Whilst doing some research into places to stay in France we came across a book called ‘France Passion’ which supposedly details several farms, vinyards, restaurants and other local independent producers who invite people with mortorhomes to come and stay free of charge in exchange for buying some of their produce or eating with them. We only found out about the book a couple of weeks ago and as we don’t have a mailing address, the nearest stockest was in Tours so we went and bought the guide on Friday morning as we left.
Keith browsed through the guide whilst I drove to Blois where we stopped for lunch and a walk around. Blois is centered around its Chateau which, from the outside doesn’t really look that impressive (it is all relative don’t forget)…
However, when we walked around the other side and looked into the courtyard the detail in the stonework is probably the most intricate we have seen yet with the most beautiful staircase spiralling up from the courtyard. Unfortunately they had blocked most of the area of so that you couldn’t take photos and as we didn’t go in I will have to leave you to have a look on the internet 🙂 http://www.chateaudeblois.fr/?lang=en The rest of Blois was attractive but not really much else to do.
With the ‘France Passion’ book in hand we headed towards Orleans to try out our first farm stay…. en route we passed through the Chambord Estate …. a fine example of French Rennaisance architecture…..
Now if we were wise and read the detailed description we would have realised what we were letting ourselves in for. The farm sold its fruit and vegetables, local goats cheese and wines as well as home made cakes, breads, jams and pate. It also provided an evening meal should we have wanted to partake using all the produce from the farm – mostly focussing around chicken and duck.
As we had already got food for the evening we stocked up on lots of local produce and settled in for the evening to the sound of ducks quacking and cockerals…erm, doing their thing 🙂
The French cockerals are early risers… 4am I think he started. I wouldn’t have minded but I think he was still up at 22:30… obviously knew he had guests. So, note to self the concept of ‘France Passion’ is great and the hosts were really friendly … next time choose something slightly quieter like a vinyard.
After buying a bit more fruit and veg we set off into Orleans to a Municipal campsite (the france passion places generally only allow you to stay the night).
Camping Municipal Oliviet (16 euros per night without electricity) is roughly 6km outside Orleans, very tranquil, eco friendly and with cycle paths into the centre and along the Loire. It is lovely, we would definately come back here – but recommend booking or arriving early if you want a space.
We ventured into Orleans to go to the farmers market and then again later to walk around the city. It has the same kind of feel as Nantes, probably because it is a university town combined with a fairly large old town, Keith and I both liked it a lot. The cathedral is enormous and beautiful and whilst we were walking around Orleans they had at least two weddings, so they obviously get good use of it!
Sunday morning we did another loop of the Loire heading along the north side of the river east for about 30km to the first bridge and then back on the other side. There is something about the Loire, Keith and I both think it is the most attractive river we have seen. It is probably something to do with the fact that it isn’t very deep so there are lots of sand banks / islands which provide a fantastic mixture of textures.