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      November 2013 > The Loire Valley is beautiful – and that’s official!

The Loire Valley is beautiful – and that’s official!

Self-guided walking holidays in FranceAccording to UNESCO, the Loire Valley between Sully-sur-Loire and Chalonnes “is an outstanding cultural landscape of great beauty, containing historic towns and villages, great architectural monuments (the châteaux), and cultivated lands formed by many centuries of interaction between their population and the physical environment, primarily the river Loire itself.”

According to Mieke and Cristophe Chabenat, hosts at the wonderful Hotel la Croix Blanche in Fontevraud (where you stay on our walking and cycling holidays) – “UNESCO is right!

Mieke told us recently, “The Loire Valley IS a beautiful world heritage area, with miles of impressive, relaxing scenery to be discovered the slow way: cycling or walking. We just love the slow pace of life, the authentic villages full of history, exquisite châteaux and tufa-stone houses with chimneys, beams and slate roofs… this is French life at its very best.”

"Even after living here for many years, my husband and I still marvel at the beauty of this region. What a privilege it is to live here! And when you come and stay with us, we’ll let you in on some of the local secrets. For example, at nearby Les Goupillières, there is an incredible maze of troglodyte dwellings that were discovered by Louis-Marie Chardon when a boy. Today, he and his family will show you where these ancient cave dwellers baked their bread, kept their animals, slept and lived.”

La Croix Blanche itself is an historic coaching inn located opposite the famous abbey – the last resting place of King Richard I coeur de lion and his queen, Eleanor of Aquitaine. Mieke and Cristophe pride themselves on the fact that the moment guests pass under the archway and enter the 17th-century, flowered courtyard they are made to feel right at home! This friendly family enjoy welcoming walkers and cyclists to their hotel, and are as passionate and enthusiastic today about where they live as they were when they first arrived.

Of course, wine growing has played a vital role in the economy and history of this region, and has helped shape the landscape we see today. Here, we ask our friends at Laithwaite’s Wine for their recommendations as to their favourite Loire wines:



Self-guided walking holidays in FranceFamous for Sauvignon (in particular Sancerre), the Jardin de France, as the Loire Valley, is also known, is actually one of the most diverse wine regions of the world. Along the course of this 600-mile river, you’ll find every style of wine from dry white, sparkling and rosé to barrel-aged reds, world-famous sweet wines and half-forgotten seaside classics like Muscadet. The heart of the Loire, around the villages of Saumur and Chinon, is the perfect place to discover the diversity and charm that the wines of this picturesque region offer.

Among the famous vineyards of Quarts du Chaume, Chinon, Bourgueil, Vouvray, Champigny, Coteaux du Layon and Bonnezeau, you find not only the magnificent châteaux that typically mark the Loire landscape but also many hidden gems, including small producers making handcrafted batches of wine – all very much under the radar! It’s this contrast that makes the Loire such a dream place for a wine merchant like Laithwaite’s to source traditional, modern, rare and exciting wines.


Self-guided walking holidays in FranceDomaine Cady St Aubin Les Varennes 2002, Coteaux du Layon, Chenin Blanc – RRP £14.99 (29089)

The secret to the Loire’s stunning dessert wines is age – and ‘noble rot’ (or Botrytis, as it is known). Noble rot punctures the skin of the grapes, so the berries lose moisture and the flavour becomes even more concentrated – a honeyed nectar that ages magnificently. Like this 11-year-old gem. Delicious coffee, toffee, orange peel and marmalade notes, kept delightfully fresh by a limey crispness. Try with foie gras or blue cheese.

 Couly Dutheil, Clos De L’Echo 2010, Chinon, Cabernet Franc – RRP £19.99 (64672)

Self-guided walking holidays in FranceWith its deep colour, luscious blackcurrant and plum fruit, spice, supple tannins, here’s a perfect example of Loire Cabernet Franc. The Couly family have been winemakers in Chinon (the Loire’s most famous red wine appellation) for nearly a century and the Clos de l'Echo – opposite the town’s equally impressive 12th century fortress – is their finest vineyard. Try it with chicken in a creamy sauce or seared tuna.


You can buy any of the featured wines at and, as an Inntravel customer, you can benefit from a 20% discount on your first order over £50 if you order before 16 February 2014 by clicking here > and quoting ‘INNTRAVEL’.*


Enter our competition to win a short holiday for two people in the beautiful Langhe wine growing region of Piedmont in Italy. Two runners up will receive a case of wine specially selected by Laithwaite's.

* offer only available to new Laithwaite's Wine customers

Posted: 12/11/2013 14:20:55 by | with 0 comments
Filed under: competitions, cycling, France, gastronomy, heritage, lifestyle, media, opinions

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