Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Pigeonnier in the Loire

This year it will only be "France dreaming" as my bothersome knee...like for the last year...is still bothersome.  I cannot guarantee that I can do a lot of walking, so with regret, we have opted to stay stateside this year.  But, that does not mean I cannot dream about our past trips...especially one six years ago, to the Loire Valley of France.

We have slept in a castle before..many years ago in Germany, so I was all for doing this again.  The Trout is such a fantastic researcher, so I let him do it all.  I enter the picture when it is time to choose between this or that.

This chateau sounded so perfect, but the topper was that there was a dovecote on the property available for rent.  A dovecote is a round, tall structure intended for pigeons or doves.  The inside is a mass of pigeon holes for the birds to nest.  An important food source in Western Europe, they were kept for eggs, flesh and dung.  In Scotland, the tradition is continued in urban areas.

The dovecote was called a colombier or fuie from the 13th century on and pigeonnier until the 19th century.  I have a few photos of where we stayed and this remarkable chateau.

We arrived in early May, for a week, and our cordial host has a fire going in the living room fireplace.  Flowers on the table.  Bottle of wine and glasses waiting.  We immediately were comfortable and felt at home.

The kitchen was small, as is typical in Europe, but everything we needed for a week was available including the washer under the kitchen counter.

There were two bedrooms in this amazing rental and we had the most beautiful one.  A King-sized bed and a balcony overlooking the back yard.

Welcome to Chateau La Vauguyon near Chinon, France, in the Loire Valley.

Our host, Celain, was a delight.  One afternoon, he drove us to two of his favorite wineries and introduced us to the owners.  He also gave us a tour of the grounds of the Chateau, caves and wells going back hundreds of years.

If you look at the above picture, in the foreground, you see some stakes.  Yes, oh yes, this is where a farmer grows white asparagus and many times during the week we would walk down there and buy the fresh, white asparagus for our dinner.  Very inexpensive and so very, very good.  I have often thought that one of the reasons we like to travel to Europe in the early spring is because of the white asparagus.

This was the view out of our upstairs bedroom.  Our host had imported many small deer for Russia and we enjoyed watching them early in the morning.

The big cities are lovely, but we have always loved the countryside and small villages.  Chinon is only a short distance from this lovely gite, and of course, the history of Joan of Arc is all over that city.

We did combine this week in the Loire Valley with a week in Normandy.  I hope you enjoyed my reliving our trip.  I think I feel better now.


  1. Susan, I am so sorry I won't get to see you and Dale this year - hope your knee gets better soon!

  2. Nothing wrong with dreaming, Susan. You have the memories (and the photos) to look back on with great pleasure.
    Hope your knee improves...and that you won't need surgery.

  3. Anonymous9:54 AM

    Susan, reading your blog had me daydreaming as well. I also have wonderful memories of our stays in the small villages of France. I hope your knee gets better so that you and Dale can once again live that dream again.

    Giny, Montréal

  4. Hi Susan, So sorry that your knee will not allow you to travel this year. This is a very timely post for me, as we will be spending part of our third week in France in the Loire Valley this summer. We will be staying with French friends for a few days, but are looking for a place of our own too. Like Dale, I love to research and the Pigeonnier looks delightful. Tell him Thanks from me and thanks to you for sharing. I may look into its availability.

  5. Penny, Celain has refurbished a new gite in the chateau since we were there. You will love it. Hope it works out.

  6. Merci, Giny!! Always a pleasure to hear from you. Wishing you a Bon Voyage in the very near future. Susan

  7. You have some beautiful photos and memories to keep you from missing a trip this year! I'm sorry you won't be able to travel. Love where you stayed!

  8. Dear Susan, I am so sorry that you are still having difficulties with your knee! I am thrilled that I have two new knees and don't take any pain pills any more after years and years.............It doesn't sound as though you need two new knees yet but think about what you can do. It wasn't a piece of cake, but neither was it at all as bad as I had imagined. I had a great doctor and wonderful therapists....And only three months later I (today is the three month anniversary) I went shopping two places today with just a regular shopping cart and not an electric one. And wandered about the library and waited in line at the post office. And I feel fine.

    But even though you are not going to France this year, I see you have wonderful memories of joyful travel in beautiful places, and I thank you very much for letting us see a little part of this!

  9. Great memories and gorgeous pictures!

  10. Oh my goodness, Susan this must have been amazing! I'm picturing myself there and loving every minute of it. We stayed in a castle in Germany, the one that inspired the brother's Grimm to write the fairly tales, so cool! Oh, and that white asparagus, wow it is wonderful, isn't it. We just happened upon a small town in Germany that was having a "Spargel-fest" - every restaurant in town served a menu with white asparagus as the star! It was just incredible - I've tried white asparagus here in the States, but, sadly, it's just not the same. So sorry about your knee trouble - that really puts a damper on a lot of things, ):

  11. What a fantastic post; and what a great find for your stay. Good memories are important to keep us going.
    Love all your photos and explanation of this special spot. sorry about your knee Susan; hope you can get some relief.

  12. Ahh, what a wonderful trip you just brought us on! I'm sorry to hear you knee is still bothering you! You'll have to cook more French meals if you can't go to France!

    Have a great weekend!

  13. Oh, Susan, yes please review your trip often. What a wonderful experience and beautiful place to stay. The white asparagus is a good reason to visit France in the springtime. How perfect that you had your own kitchen where you could prepare it.

  14. What a fabulous rental. Almost too pretty to be a rental. I would be dreaming of this place too Susan.

  15. Susan, I'm sorry you won't be making a trip to France this Spring. I enjoyed reading your post, it got me thinking about the time I enjoyed white asparagus in the Loire valley. The restaurant was La Croix Blanche between Tours and Angers. I just Googled it and read their menu, sounded pretty good but no white asparagus, maybe a little early,lol!
    Anyway, I get sidetracked so easily when it comes to food, thanks for sharing it looks like a fun place to stay while enjoying your visit.

  16. Such a lovely post with wonderful photos and memories! There’s always next year! Hope your knee heals soon!

  17. Maybe not quite the real thing but no harm in dreaming. Our neighbour has a pigeonnier, sadly not in use anymore.

    Hope the knee gets better so dreaming can soon become reality again soon. Take care Diane

  18. What BEAUTIFUL pictures and what wonderful memories. Re: your knee, have you ever had a shot of Synvisc in your knee? It's a lubricant made from the combs of roosters. I had one a year and a half ago and got 100% relief from it. I know that's rare, but most folks get a good percentage of relief and it's much better than a knee replacement. After this move my knee is just starting to bother me again, so I'm scheduled for another shot tomorrow. Here's hoping that it works as well as the first one. You might want to talk to your doctor about it if you haven't already. As far as I'm concerned it's a wonder drug, and it's not even a drug - totally nothing chemical. I've also gone the cortisone route and it didn't do a thing except cause me side effects. Good luck, Lady.

  19. Finally catching up on my blogging (Tour is over. Bills are paid. Rental properties under control for the moment)! I am so sorry that your knee is hampering your travels; but, I will say that I have enjoyed your reminiscing. The Trout sounds like the perfect vacation planner! I wish Evan or I would be so good.

    I love the earthy smell and hearty taste of rye bread!! ;) blessings ~ tanna