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 Gu√©deniau, 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 Intermarch√©.  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....