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Le Chardon

Towns & Cities in the Loire

A perfect French Gite in the heart of the Loire

Many of the towns and cities in the area are both pleasant to walk round and have a wealth of history attached to them. Some also have a chateau (more detail in the chateaux section below).

Most of them also have weekly markets which are a must to wander round even if you have no intention of buying anything; although you probably will be tempted by some of the fresh meat, fish or vegetables, if not some of the more ‘French’ offerings in the fashion and ‘nic-nac’ departments!

 

Saumur

The beautiful town of Saumur sits on the banks of the mighty Loire river and is dominated by its chateau which sits on a plateau above the town.

The town is renowned for its equestrian school and the military barracks. There is a large shopping area to stroll round with many cafés and bars where you can sit with a coffee, relax and take in the atmosphere and watch the world go by.

If you are hungry there are a wealth of restaurants where you can eat everything from traditional French cuisine to a Chinese or Thai meal or even a pizza. If you fancy taking something on the run there are many sandwich bars where you can grab a baguette or a mini quiche.

Throughout the year there are many things to see and do including horse drawn carriage tours around the town, boat trips and cruises on the Loire river, concerts in the theatre and in the open air.

There are also numerous equestrian events to see during the year including the ‘Concours d’Attelage International’ , the International Horse drawn carriage competition and ‘Le Carrousel de Saumur’, and ‘Le Grande Semaine de Saumur, a week of international equestrian, dressage, horse drawn carriage and other events.

Being a military town there is also a tank museum, the largest in the world, and, as would be expected from a famous wine region, there are many wine cellars which you can visit including the renowned houses of Gratien and Mayer, Ackerman-Remy- Pannier, Bouvay- Ladubay, Veuve Amiot and also the Distillerie Combier who make the celebrated Triple Sec.

All this and more can be found on www.saumur-tourisme.com

 

Montsoreau

Along the banks of the river from Saumur sits Montsoreau, a small town dominated by its chateau.

It has a few restaurants and cafes and it is nice to sit next to the river and watch the world go by.

There is a large ‘Brocante’ market there every 2nd Sunday where people promenade, talk and even buy some of the varied things for sale – very French.

 

Fontevraud

Just ten minutes from Le Chardon – a relaxing drive through the forest and past the Headquarters of ‘the Dragons’ the famous French tank squadron.

The town is dominated by the famous Abbey and it’s gardens which are very impressive to look at and even more impressive to visit. There are also various cafes, bars and a couple of excellent restaurants.

 

Chinon

This town is always worth a visit and is a pleasant 20 minute drive from Le Chardon, once again through beautiful, unspoilt countryside.

Here you will find a wealth of history, Joan of Arc, Richard the Lionheart etc. a wonderful castle which overlooks a lovely town to stroll through with many cafes, bars where you can relax, take in the beauty of some of the architecture and its history, or sample some of the regional cuisine in one of the many restaurants.

As with many French towns, it has a large market and a ‘brocante’ on Sundays

 

Richelieu

This is the town where the famous Cardinal Richeleu – a templar knight and once Prime Minister of France who was famous for his brutal ways made his mark. One of his most famous lines was:- ‘If you give me six lines written by the most honest man, I will find something in them to hang him’ … A nice man!

He wanted Richelieu to be the most beautiful town in the universe and was instrumental in the neglect of the castle in Chinon which was allowed to slowly disintegrate during the period of his dukedom and that of his heirs.

The town itself is laid out in a ‘grid’, which makes it very impressive and was to be the template for the American grid system of streets that can be seen in cities like New York, which is one of the prime examples.

It also has a Collegiale and a 480 hectare park. There are bars, cafes, a tea room, and several restaurants.

 

Angers

The capital of Anjou, this city is a must to visit with its chateau fortress (www.monuments-nationaux.fr), the 15th. century Adam’s House and the fine Art museum.

Across the Maine, following the convent walls, stroll through the cobbled alleyways of the Doutre district, with its village atmosphere, private residences and timber framed houses, and the new cultural district centred around the ‘Le Quai’ area.

The cathedral has a precious collection of tapestries, the most famous being ‘The Revelation’ the largest tapestry in the world, which now sits in the castle.

The shopping area, which is mostly just for pedestrians, is also very nice to stroll round with a large range of shops, including many familiar names.

Angers is also the home of the famous Cointreau drink and a visit to the Cointreau museum, where the drink is produced and then to the store where you will find exclusive boxed sets and much more.

There are many more things to see and to do in Angers, more information at www.angersloiretourisme.com

 

Thouars

15 minutes from Le Chardon, Thouars is a market town famous for its huge market on a Friday morning which is as much a social occasion as somewhere to buy your weekly shopping, a ready cooked chicken, freshly smoked eel, ‘boudin noir’ or even a Chinese meals which are freshly cooked in huge woks!

There is also a large indoor market where you can find fresh meat, fish and cheeses. The choice is extensive and guaranteed to make you hungry!

As usual there a several cafes where you can sit and watch the to-ing and fro-ing over a cup of coffee or a beer when you have finished taking all the offerings of the market and deciding what to have for lunch!!

There are several restaurants in the town including an Algerian/Moroccan restaurant which serves traditional ‘tagines’ and couscous dishes, or you can take home your purchases and cook something fresh and wash it down with a bottle of local wine.

 

Doué la Fontaine

10-15 minutes from Le Chardon, Doué is the City of Roses, the rose capital of France. As you can imagine there are many places relating to roses including Le Chemin de la Rose and La Maison de la Rose www.histoirederose.com.

It is also home to a famous zoo which specialises in endangered species. This impressive zoo is based in a former quarry and all the animals are not in conventional cages but wander in open spaces within the quarry. A must for all ages, it also has various places around the zoo (www.zoodoue.fr) where you can stop for refreshments.

It also has a large café and a restaurant so you can almost make a day out of the visit. There is also a troglodyte pottery in the town which has an exhibition of fine pottery, all of which can be purchased, all designed by Karin Chopin-Lollierou. www.roseblue.fr

The town itself also has some interesting shops and some nice restaurants.

 

The Atlantic coast and its resorts

Pornic, St Jean des Monts and Noirmoutier are all about a two hour drive away – an early start and make it an easy day out.

 

Le Chardon