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

This was not my best ever day travelling through France. I’ll not go into detail here but last night (after I had passed out from a surfeit of much needed beer and wine) Vanya wrote to our children about the events of the drive from Neufchatel en Bray and she may reproduce it in this blog later. It will suffice for me to say here that I will never again travel the A18 to Tours and/but we made it to our destination, the small village of Montsoreau in the Pays de La Loire, and our initial impression of the village is most favourable.

We are parked up on the banks of the Loire River, in Camping L’Isle Verte, just 100 metres from the village centre.

It was raining cats and dogs as we arrived and any thoughts of a wander around the village vanished as quickly as the rain was running down the back of my neck. After parking up we made directly for the campsite bar; Vanya for a couple of glasses of the Cremant de Loire and me for a couple of pints of the local beer. The blonde beer served in the restaurant was fine, Vanya really liked the wine (an Ackerman ‘Blanc de Noir’) and the food was tasty – a trio of mixed, stuffed mushrooms together with a sizeable puff pastry crammed full of snails in a creamy mushroom sauce.

Eventually, an hour or so before sunset, it stopped raining and we had time for a short tour of the village. In addition to being listed as a ‘plus beau village de France’, Montsoreau is a recognised ‘village fleuri’ and this is evidenced by an abundance of colourful flowers throughout the village. It is a very pretty place with nearly all the buildings, built of white truffeau stone and with grey slate tile roofs, providing an elegant contrast to the climbing roses which adorn so many of them.

For a small village of less than 500 inhabitants the village is surprisingly well served with bars (3) and restaurants (we counted 8 during this brief tour) and there seems to be plenty of things to see and do. For my part, I could sit for ages outside one of the riverfront bars, just enjoying the river, sipping wine and watching the world go by but; there’s considerably more… a 15th century renaissance castle (around which the Dumas book ‘La Dame de Montsoreau’ was written, although the castle is now home to a contemporary art museum); the Church of Saint Pierre de Rest (the floor of which over the centuries has been raised by a couple of metres because it kept getting flooded by the Loire); a modern Cultural Centre showcasing the Loire-Anjou-Touraine National Park; a series of troglodyte dwellings and mushroom caves (I’m advised that one of the mushroom caves even contains a restaurant); vineyards, wine caves and an old mill. Oh, and I mustn’t forget the Sunday Farmer’s Market which once a month is enlarged to include a popular flea market.

Another thing working in Montsoreau’s favour is it’s location. It sits in the heart of the Loire Valley, where there are numerous other interesting and beautiful towns and villages to visit – Angers, Saumur, Chinon and, yes, even Tours. I suspect we’ll be staying here a few days. It should prove a great base from which we can explore the area further…

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