The Loire Valley and Area
The Brenne National Park
If you are looking to visit one of the most impressive regions of France, then the Loire Valley is ideal – indeed the very name conjures up wonderful images in the mind. The châteaux, the translation of ‘castles’ does not do them justice, are magnificent. The scenery is stunning too; in-fact the valley is also known as ‘The Garden of France’ and you can see why. Furthermore the harvest here is very rich: plums, apples and grapes – the area is renowned of course for its fine wines, namely Muscadet, Rosé d’Anjou, Sauvignon and Vouvray.
History abounds here. Every time you turn a corner you see a reminder of Richard the Lionheart, the Hundred Years’ War or Joan of Arc. Visiting the Loire Valley is like stepping back in time; the sleepy towns are a delight to explore and the local people seem to have time on their hands, stopping to chat to each other or drinking endless coffees in the nearby bars and cafés.
Recreational opportunities abound in the region. Biking on the almost traffic-free country roads alongside the wide rivers, we are now on the bike friendly 'Greenway' details of which can be found at ( châteaux and red-roofed villages, certainly qualifies as one of the most delightful activities. The many rivers which honeycomb the area, from the Creuse to the Gartempe to the Anglin, will be of special interest to swimmers and those who enjoy fishing. Bird watching is especially well-rewarded in the Regional Park of the Brenne, a wildlife refuge. For those who would like to be a little more energetic why not hire a bike and try one of the easy local bike rides and of course there are plenty of local walks, we also have local stables and tennis courts. We are lucky enough to be surrounded by Golf Courses which are underplayed for most of year, our nearest is just 15 mins away (see Local Golf).
Open Air Markets (7 min. – 1 hour): Each town has its own market day you can indulge in the regional specialties, which include an array of goat cheeses, fresh water fish, snails, melons, wild mushrooms, “rillettes de Poitou” and game.
Le Grand Pressigny : Boasts a fascinating prehistorical museum in its château, which has a collection of locally found flint stone tools and weapons.
La Roche Posay : Charming and bustling spa town founded by the Romans, known for its healing waters since the fifteenth century. Eighteen and nine-hole golf courses are located there, as is a quaint “hippodrome” featuring horse races throughout the summer. La Roche Posay even offers the adventuresome a casino in a converted château! The spa have a full menu of aesthetic services, including facials, massages and mineral spring baths. The town supports al fresco markets, a full service supermarket and cinema.
Angles-Sur-L’Anglin: Has been officially named by the French tourism board as “one of the most beautiful villages in France” – a designation it richly deserves! Dominated by 15th century castle ruins and mill house, Angles is famous for its tradition of fine needlework, still carried on by local women.
The Loire Vally: This incomparable valley, also known as the “Valley of the Kings” for its many châteaux (or castles), is certainly one of the best-known tourist attractions in the world. Tours, the main city of the Loire, is a 50 minute drive from Les Frippières. Major châteaux such as Chenonceau, Azay-Le-Rideau, Blois, Villandry, Chaumont, Loches, Ussé, Amboise (where Leonardo da Vinci spent his last days working for the great Renaissance king, François I), are about one hours drive. During the summer months, some of the châteaux present their own “Son et Lumière”, a spectacle of light and music – not to be missed!
Fontevraud: Royal Abbey of Fontevraud. One of the largest monastic cities remaining in Europe (12th – 18th century). On 35 acres of territory.
Richelieu: Next to the palatial castle, preceding the erection of the town by 6 years, the Cardinal Richelieu nourished the ambition of building a town which would become the exclusive residential quarter of his followers and courtiers. It was indeed achieved in 1631. Park of the former palatial castle of Richelieu, destroyed during the Great Revolution of 1789.
Museums Le Grand Pressigny: Important prehistorical museum, which is established in the Renaissance wing of the château. It displays prehistoric tools and other artifacts excavated locally (collection of over 10’000 objects) and examples of reconstructed terrain to illustrate how prehistoric men lived. A large collection of fossilized shells found in the region is displayed separately.
Festivals And Music: It is impossible to list the large number and variety of festivals held in the region during the summer season, including “Son et Lumière” at the châteaux. Bastille Day (National Holiday, July 14) is itself one continuous “fête” or party, featuring dancing, regional food, and fireworks. Horse Racing at La Roche Possay with seven meetings during the summer. Music ranges from jazz in clubs and castles, to classical performances in local churches.
The Berry : Home to the Parque Regionale de la Brenne, a wildlife refuge giving those interested in bird watching a wonderful opportunity to view some of the largest bird colonies in Europe. The charming riverside town of Le Blanc, with its well-preserved medieval quarter and Saturday morning fresh air market, is well worth a visit.
St. Savin (30 min): Site of a monastery founded in the 11th century, which dominated the entire Poitou region during the Hundred Years War. Its romanesque abbey church is home to twelfth century murals considered to be the best in France. Created in gentle hues of red, yellow ochre, green, black and white, the frescoes depict Old Testament history from the Creation to the Ten Commandments.
Chauvigny : Beautiful town with fabulous medieval quarter and château ruins, in which a well-known jazz series takes place every summer in a 13th century courtyard. Saturday morning’s outdoor “marché” is the largest in the region and features everything from a flower market to fresh seasonal produce, fish and charcuterie, bakers, wine merchants, clothing and even Persian carpets! During the summer months, exciting falcon show in the ruins of the old castle!
We are lucky enough to be surrounded by quality golf courses that are not only quiet but affordable. Our nearest club is the 18 hole Golf du Connetable at La Roche Posay, just 15 minutes away and is a challenge for all standard of golfers. This ‘Woburnesk’ course is set amongst conifers with oaked lined fairways, wildlife is plentiful Red Squirrel’s abound and don’t be surprised to see the odd Stag or Boar running off into the forest.
At Loches we have the 9 hole Golf Loches Verneuil which has been built in association with St. Andrews.
Just outside Chatellerault is the Golf du Haut Poitou, here we have both a 9 and 18 hole course set around a large lake, again the 18 hole course is a challenge to all.
A bit further out is the Golf du Manoir de Beauvoir, this beautiful course is set in the grounds of an old 19th centaury Victorian style manor which is now an hotel. Golf du Manoir de Beauvoir