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St. Fiacre-sur-Maine and laundry day

Wednesday, September 21, 2016


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Breakfast over, we had no destination. Laundry day so we wanted to stay close to the house. We opted for St. Fiacre-sur-Maine since we had a brochure. Our trusty GPS quickly took us to St. Fiacre where we followed the church steeple into town. For some reason the GPS took us through town, down a country road by the Maine river and back up to town where we cheerfully turned off the capricious GPS and parked. It’s a sleepy place and the church was locked so we didn’t get to see the inside but got nice pictures of the outside, including St. Jean d’Arc above the main door and a cute owl on the roof of a back chapel. We wandered St. Fiacre looking for places in the brochure and managed to find (1) Église (the church), (2) Maison Rousseau de la Brosse, (3) la Borderie de la Barrière, (4) la Maison Marc Elder and (5) le Quartier Populaire which was most of the town. We got the car to search for (7) la Bourchinière along the D59, but it eluded us so we headed home to find a restaurant for lunch. After retrieving the town map at the house and a bit of aimless wandering, we found O’Calyco’ Restaurant across from the train station.

Eglise Saint-Fiacre-sur-Maine

Eglise Saint-Fiacre-sur-Maine

Eglise Saint-Fiacre-sur-Maine

Eglise Saint-Fiacre-sur-Maine

Owl on the roof of Eglise Saint-Fiacre-sur-Maine

Owl on the roof of Eglise Saint-Fiacre-sur-Maine

(2) Maison Rousseau de la Brosse

(2) Maison Rousseau de la Brosse

Borderie de la Barrière in Saint-Fiacre-sur-Maine

Borderie de la Barrière in Saint-Fiacre-sur-Maine

Maison Marc Elder in Saint-Fiacre-sur-Maine

Maison Marc Elder in Saint-Fiacre-sur-Maine

Le Quartier Populaire

Le Quartier Populaire

*****

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It’s cute, friendly, very modern and clean inside. No one spoke English but they seemed to understand our French so it worked out. We got a table overlooking the garden with a cat sleeping on the porch outside. The menu for the day was the only thing available although there were three menus and a few choices on each. The carte is only available on weekends. We chose the 14.50 euro menu and started with a Lot goat cheese salad, moved on to merlu with vegetables and a nice tarragon sauce followed by café gourmand with four tiny and delicious desserts. I drank Ed’s coffee for him! We got a nice Touraine Sancerre to go with the meal. The wine arrived a little warm but soon chilled in its little ice water bag. It was tasty and pleasant and the people there were very nice.. [O’Calyco’ Restaurant, 7 rue des Encloses 44690 La Haye-Fouassière; tel: +33 (0)2 5171-6069; o.calyco@orane.fr; O'Calyco' Restaurant web site]

*****

Château de Goulaine near Nantes

Château de Goulaine near Nantes


After lunch we drove to Haut Goulaine. We knew the château was closed but hoped we might get pictures of it. The gates were shut so we parked outside and could see nothing of the château. Ed pushed the gate and it opened so we walked back to the château and got pictures of the walls, tops of buildings and entry gate before walking back to the car. It looks quite impressive. Some day we'll have to return when it's open. Château de Goulaine web site

Château de Goulaine near Nantes

Château de Goulaine near Nantes

*****

Back of the church at Le Loroux Bottereau

Back of the church at Le Loroux Bottereau


Time left, we drove to Le Loroux Bottereau to see what was there. Not much, but copious shopping and a lovely (locked) church. For some reason one of the shops was flying an American flag. There was nothing to indicate a reason. It was fun to see it though. Finally, we headed home to our own boulangerie and Cocci Market and thence to do the laundry. Some things are necessary . . .

La Maison Verte

La Maison Verte

Steeple of Église Saint-Jean-Baptiste in Le Loroux Bottereau

Steeple of Église Saint-Jean-Baptiste in Le Loroux Bottereau

Church steeple from rue Guillaume

Church steeple from rue Guillaume

See the American flag at the video club. Interesting . . .

Posted by Beausoleil 11:43 Archived in France Tagged owls st._fiacre-sur-maine Comments (0)

St.-Philbert-de-Grand-Lieu, the Abbatiale Déas

Thursday, September 22, 2016


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Up and for a change, a French breakfast. We got croissants at the boulangerie last evening. Fun. We had decided on Abbatiale Déas for today even though their web site said they were closed. We thought we could at least get outside pictures, have lunch and then visit the Abbaye de L’Ile Chauvet that might be open since their web site gave no indication one way or the other.

*****

Abbatiale Déas in Saint-Philbert-de-Grand-Lieu

Abbatiale Déas in Saint-Philbert-de-Grand-Lieu

First we set our GPS for the nearest Total Station for gas. That done, we reset it for St.-Philbert-de-Grand-Lieu and hoped we would see signs for the abbey when we arrived. It worked well. The abbey is just before the town center with a lovely shaded parking lot. We parked and started snapping pictures and checked the front door which was locked. We wandered across the front and as I stepped on the porch next door, a door magically opened. Strange! As though bewitched, I walked in and a very nice lady said we could buy tickets to visit the Abbey and Exposition. We were delighted.

*****

Abbatiale Déas in Saint-Philbert-de-Grand-Lieu

Abbatiale Déas in Saint-Philbert-de-Grand-Lieu

Worked our way through the ancient abbey, founded in Noirmoutier in the seventh century and moved here to St. Philbert in the ninth century. Architecture is Carolingian and massive. Not much decoration or furnishing but an amazing feeling of history. Back outside there is the abbey herb garden with herbs used during the time of Charlemagne. Amazing! We also noticed the ivy is taking on its Fall color . . . beautiful. We left the garden for the Exposition of paintings in the Chauffoir Room. It was an exhibition of paintings by the late Anne Mandeville and they are very nice . . . Rousseau-like, almost naïf although she was a trained artist. They were simple and refreshing. We thoroughly enjoyed it. Abbatiale Déas web site

Abbatiale Déas in Saint-Philbert-de-Grand-Lieu

Abbatiale Déas in Saint-Philbert-de-Grand-Lieu

Stained glass in Abbatiale Déas at Saint-Philbert-de-Grand-Lieu

Stained glass in Abbatiale Déas at Saint-Philbert-de-Grand-Lieu

Giant mushrooms at Abbatiale Déas in Saint-Philbert-de-Grand-Lieu

Giant mushrooms at Abbatiale Déas in Saint-Philbert-de-Grand-Lieu

Garden at Abbatiale Déas at Saint-Philbert-de-Grand-Lieu

Garden at Abbatiale Déas at Saint-Philbert-de-Grand-Lieu

*****

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We asked the nice ticket lady for a lunch recommendation and were directed around the corner to La Bosselle which was a fun find. We both ordered the Menu de Chef and got salad chevre chaud, confit de canard and for dessert Ed got chocolate mousse and I got a delicious strawberry gelato with Chantilly and cookie crumbs. We got a local red wine and I got coffee . . . all excellent. [La Bosselle Hotel-Restaurant, 8 rue du Port 44310 St.-Philbert-de-Grand-Lieu; tel: +33 (0)2 4078-7347; fax: +33 (0)2 4078-0185; contact@la-bosselle.fr; La Bosselle Hotel-Restaurant web site]

Walk back to the Abbey through the island park

Walk back to the Abbey through the island park

Boules Behind Abbatiale Déas in Saint-Philbert-de-Grand-Lieu

Boules Behind Abbatiale Déas in Saint-Philbert-de-Grand-Lieu

*****

Saint Philibert et Saint Jacques sur Logne in downtown St.-Philbert-de-Grand-Lieu

Saint Philibert et Saint Jacques sur Logne in downtown St.-Philbert-de-Grand-Lieu


After lunch we walked downtown to photograph the local, very impressive, church. It really was locked. No magic doors here . . .

Saint Philibert et Saint Jacques sur Logne in downtown St.-Philbert-de-Grand-Lieu

Saint Philibert et Saint Jacques sur Logne in downtown St.-Philbert-de-Grand-Lieu

*****

Abbaye de l’Ile Chauvet

Abbaye de l’Ile Chauvet

Then we programmed our GPS to Abbaye de l’Ile Chauvet and set off, soon entering the Vendée region of France. We arrived in Bois-de-Chene (Cène) and followed signs first to Chateauneuf and then to the Abbey. When we arrived, it was closed . . . sigh. We parked and walked down the road hoping to see the old abbey and again, the gate was unlocked so we wandered in taking photos. Eventually a woman driving a forklift told us it was fermé. We looked puzzled and finally she said (in English), “closed” to which we replied in impeccable English, “Oh, closed. So sorry.” and quickly left.

Must admit she looked quite intimidating on her huge forklift.

Abbaye de L'Île Chauvet

Abbaye de L'Île Chauvet

Abbaye de L'Île Chauvet

Abbaye de L'Île Chauvet

*****

Château at Abbaye de L'Île Chauvet

Château at Abbaye de L'Île Chauvet


It was getting late so we drove home, folded and put away laundry and explored options for tomorrow, my birthday.

Posted by Beausoleil 14:11 Archived in France Tagged abbeys Comments (0)

My birthday at Champtoceaux and a visit to Château d’Oudon

Friday, September 23, 2016 (My birthday)


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The smoke alarm beeped off and on all night. Obviously the battery needs changing. I tried phoning our hostess but got no answer so gave up and opened my birthday presents instead which was a lot more fun. I got a neat little watercolor journal and Kindle gift card from Jean and a gorgeous book of Paris watercolors from Ed. We looked through the book and had breakfast and I tried texting our hostess about the smoke alarm. That worked and she appeared at our door with batteries and replaced them. We should sleep tonight!

*****

No lunch here today . . .

No lunch here today . . .

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We set our GPS for Champtoceaux planning lunch at the restaurant we had liked so well last Saturday. Arrived to discover they were completely full. Oops!

Online, I had seen a restaurant by the moulin pendu that looked nice so we found our way back and parked by the Loire and the moulin pendu. We walked up to Le Port du Moulin and he wasn’t quite open but was happy to seat us. He brought out the menu and we ordered a kir pétillant to celebrate my birthday. We both ordered the 21 euro menu. He brought our kirs and a very nice amuse bouche with a spicy tomato sauce, sour cream sauce and a shrimp. Perfect. Ed ordered the cod and I got the duck confit, both served with delicious vegetables. The bread was a mild rye and we had a red wine. Ed got Peach Melba for dessert and I got coffee and chocolate ice cream. We ate all of this sitting on the terrace by the Loire watching the river roll by and all the activity involved. The little restaurant filled up but somehow the gentleman managed to keep everyone happy and he was very cheerful. It was a really nice lunch and in a setting much more picturesque than our originally planned restaurant. A happy accident. (I didn't realize how fortunate until writing this I discovered the cheerful gentleman who owned it just retired. We timed our visit well and I hope he enjoys his retirement.) [Le Port du Moulin, 1 Le Cul du Moulin 49270 Champtoceaux; +33 (0)2 4083-9557; Le Port du Moulin web site]

Le Moulin Pendu on the Loire

Le Moulin Pendu on the Loire

Looking through the Moulin Pendu

Looking through the Moulin Pendu

*****

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After lunch we walked over to the moulin pendu and took lots of photos. It’s very picturesque. Then we drove across the river to Château d’Oudon. We found parking and walked to the castle. It was open so we paid and entered. Most is a ruin but the Keep tower is the highlight and it is in excellent condition. You climb a spiral stair to each level, and on each level one room has a short film in French or English about the era and the château. They were all very well done. On the top level the film is a balloon ride from Fontevraud Abbey to the Loire Estuary. Then you can climb onto the roof for amazing views . . . and photos. It was a very interesting visit. The castle grounds contained a shining white catapult that threw cactus balls. These were large round cacti about 9-inches in diameter. There was a box full of them at the ready. The nearby Port-de-Plaisance has large sculptures. I photographed two from the roof of the castle. One was La Carpe Royale by Jean-Marc Bourasseau (2002 and the other Mémoire de Sable by Jean-Claude Lambert (1996) which is the prow of a Viking Longship carved in Sequoia.

Château d’Oudon

Château d’Oudon

Château d’Oudon

Château d’Oudon

Catapult at Château d’Oudon

Catapult at Château d’Oudon

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Exhibits inside the Keep of Château d’Oudon

Exhibits inside the Keep of Château d’Oudon

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View of a distant Champtoceaux and Moulin Pendu from the Keep

View of a distant Champtoceaux and Moulin Pendu from the Keep

Whimsical sculptures along the river walk in Oudon

Whimsical sculptures along the river walk in Oudon

*****

Château d’Oudon

Château d’Oudon


We left the castle and drove back toward Champtoceaux to pick up the D751 for a lovely drive home along the Loire noting a lone fisherman along the way. We hoped he caught his dinner.

At Le Haie we stopped at “our” boulangerie for our daily bread and a couple beignets for breakfast. Tomorrow we move to a thatched cottage in the Briére Regional Nature Park.

Lone Fisherman along the Loire River

Lone Fisherman along the Loire River

Posted by Beausoleil 12:09 Archived in France Tagged birthday champtoceaux château_d’oudon Comments (1)

Kerhinet and the Brière Regional Nature Park

Saturday, September 24, 2016


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Looks like our car in front of the St. Lyphard La Poste

Looks like our car in front of the St. Lyphard La Poste


Packed, cleaned and checked out of our gorgeous gite this morning. Saturday is moving day. Our next gite is in the Brière Regional Nature Park and is a thatched cottage. We tried setting both the Peugeot GPS and our Garmin for Kerhinet and neither GPS would acknowledge its existence even though it is the headquarters of the regional park. Next I tried the nearby town of Kerbourg and that also did not exist. I gave up and programmed it to St. Lyphard figuring we could follow signs from there. That worked and we were off. The GPS took the much longer “fast” route but we did get to St. Lyphard and there were signs to Kerhinet. We stopped in the local tourist office and the tourist lady gave us directions and an area map. We checked local Mass times and discovered a service at nearby Pompas at 6:30 this evening. Interestingly, there was a silver Prius exactly like ours parked in front of the beautiful post office in St. Lyphard. I took a picture of it. It looks like we were there . . .

*****

Auberge de Kerhinet

Auberge de Kerhinet


Drove directly to Kerhinet and parked at the Auberge de Kerhinet and were early so Ed reserved a table and we waited outside watching the local chickens chasing each other.

The auberge opened and we got a shaded table on the terrace on a perfect sunny day with a nice breeze. We opted for the 21 euro menu and got the emincé de salmon with spinach in a Parmesan sauce gratin. Excellent. We both got ice cream for dessert . . . Ed caramel and rum raisin while I got coffee and chocolate. We got a local rosé and I had coffee. It was all really good. The chickens walk around begging bread crumbs; it’s funny. [Auberge de Kerhinet, 10 Village de Kerhinet, 44410 Saint-Lyphard; tel: +33 (0)2 4061-9146; Auberge de Kerhinet web site]

Auberge de Kerhinet with friendly chickens

Auberge de Kerhinet with friendly chickens

*****

Farm Implements in Kerhinet

Farm Implements in Kerhinet


After lunch we walked through the village enjoying buildings, sheep, fowl and scenery in general. It’s beautiful and all the thatched houses are so picturesque. We stopped in the tourist office and visited the little museum, bought post cards and got more area tourist information. Brière Regional Natural Park web site

Kerhinet, Thatched Houses

Kerhinet, Thatched Houses

Thatched cottages at Kerhinet Village

Thatched cottages at Kerhinet Village

Sheep grazing at Kerhinet Village

Sheep grazing at Kerhinet Village

*****

Eglise de Pompas near our Gite

Eglise de Pompas near our Gite

We left to find Pompas for the church service tonight and then on to find our gite. That was a challenge . . . no house numbers and all cute thatched cottages. On our third drive-through, a lady magically appeared in the road . . . our hostess! She and her husband welcomed us and took us through the house. She speaks very little English, he none, but he and Ed managed to communicate and hit it off right away. They are very nice and the house is really cute. They gave us many local restaurant recommendations. I don't think we'll be here long enough to try them all, but it looks like we should eat well this week. Gite web site

Eglise de Pompas

Eglise de Pompas


*****

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We moved in, unpacked, drove to St. Lyphard for groceries and relaxed until time for Mass. The little church was full and we managed most of the hymns. Then home to dinner and some much-needed rest.

Posted by Beausoleil 11:40 Archived in France Tagged nature_park brière kerhinet Comments (2)

Bréca, a flat-bottom boat and a horse-drawn calèche

Sunday, September 25, 2016


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Leisurely Sunday. We tried our new Muesli for breakfast and really liked it. We ate, enjoying the antics of the sheep in the back pasture. Fun. After breakfast, I looked up the Auberge de Bréca, made an online reservation and then carefully wrote out directions from Google Maps. We relaxed until time to leave.

*****

Geese of Bréca

Geese of Bréca


Had no trouble finding the auberge and parked across the street. We were early so looked for La Faune Brièronne and made reservations for the boat ride and calèche ride after lunch.

Auberge de Bréca

Auberge de Bréca

We walked back and waited five minutes for the restaurant to open. We were ushered in to a nice table and given menus. We both got the 31 euro menu starting with an amuse bouche of tiny poppy-seed brioche rolls filled with a chunk of foie gras stuffed with caramelized onion relish. Excellent. We both ordered the egg and tomato salad that was a platter encircled with red and green tomatoes and the cooked yolk of an egg in a marvelous dressing. Ed ordered the pork and I got the veal, both very tender and tasty. This was accompanied by the sliced, very moist rye bread that seems to be the norm in this area.

While waiting for our dessert, we couldn’t help but notice the aperitifs at a neighboring table . . . The large drinks were steaming-smoking-exploding. It was very dramatic and they had to be drunk through a straw. We have no idea what they were but quite a few tables were ordering them so they must be a specialty.

We ordered the local special dessert and it looked a lot better than it tasted. Cooked apples (very good) were topped with a too-sweet caramel ice cream and the garnish was a spiral of green apple slices on a skewer. They were too sour to eat . . . just nice to look at. Coffee arrived with a tiny pot of chocolate mousse and they brought Ed the mousse even though he didn’t get coffee. We had a red wine from the haute Medoc. It was a fun and elegant meal with the fun addition of a water pitcher shaped like a duck. Really nice lunch! [Auberge de Bréca, 852 Village de Bréca 44410 St. Lyphard; tel: +33 (0)2 4091-4142; aubergedebreca@wanadoo.fr; Auberge de Bréca web site]

Auberge de Bréca - the Duck Pitcher

Auberge de Bréca - the Duck Pitcher

*****

Bréca en barque

Bréca en barque


We finished about five 'til two when we had our boat reservation so we walked to the little pier and they boarded us almost immediately. We filled the little flat-bottomed boat that our guide poled through the marais. We followed a flock of geese down the channel and quickly found white and grey herons. I got photos of ducks, geese, herons, sea gulls and a few unidentified birds before we returned.

Grey Heron (Héron cendré)

Grey Heron (Héron cendré)

Barque at Bréca

Barque at Bréca

*****

One of the horses pulling the calèches

One of the horses pulling the calèches

Next we boarded the calèche. The huge horse pulled us slowly through the picturesque village. There was a running commentary in French while I snapped photos of the many thatched houses. Afterward, we walked around the village taking more . . . and more steady . . . pictures. Finally gave up and drove home. As I was transferring photos at our kitchen table, the light above me burnt out with a huge pop! Scary . . . I e-mailed our hosts and we’ll see if it gets fixed. [La Faune Brièronne, 356 Port of Bréca 44410 St. Lyphard; tel: +33 (0)2 4091-4809; +33 (0)6 8360-8665; GPS coordinates: 47.361327, 2.3136842; e-mail: faunebrieronne@free.fr; La Faune Brièronne web site]

Thatched houses at Bréca

Thatched houses at Bréca

Colorful door and shutters at Bréca

Colorful door and shutters at Bréca

Thatched Restaurant in Bréca

Thatched Restaurant in Bréca

*****

Bréca family returning from a ride

Bréca family returning from a ride


After much debate, we’ve decided to visit Josselin tomorrow. So many choices here . . .

Posted by Beausoleil 13:54 Archived in France Tagged restaurants nature_park brière bréca Comments (3)

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