France as a whole remains as popular as ever with holidaymakers whether they are first time visitors or regular Francophiles. The Loire Valley region is world renowned, particularly for its famous chateaux, but with its marvellous food and wines, beautiful scenery, traditional markets, as well as its historic towns, it has much for the visitor to discover.
Nevertheless Le Petit Bijou is ideally situated for all the attractions of the area, and being close to river crossings at Gennes/les Rosiers and Saumur, the whole of the local area is easily reachable.
Gennes, with its historical dolmens and ancient Gallo-Roman amphitheatre, is about a mile from the gîte and provides for all daily shopping needs with bakers, butchers, greengrocers, etc., a branch of SuperU supermarkets, as well as a number of restaurants. Over the bridge on the opposite bank les Rosiers-sur-Loire offers a similar variety of shops and restaurants.
Saumur, with its imposing chateau and renowned Ecole Nationale Equitation, is about 8 miles away to the east, and can be reached in about 15 minutes, but the journey could take all day if one stops to admire the chateau and church at Cunault, enjoy the river views at Chenehutte, the mushroom caves before St Hilaire, and the sparkling wine producers on the edge of Saumur.
And then theres lunch! A French institution that begs the phrase, "If you cant beat them, join them".
The Champigny vineyards lie behind Saumur, and the abbey of Fontevraud with its graves of English kings a further 10 miles along the Loire. The "rose" town of Doue la Fontaine is a short run to the south, while many of the byways in the area are marked as "parcours pittoresque"- scenic routes to meander at ones leisure.
There are tourist offices in Gennes and Saumur (www.ot-saumur.fr) that offer information on all the local attractions.
Loire in this area is famous for its rich cultural history, with more
than 50 chateaux in the region and over the years it has either been
visited by, or is the home to many famous people. Eleanor of Aquitaine,
her husband Henry II, and son Richard the Lionheart are all buried at
Fontevraud, Jules Desbois the 19th century sculptor was born in Parcay
les Pins, Coco Chanel, the French fashion designer was born in Saumur,
and latterly the actor/director Gerard Depardieu has a house and vineyard
close to Saumur, whilst Mick Jagger of Rolling Stones fame is President
of Saumur Cricket Club.
The closest vineyards to Le Petit Bijou are in the countryside south of Saumur, home to Saumur-Champigny. Further up the river are St Nicholas de Bourgeuil, Bourgeuil and Chinon, whilst downstream the area south of Angers produces the lovely sweet Coteaux du Layon and Coteaux de lAubance. Further afield towards Nantes is Muscadet with its light white and appetisingly tingly "sur lie".
A holiday in the area would not be complete without a visit to one of the sparkling wine producers such as Gratien & Meyer or Langlois-Chateau (owned by Bollinger) whose premises can be found in Saumur.
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