Where have you been? What have you seen?
#1787605
I was filled with envy when my co-owner returned from his holiday last year, staying in a gite down near The Loire that has been set up by a pilot, for pilots. It became a no brainer to try it myself this year. We booked July whilst he has booked later in the year and with C-19 it looked as if he had made the right call. Our trip seemed in doubt right up to the last minute, though Andy, who owns the gite, was reassuring that we'd not lose out by cancelling or postponing.

I originally planned direct to Tours for the first leg, and after a bit of faffing this looked totally possible. We had booked (cancellable) a hotel for a couple of nights in Tours ahead of the Monday we had reserved for La Chaumine to give us weather options (Both I and the aircraft are strictly VFR). In the event we left on the Friday and Andy shifted the start date for us, so it was simpler to clear Customs at Calais then fly direct to the strip.

Calais was its usual easy-going self and the restaurant is, in my opinion, getting better by the day. We topped up with 23 litres of Avgas at a price that should make Le Touquet blush.

Pièce du Boucher pictured.


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I had planned an uncomplicated route for the next leg at FL85 and clear of most Class D, forgetting that the French are oh-so-different from the UK. Trouble free it was and delightfully smooth, right up to the descent North of Tours where the heat of the day rendered Sandra far from happy with the bumpiness. She doesn't do bumps.

With Sky Demon and Sandra both helping we spotted the strip just a little too late to land off the approach, but circled making random calls in cheat-sheet French, for the information of absolutely nobody. This is effectively a private strip for the gite, though others use it from time to time. I certainly would.

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At just short of 700m and almost as wide, with just a few stubby trees on approach it is by no means a challenging landing.

The hangar is at the western end of the strip and is accessed by a complicated series of combination padlocks and internal security locks. Lurking in the gloom is a rather cute little micro-SUV with possibly the clunkiest gearbox known to man and the steering wheel on the correct side for France, This too is part of the package.

Pictured below, Sandra reverses out the car whilst I wonder what could possibly go wrong and whether I should have had first go at the Bipper Tepee (I joke not, that's what the badge says)

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The gite is about a mile from the strip and easy to find. Once unpacked it's a short drive, maybe four miles, to the pretty little town of Montrichard.

We had worried a little as to what the effect of the pandemic would have had on eating out in France. Basically as long as you wear a mask to be shown to your table and at any time you are on your feet, not much has changed. The serving staff though remain masked at all time. We hadn't booked anywhere for that night and anyway a simple meal was all that we wanted, so a pavement caff serving the famous local dish Pizza Napoletana was our choice. We had made it, we were three days earlier than originally planned. The weather was ideal, all was well in our world.

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A short drive back to the gite and one hefty crack of my head on a cunningly placed oak beam saw our first day over.

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To be continued ...

(c) all text and pictures are copyright Words And Actions Ltd 2020
Last edited by Rob P on Sat Aug 01, 2020 1:08 pm, edited 7 times in total.
nallen, seanxair, Highland Park and 9 others liked this
#1787811
Montrichard itself is nothing spectacular, just a very French little ville, relaxed, compact, easy just to fritter away an afternoon ambling around.

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A derelict castle, not accessible, overlooks the town, its quite spectacular bridge and the River Cher

For those of us interested in relatively modern history the story of Montrichard and the occupation is quite intriguing. After the fall of France in 1940 and the establishment of the 'puppet' Vichy Government, the River Cher marked the dividing line between the occupied and unoccupied parts of France. It's easy to picture the coalscuttle helmets and striped 'border' poles at the town end of the bridge.

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The bridge itself was rigged for demolition as the allies advanced in 1944. The local resistance in an heroic action managed to remove the explosive charges before they could be detonated


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And talking of heroic actions, it's nice to see this small commemoration :wink:

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On the southern bank of the river there's a recreational area with tennis courts, renta-pedalo, restaurants, kiddies stuff and a beach

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Finally a screen grab from a shaky piece of video during our departure

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(c) all text and pictures are copyright Words And Actions Ltd 2020
Miscellaneous, seanxair, mick w and 2 others liked this
#1788069
The Gite and its immediate area

We ended up spending a lot of time just in and around the Gite. The weather was lovely verging on bloody hot and we soon had the fridge full of well chilled wine and beer. Walks around the area were used to fool ourselves that we were neither being lazy nor putting on weight.

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The gite itself, two twin bedrooms, two bathrooms, a big, cool lounge with patio doors and a well equipped kitchen (Fridge)


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The two caves are home to a few families of House Martins that depart en masse in the morning and straggle back home in the late evening to overnight there.


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By some strange quirk of planning we both had birthdays happen whilst we were there. They were celebrated with Champagne and cakes, a tradition in this household.


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Close neighbours are a hot air balloon company offering sightseeing trips over local chateau and vineyards. One for next time


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Other neighbours seem to include dozens of donkeys. I have no idea why this should be the case, but they make some truly alien noises through the night.


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Did I mention wine? There's lots of it about.


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A few hundred yards down the lane there is a sizeable lake set in the forest with plenty of surrounding space for picnics. And probably swimming if you aren't eel-adverse, and lazy.


(c) all text and pictures are copyright Words And Actions Ltd 2020
Last edited by Rob P on Mon Aug 03, 2020 11:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
#1788267
Unfair not to let the little truck with the bizarre name get a photo call.


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Bipper Tepee, take a bow

It's a Peugeot by the way. Certainly never let us down at any time and sipped diesel.

Rob P

(c) all text and pictures are copyright Words And Actions Ltd 2020