Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Touraine Primeur at Montrichard

We drive by or through Montrichard most days. OK, we have had lunch there a few times. It never seems to have the charm of Saint Aignan that is little over 10 kms along the Cher river.

Today we discovered it has a life of its own. Today (Sunday) was the Montrichard Primeur which was the presentation of the new wine vintages of the Touraine and other produce such as fromage and porc. It brought the locals in from the surrounding districts and we were fortunate to find a parking spot close by due to Sue’s disabled sticker that we brought from home. Its been a bonus for Sue, its enabled her to get closer to all the great features of France, particularly the Chateaux and hilltop villages.

As I rode and drove around the district, we saw these posters not realising that we were going to still be here when it was on. It was a real treat.
The band struck up, the Touraine Primeur Producers marched proudly behind in their colourful outfits.
Behind is the tourist information office, one of the original half wood buildings - a fine example.
Down the street to the right of the building is a little square with a few restaurants where we have had several lunches.

As we wandered around Montrichard’s centre villa with the Donjon looking down on the town, we noticed that the streets had red carpet between the store holders either side. We could hear a brass band in the distance getting louder and louder till we saw a group of brightly dressed people in a parade coming up the main drag of Montrichard. These were the Primeur Producers of the Touraine in their specific cloaks adorned with medals and such that denoted their craft.

This gentleman who was in the march displayed his medal as a Touraine Primeur with great pride. We had a little chat as much as one can do within the language. He seemed very pleased that I took an interest in his medal and was happy to pose for me. 
I'm not sure that my photo does justice to this magnificent tree in full autumn colours.
The colours of the fallen leaves covered the green grass and red carpet. A very restful garden to stop for a rest.
Several of the municipal buildings were open to the public today and we had an opportunity to witness other aspects of Montrichard that normally go unnoticed as you drive through to somewhere else. We hadn't realised how much of the middle ages architecture still survived in Montrichard and the caves that are in the centre ville.

We had noticed posters advertising today’s event yet not put it in our diary as something special. We really only stumbled on it through word of mouth from Carol and Michael, our good friends here in the Loire.

The red carpet was out allowing us to see into areas not normally seen.

Not just wine, but so many other local producers showing off their wares.
This was inside the many caves within the side of the hills in Montrichard's central business district.
We are now less that two weeks left to go in France and only another four days before we leave the Loire. Before we leave I'll post the details of where we are staying with the website for bookings as a closing post of our time in the Loire.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Tomorrow we leave Bordeaux - wish we had more time here. With 360,000 population, it has a big city feel without being big city. The inner city is designed for commuting by train and bike or by foot. Bordeaux has been pedestrianised and I can see the same theme for Melbourne in years to come. Cars are inefficient for inner city movement these days.

Scenes of Bordeaux

We booked a great apartment in the Quartier de l'Hotel de Ville with a tram stop nearby, restaurants, cafes, shopping and museums all within walking distance.
We've had the opportunity to visit a couple of those museums - The Musee d'Aquitaine (from pre-history to modern day) and Musee des Arts Decoratifs (furniture, glass, ceramics, etc).

The Musee des Arts Decoratifs

Musee d'Aquitaine

The tram took us to several of the other Quartiers of Bordeaux but our time here was not enough to truly absorb the true features of the city. You could fill a week without leaving the city and then there's the vineyards in the region. Maybe we will return one day and if we do, it will be longer than a two night stay.

Sorry of no photo captions - its all been a bit of a blur.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Bordeaux for Two Days

Yesterday we drove from the Loire to spend two days in Bordeaux. Along the way we had a lunchtime stop over at Poitiers, a place we visited a couple of years back. I knew there was a car park under the square of the Poitiers Notre Dame. Its not a difficult manoeuvre to achieve with a set of steps out of the car park and there it is. The cathedral of Poitiers is there in front of you.
Rising from the depths of the Poitiers car park, the first image that appears is the XI Cathedrale of Poitiers
Wikipedia says,
Its construction began in 1162 by Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine on the ruins of a Roman basilica, and work was well advanced by the end of the 12th century. It is the largest medieval monument in the city of Poitiers.

On our previous visit to Poitiers we were impressed with the graphics on the columns of the cathedral - we still are.

It seems that Henry II, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Richard the Lionheart and Jeanne d'Arc follow us where ever we travel in France. We've met a few historic names on this trip that we were not aware of through the regions we have travelled and architecture that we have photographed.

Stained glass depicting Jeanne d'Arc
I've depicted some close ups of the above.

After lunch, our overnight stop was with fellow Bloggers, Diane and Nigel whom we met two years ago at Odour sur Glane, a village that was raised to the grown by the Germans in WWII. Nigel has recently been taking local cooking classes and presented us with a fine main course Boeuf Bourgogne (we were impressed Nigel) which combined well with Diane's South African Butternut soup. Main course followed in the French tradition with cheeses before desert. Cognac completed the meal.

As Diane and Nigel had dental appointments in the morning, we set off early with Diane's hand drawn map to discover a new (to us) Chateau on the way to Bordeaux.

As we came over the rise to Rochefoucauld, the Chateau dominated the horizon with the city below. Unfortunately like many of France's attractions have closed during the winter season.  
We find the truck drivers in France very well behaved. In Australia, trucks are not speed limited to 90 kmh nor are they kept to the slow lane therefore clogging the faster traffic.
Our hotel in Bordeaux is near an underground car park. We thought it would be safer than this above ground car park.
After a big morning of driving to Bordeaux, we were very impressed with our next two nights accommodation.

We just returned from dinner tonight as we post and look forward to seeing more of Bordeaux tomorrow. From what we have seen in the last eight hours, we are most impressed of what the city has to offer in the way of food, wine and shopping.