Wining, Dining and Sleeping in the Loire

TOURAINE

In and around eastern Touraine

Romorantin-Lanthenay

Hotel-Restaurant - Grand Hotel du Lion d’Or
69 rue Clemenceau
T: +33 2 54 94 15 15
F: +33 2 54 88 24 87
liondor@relaischateaux.com
Although some distance from any specific wine region, this is a useful stop off point between the Berry and Touraine proper. The hotel is a manor dating from the Renaissance and is situated in the centre of this pretty town. The rooms are large, modern and plush. The restaurant is a one star Michelin and although the food can be a little over bearing (plenty of pre-starters, pre-desserts and pre-coffee distractions) the quality is high and the service attentive. It also has one of the best wine lists in the Loire with some ancient bottles and reasonable prices. Otherwise, staying and dining here is an expensive treat.
(Last stayed and dined: 01/04)

Restaurant with rooms – Lathenay
9 rue Notre Dame du Lieu
Lathenay
T: +33 2 54 76 09 19
F: +33 2 54 76 72 91
Situated in a quiet hamlet on the northern edge of the town. The rooms are motel-style and very basic and in need of attention. The restaurant is run by a bossy madame and (presumably) her children, and the menu based on local specialities. The food is quite rustic, but perfectly decent. There is a modest list with some well known if predictable Loire growers and negociants wines represented. (Last stayed and dined: 07/08)

 
Saint-Aignan

Hotel - Restaurant – Grand Hotel
7-9 quai J-J Delorme
T: +33 2 54 75 18 04
F: +33 2 54 75 12 59
Grand.hotel.st.aignan@wanadoo.fr
A dominant ivy clad building on the south bank of the river Cher. Although referenced in the current Michelin Guide, this is not recommended. The rooms are in need of renovation and the food is not good. (Last stayed and dined: 01/06)


Montrichard

Hotel-Restaurant – Le Bellevue
24 quai de la Republique
Well situated for touring the appellations of the western Loire. The rooms are quite basic, but some overlook the Cher. The restaurant is decent with a wine list better than one would expect. My last visit was marred by the proprietor deciding to close the dining room for the evening - after we’d made the booking to stay and eat. Consequently, take this as a less than positive review. (Last stayed: 01/05)

Hotel-Restaurant –
Château de la Menaudière
Route d’Amboise
T: +33 1 69 47 00 65
This country manor is situated about 10 minutes north of Montrichard on the road to Amboise. It is set in its own grounds and the rooms are either in the main chateau or in a series of annexe buildings. There is a decent restaurant here, serving local specialties accompanied by a good selection of regional wines. Relatively inexpensive, given the location.
(Last stayed and dined: 07/06)


Saint-Georges-sur-Cher

Chambres d’Hôte – Le Prieuré de la Chaise
T: + 33 2 54 32 59 77
F: + 33 2 54 32 69 49
prieuredelachaise@yahoo.fr
www.prieuredelachaise.com
A 16th Century priory with its own chapel situated close to Chenenceau and comes with its own vineyard, although the wines are made elsewhere. There are three rooms here and one suite and is okay for an overnight stop. The Prieuré is owned by friendly Danièle Duret-Therizols and her silent and rather grumpy husband, who swans around in his dressing gown smoking Marlborough Reds doing his Bryan Ferry circa in 1974 impression. I was half expected to hear ‘Smoke Gets in Your Eyes’ at breakfast, but we got Gregorian Chants instead. (Last time stayed: 12/08)


Chisseaux

Restaurant – Auberge du Cheval Rouge
30 Rue Nationale
Chisseaux
T: + 33 2 47 23 86 67
www.auberge-duchevalrouge.com
You will find this roadside auberge situated on the north bank of the Cher, close to Chenonceaux. The rear dining room is light and airy and made from local stone. The menu is fussy with lots of pre-starters pre-desserts and I can see no point in serving a vodka based sorbet on a freeing cold night in December. The food is not very well executed, the young staff lack experience and, presumably because you are located close to a major tourist attraction, it is overpriced. There is a decent wine list with a few predictable names, but it lacks depth in older vintages. (Last dined: 12/08)


In and around Montlouis

Amboise

Restaurant – L’Epicerie
46 place M. Debré
Amboise
T: +33 2 47 57 08 94
You will find this small, but charming restaurant situated in an old wooden framed house on the road that leads up the side of the chateau. The menu is based on regional dishes and changes to reflect the seasons. The wine list is small, but with some good local producers from both Montlouis and Vouvray represented. (Last dined: 08/04)


In and around Vouvray

Chambres d’Hote – Domaine des Bidaudières
Rue de Peu Morier
Vouvray
T: +33 2 47 52 66 85
F: +33 2 47 52 62 17
resa@bidaudieres.com
www.bidaudieres.com
Situated five minutes east of Vouvray towards Vernou and at the very foot of the vineyard slopes, this is a formal semi-troglodyte 18th century manor house. It was once a wine estate in its own right. The rooms are large and well fitted. This is my chosen residence for my visits to Vouvray. No credit cards are accepted, so be sure to take plenty of cash. (Last stayed: 08/09)  


Chambre d'Hote - Domaine Vincent Carême
Vincent et Tania Carême
1 rue du Haut Clos
Vernou-sur-Brenne
T: +33 (0)2 47 52 71 28 
F:+33 (0)2 47 52 01 36
vin@vincentcareme.fr
www.homelidays.com/vernou-sur-brenne/country-cottage-gite246895en1.htm
Stay with Vincent Careme and Tania, his South African wife. I've yet to take advantage of their hospitality, but Tania tells me if you phone up to book and mention my name, you get to stay for free. (Only kidding, Tania...)

Chambre d'Hote - La Closeraie
6 Rue de Commerce
Vouvray
T: + 33 9 54 52 77 48
corinne@lacloseraie.com
 
This place came recommended to me by Sean O'Neill who stayed over en-route to the south-west. It's run by Corinne Berthier. Sean wrote: 'A charming and very typical French welcome and very nice rooms, including breakfast in a room hollowed into the rock beneath Le Clos du Bourg. This is less than five minutes walk from Domaine Huet'. 

Chambre d'Hote - Le Moulin de Bacchus
Chancay
T: + 33 2 47 52 27 90
www.likhom.com 
The watermill on the banks of the river Brenne has five rooms. There is also an indoor heated pool. Contact Didier and Françoise Surin. 

Hotel-Restaurant – Les Hautes Roches
86 quai Loire
Rochecorbon
T: +33 2 47 52 88 88
F: +33 2 47 52 81 30
Hautes.roches@wanadoo.fr
If you ever wanted to know what it was like to be a troglodyte, this is the place to stay. Some of the rooms in this 18th century ex-monastery are cut directly into the honey coloured tufa. The restaurant is a one star Michelin. An expensive treat. (Last stayed: 06/03)

Hotel-Restaurant –
Le Grand Vatel
8 avenue Léon Brulé
Vouvray
T: +33 2 47 52 70 32
F: +33 2 47 52 74 52
legrandvatel@orange.fr
Le Grand Vatel offers a large dining room serving good quality regional cuisine with an emphasis on local and seasonal ingredients. The wine list is excellent with a treasure trove of old Vouvray. There are a few rooms upstairs, although I’ve never stayed. (Last dined: 02/06)

Restaurant – Le Virage Gastronomique ‘les Chalans’
Avenue Léon Brulé
Vouvray
T: +33 2 47 52 70 02
You’ll find this next to the traffic lights in the centre of town. This is a good stop for a quick, light lunch with the possibility of eating on the small summer terrace. (Last dined: 08/06)

Restaurant – La Cave Martin
La Vallée Coquette
Vouvray
T: +33 2 47 52 62 18
F: +33 2 47 52 79 34
La Cave Martin is a troglodyte restaurant situated in one of the valleys that runs perpendicular to the river. This a popular haunt for locals and needs to be booked in advance. The food is traditional; try the Assiette de Terroir, and the wine list is small but has some interesting older vintages of Vouvray. There is a terrace for summer dining. (Last dined: 06/03)

Restaurant - Le Val Joli
18 Route Nationale
Vouvray
T: + 33 2 47 52 70 18
info@valjoli.com 
www.valjoli.com 
This restaurant opened opposite to Hardoin (see below) a couple of years ago and offers a menu of regional cuisine. It's relatively inexpensive, although I have yet to dine here. Closed Sunday and Tuesday evenings and all day Wednesday. 

Restaurant –
La Lanterne
Quai de la Loire 48
Rochecorbon
T: +33 2 47 52 50 02
F: +33 2 47 52 54 46
Situated along the main road beside the river, this is a troglodyte restaurant, taking its name from the lantern that stands on the slope immediately above. The food here is traditional and of a good standard, but the wine list alone makes it worth a visit, with some ancient bottles from local cellars available at reasonable prices. (Last time dined: 07/03)

Retail OpportunityHardouin, Charcuterie
25 Route Nationale
Vouvray
T: +33 2 47 52 60 24
Probably the best charcuterie in the Loire . Be sure to stock up on their rillettes, boudin noir and rillons (chunks of cooked pork belly). Usefully, they are also open on Sunday.

Tours

Hotel - Hôtel l'Adresse
12 rue de la Rotisserie
T: + 33 2 47 20 85 76 
contactladresse@aol.com

www.hotel-ladresse.com 

Located on a pedestrian alley in the heart of the old town, close to the covered market, this small, 17 roomed boutique hotel has become one of the trendy addresses in town. Personally, I found it a bit grubby, with a pretension to be something it is not. In the old days, this former townhouse would have been referred to as a bed and breakfast. It's sufficient for a single night stay, but don't use this as a base for a trip in the region. The rooms are small, dark and boxy with minimal décor. Moderately priced. (Last stayed: 01/10).  

Hotel - Hôtel du Cygne
12 rue du Cygne
T: + 33 2 47 66 66 41
F: + 33 4 47 66 05 13
hotelgygne.tours@sfpi.net

www.sfpi.net/hotelcygne.tours 

This modest hotel has 18 rooms and is situated in the old part of town. It's comfortable, but there is no lift which means carrying bags up steep, windy stairs - all part of the charm of staying in one of Tours oldest hostelries. (Last stayed: 09/10).   

Restaurant – La Chope
25 bis Avenue de Grammont
T: +33 2 47
05 71 21
F: +33 2 47
05 70 51
www.lachop.info

La Chope is an institution in Tours. Established in 1902, I suspect it has changed little since then. It is now run by Samy Gicqueau and his English wife, Zara. They met when they both worked at the Sandgate Hotel in Hythe in Southern England in the late 1990s. Coincidentally, Christophe Dehosse, a great chef and friend of mine in Stellenbosch, worked with Samy too, and it was Christophe who made the introduction. The restaurant's main focus is fish and seafood. The décor dates from the Belle Époque era and the walls are covered in mirrors. The size of the bill is dependent on the size and number of Gillardeau oysters you order; La Chope being the only place in Tours where they are served. There is a short but well selected list of wines. Highly recommended. Open seven days a week but
closed from the end of July to the middle of August. (Last dined: 01/10)

In and Around Bourgueil


Hotel-Restaurant – Château de Rochecotte
43 Rue Dorothée de Dino
Saint-Patrice
T: + 33 2 47
96 16 16
F: + 33 2 47
96 90 59
chateau.rochecotte@wanadoo.fr
www.
chateau-de-rochecotte.fr
This grand country estate set within its own formal parkland and forest was transformed into a hotel in the early 1990s. It is located on the eastern edge of the Bourgueil appellation and is within easy reach of the town of Langeais. There are 35 large and well appointed rooms which are generally quiet, but despite the relatively high cost of staying and dining here, the hotel does accommodate (and even sets out to encourage) guests with small children - which rather shatters the peace and tranquility of the place: our experience of eating in the formal dining room, complete with white glove service and gourmet menu, was marred by some fellow-diners children chinking away on the piano, clearly attempting to perfect their own rendition of 'Chopsticks'. The food is competent and a little to over-fussy as can often be the case in such places. The wine list is adequate rather than exciting and more could be done to promote the local appellations on both side of the Loire. The wines, as with the menu and rooms, are expensive. Rochecotte could be quite special but it falls short and appears expensive as a result. (Last stayed 06/11) 

Azay-le-Rideau


Restaurant – L’Aigle d’Or
10 Rue Adelaïde Riché
Azay-Le-Rideau
T: + 33 2 47 45 24 58
F: + 33 2 47 45 90 18
Aigle-dor@wanadoo.fr
www.laigle-dor.fr
Set in a modest town house outside of the centre of Azay, this restaurant comes very highly recommended. There are three separate dining rooms seating a total of 45 guests. Ghislaine and Jean-Luc Fèvre have consistently delivered good, honest well cooked, traditional dishes that respect the seasons, billing their daily changing menu as Cuisine du Marché, but equally specialities include a combined Foie Gras and Langoustine dish and Blanquette de Sandre. The wine list is excellent with a grand selection of older vintages of Azay-le-Rideau back to the 1970s - and older for other classic Loire appellations. On our last visit we drank a 1988 Demi-Sec from Robert Denis, the best producer of his generation at a very modest 23 Euros. The list is full of bargains if one is prepared to take a chance on something that might not be instantly recognisable. Closed Wednesday and Sunday evening, Tuesday evening out of season, and Monday evening between December and March. Annual closure: last two weeks of November and from mid-January to middle of March and first week of September. Exceptional value given the quality of the food and wine list. (Last dined 06/11)


Hotel – Biencourt
7 Rue Balzac
Azay-Le-Rideau
T: + 33 2 47 45 20 75
www.hotelbiencourt.com
Open April to start of November, this pretty 16 roomed hotel has had a fairly recent face-lift. Just a few paces away from the château, it is set in an 18th Century Maison Tourangelle which once served the town as once a primary school. At the rear, there is a pretty floral terrace where breakfast is served during the season. Recommended (although I haven't stayed here under the new regime) and inexpensive.


Hotel-Restaurant – Le Grand Monarque
3 Place de la République
Azay-Le-Rideau
T: + 33 2 47 45 40 08
F: + 33 2 47 45 46 25
monarq@club-internet.fr 
This is the main hotel in Azay-le-Rideau, although there are alternatives. There are 28 rooms and some have been recently renovated, although the quality of the furnishing of the rooms could be considerably better: uncomfortable beds and cheap linen and pillows. 

The previous owner, since 1988, was John-Michel Forest who bought the hotel from the Jacquet family who had run it as a family concern since 1900, receiving an array of famous guests, such as the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, President Truman and the Queen Mother, during their tenure. 

The restaurant has also seen an upgrade, although sadly the great wine list that once existed under the Forest regime has very sadly disappeared. There is now only one choice of grower from within the appellation - Nicolas Paget - although there are a couple of older examples of his father's wine to be enjoyed. The food is certainly not traditional, with a distinct acknowledgement towards the east and even a South African lamb curry! The food is good, if a little bizarre when one considers that their mainly international clientele would probably prefer to experience some regional cuisine. Expect to pay more than you'd like and take your own pillow... (Last stayed 06/11)

In and around Chinon  


Hotel - Diderot
4 Rue de Buffon
Chinon
T: + 33 2 47 93 18 87
F: + 33 2 47 93 37 10
hoteldiderot@wanadoo.fr
www.hoteldiderot.com
This lovely 15th Century manor punches well above its humble 2 star rating. Purchased and renovated a few years ago by the Dutheil family (relatives of the local wine dynasty), Diderot is operated by siblings Laurent, Françoise and Martine. There is no restaurant (which is no handicap when one considers the choice available to guests within a ten minute walk), but breakfast here is not to be missed. The family produce over 1,600kg of homemade jam each year, boasting a selection of 55 different varieties, all of which is consumed over the heavy wooden communal tables in the beamed dining room. Sadly, they are not available for purchase by guests although you can buy the family recipe book 'Jam in the cupboard' as a souvenir of your stay. The 27 rooms, mostly situated around a central graveled courtyard which doubles up as the parking lot are traditionally decorated, some with pieces of modest antique furniture. Prices for the region are very reasonable. In addition, the Dutheil's provide very efficient and free wi-fi to all their guests. Closed for most of December and two weeks over January/February. Very highly recommended. (Last stayed 04/11) 

Hotel - Le Plantagenêt
12 Place Jeanne d'Arc
Chinon
T: + 33 2 47 93 36 92
F: + 33 2 47 98 48 92
resa@hotel-plantagenet.com
www.hotel-plantagenet.com 
This two star hotel overlooking the main square has 33 basic rooms situated both in the original 19th Century building and a more recent rear annex. This is functional rather than comfortable and serves well enough for an overnight stay although it is not recommended as a long term option. There is free parking opposite in the square, but be aware this also houses the local market on Thursdays so any outstanding vehicles are evicted in the early hours. Average. (Last stayed 02/11).


Hotel-Restaurant
- Hostellerie Gargantua / Le Gandoyau
73 Rue Haute Saint Maurice
Chinon
T: + 33 2 47 93 04 71
F: + 33 2 47 93 08 02
contact@hotel-gargantua.com
www.hotel-gargantua.com  
Takes its name from its Rabelais connection; the writers father ran his affairs from this tall, turreted 15th Century palace which originally served as the local bailiffs office. There are seven comfortable, if somewhat cramped rooms. Each comes with its own theme and are spread over five stories. Accessed by a central spiral staircase, this can be a little daunting for those who tend not to travel lightly, but for those in need of an historical fix this two star establishment should prove suitable enough. Next door, serviced by a small terrace, is its restaurant, Le Gandoyau. This promises a host of local dishes but in truth the food is poor and the service comes without a smile. Not recommended. (Last dined 04/11).  

Hotel-Restaurant – de la Treille
4 Place Jeanne d-Arc
Chinon
T: + 33 2 47 93 07 71
Resto.latreille@orange.fr
This small restaurant with four upstairs rooms is run by a husband (he’s in the kitchen) and wife team. It's a good place to sit on the terrace and enjoy an early morning coffee and watch the world from the edge of the square. Inside, however, is dark and a little grubby. The menu is made up of some simple homely staples, although I can't comment on the quality of the food on offer. (Last visited 04/11).    

Café-Hôtel - des Arts 
4 Rue Jean Jacques Rousseau
Chinon

T: + 33 2 47 93 09 84
F: + 33 2 47 95 19 25
Cafedesarts-chinon@wanadoo.fr
frederic.giessinger@wanadoo.fr
 
A trendy new bistro on the edge of Place Fontaine with a large, multi-roomed restaurant and plenty of options for open air dining on the square outside. The menu contains classic French brasserie favourites and a well chosen wine list with advise available from their dedicated sommelier. The quality of the food is good but the service by the indifferent young team is slow and inconsistent - which is a shame. There are also six bedrooms available on the first floor. Open for early morning coffee from 07h30 and serves until midnight. Closed Wednesday. Recommended for the food and wine but patience is needed when it comes to the service. (Last dined 04/11).

Restaurant - Au Chapeau Rouge
49 Place du Géneral de Gaulle
Chinon

T/F: + 33 2 47 98 08 08
Chapeau.rouge@club-internet.fr
www.auchapeaurouge.fr
A relatively large restaurant split between two distinct dining areas and situated in a quiet corner of Place Fontaine. Chef Christophe Duguin cooks local and seasonal dishes in a competent if unexciting manner, whilst his wife looks after the front of house. There is a reasonable wine list which includes a good selection from the Chinon appellation although these are from more recent vintages. Service is friendly and prices are moderate. Au Chapeau Rouge teeters on the edge of being traditional and outdated. Closed mid-October to mid-November and again from mid-February to mid-March, Sunday night and Monday. (Last dined 02/11).

Restaurant - L’Océanic
13 Rue Rabelais
Chinon

T: + 33 2 47 93 44 55
F: + 33 2 47 93 38 08
Oceanic.restaurant@club-internet.fr 
As the name might suggest, the focus here is on all things fishy, which also extends to amphibious reptiles (the frogs legs in butter, garlic and parsley are particularly recommended) and fresh lobster is housed in a tank by the door where you can select your own dinner on arrival. L'Oceanic is owned and run by Chef Patrick Descoubles and his very smartly dressed wife, Marie-Paule. Prices here are moderate to expensive depending on the menu one selects, but is relatively good value regardless. The cooking is more than competent and there is a very good wine list with its own pages dedicated to Chinon and includes some older vintages which are all correctly priced. Cheeses are supplied from the famous affineur house of Mons. Tables are available on the quiet pedestrian street outside during the season. Service here is friendly and attentive. Closed end of April and end of August, Sunday night and Monday. Recommended. (Last dined 04/11).

Restaurant - L’Ardoise
42 Rue Rabelais
Chinon

T: + 33 2 47 59 48 78
www.lardoise-chinon.com 
L'Ardoise was opened in 2005 by husband and wife team, Stéphane and Yelana Perrot; he’s in the kitchen whilst the chatty Yelana works the front of house. It is the favourite haunt of local wine courtier, Charles Sydney. The food here, as described by Yelana herself, is 'cinema' which some diners might interpret as a modern take on classic French cuisine. My own interpretation is that the food is over elaborate to the detriment of its substance. There is a shortish wine list that has a focus on local growers. Moderate to expensive. Should the conversation ever run dry, there is a large and well stocked tropical fish tank to gaze into. (Last dined 02/11)

Restaurant - Les Années 30
78 Rue Voltaire
Chinon

T: + 33 2 47 93 37 18
F: + 33 2 47 93 33 72
lebeaucharles@wanadoo.fr 
www.lesannees30.com
Situated in the heart of the medieval town, Les Années 30 might consider itself as the most formal of dining experiences in Chinon, especially after the demise of 'Au Plaisir Gourmand' (Chinon's only Michelin starred establishment which once stood exactly opposite) a couple of years ago. The restaurant stretches over two floors in this ancient wood and stone building. Chef Stéphane Charles' cooking makes use of local ingredients with a menu that is classic haute-cuisine, with more formal service to match. The wine list is good and has a selection of well chosen local producers with a few older vintages extracted from the caves of some supportive growers. Closed end of June, end of November, Tuesdays (except between May and September) and Wednesday. Moderate to expensive, but recommended. (Last dined: 04/11).

Bar-à-Vins A La Pause Rabelaisienne
28 Place du Général de Gaulle
Chinon

T: + 33 2 47 93 35 25
F: + 33 2 47 93 42 53
pauserabelais@aol.com
www.chinon-vinotheque.com
This brightly painted café is on the corner of the Place Fontaine and makes a welcome stop for coffee, beer or a glass of wine - depending on your mood. You can also get a modest plate of cheese or charcuterie here during the day. It is operated (with standard Teutonic precision) by German ex-banker Rainer Schmidt and his Chinonnaise wife, Patricia. Next door to the bar is a wine shop with a decent selection sourced from a select few local producers and available, in theory, at the same price as those charged at the domaine. Rainer also offers tastings for groups of between 10 and 18 people at vaulted cellars, below. Recommended. The bar tends to close early evening. (Last dined 04/11)

Café - de l’Hôtel de Ville
Place de Général de Gaulle
Chinon
T: + 33 2 47 93 04 14

Situated next to the town hall in one of more bustling parts of the town, this lively little bar is the place to head for morning coffee.

Restaurant - Auberge du Val de Vienne
30 Route de Chinon
Sazilly

T: + 33 2 47 95 26 49
F: + 33 2 47 95 25 97
valdevienne@wanadoo.fr
www.aubergeduvaldevienne.com
Sazilly, one of the communes on the rive-gauche of the Chinon appellation, is a 15 minute drive away from the centre of town and sits opposite the cellar of Domaine Charles Joguet. It is an old relais de post which dates back to around 1870. There are two separate dining rooms seating a combined seventy covers. Chef-proprietor Jean-Marc Gervais and his wife, Florence, run a serious operation serving classical cuisine which is based on seasonal ingredients and might include Escalope de foie-gras sur crème de potimarron and Tête de Veau, sauce ravigote. The wine list carries over 400 references from the Loire and includes some older examples at very modest prices. Closed Sunday evening and all day Monday. Annual closure: Mid November to early December and first three weeks in January. Highly recommended and certainly worth the detour out of town. (Last dined: 04/11).

Hotel-Restaurant – Manoir de la Giraudière
Beaumont-en-Véron
T: +33 2 47 58 40 36
F:  +33 2 47 58 46 06
giraudiere@hotels-france.com
This 17th century manor house is about a ten minute drive north of Chinon and sits close to the banks of the Vienne . The accommodation here are a little bit musty and outdated and in need of renovation. Although there is a restaurant here, I’ve only ever made use of the rooms.
(Last stayed: 06/04).

Gîte – La Bellivière
5 Rue de la Bellivière
Beaumont-en-Véron
T: + 33 2 47 93 15 24
5starloire@orange.fr 
www.5starloire.com 
Owned and operated by fellow Brits, Linda and Richard Garner these two recently renovated self catering cottages served as the base during my time researching the Chinon appellation. Located in a quiet part of the Véron close to the banks of the Vienne, La Bellivière is still just a five minute drive away from the centre of Chinon. This is not only an excellent base for discovering the Chinonnais, but also ideal for touring the château country in general given its central location. Each property sleeps two people and available only to couples. Very highly recommended. (Last stayed 04/11). 

 

 

Exploring Vendôme and the Coteaux du Loir
Since being granted with its own station on the Paris to Bordeaux TGV line, Vendôme has become something of a weekend retreat for Parisien’s looking to escape the big city. Within an hour of leaving Gare Monparnasse one can be walking through the streets of this small, once fortified island on the Loir.

Vendôme

Restaurant with rooms – Auberge de la Madeleine
6 place Madeleine
Vendôme
T: +33 2 54 77 20 79
F: +33 2 54 80 00 02
Situated in the heart of the old city, this restaurant is on a tree lined square opposite the church of the same name. The menu features local specialities and is quite rustic. The eight rooms above are small and very basic and not particularly recommended. (Last stayed: 08/08)

Hotel-Restaurant - Le Saint-Georges
14 rue Poterie
Vendôme
T: +33 2 54 67 42 10
T: +33 2 54 67 42 20
contact@hotel-saint-georges-vendome.com
www.hotel-saint-georges-vendome.com
Well sited in the main through fare in the old town. The hotel offers modern, updated self catering apartments with kitchenettes, but is otherwise quite basic. It’s a suitable place to stop on business, but not particularly recommended for its homely comforts. The restaurant below doubles up as a cocktail bar. (Last stayed: 12/08)

Hotel - Le Vendôme
15 Fg Chartain
Vendôme
T: +33 2 54 77 02 88
T: +33 2 54 73 90 71
info@hotelvendomefrance.com
www.hotelvendomefrance.com
Just on the outer ring road, this small hotel is about a five minute walk into the centre of town. 

Restaurant - Le Paris Grill
Jean-Marc and Betty Ligot
1 rue Darreau
Vendôme
T: + 33 2 54 77 02 71
F: + 33 2 54 73 17 71
Something of a walk out of town, this restaurant is located close to the old railway station. It’s large and airy and serves typical bistro fare, such as steak tartar and snails. The house speciality is Feuillete, a puff pastry case with a variety of fillings. There is a small wine list featuring a few growers from the Vendômois and the Coteaux du Loir. Whilst it may be remote and away from the old town, it is worth seeking out. Inexpensive. (Last dined: 08/08)

Restaurant – Moulin du Loir
M. Dias
21-23 Rue du Change
Vendôme
T: + 33 2 54 67 13 51
Le-moulin-du-loir@orange.fr
www.le.moulin-du-loir.com
A light, airy restaurant full of pastel colours, situated just off the main pedestrian street that runs the centre of the town. It sits astride a mill race that feeds the old roue. The food is French bistro classics with no surprises, but the quality is acceptable if not inspiring. There is a short wine list. (Last dined: 12/08)

Restaurant – Le Terre á TR
14 Rue du Maréchal de Rochambeau
Vendôme
T: + 33 2 54 89 09 09
F: + 33 2 54 77 84 92
leterreatr@orange.fr
The ‘TR’ in question here is one Tony Renaudin. His restaurant is situated in a tufa cave on the outskirts of the town; about a 15 minutes walk from the centre. Despite the ancient location, the décor is modern as is the trendy Buddha Bar music. There is a short but well chosen wine list, with the wines from the Vendômois concentrated on those of Jean Brazilier and Pascal Colin and most are available by the glass. As for the food; well this is a classic example of too much attention to the presentation of dishes and not enough to substance. The fad of the ubiquitous foam and froth show the style of the food to be already outdated, and here, certainly not has not been perfected. A great venue for a restaurant. Let’s see if he’s still around on my next visit.
(Last dined: 12/08)


Lavardin

Restaurant – Le Relais d’Antan
Isabelle and Paul van Gessel
6 Place du Capitaine du Vigneau
Lavardin
T: +33 2 54 86 61 33
Pretty looking auberge just by the old pack horse bridge in this tiny ‘Most Beautiful’ village. The menu looks serious, but unfortunately they close of Monday and Tuesday and my visits through the region have yet to coincide with them opening. I look forward to dining here one day.

Restaurant – Le Caveau
Monique Houdret
10 Rue de Vaux Boyers
Lavardin
T: + 33 2 54 85 31 11
P: + 33 6 82 23 33 00
A great little find. Situated in a cave cut into the tufa below the ruined medieval fortress. In winter, expect to be welcomed by a roaring fire with its chimney channeled up through the rock, and a hearty home cooked lunch – served with a slightly piqué carafe of gros rouge. Inexpensive and recommended. (Last dined : 12/08)


Le Caveau, Lavardin

 
Montoire-sur-Loir

Restaurant - Le Paix
10 Place Clemenceau
Montoire-sur-Loir
T: + 33 2 54 85 10 48
Montoire is a small town central for visiting vignerons from both the Coteaux du Vendômois and the Coteaux du Loir. In fact, Françoise Martelliere who has operated this modest bar cum eatery on the main square for nigh on thirty years, comes from a family of vignerons. The food is rustic and based on the more frugal cuts of pork, her speciality being jambon Ronsard. Wines are served by the glass, carafe or bottles and all come from the Martelliere domaine.
(Last dined: 08/08)


Pont de Bray

Restaurant – Le Petit Luc
3 Rue de Braye
Pont de Braye/Lavenay
T: + 33 2 43 44 45 55
F: + 33 2 43 44 61 35
lepetitluc@wanadoo.fr
www.lepetitluc.com
Equidistant between Montoire and La Chartre-sur-le-Loir is this casual little restaurant where you can eat by the fire in winter and on the terrace in summer. Closed all day Monday. I haven’t eaten here, but it was recommended within the region.


La Chartre-sur-le-Loir  

Hotel – Restaurant – de France and Le Relais Ronsard
20 Place de la République
La Chartre-sur-le-Loir
Tel: + 33 2 43 44 40 16
Fax: + 33 2 43 79 62 20
hoteldefrance@worldonline.fr
Created in 1900, Sylvia and Francis Pasteau are now the fourth generation to run this 24 bedroomed hotel on the main square in the centre of La Chartre. On the ground floor there is a bar on one side of the reception that also serves a Menu du Jour, whilst a more serious and traditional 150 cover restaurant – Le Relais Ronsard – is situated on the other. I have never stayed here, so cannot comment on the quality of the rooms. The main restaurant, whilst is brightly lit looks a bit dated but has some regional charm. The first page on the extensive menu has the chef highlighting his local suppliers, including Joël Gigou, whose wines are the sole representative of the Jasnières and Coteaux du Loir appellations on there limited wine list. The seasonal winter menu was full of rib warming dishes based on offal and game. Closed Sunday night and all day Monday. The food here is good, but not exceptional. (Last dined: 12/08)


Hotel de France

Restaurant-Bar á Vin - Le Jasnières
8 Place de la Republique
Le Chartre-sur-Le-Loir
T: +33 2 43 44 40 44
A little bar in the main square of Le Chartre-sur-le-Loir owned and operated by Catherine Lassuie and her family. It’s an ideal place to find refuge for a mid morning coffee. There is alos a good representation of local grower wines served, alongside a plate of rillettes, by the glass, including some of the smaller and more obscure growers. You can also acquire a selection of old vintages from the small retail selection at the front of the shop.

Restaurant - Auberge Saint Nicolas
2 Place Mauclerc
La Chartre-sur-le-Loir
Tél: + 33 2.43.44.42.38
Fax: + 33 2.43.44.02.08
Pepée and Jean-Claude Beranger have run this old auberge on the road out to Marçon since 1988. The entrance leads to the rough looking café which during the day attracts the local workforce who stand around the bar in their blue overalls. On the wall, almost out of view is a copy of an old vineyard map that indicates the vineyards along the Loir during the reign of Louis XIV. A separate door leads through to the dining room (where I have yet to dine). At the rear there is a garden that backs onto the Loir with rights for fishing.

Gîte - Chambres d’hôtes – Le Grand Moulin
Marie-Danièle Millet-Lecourt
8 Rue de Syke
La Chartre-sur-le-Loir
T: + 33 2 43 44 65 78
P: + 33 6 85 56 30 45
mdmillet-moulin@club-internet.fr
A charming 18th Century mill in the centre of the town. Le Grand Moulin dates from the First Empire; its English waterwheel being installed sometime during the 1820s. The mill was in continual service, helping to grind wheat for the towns inhabitants until it closed in 1972. It was bought in 2005 by the delightful Marie-Danielle, who exchanged it for her Paris apartment, and has been sympathetically restored. In summer breakfast is served on the terrace overlooking the mill race. Very highly recommended.
(Last stayed: 12/08)

Gîte – Joël Gigou
4 Rue des Caves
La Chartre-sur-le-Loir
Tel: + 33 2 43 44 48 72
Chambre.gigou@wanadoo.fr
www.gigou.herce.eu
This modest Vigneron offers two bedroomed accommodation at his tasting room just on the edge of the town.


Chahaignes

Café-Restaurant - Chez Miton
15 place de l'Église
Chahaignes
T: + 33 2 43 44 62 62
F: + 33 2 43 44 25 05
Chahaignes, one of the most important of the Loir ’s wine villages, is an unlikely location to find a place like Chez Miton. Motorsport enthusiast Remy Roquet runs the front of house whilst his wife, Naoko, takes control of the kitchen offering Asian dishes alongside French bistro classics. A Salade de Gesiers and Joue de Porc aux Epices were fantastic, with the latter illustrating Naoko’s ability to fuse the traditional with the oriental. The café and restaurant are in two separate rooms, with a permanent exhibition from local artists in the latter. You will find an excellent selection from both the Côteaux du Loir and Jasnières served by the glass, carafe and bottle. Open for lunch everyday except for Saturday. Dinner is served on Friday evenings only. Inexpensive and very highly recommended. (Last dined: 12/08)


Chez Miton

Retail Opportunity - La Ferme de la Malvoyère
Chahaignes
T: + 33 2 43 44 46 19
F: + 33 2 43 44 91 39
info@lamalvoyere.com
www.lamalvoyere.com
Christophe and Pierre Bouin raise poultry, pork and lamb on their farm situated on the road between Chahaignes and Lhomme. The farm shop is worth seeking out as it is full of their artisan charcuterie, foie gras and confits. In addition, they also own vines in Rasné, the most celebrated slope in the Coteaux du Loir and they make their wine in a separate cellar in the village (see their grower profile for more details). Vintages back to the early 1990s are available for purchase in the farm store. The shop is closed Sunday afternoon and Wednesday. They also work several local markets. 

Restaurant – L’Hermitière
Guy and Katia Podevin
Les Sources de l’Hermitière
Saint-Vincent-du-Lorouër
T: + 33 2 43 44 84 45
hermitiere-berce@wanadoo.fr
www.lhermitiere.fr
L’Hermitière is situated in an idyllic wooded glade some 10km north of Chahaignes on the edge of the Bercé forest. The building looks like an old hunting lodge and was restored by the Guy and Katia Podevin in 2000. Along with a private dining room, the main dining room is built around an old tree trunk, and the bar counter has been crafted out of a huge single slab of oak. The Podevin’s cooking is centred on ingredients that are close at hand; mushrooms, game and chestnuts feature extensively, and crafted into traditional Sarthoise dishes - on which subject they have published two cookery books. The food here is confident and refined, although the service by the young and inexperienced staff could be improved. The wine list covers all the main growers from the region, but sadly only lists current releases. Recommended. 
(Last time dined: 12/08)

 
Lhomme

Bar-Restaurant – La Renaissance
12 Rue du Val du Loir
Lhomme
T: + 33 2 43 44 00 52
The local village bar found opposite the church. There is a simple restaurant serving a menu du jour.

 
Marçon

Bar-Restaurant – du Boeuf
21 Place de l’Eglise
Marçon
T: + 33 2 43 44 13 12
F: + 33 2 43 44 54 75
Christiane Bonnisseau has been serving her native Creole cuisine – she is originally from Martinique – at the Restaurant du Boeuf for the past 20 years. This run down bar and restaurant can be found in the village square. The food is homecooked, including the spicy boudin noir and is a little too rustic. (Last dined 12/08).

 
La Flèche

Hotel – Le Relais Cicero
18 Boulevard d’Alger
La Flèche
T : + 33 2 43 94 14 14
F : + 33 2 43 45 98 96
www.hotel.cicero@wanadoo.fr
www.cicero.fr
Pascale Chérel runs this charming 17th Century convent, set back off the road in a quiet backwater of the town. The 21 rooms are all individually decorated and some may be a tad small but are full of character, with classic dark wood panelling, toile de Jouy themed fabric and oak beams. There are also a couple of attractive salons in which to relax and have a drink, plus an attractive garden. (Last stayed 12/08)

Restaurant – Le Moulin des Quatres Saisons
Rue Gallieni
La Flèche
T : + 33 2 43 45 12 12
F : + 33 2 43 45 10 31
Contacts@moulindesquatresaisons.com
www.moulindesquatresaisons.com
The restaurant is sited in an attractive 17th century watermill on an island in the Loir basin. The décor has a distinct Tyrolean feel, not surprisingly, as Karoline Constantin is an Austrian native. The menu also reflects her origins with a few traditional touches, such as pumpkin seeds served with the cheese. Husband Camille runs the kitchen and the food here is confident and worthy. There is a great tome of a wine list which covers both the Loir (e) and beyond, with listings from the great and the good of the Wachau – including FX Pichler and Knoll - which Karoline ships herself. Le Moulin des Quatres Saisons offers one of the best tables in the Loire and comes very highly recommended. (Last dined 12/08)

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