03 May, 2010

Cycling in style through the Loire Valley vineyards

I love France and, in particular, French wine, so it was a dream come true to spend three days in the Loire Valley sampling red wine with my dear hubby. We left our two children with my parents-in-law in Dublin so we were 'sans enfants' as they say in France - parfait!. We went cycling through the villages and vineyards surrounding the town of Chinon on our first day in the Loire and it was absolutely fabulous. I would thoroughly recommend this to anyone who loves France and/or French wine. There is a formal cycling route all around the Loire Valley (velo de la Loire I think they call it) so it was very safe and the bicycles are very cheap to rent.

Vintage Suburbia, Loire Valley
You will notice the vines are very bare - I think they cut them back during winter (a bit like what is done with roses)

As you will see, even though I was cycling I tried not to look too shabby, so wore my standard travelling outfit, black Laura Ashley top, black pants, hat and pearls. Just because I am a tourist doesn't mean I want to look like one! I find that this is very important in France, where sloppy dressing is often interpreted as rudeness (and I totally agree with them on that score!). I also try to be 'sun smart' with a hat and gloves.

During our cycle, we came across a French wedding at an old church. As you can imagine, the guests were immaculately dressed, with the ladies all wearing hats. The wearing of hats is very much the 'done thing' at European weddings - my mother in law who is Irish, wore one at our wedding and was a bit perplexed that the other guests were hatless. Unfortunately I was unable to wait around to photograph the bride, but I did get a few photos of the groom and his friends and some of the guests . . .

A French wedding, Loire valley - the groom was obviously a member of the military - look at those gorgeous uniforms (and those gorgeous French men!!)

The hotel where we stayed in Chinon, called 'Hotel Gargantua' was fabulous and I would thoroughly recommend it. It is an old turreted tower place with a winding staircase and old fashioned, light-filled rooms . .

 Hotel Gargantua, Chinon, Loire valley.
Outfit: Vintage Asquaculture trench coat - from my relative; Red bag: from one of those cheap luggage shops in Chadstone - I don't take vintage bags with me overseas - they get bashed around too much and I always need a fairly roomy bag for glasses, passports etc.

The 'Pirochole' room, Hotel Gargantua, Chinon

I loved the little alcove next to the room - so me! (and perfect for blogging!)

Outfit: blouse: opp shop in Murembeena, Melbourne; skirt - my Mum's

The above outfit is also, along with the black shirt/pant outfit above, one of my other travel 'staples' - a classic skirt and pussy bow blouse. I find this outfit is great as it is so versatile - you can wear this sort of classic outfit to work meetings, with flat shoes for walking around towns, and then dress it up a little with jewellry for going out to dinner in the evening. The synthetic material of the blouse is also great as you can wash it at night and it is dry the following morning.

I hope you are enjoying reading about my trip through Europe - please let me know if you are interested in knowing more about any of the area I have travelled through - my next post will feature the beautiful chateaux of the Loire Valley!

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