Bazas (Nouvelle Aquitaine), France June 2024 (Tour 9)

Worsening weather (I cannot recall France ever being so wet) forced us further south to the small town of Bazas, some 60 kilometres south east of Bordeaux, in the Gironde Department of Nouvelle Aquitaine. The weather forecast was more promising and we decided to stay in Bazas for a couple of days and then move on to Spain. The campsite we chose, Capfun, has a rather impressive Water Park and; it was almost totally empty of people (this being a weekend out of season). We had to give the Water Park a go before moving on but, more of that later.

Bazas and the surrounding area is famous for it’s white wines and Bazadais Cattle (well, the resulting cooked beef anyway). In addition, the town was granted UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 1998 because of it’s Cathedral and it’s association with the Saint-Jacques Compostelle pilgrimage route. There’s certainly nothing wrong with the local white wine although being so close to Bordeaux I am inclined more towards red wines. I’ll not comment as to the Bazadais Cattle except to say that I saw plenty of them during our drive south but not yet had any opportunity to taste the beef. I did, however, get into Bazas and the Cathedral is beautiful.

Axtually, I made a couple of trips into the town; an exploratory trip on my own shortly after we arrived and a second with Vanya and the dogs on the following day which also happened to be market day (and our wedding anniversary). The exploratory trip was on foot by a back route from the campsite across the fields. Nala couldn’t follow that route with her wheels and Vanya wouldn’t want to but it suited me that first day because within 15 muddy minutes of leaving Capfun I arrived in the town’s main square, the Place de la Cathedrale.

In Bazas, most things worth seeing are to be found on or near the fair sized arcaded Place de la Cathedrale and that includes the very majestic Saint John the Baptist Cathedral, the Hotel de Ville (this latter building having a most excellent entrance) and a range of 16th, 17th and 18th century mansions.

The ‘Belles Vendanges’ (or, in English, the Beautiful Harvest) is a work by the Parisien sculptor Lucien Pallez. Most of his known works seem to have been created between the 1870’s and the 1890’s but many have disappeared. All I know about this particular work is that it was donated to the town in 1911.

The most striking building in the square is the Cathedrale of Saint Jean Baptiste. Construction of this majestic building was started during the 13th century and it was sufficiently complete in time for Pope Urban II to urge the First Christian Crusade to the Holy Land from there. The structure was improved over the following years with the current finished product dating back to 1635. It is as good an example of Gothic architecture as I have seen.

Unusually, the town’s war memorial to it’s fallen in WWI is inside the cathedral. This monument stopped me in my tracks. To see so many killed from such a small town and, perhaps more tragic still, to see so many with the same family name – eight men with the surname ‘St Marc’ are listed on this memorial. Think too of the others who were physically and/or mentally wounded but get no mention. I’ll not describe their sacrifice as a waste because a great many of those killed or injured, died doing what they felt was right at the time and I would never demean their actions but, I will say that it was unforgiveable they should have been called upon to make such a sacrifice. Sorry. Rant over. Moving on…

I drove Vanya and the dogs into Bazas fairly early on the Saturday morning to ensure we could get the Van parked up before the crowds arrived. It is never easy finding a parking spot on market days. Farmer’s Markets in France are almost an institution and invariably well attended. Bazas does not have a huge market (how large does it need to be to serve a town of less than 5,000 people) but it has the most incredible fish stall we have ever seen – such a selection of fresh fish! I’ll let some of my photos do the talking…

Unbelievable! We had a great morning sitting in the Place de la Cathedrale watching the world go by over coffee and pastries and listening to a fairly accomplished busker – he had a great voice. We must have walked the market two or three times and, towards the end of the morning, bought some fish, fruit, cheese and wine for supper that evening. Probably the quietest start to a wedding anniversary we have ever had but it must rank among the most pleasant and memorable and the shellfish we ate that evening was outstanding.

I mentioned that the campsite had it’s own Water Park. We did try it out. Well, I went into one of the pools while Vanya went in up to her ankles but not all of the slides were working. No surprise there because we were the only people on the admittedly quiet site (we are out of season) interested in using the facilities. If only it had been warmer.

Oh, and we missed out on the Bardelaise Cattle and Steak au Poivre. Next time.

A last two pictures of Bazas. We’re off to Spain.

Saint Jean de Cole (Nouvelle Aquitaine), France May 2024

Vanya wanted to stay at Camping Le Lieu a second night despite it raining so heavily that the Van required towing out of the quagmire which our pitch had become. No problem, the extra day would allow us to visit a nearby ‘plus beau village de France’ and, in any event we wanted to check out the hardware store in Thiviers (in the hope we could buy a spare buckle/clip for Nala’s wheels – the existing clip is set to split) but; henceforth, I’ll be parking the Van with at least one front wheel on hardcore (at least until we find the hot weather).

We arrived at Saint Jean de Cole in time for a light lunch. There’s a pleasant cafe-bar in the village centre on the Place de Saint Jean and the weather held fine while we enjoyed a roasted cheese, bacon and honey lunch, all washed down with a local red wine. Well, I drank a red wine.

Saint Jean de Cole proved a delight and is fully deserving of it’s plus beau village status. We stayed long enough to walk most of the village (we missed out on just the riverbank walk to the old railway station) and it didn’t rain!

It’s a very pretty and well preserved medieval village with most of the buildings having been made of a washed ochre coloured stone and a great many are half timbered.

The two most prominent buildings in the village are both on the Place Saint Jean. These are the 12th century Chateau de la Marthonie, razed to the ground during the 100 years war but rebuilt (it is open to visitors in the high season) and; most unusual for this part of Europe, a round shaped church (the Eglise Saint Jean Baptiste) which was also built in the late 12th century although the square tower was a 17th century addition. The church, which was closed during our visit, was originally crowned by a dome but the dome kept collapsing and was replaced during the 19th century by a tiled roof. The chateau and the church are both classified historical monuments.

Another 12th century feature of the village is the pretty stone bridge over the River Cole. On the far side of that bridge is a path which follows the route of the old railway line to the villages disused train station. Unless you have the good fortune to visit Saint Jean on the one day of the year that the priory is open to the public, this path also provides the best view of the village’s 15th century priory together with it’s original cloisters (which adjoins the Chateau). We had to make do with that view.

Without a doubt, Saint Jean de Cole is a charming little village and well worth visiting (I don’t think I mentioned that it has just 300 inhabitants?) and it has a highly recommended and charming restaurant, Les Temps des Mets, which we missed out on this time but will visit during our next visit to the Dordogne.

Oh, and Thiviers, the self proclaimed capital of foix gras just 12 kilometres to the west? We soon found our hardware store but they couldn’t supply the clip we required. We found one later at a Deichmann store in Perigueux.

Saint Jory de Chalais (Nouvelle Aquitaine), France May 2024 (Tour 9)

I cannot tell you much about the village of Saint Jory de Chalais in the Dordogne Department of Nouvelle Aquitaine. It is tiny and the River Cole flows through it and it is kept very, very tidy by it’s 600+ inhabitants but; that’s about it, except for the fact it is on our route to Perigueux (south of which is, supposedly, better weather) and it has a campsite that Vanya wanted us to overnight at.

Camping Le Lieu is a small campsite at the edge of Saint Jory de Chalais which until recently was known as Camping Maisonneuve. The campsite is run now by a most welcoming and friendly couple (Charline and Julien) and if the village doesn’t have enough about it to warrant a longer stay, the campsite does. We stayed two nights despite the continuing poor weather simply because we were made to feel so welcome.

There’s a barn adjoining the owner’s residence which has been transformed into a very sociable cafe/bar where most if not all of those staying at the site congregated in the evenings together with a few villagers. Food is currently limited to snacks and pizzas but the pizzas were fresh and tasty and the bar had no fixed closing time; which is always a plus when the company is good and the local red wine so pleasant.

The campsite has a swimming pool and a fishing lake but with the weather deteriorating so markedly, they were of no particular interest to us. On a warm, sunny day it would be different.

And the village of Saint Jory de Chalais…

As has been mentioned, there is not a great deal to the village. There is a shop and an inn, the Auberge St George’s, but both seemed to operate very limited opening hours. Had we been staying longer, we’d have made enquiries in that regard but; this is the Dordogne and there are plenty of other busier towns and villages in the area to visit, if that is what you want. We needed to visit a hardware store in Thiviers and Charline had recommended we visit the nearby ‘plus beau village de France’ of Saint Jean de Cole. There was all the reason we needed to stay on the second night.

Richelieu (Centre-Val de Loire), France May 2024 (Tour 9)

It was time to leave Montsoreau. We’d spent considerably longer there than intended and had a wonderful time but, the weather was not improving and we were craving sunshine. England’s weather during the last six months has been awful. From what the locals are saying, it has not been any better across France and; a number of people we have spoken to in France have real concerns about this year’s wine crop – there’s been far too much rain and not enough sunshine.

We made the decision to drive south towards better weather and to this end reserved a spot for a couple of nights at ‘Le Lieu’ Campsite in the village of Saint Jory de Chalais in the Dordogne Department of Nouvelle Aquitaine. The journey would take us through Richelieu (previously the home of Cardinal Richelieu and a place which had been recommended to us as somewhere to visit by an English couple we met in Montsoreau) and then on through the towns of Chatellerault and Chauvigny. Chauvigny we know quite well already having stopped there during Tour 4. We also made a decision to carry on south, to Spain if necessary, in the event the weather in St Jory wasn’t much improved.

So we paused at Richelieu. One of the advantages of travelling around France in the close season is that it is usually very easy to find parking (especially using the Park4Night App). On this occasion we were directed to the Place du Cardinal at the entrance to both the town and the municipal park. There couldn’t be a more ideal parking place in the town.

The small town takes it’s name from it’s founder Cardinal Richelieu who, after King Louis XIII, was the most powerful person in France. It was formed to serve the magnificent palace the Cardinal had commissioned for himself in 1625 and which later became the inspiration for Louis XIV’s Palace de Versailles. Sadly the Cardinal’s palace, which stood in the area that now forms the municipal park, was ransacked and seriously damaged during the French Revolution; so much so, it had to be pulled down.

The original town was developed to the south of the palace grounds within a walled and moated area measuring just 700 x 500 metres and; every house was built according to the Cardinal’s specification and by builders selected by the Cardinal. Unusual for the time, the town was laid out in a symmetrical grid style. It doesn’t take long to walk the town. The municipal park, on the other hand, can take quite a while to walk.

The main church on the Place du Marche, Eglise Notre Dame de Richelieu, is now the most prominent building in and around Richelieu and it is in much the same condition as when it was first built (as is much of the rest of this quite meticulously designed town, including the large wooden market hall on the same square). It is an interesting “classical” church designed by the renowned Jacques Lemercier.

After checking out the church, walking the length of the town’s Grand Rue and returning to the Van via the Avenue Quebec (so as to see the outside of the old walled town) we had seen just about everything worth seeing in Richelieu. We strolled the municipal park for a while and would have stayed longer in the park except that it started raining (again). We didn’t feel the need to visit the small palace, just outside the town, which the Cardinal had built for his mistress.

Final thoughts on Richelieu. It was an okay spot to break our journey south but, I don’t think it is worth going out of the way for. It would have been a totally different matter if the Cardinal’s Palace had survived the French Revoution but c’est la vie.

Montsoreau Olympic Flame (Pays de La Loire), France May 2024 (Tour 9)

We were up early today to witness the Olympic Flame being run through Montsoreau on it’s way to the 2024 Paris Olympics.

The owner of Camping L’Isle Verte had provided his regular guests (and us) with Montsoreau T-shirts & caps that we could participate in a one off Flash mob as part of the village celebrations. Sadly, I was out on a walkabouts (wholly unaware of what he intended) and so missed the event but he insisted we keep the ‘outfits’ anyway and so it was that we set off to watch the arrival of the flame and enjoy the party atmosphere bedecked in the local colours.

The village was packed. Locals from all the surrounding villages seemed to want to celebrate the event; the local schools had announced a day off and; complete families lined the south bank of the Loire (because the flame would arrive by boat) and both sides of the Quai Alexandre Dumas (along which the flame would be run to the chateau to be blessed by the Maire). It looked for a while as though we would not be able to see very much of the proceedings but a very considerate gendarme, seeing Nala in her wheels, ushered us to a VIP spot where we would see everything. Bless him. We had the best possible view of the flame arriving by boat and of it being run from where the boat docked on the quay to the chateau. Vanya took some amazing video footage which I will try and include in the Tour 9 Video. For now, you will have to be make do with a couple of my stills.

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Montsoreau and Camping L’Isle Verte proved a real find but to be there when the Olympic Flame was being run through the village was particularly special. The local people were amazing and many went out of their way to make us feel welcome, not just during the celebrations but at all times throughout our stay. We’ll definitely be back. Meanwhile, I’ll leave you with a few more of our memories…

Enough already! We have to move on.

Varennes sur Loire (Pays de La Loire), France May 2024 (Tour 9)

I think the worsening weather (heavy rain returned last night) has caused my appetite towards visiting yet another village in this immediate area to dissipate somewhat because I didn’t really enjoy the small town of Varennes sur Loire yesterday. In fact, it is about as interesting as Swindon on a bad day. I googled the town to see if I had missed anything but no; ‘France This Way’ says very little about the place and, instead, describes other places to visit in the area – Montsoreau, Candes Saint Martin, Fontevraud, etc. So, we have decided to head further south tomorrow (once we have witnessed the Olympic Flame being run through Montsoreau on it’s way to Paris for the 2024 Olympics). Brighton has been wet for the best part of six months and we don’t need more of the same in France. We want to see and feel the sun.

Varennes sur Loire is a rural town located on the north bank of the Loire. To get there I had to cross the same narrow bridge that I drove over nearly a week ago to reach Montsoreau. I thought it narrow that first time (having to bring both wing mirrors in) but it seemed narrower still walking across it. The bridge is strewn with broken mirrors and pieces of plastic.

I found little in Varennes to interest me and because of the impending rain stayed little more than half an hour. There’s an interesting little nature park for the children but otherwise…

Souzay-Champigny (Val de La Loire), France May 2024 (Tour 9)

We had intended staying in Montsoreau for 3 or 4 days but changed our minds and stayed a full week after learning that the Olympic Flame would be passing through the village on it’s way to Paris for the 2024 Olympics. The arrival of the Flame is a huge event for such a small village and, anyway, Montsoreau is a fine little village with plenty going on and it’s campsite, Camping Isle Verte, has all the facilities we need and more (especially having regard to Nala’s condition). We didn’t need much persuading to stay on but, what to do until the Olympic Flame arrives?

I mentioned in an earlier post that Montsoreau is well placed for us to visit a host of other villages and towns in the area. Indeed, we have already enjoyed nearby Candes Saint Martin and Turquant and I particularly enjoyed visiting the Abbey at Fontevraud. And so it happened that after Montsoreau’s Sunday Market (more about that later in a fresh post on Montsoreau), I set off, a pied, to explore a couple of other villages to the west of Montsoreau being Parnay and Souzay-Champigny. These two were never going to compare with Montsoreau, Candes Saint Martin, Turquant or Fontevraud L’Abbaye, but they each offer something of interest. Over dinner last night I enjoyed a very pleasant red wine from Parnay (a Chateau de Targe, produced by an independent winemaker, Paul Pisani-Ferry) and the waiter recommended their wines above any other in the area in terms of taste and value for money. Parnay has to be worth a visit. Just beyond Parnay is the larger village of Souzay-Champigny (over 700 inhabitants compared with less than 300 in Parnay) with it’s 12th century troglodyte shopping street – surely the first ever shopping mall?

It didn’t take me long to walk to Parnay (it is less than 3 miles from Montsoreau) but sadly the Chateau de Targe was not open for wine tasting when I arrived. Probably just as well given how much I enjoyed the wine last night. I’ll just have to revisit last night’s bar.

The only other thing I would say about Parnay is that the locals seem very proud of the fact it sits on the Greenwich Meridian…

On to Souzay-Champigny, which adjoins Parnay. I managed a few photographs of the troglodyte street but, I think a better time to visit the place would be in April (when an egg fair is held there) or early June (when a medieval festival takes place) or, better still in December when it holds a Christmas Market. It wasn’t being used at all during my visit and, empty, proved very disappointing. I walked all around the village but, again, it proved a disappointment There was a wedding on at the church (which I was loath to join) and so I lost those photo opportunities but, worse, I read that the most picturesque views of the village are to be taken from the small island in the Loire opposite the Town Hall and because the island was almost completely underwater (the Loire having burst it’s banks) I missed those photo opportunities too. Some other time perhaps – April, June or December, Lol.

Fontevraud L’Abbaye (Pays de La Loire), France May 2024 (Tour 9)

We spent the morning of this our 6th day of Tour 9 in Candes Saint Martin. We had promised to return to Candes to visit the Street Art Parc which is located in the grounds of Chateau Candes. We’re so glad we returned for that visit; it was one and a half hours of pure joy. I have described the visit in a post script to the earlier Candes Saint Martin blog. For now, I will concentrate on the afternoon’s excursion to the little village of Fontevraud L’Abbaye.

Fontevraud is almost exactly 3 miles south of Montsoreau and the walk took about an hour and a quarter. Vanya chose to stay in Montsoreau with the dogs, both of which were totally exhausted after the morning’s visit to Candes. Vanya might have been a little tired too but she is recovering from her hip operation.

Although it has a population of a little over 1,500, there’s not a great deal to the village. Almost everything in Fontevraud is about the Historic Monument and UNESCO World Heritage Site of the ‘Royal Abbey of Our Lady of Fontevraud’ and so, after a very quick scout of the village which saw me find a suitable cafe-bar for a wine stop before my return to Montsoreau, I headed for the Abbey.

Most conveniently, the principal entrance to the Royal Abbey of Fontevraud is on the Place des Plantagenets. I paid my entrance fee (14 Euros for access into both the abbey and the museum) and began my tour. For a small fee you can join a guided tour but it really isn’t necessary if you speak French or English. You get a free guidebook (pamphlet) with your admission ticket which when read in conjunction with small plaques dotted about the Abbey explains all you need to know.

The Abbey was founded in 1101 by Robert d’Arbrissel to accommodate monks and nuns and it flourished, particularly after Eleanor of Aquitaine retired to the Abbey in 1200 and made it a necropolis for the Kings and Queens of England. Upon her death in 1204 she was entombed in the abbey church of Fontevraud together with her husband King Henry II, her third son King Richard I (aka Richard the Lionheart) and Isabella Angouleme wife of her youngest son King John of England.

Robert d’Arbrissel is also entombed in the abbey church despite his wish to be buried in a more simple plot in the grounds of the abbey. Over the course of his life Robert proved to be a bit of a religious radical and this continued right to the end when on his deathbed he decreed that a woman, Hersende of Champagne, should succeed him as head of Fontevraud over all nuns and monks. Since then 36 abbesses have succeeded one another, the last being Julie Sophie Charlotte de Pardaillan d’Antin who was evicted during the French Revolution in 1792 and subsequently died in poverty in Paris.

The abbey was looted and ransacked during the French Revolution and suffered further depradation in 1804 when Napoleon Bonaparte instructed that it be used as a prison. Housing up to 2,000 inmates at a time until it’s closure in 1963, Fontevraud was considered one of the toughest prisons in France. After the prison closed work began to restore the Abbey and the following photos reflect some considerable progress:-

The Grand-Moutier Cloister…

The Chapter Room…

Saint Benoit Courtyard…

The Romanesque Kitchens…

View of Fontevraud Abbey from Robert d’Arbrissel Hill (& the abbey bells)…

There’s no doubt, the abbey is a beautiful and interesting place (and I’m glad I visited) but in one respect it proved a disappointment. It struck me as a barren collection of pretty buildings with no ‘feeling’, if that is the right word. This may in part be due to all original furnishings, fixtures and fittings having been removed; those little items which would give the place a more human connection. I think this needs to be addressed given (a) the abbey’s history as a place monastic life and worship and; (b) it’s royal patronage (not just by the Plantagenents either) and; (c) the hardship and suffering that occured within during the period it was a notorious prison and; (d) more recently when, during World War II, it was used by the Nazi occupiers as a place of internment and execution of the French Resistance Movement. Give the place some soul.

And moving on… there was just enough time for a quick artisanal beer in the abbey’s old vegetable garden before I made my way to the museum (that was a total disappointment) and then on to my planned winestop at La Croix Blanche. I still had the three mile walk back to Montsoreau to navigate.

The Chinon wine was very nice. Full bodied and very smooth. I’ll be taking some of that back to England.

Turquant (Pays de La Loire), France May 2024 (Tour 9)

This small village of fewer than 600 inhabitants, just a mile or two west of Montsoreau, is packed with caves and troglodyte houses, most of which are currently used by various artisans and/or craftworkers as workshops and galleries.

We didn’t stay long (we were going to the Leclerc Hypermarket in Saumur) but, not having seen a bakery, a chemist and a tabac-bar (establishments which are common to almost every village in France) I’m wondering if we missed a part of the village? What we did see was fascinating and it would be a great shame if we did miss out on something but the place is a bit of a warren.

POSTSCRIPT: Back at the Van I scoured a local map and, in hindsight, I don’t think we missed much at all. One interesting point arising out of my search, however, is that the ancient town of Loudun is less than 20 miles from Turquant. In 1634 Loudon was the site of a notorious witchcraft trial after a convent of Ursuline nuns claimed to have been possessed by demons. The full story is told in Aldous Huxley’s book ‘The Devils of Loudun’ which in 1972 was made into a Ken Russell film starring Vanessa Redgrave and Oliver Reed (in the principal roles of, respectively, Sister Jeanne des Anges and Father Urbain Grandier). I recall seeing the film in London when it first came out (and before it was banned).

Back to Turquant. Almost everything in Turquant is made of tuffeau stone (tufa stone in English) which is soft and grey when mined but hardens and turns white when exposed to sunlight. It was dug out of local cliffs during the late Middle Ages to build churches, castles, mansions and houses all along the Loire Valley. The resulting caves, some little more than holes in the cliffs, were subsequently sought out by the destitute and used as homes. Some of these cave homes continued to be occupied until the 1930’s. Now they are mostly used by local artisans as workshops and galleries although; I did see one that has been turned into a restaurant and there are signs that an increasing number are being converted into Airbnbs.

Enough about tuffeau stone except to say that there are a couple of short well marked walking routes starting start down by the church car parks which will lead the visitor past many of the caves and around Turquant. Follow these and you will see most everything the village has to offer (except a bakery, chemist or tabac-bar).

One final word on local food before I get back to exploring this area. Pommes Tapees are produced and sold in the village. When wine production was ruined by the phylloxera epidemic in the late 19th century, some of the local wineries looked to apples as an alternative business option. To make Pommes Tapees, the apples are dried for no less than 5 days in ovens built into the local caves. During this time they are turned daily and tapped with a small hammer so as to flatten them. They are then bottled and should keep at least 10 years.

Candes Saint Martin (Centre-Val de Loire), France May 2024 (Tour 9)

One mile east of Montsoreau, at the confluence of the Loire and Vienne Rivers is the village of Candes Saint Martin. We thought to start the day by walking Nala and Beanie to, from and around the village. Ultimately, it proved to be a bit of a stretch for Nala in her new wheels and we therefore curtailed the outing with me returning later in the day for a second more detailed wander. Don’t get me wrong. Nala enjoyed the day enormously and would have gone on for much longer but a leg strap was chafing and we decided to rest her.

Candes Saint Martin is another ‘plus beau village de France’. It is less than half the size of Montsoreau (just 200 inhabitants) but this tiny village also packs a punch in terms of things to see and do. It’s primary points of interest are views over the Loire Valley (from a viewpoint on a small hill at the back of the village) and the very imposing fortified collegiate church of Saint Martin (in the village centre) which was built in a predominantly Gothic style during the 12th and 13th centuries. Most of the fortifications were added in the 15th century.

(There is also a 5 hectare park of urban street art which I will write about once I have been back to for a better look).

The church is surprisingly large for such a small village but Saint Martin of Tours (also known as Martin the Merciful) carried a lot of weight in this area. In case you are interested, he was born in Hungary during the early part of the 4th century, the son of a Roman officer. Martin too became a soldier (joining the cavalry). It was during this time of his life that on a very cold day he became famous for tearing his cape in half and sharing it with a beggar. He subsequently converted to Christianity, was made a Bishop of Tours and later died in Candes. The church named after him was built on the spot in Candes where his house once stood.

Candes Saint Martin appears more popular with tourists than Montsoreau (that is probably because of the enormous interest the French seem to have in Martin of Tours aka Martin the Merciful) with three whole coachloads arriving in the village’s small car park while I was there but; I much prefer Montsoreau. It is not so obviously ‘touristy’. Yes, Montsoreau has its fair share of visitors but for the most part they are cyclists travelling the Loire Velo (which forms the 800 kilometre western section of Eurovelo 6, linking the Black Sea to the Atlantic). I dislike cyclists (this comes of living in Brighton where the brainless council is hell-bent on limiting all pavements and roads to bicycles) but, in fairness to cyclists, at least they are not inclined to congregate in large numbers around anyone waving an umbrella like coach travellers always do.

Post Script: A couple of days after visiting Candes Saint Martin, we returned to visit the Street Art Parc and we were very pleased to have done so. It is a great way to spend an hour and a half and good value for money too with the entrance fee being just 7 euros (5 to me because I rank as a senior). We had the place to ourselves and it is a secure area which meant we could let the dogs run loose. The dogs don’t have the same interest in street art as we do but a free run around part of a sizeable forest will always appeal to lively dogs.

I should explain that in 2019 the owners of the Chateau de Candes invited some 20 ‘urban’ artists to take up residence at the chateau with a view to their developing and displaying street art across some 5 hectares of woodland. Within a month, 40+ creations were on display and since then at least another 15 artists have joined the initiative. I’ll not say more about the place except that I came away describing the visit as “pure joy”. I’ll leave you with some photos I took but, I could have taken so many more…

Apologies for not having made a note of all the artist’s names – my bad (as my children would say). What a place! And doesn’t the forest just lend itself to some of these pieces? For more info visit www.street-parc-art.com