France - September 2014

Loire Valley (1)

Photos by Walt & Gloria Fogler-Mancini

The Loire Valley is called the Garden of France because of its beauty and abundance.  Its quiet, gentle landscapes have been inhabited since prehistoric times.  UNESCO named it a World Heritage Site for this and its towns and villages and châteaux.  It is a lush valley that is both “supremely regal” and understated. 

The soft limestone tufa caves of the valley are favored by winemakers, just as they were by troglodytes.   The region has 87 wine appellations.  Both white and red wines are made, in still, rosé, sparkling and dessert varieties.  “Overindulgence is no sin in this rich region.”

The 14C Château de Saumur was built on the foundation of a medieval fortress.  The stone bridge over the Loire was built for pilgrims by monks in the 13C.  Saumur was a Huguenot (French protestant) city in the 17C and is now home to the Cadre Noir school of horsemanship.  Its old town has been called “elegantly bourgeois”.

The Château de Brézé is a small Renaissance chateau that dates back to the 11C.   It is surrounded by a deep, dry moat.  The oldest and largest part of the fortress is underground.  This area, dug deep into the tufa (tuffault), had extensive facilities, which included a bakery, silkworm farm, stables, living space and a winery. 

Angers is the historic capital of Anjou, dating back to Roman times. The Château d’Angers was rebuilt as a fortress by Louis IX in the 13C.  The Angevins who ruled here became kings of England.  Inside the walls it is different: there are 15C buildings and a royal residence

A building erected in 1952 on the site of the castle’s old kitchens houses the Tenture de l’Apocalypse (Apocalypse Tapestries).  The room filters the air and controls temperature and light.

The tapestry (1375-80) was commissioned by the Duke of Anjou, Louis I, and made in Paris after cartoons by Hennequin of Bruges.  It was originally 550 feet long and 16 feet high and is considered the most important existing tapestry to have been preserved.  About three-quarters of it is now rehung in Angers.

The photographs were taken with Leicas, the M9 and M v240.  All images are copyrighted and may not be reproduced without permission.  We can be contacted at   Our home page is

January 27, 2015                                                                                                                      wgfm

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