About our Loire Valley Gites and Wine Tours

The XVIIIth. Century entrance to our Loire Gites

The XVIII Century Entrance to our Loire Valley Gites in France

Highly Commended by our TRIPADVISOR guests, (rated 5/5).

We receive many emails from our blog readers asking what exactly we do  here in the Loire so we thought that we’d do this static post which explains just that.

The Lounge in le Sauvignon gite.

The Lounge in le Sauvignon gite.

Le Clos des Guyons is a former winemakers house in the village of Le Puy Notre Dame in the Loire Valley.  The village is designated by two french accolades:- Village de Charme and Petite Cité de Caractére. We arrived in the region in 2001 and purchased the property in 2003 on the retirement of the then winemaker, Robert Guyons. His wine, the Domaine des Guyons, still produces wine but the current winemaker, Franck Bimont, uses a larger wine chai on the other side of the village, although we still use our existing tanks for storage on occasions.

We have found that the property is perfect both for normal gite holiday rentals and for wine tours as not only are we perfectly placed to access the bulk of the chateaux and historical sights of this famous region, but we are in the middle of a mass of wine appellations and, since 2008, Le Puy Notre Dame now has its own appellation of Saumur-Puy Notre Dame.

Situated on a quiet road on the edge of the village we are adjacent to the vineyards but, at the same time, only a few minutes walk from the bakery, bar and the two excellent village restaurants:- Le Bouchon Ponot and Le Puy à Vins.

With over 13 years of experience living in the area we have developed a mass of information which is freely available to our guests, many of which return to see us year after year and we thank them enormously for their loyalty and trust!

Brian has worked for years in wine retailing in the UK and has a Wines and Spirit Education Trust Ltd Higher Diploma qualification and so his knowledge plus relationships with local winemakers makes a wine tour here interesting, unique and enjoyable. Not only is Le Puy Notre Dame the newest appellation in the Loire but it has over 50 winemakers each putting their own unique interpretation on the local wines.  Walso do an increasingly popular “One Day Immersion Tour” which includes a day visiting the vineyards, touring one of the best wineproperties in the Loire, lunch and assoerted nibbles.

The courtyard at our gites

The courtyard at our gites

We have two holiday rental properties, “Le Sauvignon” and “Le Chenin” the former for four or six people and the latter for two.  We opened for business after one full year of renovation and both gites are now fully equipped to the exacting standards laid down by the main French gite organisation, “Les Gîtes de France” who, incidentally carry out regular inspections which is very rare if not unique amongst gite rental companies.   At the same time we have tried to preserve the original ambiance as far as possible.

Access to Le Clos des Guyons and to our gites is through the huge XVIII Century gates which guard the property.  We are quite proud of the attractiveness of our courtyard and garden and try our best to make it one of the prettiest in the village. The garden itself is of the courtyard and contains a wooden terraced area and above ground swimming pool (heated mid May to September) great for a quick swim to add to our guests pleasure.  Behind that is a small but productive vegetable garden which allows us to share fresh salad, asparagus and other vegetables in season.

Of course this blog is primarily about our lives here in the Loire Valley, so the individual posts tend not to carry specific information either the wine tours or our gite holiday rentals.  To find details of availability, tariffs, accommodation details, ‘What do do whilst staying here’, etc. etc, you can go to our extensive website:- www.closdesguyons.com or, use the contact widget on the right hand sidebar to contact us for more information.

Talking about the Grape Varieties on one of our Loire Valley Wine Tours

Talking about the Grape Varieties and vineyards on one of our Loire Valley Wine Tours

à bientôt?

Sheila and Brian

Loire Gite Holiday Rentals and Wine Tours

6 rue du Moulins,

49260 Le Puy Notre Dame, France.

The End

IMG_20151112_163629Well that’s it!
After 15 years in France and running Chambre d’hotes, Gites and Wine Tours, plus doing renovations for much of that time,  our last season is finished as we have sold  Le Clos des Guyons in the village of Le Puy Notre Dame and are currently deciding what to do and where to go to next for our retirement. We will definitely stay in France and our gut reaction is to stay here in Le Puy where we have had so many memorable times, met wonderful people and made fantastic friends, but above all where we feel so much at home especially with our neighbours Robert and Jeanette Guyon and their family who we now regard as our adopted French family!  However, on the other hand, is it time to have another adventure? At the moment we can’t decide so time will tell.

We will leave the blog online for a while but our website, Trip-Advisor pages, Google+ accounts etc. will shortly disappear.

We would like to take this opportunity to say a big thank you to all of our guests who have visited over the years, particularly that large proportion who come to see us year after year, some of you since the first year that we opened (you know who you are)! and have become such good friends. Your friendship and support has been incredible and you will never be forgotten. Just a word though – please don’t let all your hard earned wine education go to waste now – keep it up!

We will write to you all privately giving you our contactable emails as, once we remove our site, the @closdeguyons.com addresses will no longer work. We hope to move to somewhere where we can also accommodate friends but we’ll have to see. Maybe it’s time to just relax and finally become a tourist ourselves!

All in all it has been a very difficult decision to leave here, but the time is right and we are looking forward to turning the page. Our buyers, Jo and Tom and their children Anna and Ben are a lovely family and we are really glad that Le Clos des Guyons is going to be in their good hands for many years to come – we hope that they have as much fun and feel as happy here as we have been and wish them well.

Heartfelt thanks again – you have all been a big part of our lives. We’ve shared great adventures and have wonderful memories to treasure!

So bonne chance et à bientôt

Brian et Sheila


Rue Sainte, One of the many charming

Rue Sainte, one of the many charming “rues” in Le Puy Notre Dame

The sun is shining and it’s 30°C. Medieval Le Puy Notre Dame is full of little tiny rues darting off in all directions and so to relax and discover new walks is one of life’s pleasures here.

This is a photograph of rue Sainte which is a pretty little walk downhill looking towards Cix with a fabulous vista and is one of the most charming rues in the village. I am sure many of our guests will have already discovered this on their walks. We love it! On the roadside there are lots of hollyhocks and rambling roses interspersed with wild flowers and it just gets better as you descend into the vineyards you can see the bunches of grapes are so beautiful and beginning to ripen – it won’t be long before the vendage, (grape harvest), starts.  Perhaps as little as three weeks if the weather holds.

Of course this walk has advantages in that ……. it’s only minutes from the bar too for a glass or two of chilled Chenin Blanc!  Hang on Brian did you say you wanted to come with me!!!!!  Oh no, you’ll already be there.

Looking forward to another day and another lovely walk – perhaps another glass of wine too!


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Gites le Puy Notre Dame

Friends, guests and neighbours under the stars at midnight, very tired but happy, at the end of a fab weekend of festivities

This year was our ‘Twelfth’ Le Clos des Guyons 2015 Grand Prix Retro BBQ which we host for guests, friends and neighbours. As the weather was wet we decided to use our old Wine Chais – always a great venue for parties! Wines were courtesy of Robert Guyons, retired winemaker of ‘Domaine des Guyons’ now our home! – who brought his 1986 Saumur Blanc (a revelation to say the least) and there were many toasts to Robert for his generosity! Food was courtesy of Brian our hard working Chef! Oh and at the end we had a belated celebration toast to Sheila’s recent milestone birthday, with the delectable Chateau de Fesles Bonnezeaux, which we had been saving for the occasion. It was absolutely divine with our dessert of strawberry tarts!

The 19th Annual Grand Prix Retro of Le Puy Notre Dame (always the last Sunday in the month of July) started with the arrival early in the week of the pre 1935-classic car rally including sidecars and bikes. The village was buzzing with activity including the organising of the route with straw bales for barriers amongst other things. Events started on Friday evening 24th July, with the ‘Grande Regalade’ organised by the village L’Ambiance Ponote, a superb prelude to the weekend’s activities with huge long tables and chairs placed in the rue de la Collegiale for everyone to eat a fantastic meal together. This year we had spit roasted pig on the menu! Everyone had an aperitif brought around the tables by two volunteers with an old supermarket trolley full of different wines including of course Saumur Puy-Notre-Dame, it goes without saying we enjoy a few glasses of the village appellation on these occasions! We said the trolley idea reminded of the hostess trolley service on aircrafts, but of course these guys were far more entertaining with the banter as you can well imagine! This year the weather was unusually windy but nevertheless we soldiered on enjoying the music and singing whilst holding onto our wine glasses for fear of them tumbling from the tables!

The Saturday morning programme started with entrants having a day together rallying around various villages in the Loire (passing rue du Moulin on the way for our guests to enjoy)! Then a nocturnal village race starting at 9pm finishing at midnight! Sunday is the Grande Parade being a whole day of rallying and demonstrations ……… then for us at Le Clos des Guyons a continuation into the night of more food, wine and conviviality!

And so, here’s a toast to the ‘2016 Grand Prix Retro’ and, as it will be the 20th Anniversary, it’s going to be a three-day event …. full of surprises we are told!  We have lots to look forward to and are awaiting the dates to be announced!

Brian and Sheila

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I told Sheila what would happen if she didn't behave.

I told Sheila what would happen if she didn’t behave! ha ha!

I did warn her that retribution would follow!  We found this photo going through old albums.  I think it was in Châteauneuf-duPape. Doesn’t seem to have had much effect.  I’ll have to try again.

à bientôt

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Reflections of a Saumur Bridge

The Pont Cessart from Saumur to l'ile Offard.

The Pont Cessart from Saumur to l’ile Offard.

We had just eaten in one of our favourite restaurants,  l’Auberge de la Reine de Sicile,  on the Ile Offard when, walking back to the mainland for the traditional 14th. July fireworks we noticed the Pont Cessart perfectly reflected in the mirror of the Loire.

à bientôt
Brian et Sheila

Bastille Night 2014 at le Reine de Scile
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A starburst of Lavender

A starburst or rather a lavenburst.  A lavender plant here at le Clos des Guyons

A starburst or rather a lavenburst. A lavender plant here at le Clos des Guyons

Bon été


Earlier post on our local wild flowers
Gites in the Loire Valley

La Rochelle – An annual dose of stress

The horologe (clock tower) in the Old Port at La Rochelle.

The horloge (clock tower) in the Old Port at La Rochelle.

This year, as is normal, we headed down to La Rochelle for the start of the national celebrations of Sheila’s birthday. Like the Queen these celebrations normally go on for several weeks but the first event is always our annual pilgrimage to La Rochelle where at midnight we order two glasses of bubbles and raise a toast under the clock tower in the Old Harbour.

What is also understood is that we really need this wine because getting there involves an immense amount of stress. Every year is different but a lot of stress nevertheless.  The reason for this is that Sheila foolishly chose to be born in the same week that La Rochelle hosts the “Francofolies” a huge rock and pop extravaganza which attracts more than 400,000 people in the week and this year French icon Johny Halliday (the French Elvis) is appearing. The resulting traffic chaos is helped by the city closing the largest car park and turning it into a tented city.  In addition the road system has been partly pedestrianised and becomes incomprehensible not helped by the installation of hydraulic ramps which stop you going anywhere where you would remotely want to go.  I’ll just relate our experiences over the past three years:-

Old Port La Rochelle

Old Port La Rochelle

First year: I spent the compulsory hour trying to fathom the temporary road system.  I suddenly swapped lanes on account of there being a bloody great lump of concrete lying in it.  As a result someone hammered on their car horn and gave me a load of abuse.  I of course retaliated with the statutory finger as tradition demands.  He then screeched back in reverse, wound his window down and called me a bastard.  I told him to go **** himself.  He then opened the car door.  I opened mine.  He then had a change of mind and charged off down the road leaving a smell of burning rubber.  By this time everyone behind was banging their car horns and shouting abuse.  Rather than fight the whole of La Rochelle I wearily conceded defeat and drove on.  Welcome to La Rochelle.

Second Year:  Couldn’t get anywhere near the hotel and so, having dropped Sheila in the vicinity,  (“Can’t walk very far because of ma back”), I finally parked the car in the Place Verdun, a Himalayan hike from the hotel.  It is so far away from the hotel that seasons can change by the time you finally reach your destination.  And the season did change.  As I trudged up the streets with my bag over my shoulder and hauling Sheila’s container behind me, the heavens opened and torrential rain was bouncing from the pavement.  Despite using several bars as temporary shelter I was totally drenched by the time I reached the hotel.  I stood in front of the reception in an ever increasing pool of rainwater with my hair plastered to my head.  “Is it raining”?, asked the receptionist.
No, I just had an idea that it would be fun to jump in the sodding harbour I thought, through gritted teeth.
“Oh you should have said”, the receptionist said helpfully, “we would have lowered the ramps for you”.
“Might have been a good idea to tell me that before I walked from the Place Verdun in a monsoon”, I growled.
“It’s on our website” she smiled.
“No it isn’t”.
“It is”.
She then cleverly avoided a diplomatic incident by offering us an upgrade to a room with harbour views which would have cost about a zillion Euros to rent normally.  So, as usual, greed overcame my principles.

Franco Follies, La Rochelle

Francofolies, La Rochelle

Third Year:  Having been driving around in circles for even longer than normal I finally lost it and drove up a one way street – only to meet someone coming the other way.  We exchanged the customary robust greetings, complete with gestures but this time we both clearly felt that honour had been upheld so continued serenely on our way.
La Rochelle?! overall, it would be less hassle to spend a weekend in Baghdad.

This year: praise god, there wasn’t any great problems apart from waiting on a car park for half an hour hoping someone would soon leave their car parking space for us to jump into and Sheila being in a foul mood because the weather had turned gloomy and windy or some other reason any or all of which was undoubtedly my fault.  But she cheered up when we found THE most amazing restaurant for her birthday evening about which I’ll do a separate post shortly.

Bon Vacance!

A Trip round the South of France or the Holiday from Hell
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