France Off the Beaten Path: Anjou in the Loire Valley – Part 11

The path less travelled in France produced stunning rural vistas, friendly locals, and a vibrant food and wine culture, far beyond our expectations.

Heidi and I hired an electric car at CDG airport in early spring 2022 and drove a six thousand kilometre ‘figure of eight’ around France. Despite moderate fitness levels we hiked and cycled many remote picturesque places. We also found rural and remote areas of France have much to offer serious foodies.

Off the Beaten Path: Nothing ‘ordinary’ to be found

Determined to take the path less travelled we discover stunning rural vistas, super friendly locals, and a vibrant food and wine culture in France, way beyond our expectations.

This is part 11 of a 12-part mini-series which follows our 12-week trip.


I invite you to join us and make some delightful discoveries.
You will find each part of this mini-series here.
( the introduction plus 11 parts)

Anjou in the Loire Valley

Anjou is a region located in the western Loire Valley and is known, like much of the Loire Valley, for its grands châteaux and fine wines.

These were our last few days in France and we planned to have a pretty quiet time. We stayed in a small village called Cormery in a studio apartment with access to a pool, near the river Indre. Cormery is close to historic Tours, Amboise; and the incredible Château de Chenonceau. We, however, had no intention of playing tourists and confined ourselves to more sedate pleasures.

Troglodyte caves - Anjou

Troglodyte caves

A hidden gem

Cormery is a very ordinary (but centrally located) rural village with just one historical artefact, the significant and well-preserved Abbaye de Cormery. It’s well worth a visit for a couple of hours and the Mairie (town hall) offers free guided tours.

Of even more interest to us was the fact that the village restaurant was very highly recommended by our hosts. Owned and run by a couple of Parisian ex-lawyers who opted out of the rat race, it is the rarest of French rural eateries, a largely vegan establishment. Those who know France will understand that rural areas are inhabited solely by carnivores.

In 2022, Les Roseaux Pensants was an entirely vegan restaurant with all its ingredients sourced from local suppliers. We’re not vegan or even vegetarian, however, we weren’t disappointed – the fare was modern, inventive and very satisfying.


Inde Rive Anjou


Recommended to us, the Indre riverside walk from Cormery to Courçay was gentle, beautiful and peaceful.

We walked the 5 kilometres to Courçay through rural fields and along quaint backroads arriving just an hour before the local market closed where we met an English couple with whom we shared a very convivial morning tea. The walk home was along the river’s edge and was even more delightful. The Indre is a wild and unnavigable river and as with the outward journey, we appeared to be the only walkers enjoying a stunning late spring day.

Courçay is home to a very good traditional village restaurant, L’Attablee des Rochers, with a terrace and views over the river. We booked for lunch the following day after a strong recommendation by the English couple and enjoyed the meal immensely.


We left the best experience (or at least one of the very best) until last, hard to believe after 12 weeks. As with so many great moments in life, this was neither planned nor anticipated. Our 3 French passions; food, wine and history; all rolled into an unforgettable afternoon.

During COVID lockdown in Sydney, I was introduced to a French wine importer in Melbourne by one of my Francophile friends. So, I satisfied my travel fantasies vicariously with the purchase of many cases of mainly Burgundy but also a little Loire Valley wine.

Domaine Leduc Frouin Martigne-Briand produces outstanding Cabernet Franc and Chenin Blanc wines and is located en route to Cormery from Brittany. I’d asked our importer for an intro so we turned up late Saturday morning hoping for a chat and a quick tasting.

It turned out that the weekend in question was their annual trade weekend where they opened only to their most important clients. The buildings, grounds and caves of the winery were dotted with tasting stops – each with a dedicated sommelier,  gourmet accords mets and matched domaine wines. These stops were clearly designed to impress and thrill their clients.

To our immense surprise, we were welcomed like long-lost friends by Vigneron Antoine and his sister Nathalie who proposed we enjoy the full client experience through lunchtime. And we did!


Domaine Leduc Frouin Martigne-Briand wine tasting

It was an unforgettable day with a tasting of some 15 wines, each matched with gourmet bites and enhanced with a full sommelier experience. To cap it off, this small family winery still uses the troglodyte caves in which the family lived many generations past – for cellaring their wines.

Vive la France!


Have you ever spent time in this part of the Loire Valley? Please leave your comments below.


About the Contributor

Craig Healey

I’m a not-quite-retired business & technology consultant with a passion for the great outdoors and an even greater passion for the wonderful food and wine of France. Each region has a rich gastronomic culture which is always a delight to discover and never fails to tantalise your taste buds.

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  1. Betty Carlson May 20, 2024 at 4:23 AM - Reply

    I used to live in the Tours area and actually came quite close to buying a house in Cormery. Your trip sounds fantastic — off the beaten path is the best!

  2. Jeannette May 21, 2024 at 7:24 AM - Reply

    A little surprised you visited Anjou without seeing Angers (my home city), which is its center.

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