Friday, 25 September 2009

Up on the roof high above the Loire River.

There are over 100 steps to climb to reach the top of Treves Tower that is after you have climbed the steep hill to the entrance and then negociated another 20 steps to the front door. So thank goodness it is only open one weekend a year!

Every September in France we have a weekend of "Patrimoine" call it a Heritage Weekend if you like. This involves many of the private properties opening their doors to display the cultural wealth hidden within their walls and grounds. We had been itching to see inside the Treves Tower for many years so this was our lucky chance.

The Tour de Treves was built by Foulques Nerra III Count of Anjou on a site that has been occupied since the gallo-roman period. The village of Treves being situated between Saumur and Angers on the south bank of the Loire River made it an important defence point and the height of the tower afforded excellent look outs both up and down stream.

Inside the tower was in a lot better condition than I had been anticipating. Each floor is made up of a beautifully vaulted chamber which were a lot smaller and cosier than expected due to the walls of the tower being around 4 metres thick!

The lower ground floor housed the 'ice room' where the wild boar would have been kept chilled, next floor up the old kitchens, then the dining chamber, bedrooms and then out on the roof. Surprisingly small really for such a tall tower. Somewhere in the midst of it all is the arms room from which the canon could be shot from all directions giving the tower excellent protection.

Once out on the roof top though the views are superb along both directions of the Loire River and of the village of Treves with it's old tuffeau houses with slate roofs. During Foulques Nerra's time the tower served as the dungeon to a Chateau that once stood on the site and a barage was run across the river to act as peage so that Foulque could collect taxes from boats passing up and down stream with their goods.

Looking upstream along Loire River towards Saumur you can see how sandy the riverbed is after the very dry summer. There are two quays in Treves which were used for the transportation of tuffeau and it is said that Dutch Mariners owned many of the houses. You can still see evidence of this today with the properties that had greniers (attics) high above the river so that goods could be kept dry.
A quick peak into one of the beautiful private gardens in Treves.

If you would like to stay in the beautiful village of Treves click here to see details of our Riverside Cottage for which rental options are available.

Come back to read details and see pictures of our visit to St Mace' the 11c Gallo-Roman Chapel that sits on the hill above Treves and houses frescos from the roman period.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Loire Valley Wines in London

If you love the wines of the Loire Valley and find them hard to track down in the UK then go no further than a lunch out at RSJ's in Coin Street. We popped in there during a recent visit to London. We chose a glass of Domaine de Nerleux Cremant de Loire as an aperitif which was spectacularly delicious, lemon, acacia and almonds. Sadly the Didier Dagueneau that we fearlessly chose from the wine list to go with our main course (at £56 ish a bottle) was out of stock so we chose a Huet Vouvray 2007 that when tremendously well with the Pan Fried Scallops.

Majestic Wines are stocking a few Loire wines these days and you can't go wrong with a Saumur Champigny from our friend Edouard Pisani Ferry at Chateau de Targe'. In fact they have a special offer across many of their wines at the moment that offers great savings if you buy two bottles. Majestic have also recently reduced the quantity you have to buy from 12 bottles to 6 per visit making it an even better bargain. Needless to say we came home with many more than that from all over the world!

Whilst still on the theme of Loire Wines we took the chance to visit the Gay Icons Exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery sponsored by Rose d'Anjou Wines. The exhibition brings together ten selectors each of whom is a prominent gay figure in contemporary culture and society. Each selector named six persons that for them were inspirational or an icon for them The results are a fascinating insight into an iconic range of figures from the heroic, artistic, sporty, literary, political, famous and not so famous of our world.

We have been "drinking pink" this summer at La Grande Maison in celebration of the Gay Icons Exhibition, did I mention it was sponsored by Rosé d'Anjou? In honour of the event we still have cases of Rosé d'Anjou wine to give away to all our lucky guests. The first guests to arrive at La Grande Maison to produce their ticket stub from the exhibition will win a case of six bottles of this delicious pink packed with summer fruits. Subsequent guests will receive a free bottle of Rosé d'Anjou with every room booked (on production of their ticket stub or proof of visit on arrival).