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a few days in saint-mesmin

Old Dec 26th, 2017, 04:01 PM
  #1  
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a few days in saint-mesmin

My husband's family is having a get together in a house one of his cousins owns in France. We'll spend time together as a big group, but our smaller family group (me, my husband, and our two teens) want to plan some outings. We would love to hear ideas for sights, restaurants, wineries, markets, etc. We will have a car, having picked one up from whatever city we train to from Paris.

We will be there for a few days in the middle of July. The actual location of the house is: Château de Lénardière, 85700 Saint-Mesmin, France
This area is unfamiliar to us although we did visit La Rochelle many many years ago.
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Old Dec 27th, 2017, 08:43 AM
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The Loire valley is only about 1.5 hour away (Angers, Saumur), as is Nantes.
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Old Dec 27th, 2017, 10:08 AM
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We spent 3 nights near there in 2014 before staying for 2 weeks on the Ile de Re & then 2 week on the Loire near Blois..

Highlights included:

Poitiers. Perhaps our favorite city in France that doesn't get a lot of "mention" on Fodors. Pick up a walking map at the tourist office and follow the 3 different walking itineraries for the Medieval, Renaissance, and "other" sections of the city.

- Chauvigny. A Medieval stronghold with ruins of old forts and castles.

- Abbey St Savin. Romanesque abbey

- Parthenay 12th century Citadel and Ramparts. Historic main shopping street with cross-timbered buildings.

- Niort. Castle & fabulous farmer's market.

Here is my wife's Shutterfly book from this trip.

https://stududley.shutterfly.com/24

Poitiers is pages 42 & 43, and the other stuff are pages 4-15. If you have a Shutterfly account, copy it there & view it in "full screen" mode.

If you want to explore sites south of La Rochelle - post so here & I'll give you some more ideas (or you can search yourself in the Shutterfly book.

Stu Dudley
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Old Dec 27th, 2017, 10:30 AM
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Thanks Stu, this is very helpful.
We do also plan to go to La Rochelle, so would love your ideas for there.

Thanks for the list of towns. We've always found that we enjoy eating at local places in the countryside - great food for much less than in Paris. So, we'd love to hear more restaurant ideas, if anyone has them.
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Old Dec 27th, 2017, 10:59 AM
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Well, if you're going to La Rochelle you might as well go to Ile de Ré as well, or its poor cousin, the Ile d'Oléron.
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Old Dec 27th, 2017, 11:20 AM
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- Ile de Re will cost about 25E to cross the bridge & get there. But La Flotte and St Martin de Re are interesting towns/ports to explore. Our best meal was in La Flotte at L'Ecailler. We had dinner or lunch there 4 times. Excellent seafood

- Rochefort is a fascinating city & port. Visit the Hermoine frigate at the port. This is an exact replica of the frigate that LaFayette sailed to the US, to help America in the war against the British. In 1993, a group of enthusiasts decided to build a replica. They finished it in 2014, and in 2015 it sailed to the US and visited ports up & down the US eastern coast. Also, we spent hours in the "Museum of Commerce of the Past" where replicas of stores & workshops were meticulously recreated. See pages 38 & 39 in the Shutterfly book. There is a nice les Halles market in town. The streets of Rochefort are interesting to wander through. There are other sites near the Hermoine - get the Michelin Green Guide for the Atlantic coast for details.

- The museum "Tresors de Lisette" fascinated my wife. If you are interested in French enamelware and kitchen items from the early 1900s - this is a good place to visit
http://busylizziestreasures.monsite-orange.fr/

- Cognac was a lot more interesting than we anticipated. Visit the Cognac museum and also wander around town and admire the very beautiful architecture.

- Chateau de la Roche Courbon was a very nice chateau to visit. The gardens are quite impressive.

_ Royan received 2 stars in the Michelin Guide. However, the guide also states that most of it was destroyed in WWII. We did not plan to visit Royan, but we had to drive through the city to get back to our gite in La Flotte after a day trip in the area. What a pleasant surprise. We love frivolous architecture - and the coastal road & back streets south of the city-center are loaded with flamboyant houses. See the Shutterfly book.on pages 40 & 41.

Stu Dudley
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Old Dec 27th, 2017, 11:25 AM
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La Rochelle. We've visited it several times. There are a few pictures of it in the Shutterfly book - but it was our second trip there within the past 8 years, so we didn't take many pictures in 2014. Get the Michelin Green guide & use it to explore the city.

Stu Dudley
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Old Dec 27th, 2017, 11:30 AM
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You can park your car in La Rochelle and take an inexpensive bus out to La Rochelle's many towns.
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Old Dec 27th, 2017, 12:49 PM
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Book train tickets to La Rochelle or other nearby station very early to snag discounted tickets (non changeable from specific train however) at www.voyages-sncf.com- good info on trains - www.seat61.com (all you need to know about booking own tickets online) and for general info like 1st v 2nd class, etc www.budgeteuropetravel.com and www.ricksteves.com.

You could drive back towards Paris via Loire Valley and hit some of the famous chateaus of the Loire and take train from there back to Paris.
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Old Dec 28th, 2017, 07:33 AM
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Thanks everyone, this gives us a lot of options
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