French Connections

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  • Fairytale chateaux and fine wines in Indre et Loire


    Indre et Loire, our region of the month, is the former region of Touraine, based around the city of Tours and the Loire river. At the heart of the rural escape for Paris aristocracy before the Revolution, it’s rich in history and architecture, with plenty to do and explore.

    Visit exquisite chateaux, especially Chateau de Chenonceau, with its arches across the river,
    Château de Chinon and Château de Villandry, famous for its amazing vegetable garden, where cabbages are planted alongside roses in a formal parterre

    Explore the ancient city of Tours and enjoy a gourmet meal at one of its fine restaurants

    Visit the town of Amboise, where you can see the final home of Leonardo da Vinci, with its interesting artefacts and inventions, all set in lovely gardens

    Have a wine tasting and learn how to judge a wine by its colour and aroma, also how to select the best food to accompany it

    Buy local wines from small vineyards at bargain prices. Vineyards produce some famous fine Loire wines, such as Bourgeuil, Chinon and Vouvray, and are set in pretty, rolling countryside.

    Stay in a chateau, a handsome maison de maitre, a farmhouse or pretty country cottage. Choose from our great range of accommodationin the region.

  • Time to follow the French wine trail


    The grape harvest months are nearly upon us, so it’s the perfect time to plan a wine trip to France. Explore vineyards, enjoy tastings, join in harvest celebrations and see some glorious countryside in the gentle sunshine of early autumn.

    With so many iconic wine regions to choose from, where would my ideal trip take me? I like to be a bit different from the crowd, so I would seek out local wine from limited production family vineyards. I’d want to taste the producer’s love for the grape and its bounty in the finished product, for them to care that the wine is explained and appreciated.

    The Loire Valley would be a good start – specifically at Pouilly-sur-Loire in the Nièvre département for its aromatic Pouilly-Fumé. The town is picturesque and around it are lots of wine domaines, two of which are chateaux.


    Then, perhaps, a steady pace along the Bison Futé quiet rural roads towards Bordeaux where my gite or B&B owners could advise on the best and least known local red wines. Here I would aim to learn about that elusive terroir effect and, frankly, how to choose one Bordeaux wine over another.

    My next stop would be the Mâconnais region of Burgundy in central France – not for more red wine but my other favourite white, Pouilly- Fuissé. Yes, confusingly, this one comes from a totally different area than Pouilly- Fumé and Chardonnay is its only grape variety.

    On the way back to the ferry, a stop in Champagne country would be de riguer. I might still have room for a couple of cases of fine but great value bubbly!

    To plan your wine trip to France, use our in-depth guide to the French wine regions