Chablis to Sancerre, Menetou-Salon and Salbris
One could rush from Chablis and Auxerre back to Paris in less than two hours, but why not wander around Sologne and visit some Loire Valley castles on the way back and move from Chardonnay to Sauvignon Blanc and Gamay Noir a Jus Blanc. So without further ado, let's go and do it!
A little further away, you will find another Appelation, far less famous than Sancerre, and often a less expensive but not necessarily less interesting, Menetou-Salon. I first discovered this wine at Le Petit Zinc in the 80s, a famous brasserie rue de Buci in Paris 6th arrondissement. Unfortunately, the place has relocated around the corner and is no longer the buyoant and "a la mode" kind of place it used to be, with waiters that have bveen there so long that they look like living furniture!
Menetou-Salon is famous for its castle that used to belong to Jacques Coeur and was built for his sweetheart Agnes Sorel. It has been in various forms of redevelopment for five centuries, hence the mix styles, and contains a library filled with over twelve thousands books - you will have ample tim,e to sample the wine during all this reading!
Salbris is the capital of the Sologne region, a sparsely populated and beautiful part of France, famous for its forests, lakes and sandy soils. The economy relies on the cultivation of grapes (obviously...) but also asparagus and big hunting lodges on vast properties, some covering hundreds of hectares, with a regal buildings or castles to suit! There is also a big ammunition factory, which facilities i used to visit regularly as part of my job in the mid-seventies at Thomson-Sodeteg, now Thales, as we had a contract to refurbish missiles for NATO!
Salbris and the nearby village of Selles-Saint-Denis are also very famous for their excellent restaurants where I had numerous and memorable long lunches and dinners after which we would drive back to Paris, with no risk of being caught for speeding or drink driving, as these polically correct terms had not been invented just yet...
(BTW, one my other client, SFIM, were busy developing the first speed radars - with no buil-in camera yet...)
In doing some research for this article, I found that Hotel de la Sauldraie does still exist, has been refurbished and is still highly regarded for its cuisine, so that will be my recommendation for either a nice lunch or a stopover.
The Auberge du Cheval Blanc is more upmarket than La sauldraie in Salbris, but also a lot more expensive!
Mur-de-Sologne, Contres and Oisly
Two villages full of old manors and and ancient castle, Mur de Sologne and Contres are on our way to Oisly, the centre of the Touraine apelation and Gamy Noir a jus blanc grapes, which make a lovely red wine, more rustic than its southern brother Beaujolais, but very nice as an everyday drinking wine. It is often "gouleillant", a term that means that it goes well in your "gueule", a term which is rude when applied to humans, but appropriate for dogs, wolves and lions alike ( the expression - se jeter dans la gueule du loupe - means going straight into some sort of danger), so "gouleyant"as it is also written means that it goes well into your mouth and generally also means that there are tiny bubbles in the wine that tickles you as it passes on your tongue: a delight in one word!
Loire Valley Castles - Cheverny and Chambord
I probably don't need to introduce you to Chambord, certainly the most decadent of all the Loire Valley castles.But Cheverny might be less known. It is a smaller castle, magnificent nevertheless, used primarily as a hunting lodge up until today. It is one of the rare castles to maintain their own "hunting dog pack" and a serious of them for sure!
Orleans - Joan of Arc first victory
Born in France, well travelled, relocated to Sydney in 1997.
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