Tuesday, 25 February 2020

La Chapelle de Notre-Dame de Prélong


At the edge of the forest, on the road that leads from La Petite Guerche to Le Rond du Chêne, at the foot of a wooded hill, near the Fontaine de Prélong, stand the ruins of a chapel that you can barely see from the road. The small ruined chapel from the fifteenth century, known originally as Notre-Dame de Preslong is now covered with vegetation. Only a section of wall with an arch remains. About a kilometre away from the very dense woods of the Forêt de Guerche, the chapel and spring are at the end of a small sheltered valley. A stream from the spring runs down the base of the valley towards the River Creuse, and the road runs parallel to the stream. The land has been inhabited since at least the Neolithic period.

The site was home to a Saint Rigommier, a pious hermit who performed miracles. Local legend also says that Agnès Sorel lived in the nearby Chateau de la Guerche, which had been built for her by Charles VII. So far as I know this is not true, but Agnès' cousin Antoinette lived there, as the wife of the local lord, and she became Charles VII's mistress after Agnès died.

Ruin of the Chapelle de Prelong, near la Guerche. Vienne. France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

The main legend associated with the chapel is that of a young falconer, out walking with his beautiful young love and looking for Turtle Dove nests. They were attacked by a wolf, who threw itself savagely on the young woman and mauled her to death. Charles VII, on hearing the sad story, built the chapel and had his falconner's fiancée buried in the centre of the building. Shortly afterwards war broke out between the French and English and the young falconner went off to fight. After distinguishing himself on the battlefield he returned to set up as a hermit in the chapel to mourn his beloved.

Local historians believe there is some truth to the story. Today we can still see a hole in the middle of the chapel, which is perhaps the remains of a grave. Supposedly there are inscriptions relating to the lovers still visible on the walls, but I didn't notice anything like that.

Ruin of the Chapelle de Prelong, near la Guerche. Vienne. France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

The second wolf story associated with the chapel concerns an old woman, who one day tied her only nanny goat to the door latch of the chapel. A wolf caught the scent of the goat, which was frightened. But the goat was held by a rather long rope and it was able to run inside the chapel. The wolf followed, and the goat quickly exited, pulling the latch when the rope was taut, thus locking the wolf in the church, to be dealt with by the villagers.

As a result the chapel is sometimes referred to as the "wolf chapel" by the locals. The wolf was present and active enough in the area to frighten the population. The last wolf in Vienne (county or département) was shot in 1923.

Ruin of the Chapelle de Prelong, near la Guerche. Vienne. France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

Finally abandoned in the Revolution it took less than a century to turn it into a picturesque ruin. The forest invaded the clearing around the chapel, the roof became damp and rotten, creepers and vegetation covered the walls and the open meadow at the front of the building became narrower and narrower until it disappeared altogether.

The chapel of Notre Dame de Prélong was originally placed under the dependence of the Abbey of Saint-Pierre de Preuilly. During the 17th century, it became the responsibility of la Guerche, being at that time located in the territory of the Comte de la Guerche.

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For details of our private guided tours of chateaux, gardens, wineries, markets and more please visit the Loire Valley Time Travel website. We would be delighted to design a tour for you.

We are also on Instagram, so check us out to see a regularly updated selection of our very best photos. 

Monday, 24 February 2020

Alcohol Serving and Consumption Laws in France


You will see this notice displayed in every bar and restaurant in France.

Obligatory legal notice on the door of a restaurant about the serving and consumption of alcohol.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

It says it is forbidden to sell alcohol to anyone under 18 years old and bar staff are responsible for  asking for proof of age. It is forbidden to offer alcohol to minors in licensed premises, shops and any public place. Anyone under 16 years of age is not allowed into licensed premises unless accompanied by one of their parents or a responsible adult.

It is forbidden to offer discounted alcoholic drinks during a 'Happy Hour' type event without also offering equally discounted non-alcoholic drinks.

It is forbidden for licensed premises to offer alcohol to manifestly drunk people, or to allow them to enter the premises.

It is forbidden to be obviously drunk in a public place.

For comparison, in Australia, the law on serving alcohol varies a bit from State to State, but broadly, you can't serve alcohol to anyone under 18, you can't be obviously drunk in public and bars are not allowed to serve drunk people. Both countries have regulations about drinking on the street, with curfews or rules about glass containers or opened containers, in particular problem areas. The only difference I can see is that I am unaware of any rules in Australia that insist on equivalency for non-alcoholic beverages during Happy Hours (but I'm happy for readers to correct me on that if they know better).

Both countries have a blood alcohol limit of 0.05% for driving.

Heather over at Secrets of Paris has written a very good and comprehensive post about liquor laws in France, and Paris in particular. 

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For details of our private guided tours of chateaux, gardens, wineries, markets and more please visit the Loire Valley Time Travel website. We would be delighted to design a tour for you.

We are also on Instagram, so check us out to see a regularly updated selection of our very best photos. 

Sunday, 23 February 2020

Australian Wood Duck


Taxonomists aren't quite sure what to make of the Australian Wood Duck Chenonetta jubata. Maybe it's a goose, maybe it's a duck. Maybe it's a shelduck, maybe it's a teal. Its closest relative is an extinct flightless New Zealand goose like duck.

Australian Wood Duck Chenonetta jubata. Cotter Dam, Australian Capital Territory. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

They are found just about everywhere, grazing on lush damp grass and are a species that thrives in agricultural surroundings.


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For details of our private guided tours of chateaux, gardens, wineries, markets and more please visit the Loire Valley Time Travel website. We would be delighted to design a tour for you.

We are also on Instagram, so check us out to see a regularly updated selection of our very best photos. 

Saturday, 22 February 2020

Paddleboarding But Not Necessarily Standing Up


Standup paddleboarding, Nivelle inlet, Ciboure, Pyrenees-Atlantiques. France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

While we were in the Basque country in September, we took a tourist ferry across the inlet from Saint Jean de Luz to the Fort de Socoa over at Ciboure, and several times we encountered a couple stand up paddleboarding across the water. It was clearly long and arduous, because they periodically gave up standing, and would lie down or kneel. By the time I spotted them arriving at the fort the young woman looked quite fed up.

Standup paddleboarding, Nivelle inlet, Ciboure, ,Pyrenees-Atlantiques. France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.


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For details of our private guided tours of chateaux, gardens, wineries, markets and more please visit the Loire Valley Time Travel website. We would be delighted to design a tour for you.

We are also on Instagram, so check us out to see a regularly updated selection of our very best photos. 

Friday, 21 February 2020

First Cowslip Photo 2020


This year the wild Primroses are much in advance of the Cowslips on the roadsides. They are closely related but this is the first time I can remember the Primroses beating the Cowslips to flower. There are now a few cowslips out, and on Wednesday we stopped at a layby on the way home from swimming to photograph a little patch by the roadside ditch.

Cowslip Primula veris. February.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

We've posted a cowslip photo every year since 2007. This year the photo is the earliest we've ever posted, but the flowers have appeared in late February around this date in at least two previous years (2015 and 2016).

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For details of our private guided tours of chateaux, gardens, wineries, markets and more please visit the Loire Valley Time Travel website. We would be delighted to design a tour for you.

We are also on Instagram, so check us out to see a regularly updated selection of our very best photos. 

Thursday, 20 February 2020

The Saffron Fair 2020


The Saffron Fair in Preuilly is an annual gourmet food fair that has been going for more than twenty years. It is held in municipal gymnasium. Here are some photos I took this year.

Basket weaver.
Basket weaver at the Saffron Fair, Preuilly sur Claise.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.
These are made of rushes and brambles. I have one of the long ones for bread.

Products from Cognac.
Products from Cognac at the Saffron Fair, Preuilly sur Claise.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.
Cognac itself of course, but also liqueurs and pineau de Charentes.

A new gastronomic club.
Confrerie Gastronomique at the Saffron Fair, Preuilly sur Claise.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.
Gastronomic clubs like this exist all over France and usually concentrate on a single dish. This one has created a chocolate based on the shape of a well known local prehistoric tool.

Touraine Noble Joué rosé.
Joue Noble rose, a tiny wine appellation in the Loire Valley.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.
Touraine Noble Joué is a tiny rosé wine appellation of just five producers and forty hectares of vines. It is generally rather highly rated, but almost unknown outside our area.

The restaurant area.
Restaurant area at the Saffron Fair, Preuilly sur Claise.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.
We ate here with friends, as usual. Excellent value for money, and the main course and dessert in particular were really good and enjoyed by all. All with a hint of saffron of course.

Dry cured sausage (saucisson) for sale.
Dry cured sausages (aka saucisson or salami) on sale at a gourmet market.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

Spice merchant.
Spice merchant at a gourmet market.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.
I buy vanilla pods every year from the spice merchant. The quality is excellent and they are good value compared to the supermarket, especially if you buy in quantity. This year I also bought paprika and allspice berries.

In the background, local artist Olivier Lorain (aka Lolo) is sketching and manning the stand for the artists' group he set up and continues to run with weekly meetings for drawing and painting together.

Gourmet groceries.
Gourmet grocer stall at a food market.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.
My friend Sylvain runs a gourmet grocery business selling local produce. He sells at markets and delivers orders made over the phone to your home.

Chef Jean-Michel Chedozeau leads the team preparing the lunch menu he's created for the Fair.
Prepping the meal at the Saffron Fair, Preuilly sur Claise.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

Main course of sturgeon with herbed mashed potato and carrot saffron sauce.
Main course of sturgeon with herbed mashed potato and carrot saffron sauce.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.


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For details of our private guided tours of chateaux, gardens, wineries, markets and more please visit the Loire Valley Time Travel website. We would be delighted to design a tour for you.

We are also on Instagram, so check us out to see a regularly updated selection of our very best photos.