Tag Archives: Saumur

A different Moulin Rouge

Le Moulin du Val Hulin

Le Moulin du Val Hulin

Just 10 kilometers south of Saumur, perched atop a hill in the village of Turquant, sits a house and mill that was built in 1749. When the Mill was first constructed it was a part of the Abbaye de Fontevraud. And up until the beginning of the 20th century it served as the bakery for the village of Turquant.

Le Moulin du Val Hulin, which was classified as a historic monument in 1963, just happens to be owned by a friend of Catherine’s. So instead of just viewing the mill and home from the outside, we were lucky enough to be able to visit inside as well. However, since it is still a private residence, I did not take photographs inside the home.

The mill was constructed with the Tuffeau stone extracted from the hill it sits upon. The stone is grey and soft when mined but becomes hard and turns white when exposed to the open air and sunlight. The mining techniques used to extract the valued stone created a vast network of caves in the Loire Valley, which have even been used as dwellings.

Turquant, France - Troglodyte cave houses

Turquant, France – Troglodyte cave houses

These troglodytes cave houses are famous in Turquant.

Troglodytes cave houses

Troglodytes cave houses

Le Moulin du Val Hulin

The Mill is oriented west to better face the wind. However, if the wind happened to change direction, the Miller was able to turn the mill so that it always faced the dominant wind. A few years ago, during a particularly strong storm, the mill was damaged and one of the wings was broken off.  It has now been repaired, and is back to its original state.

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Le Moulin du Val Hulin

Le Moulin du Val Hulin

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Saumur Part two – Wine Country!

Saumur Wine Country

Saumur Wine Country

The Loire area is surrounded by the vineyards of Saumur such as Chinon, Bourgueil, Coteaux du Layon, etc. which produce some of France’s finest wines, and as I soon learned: Bubbly!

As we drove through the Loire Valley in the Saumur area, it was like driving through one postcard after another.

beautiful vineyards

beautiful vineyards

Loire Valley, France

Loire Valley, France

Saumur is famous for its grapes that are similar to Champagne grapes; and using méthode traditionelle the wine makers make exceptional sparkling wines that rival Champagne. I even found one wine maker with my surname – Grenelle (French spelling of Grinnell) which was established in 1859. How exciting!

I love tiny bubbles!

I love tiny bubbles!

Louis de Grenelle wines

Louis de Grenelle wines

AckermanOur first night in Saumur, Catherine took me to visit an even more historic winery, Ackerman; and lucky for us, we happened upon a special event.

There was music (three separate groups throughout the evening), art, games, education, food and of course wine tasting. Plus, the vineyard is on the hill above and the winery is actually in caves below. We walked around the caves and visited the exhibit on making exceptional sparkling wine in the traditional method.

Pouring the bubbly!

Pouring the bubbly!

Wow - these are some big bottles!

Wow – these are some big bottles!

Catherine relaxing in the cave.

Catherine relaxing in the cave.

Enjoying some sparkling wine!

Enjoying some sparkling wine!

Method Traditional

Méthode Traditionelle

Music in the wine caves

Music in the wine caves

Cool art display with champagne flutes

Cool art display with champagne flutes

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My new French family

Saumur, France

Saumur, France

I just spent ten days living in the most lovely community – Saumur, France – which is a historic town is perched on the Loire river. Staying with my friend Catherine’s parents, in their 17th-century, 3-story house in the center of town, I was able to experience traditional French living – and let me tell you, I loved it. Her parents are so generous and kind, and made me feel very welcome.

There is so much to say about this lovely town and all that I experienced while I was, there that I will need to separate this blog article into several postings.

I’ll start with Living life as part of a French family:

Each morning Catherine’s father walked to the local pâtisserie and picked up croissant and pain au chocolat for petit dejeuner (breakfast) – that along with a cup (or two) of café (espresso) was a perfect start to the day.

petit dejeuner

petit dejeuner

We dined together (as a family) daily for lunch and for dinner, and even though Catherine’s parents spoke very little English, and my French language skills are still a work in progress, we always had a delightful time.

These meals were generally a minimum of three-courses, with the table set with a beautiful table covering, all the silverware and glassware we would need (yes, we had a glass of wine with lunch and dinner), and of course a cloth napkin. Catherine’s parents each had a unique napkin ring to tell them apart each day, so as to avoid washing a barely used napkin; Catherine and I each folded ours in a distinctive way in order to tell them apart. When we were finished dining the napkins went into the bread basket ready for the next meal.

After dinner, Catherine’s parents would go into the longue to have their coffee and listen to music or watch something on television.

On Saturday mornings we walked to the market in the center square of the city. The first Saturday at the market it was pouring rain, but that didn’t seem to stop anyone, people donned their outer-wear and navigated through the sea of umbrellas and canopy covered stalls.

Raining Day at the Market

Raining Day at the Market

Market day in the Rain

Market day in the Rain

fresh sea food

fresh sea food

Boucherie

Boucherie

Stinky Cheese!

Stinky Cheese!

We purchased fresh fruits and vegetables, cheese, crème fraîche, eggs, muscles, pork, beef, sausages, etc. for the next few days of dining; then came home and started preparing for our mid-day meal.

Preparing the Moules-frites

Preparing the Moules-frites

Time for Lunch - Moules-frites - YUM!

Time for Lunch – Moules-frites – YUM!

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