A week-end break, wine-tasting

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Indre-et-Loire - 67    ToursThe last weekend of May (May 31st and June 1st) is the best opportunity for wine lovers to participate in the huge Loire Valley wine fair which takes place each year in the pleasant city of Tours. A great part of the city centre will be pedestrianised and local wine growers will use the main avenues and squares to install 150 stalls where each one will present his best wines.

The Loire Valley is famous for its white wines, from dry to sweet and even sparkling, but there are also rosé and red wines that are great too. Each wine grower will be pleased to explain all the subtleties of each of his wines. Find a French vintner and they are all very proud of their work and they love to talk about their vineyards and the wines they produce. You will find among the Loire Valley wines dozens of “appellations“, the French rules about wines names and designations of origin are very strict, and are a great protection for consumers.

This special weekend is a great time to try to learn about these Loire valley wines which have, more or less, the reputation of light, tasty wines that are fruity and delicious to drink any time of the day. Don’t forget that from the Middle Ages, kings of France loved this region and it was often compared to Eden for the softness of its climate, the beauty of its landscapes and its French art-de-vivre atmosphere. During the Renaissance, the French Kings built dozens of amazing castles where they liked to enjoy food and wines in the company of the most beautiful ladies of their kingdom.

the half-timbered houses of Tours

the half-timbered houses of Tours

The days of the French kings are over, but the wines and food are still there, as the castles and the beautiful landscapes. Tours is still a charming city, awarded “City of Art and History” with its mediaeval half- timbered houses lining cobbled streets. It possesses numerous monuments including a renaissance palace, churches and remains of the city walls along the Loire banks. Last, but not least, the cathedral is worth a visit for its stained glass windows belonging to the 12th century and which has survived wars and disasters. At the cathedral don’t forget to see the renaissance cloister. Everywhere you will find a great choice of pretty restaurants and bars with outside terraces where you can consider the wines you’ve tasted and prepare yourselves for the next “arduous” tasting! During this weekend, two guided tours are on offer at 9.00 am Saturday and Sunday mornings, to discover the Loire banks, some vineyards close to the city and one or two villages in the surroundings.

But to really enjoy your tasting weekend you must remember the key rule: don’t try to taste all wines on display! Before tasting any wine, you need to pay a fee of €5 (almost £4). For this small amount, you get an engraved glass, and with this glass you can go from stall to stall, tasting any wine you want during the whole weekend. Without this special glass, no tasting at all!

You are in France, so food is not far from wine! On the main square of the fair, just down by the railways station, open-air restaurants offer a great choice of local food. Look, smell, buy what tempts you and then sit at one of the numerous long tables and enjoy.

Cathedral stained glass

Cathedral stained glass

During the weekend, you can join workshops where professionals are happy to give you information about the art of wine. Look at the program of cooking lessons by local chefs who show how to make some of their own recipes, including precious indications about the association of wine and food. There are various events all along the two days of the fair including a night concert and fireworks.

Several airline companies provided direct flights to the Tours airport. From London it’s only a one-hour flight.

Text and photos ©Frederic de Poligny

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