To Montsoreau

by Administrator 11. June 2008 15:35

Saumur to Montsoreau GR3

A good day, at last a bit of up and down - the GR3 follows the south bank of the Loire upstream southeast by climbing the 200ft escarpment that looks north behind the chateau. It then dips up and down passing through the first vineyards we have seen in France - the local grape appears to be Cabernet Franc (part of the Bordeaux mixture for all the great wines of that area). But here used to make Rose wines such as the good Cabernet de Saumur we enjoyed last night, this is significantly better than most of the Cabernet D’Anjou that also comes from around here and is all we see at home.
The GR dips up and down the cliffs in which generations of French troglodytes have made their homes. Most of the shallow cave systems that have been excavated are now used as garage space and the rocks that have been scavenged from past collapses used to build homes next to the cliffs. But some are caves growing mushrooms and one we passed has turned into a hotel. Some of the chimneys from these open on to the cliff tops looking very odd when a chimney emerges from the grass on the cliff edge.
The paths used by the GR are obviously very old and it is easy to envisage that we are following paths more than 2 millennia old and maybe used by Roman winemakers.
There is an extensive acreage of vines along the cliff tops extending well south on the calcareous very well drained soil. These have just set fruit, and spraying to prevent mildew and tying back the trailing vines (the latter labour intensive) is well underway.
The steep slopes although short have tested the knee joints of both of us and while no dramatic problems have arisen it is obvious that we shall have to be careful and hope that the terrain continues to provide a gentle stressing of those parts that have become unaccustomed to this type of exercise over the last four weeks.
Tomorrow we should be in Chinon on the Vienne, the north flowing Loire tributary that we will follow south for some time to come. We also have a chance to replace items like socks and restock small amounts of spices and suchlike that it is impractical to buy on the way!
Link to where we are on Google Maps


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