I’d been tipped to a quirky lunch spot in Tours, so after grabbing the TGV at la Gare Montparnasse I made my way to La Cuisine de Georges. My press colleagues and I were greeted by Georges, actually his name is Jaquelain, and as an MBA from Bowling Green University in Ohio speaks excellent vernacular English. After years of working for European multinationals he packed it in and pursued a passion for food and hospitalit
I’d been tipped to a quirky lunch spot in Tours, so after grabbing the TGV at la Gare Montparnasse I made my way to La Cuisine de Georges. My press colleagues and I were greeted by Georges, actually his name is Jaquelain, and as an MBA from Bowling Green University in Ohio speaks excellent vernacular English. After years of working for European multinationals he packed it in and pursued a passion for food and hospitality.
He opened his first restaurant, Hercule Poireau, drole, n’est-ce pas? in his hometown of Périgueux. After being made an offer he couldn’t refuse he sold and eventually found this 20 cover storefront on a side street in central Tours. The centerpiece is a ten seat table d’hotewhere total strangers meet. We started with a creamy soup of cepes and carrots and two different presentations foie gras served with a Valencay.
The main course was a perfectly roasted chicken finished in a frying pan with a sauce of local chevres ranging from 30-90 days old. A 2011 Saumur/Champigny was the ideal partner. Desert was two pots a creme- a classic mousse au chocloat and a dolce de leché. La Cuisne de Georges was a detour worth taking.
Our press group had been booked into the Hotel Univers that was conveniently located near the gare but a very pleasant chambre d’hote is nearby On a previous trip M and I arrived at la Tourainière just in time to grab a shower and dress for apéritifs and dinner.
Clive and Jeannie from London were the other guests in this 3 –room gem. Pascale and Serge served local charcuterie and a Chinon rosé poolside.
Dinner was served in the family dining room highlighted by a tagine de poulet and a scrumptious dessert tarte. Conversation flowed as easily as the wine (don’t worry Pascale speaks English and Serge understands but more importantly he’s always ready to pour another glass.) It was a lovely night and we enjoyed the fresh air with a homemade eau de vie and a Bolivar Cuban cigar from Serge’s humidor.
After a restful night in our super comfortable room featuring a giant bathtub and big, thirsty towels we strolled the grounds accompanied by Baya, the family dog, before lingering over a bountiful breakfast of Pascale’s homemade pastries, fresh fruit, yogurt, orange juice and coffee.
Our first stop the next morning was the Fortress of Chinon, combination of a major historical monument (it is where Joan of Arc met the heir apparent Charles VIIth in 1429) and a very modern museum : videos, interactive guide booklets, sonorous benches…
It was here that Richard , the Lion-Hearted, immortalized for me in THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD, returned after a four year Crusade, to live and eventually die in 1199.
Six years of excavation and labor and 17 million euros have been invested in bringing this monument into the 3rd millennium.
En route to the Abbey of Fontevraud we paused at the Port of Saint-Martin at the confluence of the Loire and the Vienne. We were welcomed aboard the Amarante, for lunch, by Sylvain and Robin Laporte as we navigated the Loire. To fortify us for the 1 1/2 hour balade Sylvain baked a superb tarte aux onions and sliced a variety of charcuterie. A Saumur Brut added sparkle to the occasion.
A grill had been set up on deck to cook mushrooms stuffed with escargots or chevre and we ate them like potato chips-none were left after our attack. We stayed with local wines drinking a red Saumur/Champigny. While Robin kept his hands on the wheel Sylvain used his to dazzle us with a tarte au pommes.
We had two more programmed stops but don’t feel obligated to travel at our pace! The Abbey of Fontevraud is one of the largest in Europe and was an active monastery for nearly 700 years. It is the final resting place of the Royal family of Plantagenèt that included Henry II, Eleanor of Aquitaine and their son Richard, the Lion-Hearted.
From 1804 until 1963 it was converted into one of the toughest prisons in France and served as the model for Jean Genet’s Miracle of the Rose.
This day would end at the Chateau de Brézé in Saumur. The Dreux- Brézé family had deep ties to Colbert and Louis XIV and in 1701 obtained the hereditary role of Grand Master of Ceremony to the Kings of France.
Above ground is the chateau and 30 hectares of grapevines that produce reds from cabernet franc grapes and whites from chenin. Tastings are available at the cave.
However, the most unusual part of this visit were the vestiges of quotidian troglodyte life in the underground fortress 18 feet beneath the chateau.
I think it’s now time to open a bottle of the COMTE DE SAUMUR. Santé!