Why these particular places?
Bourgeuil: because of the weekly market. I want to pay a visit to the honey lady with whom I have been shopping for the last 12 last. I need some honey for my mother and two bottles of honey vinegar, one spiced with garlic and the other with sage. Excellent for making vinaigrettes.
Candes Saint-Martin: to admire the to me most beautiful view in the Loire Valley, the confluent of the Loire and the Vienne River. And to pay a visit to my favourite Saint: Saint Martin of Tours.
Saumur-Champigny: my favourite wine, as you know by now!!
Villandry: the gardens are an absolute must and I also like to shop in one of the out-buildings where local artists are selling their creations: jewelry, hand-painted silk scarves, trinkets, etc... I also would like to return to the Epicerie Gourmande, a wine bar that also sells teas, goat’s cheese, salami, etc.
We’ll have a brief stop at Ussé, to make some photos of Sleeping Beauty’s castle and maybe at Langeais if we are not too tired and if my friends are interested.
We’ll have lunch in Turquant, just up the road from Candes. On the way we can stop at Montsoreau or visit the soap factory of Martin de Candre. I’ve seen all these places before, on several occasions even. So it’ll depend on my friends’ interests if or where we stop.
The restaurant in Turquant is called ‘L’Hélianthe’. I’ve been there on two previous occasions, in 2008 with my friend C. and in 2010 with my friends Béa and Jean-Luc. The place is just great; a troglodyte cave that has been decorated in a simple, yet very attractive and inviting way. Food is delicious and the bill gentle! The restaurant has a tiny outdoor terrace – only three miniscule round tables. When I made my reservation – this time the man didn’t comment on my accent – I insisted on having apéros on the terrace weather permitting.
The inteior of L'Hélianthe, with a nice mezzanine.
The chairs look - and are - rather uncomfortable.
But the food makes up for it!
But the food makes up for it!
When we ate at L’Hélianthe in 2010 the terrace furniture was safely tucked away inside, despite the fact that the sun was out and the temperatures were quite pleasant. The reason was obvious though, because some serious renovation work was being done at the Marie across the road (2m wide!). The masons were cutting the white ‘tuffeau’ stones with an electric circular saw, creating a lot of noise and dust. However, at about the same time we arrived, they stopped working and set out to have lunch in a nearby bar. I therefore asked the manager whether it was possible to put one of the small tables and three chairs on the tiny terrace for us to have our aperitif alfresco. The manager was all smiles and very helpful and asked one of the waiters to take care of it. However … and here’s the ‘accent-stuff’ again, he jokingly added: “I guess these good people don’t get much sun in Brussels!”
2010: The 'Mairie' under reconstruction.
I guess the work will be done by now.
I gave him a big smile and said: “That’s why we come to the Loire Valley, to have some.” At the end of our delicious meal the manager bought us a drink! The Touraine is such a great place and the people are kind and have a great sense of humour … especially if you speak the lingo, even – or especially? – when you have a Belgian accent … You should try it!