Towards the end of our trips we like to slow down a bit and stay in places for two nights. In Tours we are staying in a bed and breakfast called La Héraudière. Our room is in what was the original farm house. The room is big and very comfortable. There is even a bread oven in our room!

Our room at Le Héraudière.
The bread oven in our room

This morning we booked a tour at La Cave de Vouvray. It was fascinating. The Vouvray region grows almost exclusively Chemin grapes. They make primarily sparkling wines. Over the centuries as the people of this area have quarried limestone for construction projects they have created elaborate cave systems. The Vouvray caves that we toured have three kilometers of galleries!

The caves currently contain five million bottles of wine! The one wall of bottles in this picture is multiple rows deep and contains 141,377 bottles

The tour was incredibly interesting and we had our English speaking guide to ourselves.

The caves
Our guide

At the end of our tour we tasted wine and bought some to ship home.

Wine tasting

This afternoon we went for a short walk along the Loire.

Along the Loire

For dinner we went back into central Tours.

Goat cheese and puff pastry
Caramelized onion and puffed pastry.
Pork chop and sweet potatoes

Les Moutiers-en-Retz to Tours

Today we left the Atlantic coast and drove almost three hours east to the town of Tours. Our Chambre d’Hotes reservation said we could check in at 5pm. We are staying at La Héraudière.

It took about 3 hours to get to Tours. We drove to the town center, parked and walked. First we went to the tourist office and got a map.

Tours tourist office

Tours is a really pretty town.

Walking from where we parked.
Half timbered buildings in Tours center
The church

We drove to La Héraudière and parked on the street to wait until we could check in. About 4:30 the host came out, knocked on the window and invited us in. He recommended we eat at a restaurant in the town center called Leonard de Vinci. It was a lovely and very good meal.

Leonard de Vinci Restaurant
We had a table at the front window
Salad with goat cheese and ham
Tagliatelle with truffles, ham and foie
Desert sampler

Rochefort to Les Moutiers-en-Retz

We drove further north along the coast today. At the grocery store where we stopped to buy bread I saw my first ever fresh oyster vending machine. It’s right next to the laundry machines in the picture below. You could buy 24 fresh oysters for €11.95.

Oyster vending machine behind the mail box.
24 oysters for €11.90 or 36 oysters for €17.85.

In the produce section of the grocery store I saw something else I have never seen before, a white mushroom growing kit.

Mushroom growing kit.

Next we checked out the Passage du Gois. It is a 2.5 mile long causeway from the coast to the island of Noirmoutier. It is flooded every day as the tide goes up. You can drive on it for 1.5 hours each side of low tide. They have a foot race across it every year and the Tour De France has gone over it. We just happened to be there near low tide so we drove across.

Warning sign for Passage du Gois
Driving across Passage du Gois

Tonight we are staying in a B and B called Le Moulin des Tréans. The owners made a reservation for us at a great seafood restaurant, La Maison de L’Eclusier.

Where we are staying, Le Moulin des Tréans
The restaurant where we ate, La Maison de L’Eclusier
Their specialties may be eels and frogs but we had neither one.
My scallops
Duke’s seafood assortment.

Saintes to Rochefort

We didn’t have breakfast at the place we stayed in Saintes. Instead we went to a nearby Boulangerie and bought pastries which we picnicked on down the road a bit.

Local Boulanger
Picnic breakfast

We were heading towards the town of Rochefort which isn’t very far from Saintes. But first we decided to explore the island of Ile d’Oléron. Based on the amount of parking we saw it must be a very busy place in the summer. We parked first on the west side of the island and walked along the coast.

The west coast of Ike d’Oléron

Ile d’Oléron is famous for its mussel and oyster farming. We saw farms everywhere. We drove over to the east coast and walked down to the water to see some of the mussel farms. Mussels grow on ropes attached to piling.

Mussel farms
Ropes for growing mussels

After leaving Ile d’Oléron we drove about half an hour to the Pont Transbordeur in Rochefort. It’s very near where we are staying. The Pont Transbordeur is a massive structure that was built around 1900. It allows a gondola suspended from a trolley to ferry people across the estuary of the river without hindering shipping.

The Transporter Bridge
The gondola

For dinner we went to o small local restaurant in Rochefort, Les Béatilles. It felt like a quintessential French experience. The two waiters were very friendly and helpful and the food was wonderful.

Les Beatilles Restaurant
Inside Les Béatilles
We started with oysters
My veal

Saint-Emilion to Saintes

We woke up this morning to the slight smell of smoke. The temperature was 28 degrees Fahrenheit and we had been warned that there would be smoke among the vines to protect them from the freezing temperature. We also saw and heard helicopters flying over the vineyards stirring up the air.

Smoke over the vineyards
Helicopter at dawn over the chateau where we are staying.

The breakfast at Chsteau Fombrauge where we were staying was wonderful.

Breakfast at Chateau Fombrauge

The Bed and Breakfasts that we stay at in rural France don’t usually allow check in until 4 or 5pm. So although we had a relatively short drive today we took a circuitous route. We stopped for a picnic lunch.

Picnic lunch

The park had a pizza machine that could provide a cold pizza in 30 seconds or a hot pizza in 3 minutes.

Pizza machine

France has the first round of their presidential elections this Sunday. It is interesting to see the election signs. As I understand it, there are strict rules to ensure fairnes, so all the signs are the same size.

We still had time to kill when we got to our B and B so we saw an abbey not too far away and parked there to read and nap while we waited for our check in time.

Abbey Fontfouce
Abbey Fontdouce
The view from the car

Our Landlady where we are staying, Les Cuves, gave us a list of nearby restaurants. We chose one and drove into Saintes for dinner. It was a small restaurant called Les Repaire des Artistes. We had an excellent meal and there was no problem corking the leftover wine to take with us.

Hot Brie cheese with chorizo and bell peppers
Melted cheese with charcuterie and potatoes
Our restaurant
Saintes Cathedral and the moon on the way back to our car.