Having booked the motorbike onto Brittany Ferries Fastcraft from Portsmouth at the last minute, we settled down to eat a hearty breakfast, and then unwind for the next 3 hours. The weather forecast implied there would be a heatwave in the Loire Valley France. Arriving at Cherbourg after a perfect crossing, we rode straight to Domfront, along small but fast country roads, rested a while and continued to Saumur – a small town along the river Loire. As we travelled south we were warmed by the glorious French sunshine. The clouds just rolled away. The forecast was correct! Not only did this gladden our hearts, but a broad smile crept across our faces as we realised we were touring on a brand new stretch of the E60, utterly deserted not a single vehicle in sight.
Saumur was bathed in gorgeous sunshine and we settled into our hotel – The Mercure. After a quick change into summer clothes we walked across the bridge; and immediately saw the beautiful chateau. It was built in the 14th Century and then later became the residence of Duke René of Anjou.
However, in April 2001 a huge chunk of the star-shaped fortifications (added during the Wars of Religion) collapsed!
Saumur is home to the National School of Horsemanship, known for its annual horse shows. There is a tank museum, the Musée des Blindés, with more than 850 vehicles. Most of them are from France, although some are from other countries such as Brazil, Germany, and the Soviet Union.
Later in the week we rode along the Loire in brilliant sunshine. The troglodyte dwellings in the tuffeau caves along the Loire, were utterly amazing. Whilst being a pillion I could see that some of these tiny dwellings are still inhabited and you can see little chimneys, peeking out of the cliff tops!
However, some of these caves, are still used for storing the local Saumur and Saumur-Champigny wines. If you wish to experience the wonderful variety of wines available in the Saumur region, then visit Micaela and Sue who run Loire Wine Tours , Vineyard Maison d’Hotes. They have a love of art, wine and jazz.