Some of the highlights of the Adventure include:
We will spend the day with a local English-speaking wine expert and viticulturist couple, Cathy and Nigel Henton, of Le Tasting Room. The day begins with coffee and sweets, and includes a comprehensive French wine tasting and lunch in the comfort of an old barrel cellar. Enjoy a tutored tasting of 6 wines reflecting the diversity of this great wine making region in the comfort of their 15th century tasting room. They run through the basics of tasting technique, discuss the geography of the region and unravel the mysteries of French wine labeling. Relax in the garden before moving into the cellar for a delicious home made lunch with wine in their old barrel maturation cellar beneath the house. Indulge in a selection of dishes creatively prepared using local ingredients sourced from their neighboring potager or village garden, and herbs from their garden. After lunch we drive to one of the many famous appellations and visit a winery where you’ll have the chance to taste a range of wines, stroll around the vineyards, speak to the owners and producers, and buy wine at cellar door prices if you desire..
-We will drive through the French countryside of the Loire River where we will enjoy the town of Fontevraud. The Royal Abbey of Our Lady of Fontevraud or Fontevrault (in French: abbaye de Fontevraud) was a monastery in the village of Fontevraud-l’Abbaye, near Chinon, in Anjou, France. It was founded in 1101 by the itinerant preacher Robert of Arbrissel. The foundation flourished and became the center of a new monastic Order, the Order of Fontevrault. This order was composed of double monasteries, in which the community consisted of both men and women—in separate quarters of the abbey—all of which were subject to the authority of the Abbess of Fontevraud. The Abbey of Fontevraud itself consisted of four separate communities, all completely managed by the same abbess. The first permanent structures were built between 1110 and 1119. The area where the Abbey is located was then part of what is sometimes referred to as the Angevin Empire. The King of England, Henry II, his wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine, and son, King Richard the Lionheart were all buried here at the end of the 12th century. It was disestablished as a monastery during the French Revolution. The complex of monastic buildings served as a prison from 1804 to 1963. Since 1975, it has hosted a cultural centre, the Centre Culturel de l’Ouest.
-We will visit our favorite ‘Paris of the West’, the beautiful small city of Angers, capital of the ancient province of Anjou. You will have the opportunity to explore the small ancient city of Angers with us, or on your own. Highlights include great shopping, eateries, and the beautiful Castle, home of the Fourteenth Century Apocalypse Tapestry, the largest tapestry in the world. Don’t miss a great opportunity for gift-shopping.
-We will head to fascinating medieval town of Chinon and our favorite weekly town market to shop together for fresh ingredients with Chef Walter for today’s cooking Adventure. You will also have time to shop the market for great deals and enjoy a galette and crepe lunch* at one of the market stands or you may decide on one the many little restaurants in the town. You may also choose to wander off on your own and visit the Castle overlooking the town. Then we will return to the Chateau for hands-on dinner prep with Chef Walter. The historic town of Chinon is on the banks of the Vienne river. Settlement in Chinon dates from prehistoric times, the site was fortified early on, and by the 5th century a Gallo-Roman castrum had been established there. During the Middle Ages, Chinon further developed, especially under Henry II (Henry Plantagenêt, Count of Anjou, and crowned King of England in 1154). On Henry’s death at the castle in 1189, Chinon first passed to his eldest surviving son from his marriage with Eleanor of Aquitaine, Richard I the Lionheart. The castle in Chinon served as a prison for a time when Philip IV the Fair ordered the Knights Templar arrested in 1307. Chinon again played a significant role in the struggle for the throne between the French and the English during the Hundred Years’ War (1337-1453). In 1429, the 17 year old Joan of Arc came to Chinon to meet and to acknowledge him as the rightful heir to the throne. At the end of the 15th century, the commune of Chinon was the birthplace of the writer, humanist, philosopher and satirist François Rabelais. Apart from townhouses and convents that were built, the city changed little up to the Revolution.
-We will depart for Chateau Chenonceau where we will tour the grand and historical palace which straddles the River Cher. The estate of Chenonceau is first mentioned in writing in the 11th century. The current château was built in 1514–1522 on the foundations of an old mill and was later extended to span the river. The bridge over the river was built (1556-1559) to designs by the French Renaissance architect Philibert de l’Orme, and the gallery on the bridge, built from 1570–1576. Noted as the Chateau built by women, Diane de Poitiers, Catherine de’ Medici Louise de Lorraine, Françoise de Lorraine, Louise Dupin and Marguerite Pelouze all owned the Chateau over many centuries. We will enjoy a Picnic Lunch on the grounds of the Chateau and then visit the little town of Chenonceaux just outside the Chateau.
Our Adventures always include a few surprise stops along the way, as well as multi course Gourmet dinners prepared by Le Cordon Bleu-Paris Alum Chef Walter Eagleton, homemade breakfasts, a picnic lunch, and wine and beverages while dining at our Loire River Valley accommodations.