France Day 6 – Saumur

Our trip to Saumur was actually supposed to be a riding holiday, but we didn’t ride until the afternoon on our first full day in Saumur, so we decided to do a tour of one of the underground wineries in the morning. During our walk, we passed by this enchanting place:

DSC_0419I don’t know why I find that picture so haunting at the moment. I just thought it was lovely when I saw it in person. Maybe it’s because of the song I’m listening to right now: The De Hofnar edit of “Le Vent Nous Portera” by Sophie Hunger.

Anyway, when we got there, there wasn’t a tour leaving for 45 minutes or something, so my traveling companion and I decided to go for a walk to see what we could see. We found a grocery store and I was stoked because I needed soap, cotton swabs,  and a place to change my 100 Euro bill. I also bought some grapes that my traveling companion enjoyed despite despising grapes.

We then looked at the time and realized we had less than 10 minutes to get back, so we walked/ran back, but luckily the tour had not started yet. In fact, we were the only two people part of the tour, and had to wait. I took this moment as an opportunity to learn a little bit about wine, since I knew absolutely nothing about wine.

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We then went on our underground tour. The tunnels are from when the limestone was all mined to build the castle and such. There are kilometers upon kilometers of tunnels exactly 10 meters underground. The place is ideal for processing wine because the temperature is constant all year. It was a “small” winery because they only do 2-3 million bottles of wine a year at that winery, and it only gets sold in that region. I thought 3 million bottles was a lot. The process was really interesting, although I don’t remember a whole lot of it. They make sparkling wine at that location, and the bottles used to have to be rotated a certain amount every day in order for the yeast to keep moving. Up until recently, every bottle was rotated by hand. Can you imagine rotating wine bottles all day every day for your job? Ugh!

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To end our tour, we went into the winery owner’s private stash. Every year, the owner puts a bottle of wine in the stash, and this has been going on since the winery started. The owner also holds wine meetings with other local winery owners and they have little parties in this location. Only the owner of this winery can sit on the throne.

DSC_0425We then did a wine tasting after, and I felt terrible because in this order, this is what they tasted like to me: 1. Sparkling red – cigarettes 2. Sparkling rose – marijuana 3. Sparkling white – just terrible. I managed to get all of them except the sparkling red down, and walked out of there quite buzzed.

We then headed out for our tour on horseback! We got lost because the GPS took us to the completely wrong place, but eventually found our way. Our guide kept calling us, but we couldn’t answer the phone because the roaming charges are insanely expensive.

When we got there, to say that we were disappointed is a grand understatement. Both my traveling companion and I own horses. I mean, like actual horses. Big horses. What they put us on were little ponies in ill-fitting tack. We had high hopes of seeing really cool sights, but it was not to be. I was hoping for stories about what we were seeing, and a final destination to show us, but all we did was ride around on roads and through the forest. I mean, it was nice for the first hour or so, and then it just got dull, and we were supposed to have 3 days of that. On top of that, the ponies did not appear to have adequate care. None of them had shoes on, and their feet were in terrible shape. I felt guilty riding the poor things, especially over gravel, where they would step very tenderly. I expected a lot more from France.

DSC_0429I don’t like riding ponies, and the saddle didn’t fit me, so I got massive bruises on my seat bones. Our guide was very nice, though not really appropriate as a tour guide, since she didn’t like to talk. She is a professional rider and was taking school at Le Cadre Noir, which is the national riding school of France.

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Farm house on the French countryside.

I would have taken more pictures, but it was extremely difficult riding with a camera on my back. After 3 hours my back really hurt, and it was annoying having to stop and take the camera out any way.

When we got back to the stables I saw these awesome, gigantic snails.

DSC_0432That night we tried to have dinner at Le Lapin, which was recommended to us by our awesome B & B host, but they had no room. We then wandered around looking for a restaurant, and we found a decent place. I ordered a “chocolat gourmand” because I had no idea what it was. The waiter seemed surprised, but complimented me on my choice. It ended up being the best thing ever: a hot chocolate with an assortment of little desserts. I love variety, so I was beyond pleased.

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