We’re motoring on up Country now with our amended tunnel crossing confirmed for the 28th of March. We have to be back in our hometown by 1st April at the latest. It’s crazy busy on the roads with every man and his dog trying to make it back to UK before Brexit on the 29th. We are so tired of hearing the B word. I could think of others beginning with the letter B to describe it more appropriately to be honest. I’m a remainer personally but right now I just wish they’d get on with it, whatever IT may be so we all know where we stand. It’s just making a mockery out of Britain. Anyway, enough already, our destination today is an elegant, white town which straddles the Loire River, mid-western France. Historic Saumur. Nicknamed Pearl D’Anjou and nestling in the middle of miles and miles of beautiful Anjou vineyards. We passed it by last year and regretted not stopping. (Just a little side note, if you are planning to visit Saumur, you really must check out the tiny town of Montreuil-Bellay, just a couple of miles south of it. There is a free Aire there, just parking next to a campsite, but boy what a magnificent Chateau! Well worth a slight detour. ) Last year, we could only find an Aire approximately 5km outside Saumur and it was all on grass. There had been heavy rainfall so we daren’t risk it. This time, we’ve located one on an island in the Loire just a ten minute walk away from the centre ville. It’s one that needs the ‘Pass d’ Etapes’ card. This is becoming far more common now in France as many of the Aires become privatised. It’s a bit more expensive at around €12 per night but its a good scheme as the water is always turned on and most spaces come with electric hook up. You need your bank card and an email address to get a card at the machine. It’s a bit fiddly but worth it. Just don’t lose the card, they are a bugger to replace!! This particular Aire is on hard standing which is essential in soggy weather for a van the size and weight of ours. You can add credit onto your card on line which is convenient for us. This is a good find. A great little spot with big bays and river views.
To get to town, stroll from the Aire along the river towards the bridge. There are several houseboats moored along the shoreline. Over the bridge you have a majestic looking Town Hall to the left. Towering above that, with a panoramic view of the town, is the impressive Chateau de Saumur. It’s a 12th Century Medieval castle with an interesting museum. You can see for miles from up there, it’s pretty special. Down below, the town is a series of bright, cheerful, flowery squares. The restaurant tables spill out into the streets, it has a lovely, unpretentious atmosphere. There are some super little shops here, a couple of fab boutiques selling unusual bits. I bought earrings and I’m desperate to get a Shanna Scarf, it’s my favourite brand here, it’s a Belgian company that make them actually but they are popular in France. I want one in every design though and I must choose just one which is proving impossible. They are quite pricey but worth it. Have a little Google ladies!! They are on Facebook too! Decisions decisions!
Saumur is the base of the French Cavalry. It is also home to the famous French Tank Museum displaying machines dating back to the First World War. Off you go then Husband, I’m far too busy shopping! The sparkling wine produced around Saumur is really very good, some say it’s better than Champagne. I can’t quite agree with that but it is indeed delicious so I’ve bought several bottles to take home. Saturday morning is market day! How I’ve missed a French market! Proper food! Fill your boots time! Cheese, foie gras, smoked duck, incredible bread and pastries. I can almost feel my waistline expanding before we even buy anything. Is there any wonder this is my favourite country? The streets are alive with bustling stalls and basket wielding shoppers. It’s noisy, colourful and the air is full of tantalising smells, from flowers to food. Typical French life. I just love it, it makes me want to stay here forever. It’s just missing the sea!! We intend to make the most of our couple of days here.
So Saumur has ticked a lot of boxes for us, it’s been a delight. The weather has been gorgeous too which makes a big difference. We’ll come here again without a doubt. Even if it’s only to buy another scarf (Janet!!) 😉. The time has come around for us to leave far too soon. We must forge on towards Calais. It’s all about timing now with the essential Vet’s appointment for Dylan within 5 days and 24 hours of our crossing.
The temperatures are looking much cooler the further north we head. We’re not looking forward to getting back to UK a month early. This was never the plan . There’s still plenty of scope for a good dumping of the white stuff back in Derbyshire at this time of year. That really wouldn’t bode well. So it’s back to the maps tonight. Open a bottle of Saumur fizz to lighten the mood and nibble on our yummy market goodies whilst listening to a bit of French jazz.
I shall sign off there chums. Hope you enjoyed Saumur as much as we did. I shall raise a glass of bubbly and toast your good health. Trying to keep the mood light here, not forgetting that we are heading home for the very sad occasion of my kid Sister’s funeral. I have to keep reminding myself that she’s gone. It’s all a bit surreal.
Cheers to you all. Here’s hoping they have bubbles in heaven Little P ❤️🍾