Madeline, Los Angeles (August, 2010): Just want to tell you how much we have enjoyed your home. It has worked out perfectly for us. Our son and granddaughters left yesterday. The house was perfect for them. We ended up not using the last bedroom as 11 yr. old grand daughter was funny about being alone in the end, but she loved the tiny lizards outside. The extra bed in the big room was perfect for her and 6 yr. old sis. The zoo was wonderful as well as the adventure park. We also took in canoeing and kayaking. We managed a number of chateaux, wineries, and gardens. The sound and light show at Azay was a hit although in French! Wed. was our son’s 41st birthday so we stayed home with the girls, and he and his wife enjoyed your suggestion of seafood at the Grand Bleu in Saumur. We’ll iron up our dress clothes today and head for the wedding in tomorrow where our daughter and husband will meet us. Hopefully they will bring their daughters here when they get a little older. We are most grateful for your hospitality, and your caretaker was most gracious!
Tom, Minneapolis (August, 2010): Our group of two couples stayed at the Petite Chateau this summer. We found it to be very well appointed, comfortable, and in a great location. The variety of day trips available is almost endless: We especially enjoyed the zoo nearby, the help offered by the tourist office, the Saturday market in Saumur, the lovely patio area for alfresco dining. I would heartily recommend a stay here to anyone interested in the history and culture (food, wine, markets, chateau) of the Loire valley.
John, Minneapolis (July, 2010): We weren’t sure exactly what to expect when we booked Bob and Beth’s Petite Loire Chateau, in Le Puy Notre Dame, a village so small we couldn’t even find it on a map, but we were absolutely delighted with our week there.
The Petite Chateau itself was wonderful. Four bedrooms, living room, dining room, kitchen, just like our home here in Minneapolis – except that each room was about three times the size of our rooms at home! The seven of us felt lost in this “petite” chateau – we could have slept seven in one bedroom. And unlike our home, each bedroom had a private, modern bath.
The front door opens on to a lovely, spacious, private courtyard. Every morning we ate breakfast on the large patio surrounded by flowers, and the lunches and dinners we ate at the chateau were augmented with tomatoes, cabbages, beets and strawberries from the garden.
Le Puy Notre Dame is literally surrounded by vineyards (I think the wineries admit visitors and offer tastings, but we were too distracted by other attractions). We enjoyed several pleasant walks through the vineyards to neighboring villages, a mile or two away in five or six directions. Le Puy itself features a beautiful 17th century church, and a wonderful gourmet restaurant half a block from the chateau. I could imagine a relaxing week without even leaving Le Puy.
Except that there are so many exciting things (besides vineyards) to see and do in the Loire Valley.
Let’s start with all the Chateaus: The Loire has scores of beautiful, huge, historic chateaus. Most have passed into public or institutional hands (no doubt the upkeep is expensive), and are open to tourists for a nominal admission. Most have grounds/gardens that are as lovely and as well maintained as the chateau itself. You couldn’t visit them all if you spent a month trying. My favorite was Cemenceau, built over the Sher. The closest, at Montrial Bellay, about 5 minutes drive from Le Puy, is lovely also.
Churches: Besides the afore-mentioned Le Puy, my favorite was the historic (Richard Cour de Leon is buried there) Abbey at Fountevrand (about 20 min from Le Puy).
Shopping: Most of the larger villages have weekly markets (Bob C. has a schedule). We shopped at the Doua La Fontaine market (about 5 min from Le Puy) and also the Thoars market (about 15 min from Le Puy), each time buying fresh produce for that evening’s dinner at the chateau – a wonderful experience. These pop-up markets also carry a variety of craft and gift items, and we enjoyed the permanent shopping in downtown Saumaur (about 20 min from Le Puy).
Dining: In a week, we didn’t even scratch the surface. Bob has a lengthy list of recommendations, but even when we picked a restaurant at random, we enjoyed our meal.
- On a whim, we visited what we thought was a small-town zoo outside of Doua La Fontaine (about 5 min from Le Puy), but it was a large, regional zoo, and nicer than either of our Minnesota zoos.
- We really enjoyed the Troglodyte (look it up) village/museum, also just outside of Doua La Fontaine. I think there may be several such museums in the Loire, as this region was a hotbed of Troglodyte settlement during the 18th and 19th centuries.
- We also found the mushroom (a major Loire industry) museum just outside of Saumaur interesting.
WE HAD A WONDERFUL TIME AND LOOK FORWARD TO GOING BACK!
John, Janet, and Max (April, 2009): For travelers that want an authentic, historical experience in the French countryside, Le Chateau Bob and Beth may be your perfect choice. We stayed here in April of 2009 and found ourselves in the most spacious and beautifully restored 17th century Chateau we could imagine. The house is a grand statement, filled with art, antique furnishings, master stone-work, and of course modern amenities (dishwasher etc). One can dine in the banquet room or by the fire in the kitchen. One can explore the wine cellar or climb to look out the spire. One can wander the courtyard gardens or haul in twisted grapevines for the next fire at which to have apero’s (cocktails). Le Puy is the ‘salt of the earth’ or in other words, the real French countryside with active vineyards, mushroom caves, graveyards, a cathedral, and gracious people to guide one to the bakery. Lastly, I’d just say that Beth and Bob are the kind of people one likes doing business with –honest, kind, and straight up.
Lindsey and John (September, 2007): My husband & I had a fantastic stay at the Petite Chateau in Le Puy in September 2008 during grape harvest. Le Puy is a charming, quiet village away from the busy tourist areas, but is a quick trip from Paris and the many beautiful chateaux of the Loire valley. We enjoyed visiting the Abbaye Fontevraud and markets in nearby towns. The chateau is lovely and historic, but offers modern comforts and a great place to relax, cook, read, and enjoy a good glass of the many local wines. We can’t wait to return again!
Janet (November, 2008): I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed our trip to France at Beth and Bob’s home. Thank you so much. I tell everyone that this was one of my most memorable trips I have ever taken. So many wonderful adventures, your beautiful home and the food to “live for”. You truly have been engraved in my memory, your neighbors, friends, the community, the countryside. Your next door neighbors, the bakery, the winery with the fifth generation family (can’t remember their name this early in the morning) and cemetery. I’m sitting here this morning thinking about my wonderful bedroom, going down your beautiful winding stairway with the old tile and wood combination, then seeing Bob checking the news on the computer. Having our morning coffee from the French Press and all the wonderful treats for breakfast. The cream and cheese in everything, YUM. (I’m using my glass containers for my jewelry.) Oh, and then the wonderful tarts of all sorts, the fabulous dinners, and the fantastic Saturday night party with a table of more great food. The laughs, the talks, and the small town antique market, the castles, horse show, caves. So Much Fun, Thank You All.
Martin (April, 2008): Things that most excited me about my trip to the Loire Valley…Firstly it was the getting there – like jumping on a bus really. We booked the Eurostar from London and connected with the TGV in Paris – from there its just a couple of hours Westwards to Angers where we rented a car. And already the Loire magic is all around you – vineyards, rolling countryside and the occasional ‘mount’ – as in hillock or small hill. Which is where we found Le Puy.
The view as you approach is like the ‘palace on the hill’ a clump of tightly woven terracotta-tiled roofs with an imposing spire and the occasional turret. What we (me and my travelling companion Eric) didn’t know at the time was that the turret belonged to the petite chateau which was our destination.
My friends Bob and Beth had spent many daylight hours and almost as many night-time hours converting the one-time wine-producing chateau into the most charming home. Not that there wasn’t charm there in the first instance – there was. But somehow there was still plenty of dormant character in the place just begging to be extruded from the stone walls and sturdy timber joists that hold the place together.
Something about the way the French built their homes. Its as if they expected every home to be the setting for some kind of bucolic epic – a place where families would live their romantic dramas forever and carry on the traditions of the land whilst drinking large amounts of locally produced wine!
Alas, its probably not turned out in quite the way those early generations imagined but then the spirit of what they created lives on in what Bob and Beth have themselves created. There’s a sensitive respect in the decoration whilst a modern attitude has been introduced that makes comfortable living an inevitability – ie they like good food and drink and the lay-out of kitchen and dining areas makes for enjoyment of both!
The house is large and exploration of the various spaces is exciting. I love a good loft and you’d be hard pressed to find a better one at the Little Chateau. Although it may not be the rooms that the casual visitor is encouraged to look into, it is for me one of those ‘houses of the imagination’ where pure vacation enjoyment ascends into a child’s adventure.
And outside in the courtyard are all the cast-aways of a transitional business. The wine-producing happened here and although I wont profess to know quite how it was all done it is none-the-less fascinating to see where grapes were pressed, where bottles were stored… In fact there are still many bottles stored and I might be betraying confidences if I were to describe in too great a detail where much of the wine is stored. Suffice to say that wine storage in the Loire Valley is often within the soft chalk that dominates the landscape. You don’t have to travel far too see many building literally emerging from the hillsides and in hot times there can be no cooler spot than in the ground itself.
Its also lovely that you don’t have to drive far to find all the classic monuments that decorate the Loire Valley. Grand chateaus, charming villages, easy roads – it fulfils expectations on that front and the magic of the place soon gets into your system and before the week is out you’ll be gazing into the Realtors (Estate Agents) windows wondering if it might be possible to…
So definitely a trip to be made. And you’d be hard pressed to find better, more agreeable accommodation. Many times you’ll be tempted to just stay in-doors – such is the level of comfort – but explore you must. Its just nice that you can do it inside and out.
Kate (April, 2009, and October, 2008): I loved staying at this gite in both 2008 and 2009. It is wonderful to experience the historic charm of the home and the village, the warmth of the fireplaces, the delicious croissants and quiche from the family Boulangerie on the winding village street, and the excitement of exploring the countryside. Memories of the vineyards that have been harvested for generations, the mushroom cave, the cemetery that tells the history of the village, and the magnificent church of Notre Dame with its relic, a Belt of the Virgin Mary, will never fade.
Taking an easy day trip from the village will bring you to the many chateaus with beautiful gardens, Abbey of Fontevraud, Saumur Castle and town with its Equestrian legacy, the final home and workplace of Leonardo da Vinci, and quaint villages along the Loire Valley. There are so many choices for touring and great dining; it is hard to decide what to do on any given day.
The owners have carefully renovated this home to create the perfect blend of historic detail and modern living. Their choice of furnishings, accessories, and art make the home beautiful and comfortable. I especially love to stay in the 15th Century second floor room in the part of the home with a turret, musing that I could be in a fairy tale I remember from my childhood.
For a historic, relaxing, and fascinating vacation stay, I would highly recommend this gite.