Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Le Manoir de la Giraudière, near Chinon

Just recently we spent the night in Beaumont en Véron at the Manoir de la Giraudière. This place is a real hidden gem. It's tucked away in the Véron, west of Chinon, where the Loire and the Vienne meet. (And yes, I know there's a nuclear power station right in the middle of it all, but it's such beautiful countryside that you can easily ignore that.) Down close to the river are small grazing fields known as bocages. The higher ground of limestone ridges are known as puys, and in between are the expansive Chinon vineyards.

Our room at le Manoir de la Giraudière.
Our room at the Manoir was spacious and well appointed (comfortable chairs, and room to sit on them!) We paid €46 for a double room with bathroom and €8.50 a head for breakfast. A real bargain.

 Célestine parked in the courtyard in front of the wing we stayed in.
The staff are friendly, helpful and most of them speak English. The hotel buildings are full of charm, with some very nice 19th century Gothick revival furniture in reception and the sitting room, clearly made for the hotel, as they matched the lovely ornate front door. Parking is tucked away in the English park style gardens. We would happily stay there again. The hotel is a member of the Logis de France network, which is an association of small, family run, good value hotels which we have always found reliable and comfortable.

The hotel has a restaurant, which does evening meals, but we didn't try it. Instead we met our friends Chris and Annie and went to a nearby crêperie, Dans un Jardin, and had some wonderful organic galettes and crêpes for dinner. Mine was topped with buttery carrots, leeks and scallops, followed by an 'aumonier' ('purse') filled with apple, vanilla icecream and homemade salted butter caramel sauce. Scrumptious, and all washed down with a Leffe Ruby. It came to €22 a head.

We had Célestine for transport, but both establishments would make an ideal base for anyone who wanted to cycle around the area. There is a network of flat, quiet, pretty country lanes all around, many of which are designated cycle routes. Botanists especially will appreciate this area, as both the bocages and the puys are full of rarities. If you are visiting between 20 March and 10 April, this is the area to come to if you want to see Snakeshead Fritillary Fritillaria meleagris in the wild, and up on the puys a week or so later you will get Pasqueflower Pulsatilla vulgaris. Wine lovers will also enjoy visiting the many family run wineries. Not to mention the picturesque villages and farms with slate roofed houses made of the local limestone and often set into the hillside to be semi-troglodytic. And of course, you have historic Chinon just 5 minutes by car down the road.
Botany Club Outing: there is an outing to Sainte Maure de Touraine on Saturday 6 April to look at urban wildflowers on walls and footpaths, as part of Sustainable Development Week (la semaine du développement durable). Meet at 2.30 pm at the Mairie in Sainte Maure.
Orchard Update: the nectarines are in full pink blossomed glory, and the little Wild Grape Hyachinths Muscari neglectum are out. I once saw a picture of an orchard in New Zealand, where the ground under the trees was carpeted with Grape Hyacinth in a great swath of blue as good as any bluebell wood in Britain. It would be lovely if my GHs did the same, but since they are currently a tiny little colony under one of the apple trees, it will take them many decades to achieve glory. 

The temperature in our courtyard was 21°C and down at the orchard, 17°C. That was probably about right, but since there was a gusty north-easterly wind (our coldest direction, a little gift from Siberia), it wasn't exactly tropical. Still, the soil has dried out a bit more, and the weeds stuck slightly less persistently to my gloves. There were quite good numbers of Honey Bees Apis mellifera out, but not much else, and the Honey Bees weren't working the fruit trees -- they were sticking to dandelions, down nice and low and out of the wind. I did see an Andrena cineraria female which surprised me, as I thought they emerged later. No butterflies, and only one bumble bee, a White-tailed Bombus lucorum. It can't have been very warm, as even though it was sunny, the Field Crickets Gryllus campestris weren't sitting at their burrow entrances and keeping me company.


Colin and Elizabeth said...

We're off to see the Snakeshead Fritillary tomorrow! Thanks for the notes re: the location. Will report back...

Aussie in France said...

At 46 euros, it does sound like a bargain! Did it have a comfortable bed?
How come you had 17°C yesterday? We just made it to 12°C.

the fly in the web said...

It's a lovely area...I used to know a boat building family there years ago. They told me that the state buys up the produce grown around the power station.

Niall & Antoinette said...

When we used to come to France on holiday we always used Logis de France - we were rarely disappointed.

Susan said...

Elizabeth: I'm pleased to see from your blog that you found them.

Fraussie: Bed was good. 17C wasn't real feel, I can assure you!

Fly: That doesn't make any sense to me. If the state has to buy up the produce, why grow it in the first place?

Antoinette: Us too.

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