Friday, 30 September 2011

The home of the Poppos tribe

The Loire Valley is littered with chateaux of every shape and size, but it is always interesting to come across a gem now and again.
We have been very busy in our field this week, so when we felt it was time for a day off, we decided to visit the Chateau Montpoupon which is just to the North East of us . We got the MGF out and headed up to St Aignan for a coffee and supplies for a picnic, then drove on some of the quietest roads in the general direction of the Chateau. We knew it would be closed over the lunch time, so continued to Montrichard where we had a delightful lunch by the river. The weather really has been glorious this week!
At 2pm we set off back to the chateau to be hailed by a chap on a bicycle. Could we take his photo? Certainly! He had set off from Glasgow 21 days previously and was heading for his second home in the Vienne. As the cycle ride was for charity, he needed photo proof of his travels. Whilst this was underway, another cyclist turned up - this time a Canadian who had cycled over from Chenonceau and wanted to send a photo to his folks back home. He then set off back to Chenonceau!

The Chateau Montpoupon is a pocket chateau but well worth a visit. They have created a very interesting hunting museum as the chateau was (and still is) a centre for hunting with horses. They have some wonderful photos, and Hermes scarves covering all aspects of riding and hunting. There is even a recreated saddlery from Paris - and the smell of leather is wonderful!

By the way - the chateau is named after the ancient tribe who lived in the area  - the Poppos.

There are some very intersting stone carvings in the chateau - here are a few
This little angel was on the staircase

Three medieval maidens
All chateaux had to keep a room ready in case the king decided to call!
The hunting museum had some very interesting exhibits:
Wouldn't want to meet him on a dark night!
We spent an hour and a half at the chateau - it could have been longer as there is a forest walk and a picnic area. Well worth the 8 euros!

Sunday, 25 September 2011


The weather in central France during September and October can be very good and this week seems set to prove the theory. The field at the rear of our house has been through a torrid time over the years especially when the new septic tanks and filter system were installed in 2008. We were however determined to return the field to a good grassed area before the end of 2012 so now is the time for the work. After turning the area over in May we are now at a point where the work can continue and grass seed sown. Daniel Bonnamy, our neighbour, has access to every imaginable piece of agricultural equipment so he has been working on the field with his tractor . Daniel has a very strong Berichonne dialect so comunication can be a prolem at times but we struggle through.
Daniel at work turning the soil to a fine tilth.
Work continued today after Daniel rolled and seeded the field yesterday with a big roller but not without incident. The small tractor and roller he borrowed from the farmer down the road managed to get stuck in a ditch and rescue was required. We removed another mountain of stones, raked the soil level and rolled the raked the area - 50% is now complete HOORRAY!

Oops - took that corner a bit quick!
After much raking and work Maureen took over the important task of rolling the field and I have to say it looks much better.

Girl at work rolling the soil.
We still have less than half the field to do but this will be completed later this week and with some rain over the winter should be green grass in the spring of 2012.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

We visit a local country market

French country markets!!!
Ahhh, a French market, full of fresh produce, most of it local and everything looking just beautiful!

Dried and preserved fruit and olives provided a very colourful display to tempt customers 
Beautiful fruit and vegetables
Fresh Oysters in different sizes
Wine to taste, buy in a bottle or box - about 2 Euro a Litre.

A wide selection of mushrooms both wild and cultivated in local limestone caves

Yesterday was warm and sunny, a typical mid September day in central France so it was an ideal opportunity to have a run out in the MG with the top down, wind in the hair and visit a market. Le Blanc is a medium sized town to the south of Les Deux Platanes and every Saturday like the majority of towns and villages throughout France hosts a market. As you can see from the photos which capture but a small portion of the stalls it is a colourful and interesting place to visit. Fresh mushrooms on one stall and a vast colourful selection of dried and preserved fruit on another. Local cheese, wine and vegetables plus butchers and specialist charcuterie stalls selling produce to suit all tastes and interests. The lady selling fresh oysters even has seats where you could sit and enjoy Oysters of your choice with a nice glass of chilled wine – the French certainly seem to have a good outlook and emphasis on good fresh food.
On returning we discovered our neighbour Daniel in our field preparing the ground for sowing grass seeds.
Its been a long process preparing the field for grass but we are nearly there and 2012 should see a nice green area.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Food Al Fresco!

Food on holiday is very important. In my humble opinion its not that you are looking for strange or unusual food but holidays call for adventure, taste, abundance, freshness and for those willing to try; something different!

For those wishing to use the barbecue the gite is equipped with a good charcoal barbecue complete with an assortment of tools and cooking baskets. Many guests use this when the evenings are warm, experimenting with new tastes from a local market or shop and accompanied by a bottle of local wine, lovely fresh baguette, goats cheese and a dessert what more could one ask for on holiday!

The cottage barbecue comes with a large range of tools, baskets - for those lacking any ideas we even provide a barbecue cookbook!

We also have a barbecue in our garden where we try to cook fresh, tasty and wholesome ingredients from local markets and shops (and Maureen's potager). The weather during the summer of 2011 has been very mixed, which is unusual to say the least and August in particular has been a little damp. Planning a barbecue has been a hit and miss affair as warm summer evenings have not been guaranteed.

However this week saw some nice warm evenings so the barbecue was used to cook some fresh produce from the garden and lovely produce from the local butcher.

This week our barbecue is cooking:

Maureen's large fresh garden tomatoes a la provencal (garlic & black olives)
Maureen's  courgettes sliced with olive oil dressing
Chicken marinated in lemon and herbs
Roasted vegetables
Spicy merguez sausage and herb chipolatas
Not shown : Fish portion cooked in foil.

There's nothing quite like cooking your own home-grown vegetables on a barbi!

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Re-creating history!

Towns, villages and tourist centres all over France are particularly good at  putting on visual re-enactments of historical events often involving thousands of local 'actors' in a stunning setting. You could spend the evening at a Chateau watching a re-enactment of the storming of the Bastille, 100 years War or some other major local event. This has reached such heights that a 'theme' park was  created just to provide such visual entertaiment. The Puy de Fou ( is about 3hrs drive from Les Deux Platanes so an early start was necessary but we were at the gates by 10.30am and since the place is open until 10pm we had a full day ahead although we left at 6pm after watching the Vikings invade a local village.

Click on any pictures in the BLOG to see them full size.

This photo gives you some idea regarding the events and the scale of the presentation. This show was about Joan of Arc and the battles between the French and the English.
The Romans played a major part in the history of France with the Gauls putting up a savage fight. The French as you will know have a cartoon character called 'Asterix' showing his adventures with the Romans. At the Puy De Fou they have built a full sized Roman Amphitheatre that can seat 7000 people. The chariot races are spectacular!

A small section of the Ampitheatre before the gladiators and chariots and Lions arrived!

The 'Birds of Prey' were very impressive
It is certainly a full days visit, we would recommend taking a seat cushion as you spend some time watching the shows and the seats can be hard!

Monday, 5 September 2011

Our Big Fat French Wedding!

We have been looking forward to the first weekend in September for months, our French friend's daughter was getting married and three days of wedding celebrations, meals, dancing and festivities were about to commence. The grooms parents and grandparents were staying in the cottage so the brass was given an extra special polish. Months ago, in a moment of utter madness we had offered to provide a meal for both families on the Friday evening – 24 people! We had put together an interesting menu, now it was time to deliver……and as we all know the French know a thing or two about food and wine.

Menu du Vendredi 2 Septembre 2011

En l’honneur du marriage de Karine et Antoine



Salade Nordique


Cuisse de pintade farcie à la truffe


Pommes de terre du jardin de Maureen, rôties dans la graisse de canard

Gratin de courgettes ( du Breuil)




Cerises du Jubilée (Le grand Escoffier les a crées pour le Jubilée de diamant de la reine Victoria en 1897)



Antoine and Karine about to embark on married life

The cottage garden with gazebo erected for the canapes

Tent prepared and ready to go

We planned to serve the canapés in the gazebo and the meal was to be served in a long ‘barnum’ (tent to you and me), and after hours of preparations everything was prepared. We even bought and wired in an extra oven in the barn to cook roast potatoes. Our good friends Chris and Julie offered to help and slave away behind the scenes to ensure everything went well.

Not a lot of time to take photo's as I was a waiter!

Anyway, to cut a very long story short the evening was a great success and a very good start to what was to be a very special weekend for all.

 On the Saturday morning I delivered half of the 120 bottles of Champagne, 70 bottles of red wine and 60 bottles of white wine to the local Chateau that was the setting for the wedding celebrations. After the official wedding signing and church service in the afternoon guests started to arrive at the Chateau for the ‘Vin d'honour’ and canapés at 6pm.

 I French!

Maureen and our son Daniel walk down to the Chateau
A chef cooking some of the hot canapes

Another table with oysters and other seafoods - and some excellent Sancerre!

Now we have been to a few weddings in our time but the canapés were something to behold and since there was a never ending supply of Champagne it was indeed a quality start to a very good evening meal and dancing way past midnight.
Dancing the night away
All we have to do now is clear up!!