Candes Saint-Martin, my favourite spot in La Touraine.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Vineyard walk

2006 – If you read this blog regularly, you may have noticed that Candes St.Martin, at the confluent of the Loire and the Vienne River, is one of my favourite villages. Three years ago we decided to walk up the bluff overlooking the confluent and the village. On the website of the Office de Tourisme de Touraine, I had found a map with a 3 km itinerary through the village and the vineyard.

We left the car in the parking lot near the ‘Collégial’ church, and climbed up the steep alley. As it is paved with very old irregularly shaped cobblestones, you have to watch your step if you want to avoid twisting an ankle.

Arriving at the top of the bluff we were overwhelmed by the beauty of the view. There were the remains of an old watchtower and an orientation table indicating the direction and distance to the nearby towns of Saumur, Angers, Chinon … We stood there for several minutes, watching the tranquil flow of the majestic Loire and its tributary the Vienne merging into one. We were abruptly awoken from our reverie by the twitter of children’s voices. We turned around and saw a group of 20 or 30 so ten years olds walking and running towards the orientation table. Time for us to leave!

We studied the map describing the 3 km itinerary and discovered that we had taken the wrong turn at the top of the bluff. Instead of turning right, towards the ‘Vieux’ and ‘Nouveau Château’ of Candes – which by the way are of very little interest - we had taken left, towards the watchtower. We didn’t feel like going back and therefore decided to follow the itinerary clockwise instead of counter clockwise.

The narrow path leading towards the vineyard led us through an orchard. There was no fence and the dark red cherries were too inviting to resist. We picked several and ate them while we continued our walk. The black asphalt road reflected the heat of the sun and the sound of what I believed to be chirping crickets created an almost Mediterranean atmosphere. The singing crickets, however, turned out to be the noise made by the electric current speeding through the bulky high voltage cables supplying the village with electric power. There were several of these suspended over the vineyards.

It took us a little less than an hour to walk the 3 km, stopping from time to time to admire the scenery and to take some pictures. In spite of the heat it was a very nice and invigorating walk. We had worked up an appetite and drove to a nearby picnic area, on the banks of Loire River. There are several tables there, well set apart, offering a magnificent view of the Château de Montsoreau.


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