Showing posts with label turquant. Show all posts
Showing posts with label turquant. Show all posts

Thursday 22 September 2022

Messing about by the river

Thursday 22 September 2022

Nido's parked up on a free aire in the small village of Le Guédeniau, about 30km north of Saumur.  It was a short hop today as Cathy had her online Welsh lesson until 2pm, so we didn't want to drive too far after that.

Leaving Dampierre yesterday, we drove about 7 minutes along the road and parked up in the Troglodyte village of TurquantWe'd stayed on the aire here on a previous trip, but for today we stopped in a large car park a bit further on for the day, although it can also be used as an overnight park-up.  We had a good wander around the narrow lane before walking up to the high-point with a well-marked route taking us around the vines, which I'd guess are very close to being ready to harvest. The regular information boards told us the history of the village, how the caves were used to store goods from the ships moored along the Loire and that Turquant was once a port, until the river silted up and receded from the dockside.  The caves were also used to grow mushrooms as the dark, dry atmosphere with an all year round temperature of 14'C made for perfect growing conditions.  Small chimneys on the surface by the vines were ventilation shafts down to the growing caves and it was even possible to reach them from the vines on the surface via steep steps (now firmly closed up).  We spent the rest of the afternoon chilling out before moving to our next stop which was only about 7km away - a Camping Car Park site at Villebernier, across on the northern bank of the Loire.  There were forty pitches but we joined only five other vans, so there was plenty of room to spread out and hook up to the electric.  It also came with free wifi, which saved some of our own mobile data.  After dinner we took a walk along the riverbank towards Saumur as the sun was dipping.  We watched hundreds of white egrets fly in to roost in the trees on the opposite bank, looking like white handkerchiefs draped on the boughs. 

This morning after showers and breakfast, Cathy set up for her online Welsh lesson, so Salty and I had a walk in the opposite direction along the river, watching the shoals of small fish darting around much larger ones cruising in the clear water.  We crossed the road and had a wander around the small village of Villebernier.  The kindergarten school was displaying its weekly menu on a board outside, something we've seen in other French villages.  The choice of food given to these young 'uns puts the UK (with their dinosaur nuggets and processed plastic food) to shame.

Cathy was done by 2pm and the van serviced, so off we went, via a food shop at a huge Intermarché.  I stopped at the garage to get some LPG but it's only available when someone is in the payment booth, so not today. We're not desperate but if I see somewhere to fill up I will.  We pulled into the aire here and had the place to ourselves.  The sun was beaming down; yet another clear blue sky with uninterrupted sunshine, very little breeze and a comfortable 23-25'C.  After tea and cake (why not!), I had a little wander around the immediate area - the small fishing lake and the outdoor village hall with BBQ (the French are very civilised when it comes to socialising outdoors), whilst Cathy had a nap after the academic rigours of her first Welsh lesson of the new term after a three month break!

We had a good pre-dinner walk around the village.  It has a very homely feel; bar/restaurant next to the church, a boulangerie and the houses made of the light coloured sandstone so common in this area.  Many of the houses had cave-like basements, some open to the road, showing stacks of old wine bottles, demijohns and jam jars on the floor.  We'll probably stay on tomorrow morning, so I can get a bike ride in and Cathy can have a lie-in then give the inside of the van a good clean without me under her feet!

Turquant caves - now shops and artist studios

Evening walk

Saumur chateau

Roosting white egrets

Morning walk

The small fry are doing well

Where do I sign up for school dinners!

Billy no mates

Small fishing lake in the village close next to the aire

Outdoor village hall


If it rains....

Thursday 8 March 2018

Troglodytes in Turquant

Wednesday 7 March 2018 - Day 3

We slept well.  I tapped in the co-ordinates for Niort, to give us somewhere to aim for and we left in cold rain.  Today was about getting much further south to reach the kinder weather, although I think it might take a few days to get to it.  So it was a fairly uneventful journey, stopping off on the way for some lunch, opposite a roadside restaurant and watching the French 'white van' men pile in for the 'menu du jour'. Being British, we of course had ham butties with a packet of crisps and a cup of tea!  

No dry cheese butties for these French workmen!
We covered more ground than expected, so south of Le Mans I pulled over to see where we could spend the night.  Just south of Angers and in the region of the town of Saumur, there were a few aires dotted along the river Seine.  I picked one - Dampierre sur Loire - and we drove to it, but it looked a little unloved, surrounded by wheelie bins.  So on to the next one about 3km along the river - Parnay - but a similar feel.  With it being out of season, many of the aires have the water and electricity (if provided) switched off, so they do look a bit unkempt.  I decided to head for an aire we'd stayed on before outside the castle walls of Thouars, which was about an hour away.  Not long after moving off, we looked over and saw a number of cave houses built into the hillside.  They seemed an interesting place to explore, so I turned into the village - Turquant - and pulled over to find somewhere to park....right in the aire!  We were the only ones here initially, although now there are five vans packed in to a fairly small place.  The Camperstops book says it can take 20 vans - that would be very cosy.  I watched a van pull up and fill with fresh water (many aires have the water switched off in the cold months), so I walked over to the local bar across the road to get a jeton (token) for the water meter.  After dinner we had a walk around the village, nosying at some of the lovely modern houses built into the caves.  This is a wine region - Anjou bordering on Touraine - so a number of local wine makers were advertising from their cave homes.   We enjoyed the leg stretch and some evening sunshine with birdsong. It feels much more like Spring here.  We just made it back to the van before the rain. Tomorrow we'll make the short hop to Niort, so we can spend most of the day exploring its medieval streets.

Some thoughts on finding places to stay. Data roaming has been really useful, allowing me to check where we are on Google maps.  I've been using the Camperstops book to spot possible aires from their map in the book, then going online to use the Campercontact app to check it out and read the reviews.  The app data is naturally more up to date than the book and the reviews of those who have visited before have been especially useful.  I also have most of the aires loaded as POI on my Garmin satnav, along with wild camping spots provided by Our Tour and Our Bumble - thanks guys.  I've also referred to the 'All the Aires France' books.  However, they're now in two large A4 publications and take up a lot of space, so I don't think I'll buy those again.  Camperstops is my book of choice (they also have an app), combined with the Campercontact and Park4Night apps.  With it being out of season most of the aires are quiet, although this one is busy tonight.

Windmill in Turquant, vines in foreground