubert fountain for a long time the source of drinking water on the mount.

in 1204: Bretons, allied with the King of France Philippe-Auguste, took the Mont Saint Michel, looted the houses and burned the abbey. In 2017, the rehabilitation of pipes in the main street revealed the foundations of a 13 village wall and gate, which were thought to have disappeared forever. As well as, to everyone’s surprise, a medieval necropolis. It contained about thirty bodies, probably related to the attack of 1204. And the Couesnon river and the arguments between Normans and Bretons continues….

In Normandy, the high tides of Mont Saint-Michel are an impressive phenomenon. Several times a year, during periods of full moon, the English Channel is the victim of these bewildering variations in water level. The advantage with these high tides of Mont Saint-Michel is that they offer unsuspected perspectives to many visitors. During the full moon, when the water level is very low, tourists and curious people can indulge in many activities such as crossing the bay or collecting shells. The spectacle is all the more impressive when the seabed is flat, as in the bay of Mont Saint-Michel. The tidal range can reach 14 meters and the water recede about 15 km. At Mont Saint-Michel, it is well known that the tide rises at the speed of a galloping horse.

The official Mont Saint Michel tourist office :

The official Mont Saint Michel tourist office on the relics St Aubert at Avranches:

The transports Transdev site on the Mont Saint Michel:

The Manche dept 50 tourist office on the Mont Saint Michel:

The Normandy region tourist office on Mont Saint Michel:

The magazine Detours en France:

There you go folks, fully documented, and glad it is now in my blog. Mont Saint Michel ,one of the wonders of our world, and need to be visited on any account. Again, hope you have enjoy the post as I.

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

October 29, 2022

An overview of the Loire Valley wine areas !!!

If you have read my posts, you know I am a wine enthusiast of many many years and have diplomas from both France and Spain on wine knowledge courses. I do not write enough on wines as it is a heavy duty task and with many subjective tones. I like to stick to the easy subjects. Let’s give you an overview of the Loire valley wine areas !

And here is something at you ! If you drank a new wine each night, it would take you 8 years to drink your way through France. Lol!! I know ::)

The Loire river is 1000 km , is the longest and most powerful river in France. Not only is the backdrop to some of the country’s most startling beautiful landscape and architecture, it is also, the source of the widest possible variety of fine wines of every color and style. The Loire Valley  has about 65 383 hectares of vineyards or about 161 561 acres. It is home to more than 4000 wineries!

The Loire rises as a small stream near Le Puy in the Massif Central, Almost linking with the Rhône river but at the last minute and after 10 km it suddenly alters its course, to a westerly, and then northerly direction !  It continues north of the City of Saint Etienne and by Roanne ,the first grape vines begin to appear, the small area of the Côte Roannaise is just west of the City, Not far pass the Allier river which follows the course of the Loire for 400 km until finally merging near Nevers. It is here that the Loire becomes a really powerful river, It then becomes calmer, low banks and wide bends thanks to its many tributaries such as the Allier, Cher, Indre, and Vienne, the Loire is well fed becoming wider broader while the silt turns the water brown. The Loire is more powerful from late Autumn to early Spring, which is why Henri II ordered in the 12C dykes built to protect the villages,

The first important wine area is at Pouilly-sur-Loire about 40 km north of Nevers and diagonally across is Sancerre, The Loire reaches its most northerly point at Orléans where it turns southwest into the glorious towns of Blois, Tours, Angers, and Nantes, and the vineyards of the Touraine, Anjou-Saumur, and finally Muscadet just before reaching the Atlantic ocean.  Unwelcome visitors such as the Vikings penetrated as far as Orléans using the Loire river in the 9C, Goods transported down the Loire was wine to England, and Holland, Even as late as the 19C wine was still carry out by boat on the Loire ; it has been confirmed that in 1834 as much as 19K flat bottom boats were in use,however, the locomotive put an end to this way and nowdays the cruises and pleasure boats prefered the use of side canals than the Loire often dangerous undercurrents.  The Loire valley is most vivid in May and June when the foliage is tinged a fresh green and the flowers are in bloom,however, despite the area natural beauty, the most important features of the Loire Valley is not the landscape nor even the wines but instead are the châteaux, The French have a saying, the Loire is a queen, and the kings have loved her,

It is about 350 km from Nantes to Pouilly-sur-Loire, following the course of the Loire the distance is much larger, In general, white grapes tend to ripen more easily than the red grapes, they are sometimes picked early for a light fresh style as in Muscadet but they can be picked late November to produce sweet wines such as Vouvray and parts of Anjou. Most of the estates in the Loire valley are small to medium sized, Some of the most important negociants are in Saint Hilaire Saint Florent a suburb of Saumur, Elsewhere, large companies are active such as in Muscadet and Touraine,In some production comes from cooperatives such as the Coteaux d’Arcenis and the Orléanais. In the red wine areas of Bourgueil, Saint Nicolas de Bourgueil, and Chinon , cooperatives rarely exist.

The Loire valley white grapes varieties are: Chenin blanc or Pineau de la Loire ; Sauvignon blanc ,Muscadet or Melon de Bourgogne , Chardonnay, Gros Plant or Folle Blanche, Pinot Gris or Malvoisie, and Romorantin,

The Loire valley red grapes varieties are :Cabernet Franc or Breton, Cabernet Sauvignon, Gamay, Pinot Noir, Malbec or Cot, Groslot or Grolleau, Pineau d’Aunis or Chenin noir,

The sections of the Loire valley for a road warrior ride with me are

The Pays Nantais ,until the 15C the dukes of Bretagne ruled here not the kings of France, as in Anjou and Touraine. The major difference is here they use Muscadet or aka Melon de Bourgogne , the second wine Gros Plant du Pays Nantais is produced from the Folle Blanche (also used for cognac and armagnac), The changeover from red to white here happened in 1709 when all the grape-vine were destroyed by severe frost, after one finally dominated called the Musqué de Bourgogne later called Muscadet , The region is like a broad fan south and east of Nantes with four districts Muscadet, Muscadet des Coteaux de la Loire, Muscadet de Sévre-et-Marne and the newest Muscadet Côtes de Grandlieu, Muscadet de Sévre-et-Marne is the largest with 85% of all vineyards,and best. To explore this area take the N249 south from Nantes, once over the Loire turn into the Haute Goulaine with an impressive castle (see post), Continue the journey along the D105 to Vertou, Then ,followed the D59 south you pass the point where the Sévre and the Maine converge and shortly after you reach Saint Fiacre. At La Haie Fouassiére you can stop by the Maison des Vins de Nantes.

The other great area is on the N149 to Clisson also continue to Mouzillon and Vallet,  (see posts) considered the capital of Muscadet You can take the D37 where you can reach Le Louroux-Bottereau where one of the rare statues of Louis XVI stands in front of the church, You can end the ride at Champtoceaux and continue to Arcenis. This is where the red wines appear on the Coteaux d’Arcenis made from Gamay and Cabernet Franc and whites from Chenin blanc and Malvoisie (aka Pinot Gris), There is a castle in ruins here (see post)

And you come into the Anjou which includes the district of Saumur, produces about a quarter of all Loire wines in different styles,The most fashionable red is the Saumur-Champigny and the least popular Rosé d’Anjou, In Saumur is ,also, an important area of sparkling wines in France, In Anjou there are about 25 appellations ! This area comprises the dept of Maine et Loire with parts of Deux Sévres and Vianne, You can take the D15 here to La Pommeraye within the Coteaux de la Loire appellation, whites with Chenin Blanc (aka Pineau de la Loire) from there take the D751 to Châlonnes sur Loire one of the oldest villages in the Anjou, Here the finest Coteaux du Layon are done in villages such as Beaulieu, Chaume or Bonnezeaux, Also, great towns and wines here from Doue la Fontaine this is by the D84 and a good starting point for Montreuil Bellay or Saumur (see posts).  Along the D232 runs to Brissac-Quincé and more castle/wines (See post).

At Savenniéres just near Angers crossing the Loire near Rochefort sur Loire with excellent whites chenin blancs and the famous Coulée de Serrant, And onwards to the wines of Saumur as red been the more prestigious Saumur-Champigny with Cabernet Franc with or without Cabernet Sauvignon,Whites are best from Saumur Blanc and sweet from Coteaux de Saumur, And the most widely produced sparklers in France seek the Saumur Brut or Crémant de Loire, You come to Saint Hilaire Saint Florent where the Belgian Jean Ackerman became the first person to do sparklers the same way as Champagne,in 1811, Also, seek the Bouvet-Ladubay sparklers, Worth going to Montreuil-Bellay, Near at Le Puy Notre Dame see the church that houses a silk sash allegedly belonging to the Virgin Mary brought back from the first crusade, Continue into the Château de Brézé (see post) with great wines as well, Nice to visit is Candes Saint Martin (see post) ,and finally reach Fontevraud l’Abbaye founded in 1099 and its four tombstones of Plantagenet queens and Richard the Lion Hearted,

And you are now in the Touraine,the former province of Touraine is now made up of departments Indre-et-Loire along with parts of Loir et Cher and Indre. The large area extends from just west of Chinon where the Vienne river flows into the Loire to Blois 12 km east, The City of Tours formed the middle point, More than the Loire valley as a whole, the Touraine is referred as the garden of France because of its numerous forests , green valleys, orchards, and fertile agricultural land, Wine has been made here for centuries , a pioneering rôle was done by Martinus of Tours who later became Saint Martin, He took up winegrowing after his donkey cut off some grape leaves, the remaining bore more fruit and so the importance of pruning was discovered,Today, Touraine produces the most varied and fascinating array of wine of the entire Loire Valley.

Coming from Fontevraud l’Abbaye take the D751 to Chinon (see post) The wines of Chinon are mainly red from cabernet Franc, They rank among the best red wines of the entire Loire Valley,You can take the road D21 between Cravant and Penzoult the road is full of vineyards ! We love them and stayed as base in the Île Bouchard, (see posts). Along the D749 to La Diviniére you have the birthplace in 1494 of Rabelais his house is now a museum, You go my neighborhood in Bourgeuil on the D749 ,the cabernet franc is said to be planted here since 1100, here as the grape came from the port of Nantes it was called Breton while others claimed was brought to the Loire in 1631 by Cardinal Richelieu steward an abbot named Breton, The only other grape is the Cabernet Sauvignon, Next door Saint Nicolas de Bourgueil is smaller area but less tannin.

Crossing over to Touraine Azay le Rideau over the Loire river on the D751 from Chinon, the smallest of the Touraine village appellation,Here is dry rosé and white wines, Reaching Tours is for administrative reasons not much wine here me think , But do gamay and Cabernet Franc and the Touraine tradition blend of Cot (aka Malbec), and white wines from sauvignon Blanc or Chinon Blanc (aka Pineau de la Loire), and there is some sparklers, Take it at Chenonceaux the town (see post) and a bit further Montrichard where the Church Sainte Croix married Louis XII to Joan of France in 1476 later to leave her for Anne of Brittany, Later taking the D114 you passed by Chaumont sur Loire (see post) where both Catherine de Médicis and Diane de Poitiers lived, By this area on the road D7 you can reach the remarkable Château of Villandry (see post) About 20 km and you reach Rigny-Ussé and the fairy tale castle which inspired Charles Perrault to write The Sleeping Beauty in 1697 (see post), Back towards Tours you can reach Langeais (see post) following the Loire river you reach Luynes and its castle and along the D17 you reach Montbazon along the Indre river, Here was made the Le Noble Joue originally made as far back as the 15C comprising Pinot Meunier Pinot Gris, and Pinot Noir that king Louis XI drank !

We reach Vouvray this is best for sparklers but some good whites can be found,The only grape is Chenin Blanc, You reach the little known but good Montlouis until 1937 they were included with Vouvray now apart they produce good sparklers too as picturesque as the town of Montlouis sur Loire, Coming into the small area of Touraine Amboise (one of my house wines) wines a blend of Cabernet Franc, Cot (aka Malbec) and Gamay, the whites are similar to Montlouis and Vouvray, The main cuvée are often referred as François I, You come over to Amboise of course but also across the Loire into Limeray where my winemaker is located,Domaine Dutertre, (museum in property too) as well as ruins of a Cistercian abbey dating from 1209,(see post).  The area of Touraine Mesland is bigger but less atractive me think.

We reach the Orléanais (Orléans) less wines more history and architecture as you are in the northern parts of the Loire river, You have a succession of wonderful towns like Blois, Cheverny and finally Chambord,(see posts) The whites of Cheverny are not bad at all and good quality/price ratio, If you continue on the N460 and D60 you reach the Upper Loire and Berry areas, a very large wine area with Gien, Sancerre,(see post) and Pouilly, and onwards into Quincy, and Reuilly, Around here you have the nice town of Bourges (see post), Not far from Gien you have the Coteaux du Giennois the Loire’s smallest wine area mainly reds from Gamay and some Pinot Noir better quality the whites from Sauvingon Blanc and Chenin Blanc, Better go on along the D955 to Sancerre , the best known wine and most produced of the Upper Loire, The main grape here is Sauvignon Blanc, and the only other grape is Pinot Noir for reds and rosés, If you go on the road D923 you go to Chavignol and try one wonderful goat cheese the Crottin de Chavignol, Finally, reach Pouilly-Fume facing Sancerre over the Loire river and another Sauvignon Blanc stronghold, Pouilly-Fume is usually fuller and firmer than Sancerre, Pouilly sur Loire is made from Chasselas grapes planted from the 19C starting as table grapes.

At Menetou-Salon on the D955 between Sancerre and Bourges you have this small wine area using Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir similar to Sancerre in whites but cheaper, You arrive at majestic Bourges on the D11 and then D940 from Menetou-Salon, Bourges has the largest cathedral and crypt in France (Saint Etienne or St Stephens), Leave Bourges on the D27 along the Cher river to Quincy, famous in the 14C not so much today, The only wine is of Sauvignon Blanc and good price/quality ratio, Along the D20 from Quincy you reach Reuilly not much to see but the wine is pretty good, An exquisite rosé made from Pinot Gris also a white from Sauvignon Blanc and a red from Pinot Noir, And did I told you about Valençay (see post) from Reuilly go on the road D28 cross the autoroute A20 and continue on the D68 to Graçay, stay on the road to Orville, where it becomes the D16 and follow it to Poulaines, here turn into the D960 to Valençay,The wines are mainly reds from Gamay aside other add on such as Cot (aka Malbec), Pinot Noir, and Cabernet Franc./Sauvignon,The whites can have Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc,The main wine area is at Meusnes not far from a good goat cheese we like Selles sur Cher.

There you go folks, this is done over a period of time and sometimes repeated, my way of out into the wonders of my belle France. Wine is it, and the Loire Valley close to me has abundant wonderful liquids to satisfy the most picky drinker in the world. You ought it to yourselves to rent a car or drive your car into this heaven , that is the Loire Valley and its wines. Hope you have enjoy the post and the ride and see you around these vineyards Salut !

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

October 29, 2022

Wines news of France XXXIV !!

Well, we are moving right along in Fall season , and October 2022 ,is coming to an end, the temps are going to be warmer so say the so call experts. Anyway, always good to bring the best of Wine news of France. First ,thanks to all my readers and/or followers! Oh yeah, the wines of France are just super simply awesome and a great tradition. Often imitated, some time equaled ,but never surpass! Let me give some news shall we; hope you enjoy it as I.

The auction room of the National Forestry Office (ONF). In 30 seconds: the most beautiful lot of oaks in the national forest of Tronçais, in the Allier, sold for more than a million euros. The 1,539 m³ of parcel 50, oaks born under the Restoration (1814-1830), were highly coveted, 62 lots for 44,000 m³ of wood, sold to the highest bidder ,on condition of carrying out the first transformation on European soil. Result of the sale: 15 million Euros. A record. For example , at Château Latour, where the wine is aged only in French oak barrels,drawn from 14 suppliers !

Actor Benoît Magimel and TV host Flavie Flament will preside over the 162nd Hospices de Beaune (Côte d’Or 21) wine sales, the oldest charity auctions in the world, on November 20, 2022, the organizers announced. The proceeds from the sale of this barrel, which last year set a new record, at 800,000 € (excluding costs), will go to the associations Princess Margot, which supports children with cancer, and Vision du Monde, which comes to helping the world’s most vulnerable children. Abundant harvest obliges , despite the drought, 802 pieces of 228 liter barrels will be offered for sale, a hair’s breadth from the 2018 record: 828 barrels. The auctions had that year set a record, with 14.2 million euros. In 2021, only 351 pieces were offered for sale, due to a very ungenerous vintage, for a total of 11.7 million euros. Since their foundation in the 15C, the Hospices have run a hospital service thanks to donations from individuals, mostly from vines: it is the sale of the wines they produce that allows them to function. The Hospices receive no public money for the renovation of their infrastructure. Dijon Beaune magazine webpage :

This is what emerges when we listen to the owner of the Château d’Or et de Gueules, in Costières-de-Nîmes. The 20 hectares of the estate, already cultivated organically and biodynamically, are lulled by soft musical notes, broadcast by two terminals. On aging plots, music therapy reduced esca by 30%. It is more complicated with powdery mildew and mildew. The music then only helps to fight these diseases, without defeating them, but I have the impression that it is effective, specifies Diane de Puymorin. At the origin of this technology, we find the French company Genodics, created by Michel Duhamel following the ban on arsenic soda in 2001. The first conclusive tests led him to create his company in 2008. Since then, it has been using sequences of sound waves that translate into melodies that alter the sequences of amino acids that make up chosen proteins Genodics began marketing its material in Alsace and Champagne, but was soon limited in its scope. expansion by plot size. Today, it is in Bordeaux that they have the most customers, half organic and half reasoned.

From the plain of Versailles to the highly urbanized areas of eastern Paris, the Île-de-France vineyard is in turmoil, after more than a century of silence. The Syndicat des vignerons d’Île-de-France has fought hard, for two decades, for this vineyard to be reborn in an official and professional way, until the approval of the IGP in 2020. With no less than 50 000 ha of vines in the 19C, against barely more than a hundred today, the Ile-de-France grapes are reclaiming their place in the sun, and sometimes even in the shade of the HLM towers (low income housing projects). Chelles, for example, just 15 km east of Paris, six hectares of vines in organic farming Le vigneron, who cultivates hillsides straddling Seine-Saint-Denis (93) and Seine-et-Marne (77), assures that the terroirs are very interesting, including in the immediate vicinity of the city. An approach that could hardly be attributed to the Winerie Parisienne, despite bottles for sale on the shelves of some supermarkets. Because in addition to this trading house founded in 2015, this son of a Bordeaux winegrower is at the head of the Bouche du Roi estate , on the plain of Versailles, no building in sight as in Chelles, but the same desire to recreate a wine-growing tradition, Webpage :

In terms of aging potential, natural sweet wines beat dry wines hands down. Indeed, a 1932 vintage can be as nuanced and dapper as a spring rose. In France, it is an Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOP) wine, vintage or not. It is produced in Roussillon , its land of origin , but also in Languedoc, southern Rhône and Corsica. On the vinification side, it comes from the mutage technique, a strictly regulated process: during the alcoholic fermentation, a defined quantity of neutral wine alcohol (96% vol) is added. The fermentation then stops suddenly, because the yeasts die suddenly. The wine therefore preserves a significant part of the sugars present in the fresh grapes. Depending on the grape varieties used, the time of mutage and the specifications of the appellation, the natural sweet wine contains at least 45 g/l of residual sugars, see minimum 100 g/l for Muscats. But some can go up to 200 g/l, or even more. In terms of alcohol, natural sweet wines are a little stronger than dry wines, but not enough to whip a cat: in general, they are between 15% vol. and 21.5% vol. of alcohol. natural sweet wine is not to be confused with naturally sweet wine, which comes from a very different process. The grape varieties used are mainly Grenache and Muscat, but others are also allowed, however in a minority proportion. The first is rearing in a reducing environment, that is to say, away from oxygen. It is a fairly brief aging process that preserves the fruity and floral aromas of the grapes. The second is aging in an oxidative environment. It is generally quite a long aging process, ranging from a few years to a few decades, sometimes up to almost a century! This aging is done in containers ranging from demijohn to oak barrels, through all possible and imaginable sizes of barrels What distinguishes an excellent natural sweet wine from a less successful one remains its ability to find the right balance between freshness and sweetness, The mutage technique was invented and perfected in the 13C by the Catalan alchemist Arnaldus de Villa Nova, working at the time at the Montpellier medical school. Its purpose was to protect the wine, in particular to enable it to survive long journeys. Thanks to a patent granted in 1299 by the King of Majorca, Roussillon was the first to make an art of it. Other French regions followed: Languedoc, Southern Rhône and Corsica. Today there are 12 controlled designations of origin: Banyuls, Banyuls grand cru, Maury, Rivesaltes and Muscat de Rivesaltes for Roussillon. Muscat de Frontignan, Muscat de Lunel, Muscat de Mireval and Muscat de Saint-Jean-de-Minervois for Languedoc. Rasteau and Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise for southern Rhône and Muscat du Cap Corse for Corsica. Important detail: the service temperature. If it is important for dry wines, it is even more so for sweet wines. Rule of thumb: white and pink VDN between 10 and 12°C, red VDN between 14 and 16°C, and oxidative VDN between 16 and 18°C, En vino veritas !

In Bordeaux, new reign as Alexis Leven Mentzelopoulos embodies the new face of Château Margaux, The splendid Palladian residence of Château Margaux is behind us. Beyond a curtain of trees in front of us, flows the Gironde. On the right, the cellar built in 2015 by Lord Norman Foster as an extension of the historic 1815 vat room. It took a lot of insisting that the youngest son of Corinne Mentzelopoulos, nicknamed “the lady of Margaux” since she brilliantly presided over the destiny of the estate since 1981, Since February 2020, he joined “the Margaux company as Executive Assistant. He is officially part of the organization chart , The visitors who stroll quietly in the area celebrated since the 16C and, photograph from afar the beautiful 19C facade with peristyle inspired by the Parthenon. In 1977 when André Metzenopoulos acquired Château Margaux, these Ionic columns celebrating his native country (Greece), had particularly moved him, After his grandfather, his mother and his sister Alexandra Petit Metzenopoulos, Alexis is therefore the fourth Mentzelopoulos to integrate Château Margaux. Webpage :

When Lucien Lurton decided in 1992 to pass on to his ten children all of his properties acquired over the previous decades, he asked each of them to write down their three choices on a piece of paper. Gonzague Lurton, who swears only by the second classified growth of Margaux, will write: 1: Durfort-Vivens, 2: I will never work in the wine world, 3: I will never work in the wine world , The 55-hectare property, planted mainly in Cabernet-Sauvignon, did not enjoy a great reputation at that time. It is also with this 2019 vintage that Durfort-Vivens launched its new (and probably not last) revolution: the abandonment of the second wine, in favor of parcel vintages. These come from terroirs clearly identified during the tasting since 2014, and whose style asserts itself vintage after vintage. This is how three new cuvées are now produced, which replace the second wine: “Les Plantes”, from young vines, “Le Plateau”, from plots located in Soussans, and “Le Hameau”, located in Cantenac. . What to understand the different terroirs that make up Durfort-Vivens. On one side, the immense expanse of the 80 ha Château du Tertre. On the other, part of the 92 ha vineyard of Château Giscours. Between the 5th and 3rd Grand Cru Classé of Margaux, a small plot of 3.75 ha has made its way. In other words, a confetti. But a confetti pampered step by step by one of the pioneers of another agriculture. In the locality of Tertre in Margaux, the Clos du Jaugueyron is one of the smallest farms in the appellation where the average size is 24.68 ha. The largest estate being Château Lascombes with its 115.43 ha. However. If the Clos du Jaugueyron is certainly modest in surface, it is not so in reputation. the production of the 16 parcels of Clos du Jaugueyron located partly in the Haut Médoc appellation and the others in Margaux, is so successful that it struggles to satisfy everyone with its three cuvées of Margaux ; Petit-Jaug (50% Merlot , 50 % cabernet-sauvignon, Nout 55% merlot, 45% cabernet-sauvignon, and its grand vin, Clos du Jaugueyron ,10% merlot, 70% cabernet-sauvignon, 10% cabernet franc , benefits from the image of an appellation that makes your eyes sparkle , From 1995 to 2000, their vineyard is cultivated in conventional agriculture. But organic and biodynamics are slowly starting to appear. At Clos du Jaugueyron, 20 to 25,000 bottles a year, biodynamics has imposed itself little by little, almost gropingly. In 2008, as the baton was handed over to them the lease of the 40 ares of old vines in Haut Médoc with which started. From their first vintage in 2009, La Closerie des Moussis snapped up. In 2015, Margaux opened its arms to them: 20 ares leased in Cantenac then 40 ares in Arsac in 2020. (ares is a French wine measurement of land equivalent 1 ares to 100 square meters or 1076 sq feet) In the meantime, 2,000 bottles of their 2019 vintage (40% cabernet sauvignon, 40% merlot, 20% cabernet franc), there’s hardly any left ! Webpage :

After Brad Pitt, Georges Clooney and Kylie Minogue, French star Patrick Bruel releases his first rosé, After planting vines three years ago on his estate in L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue (Vaucluse 84), the French composer and actor markets his first rosé wine, the cuvée Augusta, in association with the winegrower-merchant Nicolas Jaboulet (I know him!). Rosé and Provence are also worn by celebrities who invest in the vineyards of the south-east, such as Brad Pitt, George Clooney, George Lucas, Kylie Minogue, John Malkovich, or basketball player Tony Parker who recently took walk to Château La Mascaronne (see previous news). On the side of Vaucluse, on the plateau of Margoye and more precisely in L’Isle-sur-la-Sorgue, it is the singer-actor Patrick Bruel who launches. In 2007, the latter bought the Domaine de Leos ,a contraction of the first names of his sons Léon and Oscar an old 17C building covering 41 hectares and offering a breathtaking view of the Luberon. Abandoned, the cultivation of vines and olive trees has gradually resumed under the leadership of Patrick Bruel, who has been producing olive oil since 2011, as well as jams and honey. The wine waited until 2019 with a project to replant a 13 ha vineyard. The result ? A brand new rosé from the 2022 vintage, whose unique cuvée is called Augusta and which will be available from spring 2023. In order to produce and market his wine, Patrick Bruel has chosen Nicolas Jaboulet, a sixth-generation winemaker from a famous family that has been working since 1834 on the prestigious Hermitage hillside and has been cultivating vines in northern Rhône for 12 years, Webpage :

There you go folks, another wine episode of my belle France! The wines of France that is, superbe, sublime, wonderful, gorgeous, enjoy without moderation but accompanying a meal, family table just perfect. See you in the vineyards of France.

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

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