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

Friday, 12 October 2012

Mirror, mirror on the wall …

The more I’m browsing through the photos of my June trip to the Loire Valley with Mats and Vera, the more I realize that there are still a few topics I haven’t mentioned. Like what we did after visiting the Tuesday market in Bourgeuil and our walk along the river in Candes Saint Martin. 

Knowing that my friends like a good meal and nice restaurants I took them to l’Hélianthe in Turquant. As you may recall, I had booked a table in advance with the special request of having our aperitif alfresco, weather permitting. Although I didn’t need any directions from the GPS to find the place – this was my third visit after all – we had some trouble finding a suitable parking space. The place where we had parked in the past, now featured a half hidden, non-official ‘no-parking’ sign reading ‘Zone Privée’. Although I’m extremely disciplined when it comes to respecting other people’s private property – you know, don’t do to others what you don’t want them to do to you, this sign didn’t make any sense. The place is just a narrow lay-by at the side of a one-way road, no paving, no entrance, no houses or other cars in sight. Moreover, the sign was handmade, probably having no official authority. We decided ‘to live dangerously’ – just this once, and parked the car mindful of leaving ample space for at least two other vehicles. 

We were warmly greeted by the restaurant owner and had our aperitif outside as planned. Mats was very enthusiastic about the ‘apéritif maison’, a red Saumur Champigny wine in which bay leaves had been left to macerate for several weeks. He even asked whether he could buy a bottle or two, but the landlord said that it was his personal recipe, only meant to be enjoyed at the restaurant.  
We had a great meal. Mats had roasted duck breast in a red wine sauce, Vera chose a recipe including a Loire River fish filet and steamed vegetables and I had fine slices of cured ham with a delicate, pale green courgette mousse and quinoa. Our wine was very special too. It was called ‘Sanguin’ and deep red in colour and rich in taste (and alcohol). It came from the David family whom we bought the unusual ‘Hurluberlu’ wine from in 2008. In fact, it was so good and rich that it made Mats slightly tipsy. Luckily Vera was the designated driver for the rest of the day …
'Le village des artistes' in Turquant.
The entrance to the shop is just behind the white car.
After lunch, I invited my friends to the nearby troglodyte shop were local artists sell their creations. When we arrived at the car, we found a note under the windshield wiper, asking us to leave as soon as possible. It wasn’t an official document; just a slip of paper that had been (badly) torn out of a notebook and written by someone with a very unsteady hand, using a fat black marker. There was another car parked behind ours, with a similar note under its windshield wiper. We didn’t see a soul though and wondered where the person who had left the note was ‘hiding’ and why the parked cars seemed to bother him or her.
An impressive troglodite hall in which the most beautiful artefacts
are on display and for sale.
At the shop I immediately started looking for the beautiful mirrors I had fallen in love with when I was there with Béa and Jean-Luc in 2010. At the time I had refrained from buying one, because they were rather big and heavy and … unreasonably expensive. This time I found exactly what I wanted. An exquisite creation only half the size and less than half the price from the one I had languished over two years ago.
When I asked the man at the counter to take it off the wall and wrap it for me, I saw Mats and Vera engaged in a very intense and obviously very private conversation. They soon joined me at the counter and just when I was ready to hand the vendor my credit card, Mats put his hand on my arm and said:” This one is on us. Vera and I insist on offering you this mirror, which you obviously like a lot, to thank you for travelling with us and showing us all your favourite sites in the Loire Valley and introducing us to your friends.” I was really touched by these words and genuinely kind gesture. And I’m sure it wasn’t the ‘Sanguin’ wine that had caused it!
The mirror is now hanging over my new sideboard in the living room. It is as if they were made for each other (the mirror and the sideboard, I mean).


Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...

What a wonderful present, you are very lucky. I want to visit some of the troglodyte villages further North of us. They fascinate me and I have only seen them very briefly. Have a great weekend. diane

VirginiaC said...

Oh I'm so happy for you Martine...I know you had your heart set on one of those lovely mirrors for a long time.
Very nice of your friends to purchase it for you as a "thank you" gift.
Let's see a photo of its new home over the sideboard.

The Broad said...

Did you ever find out about the parking? Sounds like someone taking the law into his or her own hands!

What a lovely present from your friends. I also hope you will be showing us a photo...

chm said...

Matts and Vera are two fine and pleasant people. This is to show you how much they appreciated all the preparatory work you’ve done as their cicerone. They seemed to enjoy themselves.

I might be wrong, but I think you won’t have any problem finding transportation to your French favorite spots in the future, in addition to your Belgian friends.

Susan said...

What a lovely gesture. It will make it an even more special object in your home.

The Beaver said...

That's a very nice gesture from your friends.

As far as parking is concerned, if we are not so sure whether it is legit or not , we will ask someone in the restaurant and sometimes we are privy to some funny stories. Once I even asked two policemen in Lyon and when I told them why restaurant we were heading to, we were directed to a side street a couple of blocks away .

Carolyn said...

Very nice gift from two nice people, and we want a photo!

Ken Broadhurst said...

Yes, that was a very kind gesture de la part de tes amis suedois. I much enjoyed meeting M. & V. and hope to see them -- and you -- again soon.

Bob said...

There is a great story to tell about that mirror when people see it. We know the story so now we need to see a photo. M & V seem like wonderful friends.

Louise said...

I look forward to seeing a photo of the mirror Martine...and so pleased for you that your friends appreciated your planning...and your company during the trip.

ladybird said...

Diane, If you want some tips for your visit to the troglodyte villages, just let me know!

Virginia, Your wish is my commande. The photo has been posted - out of context, but yet!

Kathie, I have no idea what the parking sign was about and who put it up. I'll try and find out the next time I'm in Turquant.

Chm, I hope you are right, because there is no way that I'm driving all that way in my little Corsa.

Susan, I simply love it and the 'connection' is just great.

TB, I don't think there was much risk involved in parking there, especially with a Swedish license plate. Unless Mats told them that I spoke French, like he did when we were stopped by the French police because Vera wasn't wearing her safety belt! ;)

Carolyn, Hope you enjoy the photos! Just tell me what you think, even if you find it awful ...

Ken, Thank you. I hope to be back in 2013, maybe not with M&V, but probably with B&JL. I really miss the Loire Valley and all my friends there.

Bob, M&V are super friends. Pity they live in Sweden, which makes it difficult to get together on a regular basis.

Louise, The feeling was mutual. They were excellent travelling companions and I hope we will be doing this again ... sometime.