The more time I spend in Montrichard, the more I like it here. There is so much to do and see, and the people continue to surprise me with their friendliness. And above all, the simple beauty of the area has really cast its spell.
For both of us–me having found my creative niche in the world of vegan-oriented journalism/vegan travel and Jeff having worked in the cycling industry his entire career–it’s been a pleasant surprise to discover how this region is in perfect alignment with our interests, our values, and our favorite pastimes!
The biking here–while extremely flat, is well-supported with paved bikes-only roads and bike lanes on regular roads. And there are little rural gites and campgrounds along the paths so bike-tourists can easily find a spot to stay the night. We even have a forest about a kilometer outside of town with a flatlanders version of “mountain biking” trails. Yesterday we went out for a spin and got a lay of the land, and even spotted a deer and two enormous hawks! #Wildlifefreaks in the house!
And for food-loving vegans, there is no shortage of food-and-drink-related history here. So far, we’ve visited two wineries that have been producing elixirs grown from local grapes for many generations; enjoyed a tour of a mushroom-growing enterprise where they’ve been growing ‘shrooms in caves around here since 1893, and even met a fourth-generation cordial maker who uses local peaches, berries, and herbs to produce his potent eau de vie. And there’s so much more to discover here that we have yet to explore. All of it gives me inspiration for story ideas, travel and tourism-related projects, and for just plain ol’ enjoying life!
Another reason we love this area is because it’s so central to not only the rest of Europe, but the rest of the world! It’s crazy to imagine, but I could literally drive or ride bikes overland to India, Thailand, or Siberia. Not sure we’d actually want to make those particular treks (though I loved Dervla Murphy’s book Full Tilt about her bike adventure from Ireland to India), but so cool to know that if we wanted to, we could.
What's giving you inspiration where you live? Where are you hankering to travel?
We went for a wine tasting at a winery--literally a two minute walk away from our new house’s front door--and discovered lots of interesting things. For starters, the winemaking enterprise is a multi-generational family-run business specializing in cot, the french grap name for Merlot. They do delightful sparkling wines, buttery sauvignon blancs, and juicy cabernet franc-cot blends.
Before the tasting, the fellow in charge invited us to do a self-tour of the caves, or old wine-storage areas. Inside these wine warrens were ancient oak barrels and many hundreds (thousands?) of bottles of wine being stored in the cool, temperature- controlled space. We deduced—based on the long tables topped with candelabras and the heady ambiance—that these spaces are also used for special events, which got us thinking ….
We have our very own cave chez nous, albeit not as big and definitely not stacked with bottles of red, white, and rose, but it could easily be transformed into a cool space for dinner parties. What would you do with a space like this?
You might have noticed it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything here. That’s partly because we’ve been away from our little house in the Loire for six months now, and also because—in the month that and two days that we’ve been back—we’ve been so utterly overwhelmed with the scope of the project that there hasn’t been any creative energy left at the end of the day to write about the experience!
When we arrived back in Montrichard on the 11th of January, we settled into our rental house just down the hill from our house. We rented the same place last summer and liked the big yard, the views over the river, and the fact that we could see our house up the hill from the bedroom window! And there was something new at this rental house since we were here last: two adorable donkeys living in the pasture behind the house. (Brother donkeys Gribouille and Nuage are sweet and curious, and always come running to the fence to say hey when they see us.)
Our first goal is getting electricity at the house. (Spoiler alert: it hasn’t happened yet.) We got one estimate last summer, a second while we were still in California (after sending a detailed explanation of where we hid the house key. We were kind of surprised he actually found it!), and a third the first week we were here. They ranged from thousands of euro to many, many thousands of euro, which caught us off guard. (The realtor we bought the place from estimated it would cost 15,000 euro to get this place completely habitable. Either she is the least knowledgeable real estate professional in town or she was lying through her teeth. Not sure which is worse!)
For the last week, Jeff and a friend have been demolishing the interior of the house, bagging up the contents, and making dump runs. So far, they’ve had one lady stop to question them as they stacked up the bags in preparation for dumping them into the trailer for hauling away, and had a band of pickers come along and start rummaging through everything looking for bits and bobs of value. Requests to move along (they were still working, after all) went unheeded!
Today, electrician #1 is coming back to confirm his estimate is still valid. We’ll likely go with him—the middle-of-the-pack estimate—mostly because he was recommended to us from a friend of a friend. That matters in France. Then, we’ll be on the hunt for a plumber. This, my friends, is the not-so-glamourous reality of home renovation.