|Poppy fields in the Loire Valley…just south of Orleans|
|Arriving at “Les Carrés”…home of Sylvie and Philipe in Genillé, France|
|Whole Grain crust for my Goat Cheese and Tomato Tart|
|My little summer “Gite” (cottage) in Genillé, France|
The petite cottage was much roomier than the photos online appeared. Riley and I had plenty of room to spread out. The earthy colored cobbled tile flooring was perfect against the classic french country white kitchen with country checks and plaids and adorned overhead by heavy ceiling beams that complimented the dark wood antique pieces throughout the cottage.
|Bottom Left: The beautiful river behind my little summer cottage
Bottom Right: home from the market to indulge
The bedroom had lovely french doors that opened onto a private little patio that was edged with rose bushes. Hanging over my head was a tree with its branches hanging heavy with cherries. A few times, while I was relaxing in the room, I could hear the clop clop of horses hooves as riders lazily made their way down the street. Certainly that wasn’t a sound I am used to hearing in Houston, Texas.
Sylvie quickly outlined for me where the local markets were and on which days. I took one look at the adorable kitchen and looked forward to filling it with fresh market finds. I had a toaster oven, stovetop burners, fridge, microwave, and all of the pots and pans and paraphernalia for pulling together fresh meals for our stay.
What I did not expect to find, but was completely delighted to discover, was the long enchanting country road that paralleled the most serene little river called “Ruisseau de Marolles” only one block from Sylvie and Philipe’s home.
Every morning I enjoyed an early morning walk for miles along this quiet river. The trees grew together over the river and touched forming a shady canopy. The wind swept through the branches creating the most lovely forest sounds as I walked and walked and walked…
|Little country cottages that dot the rural roads of the Loire Valley in France|
With nothing filling the little cupboards of the kitchen it was time to make my first rounds of the Wednesday market in the nearby village of Loches, about a 7 minute drive from Genillé.
|The Loches Forest from Genillé to Loches for the Wednesday Market|
What never fails to continuously impress me about France, is how even a mundane drive from one town to the next can turn into an enchanting journey of delightful discoveries.
Such was the drive to the bustling village of Loches. The country road was flanked by horse farms and small french farming cottages that looked like they popped right out of a french storybook. Then, the road darkened as the drive passed through a lush green forest called “Forêt Dominale de Loches“. There were several places to pull over and park the car. Narrow trails stretched out as far as the eye could see and invited one to stop, bring along a picnic…and literally get rather lost in the woods for a bit.
Loches was the perfect size village for me to tackle the market easily and then escape back to my little country retreat afterwards. Pulling right into historic center of the village, the market was bubbling right along and included everything from fresh flowers, ceramics, trendy clothing, and fresh fruits, cheese, veggies, and seafood from the Touraine region of the Loire Valley.
We sampled so much variety during our stay in this region of France. This part of the Loire Valley is known for their assortment of chevre (goat’s cheese). Being one of my favorite cheeses, and the same goes for Riley, we never tired of sampling the local varieties alongside fresh cherries and melons and little forested wild strawberries no bigger than the tip of my pinky finger.
Market days are the very best ways to absorb country life in France. People are serious about their shopping. Hands are flying, samples are being tasted, as chatting is in full swing. People use these outings as a chance to stock up on food for a few days but also to greet and meet one another along with an opportunity to swap a fair amount of gossip.
|Summer Fresh Tomato Herb Tart with Chevre and Cherry Balsamic Vinaigrette|
The more I swapped daily stories with Sylvie, the more I enjoyed her company. We chatted about cheeses, children, travel, and everything in between. She was amazed that I spoke french and made me feel like my grammar guffaws were few and far between.
One day, after having discussed…well…food, castles, and children, Sylvie came over with a plate of cut up pieces of pork “rillettes“. She said this little finger food or appetizer is popular in this region of the country. The cubes of smoky flavored pork, rich with layers of fat made such a delicious impromptu dinner for us that evening. Sylvie also gifted us with a sac filled with cherries from her cherry tree. I threw together a fresh salad, cut up chunks of french bread, laid out the pork rillettes and cherries…and voilà, dinner in our little french gite (cottage) for everyone.
|Market day in Loches, France|
Market days were fabulous. I quickly learned to buy just enough fresh fruits and vegetables to last us until the next market day.
We came home with roasted chickens, containers of paella, hazelnut flavored sausages, and aromatic melons.
|Scenes from the Loches Farmer’s Market in France|
|Flowers along the river in the back of our little country cottage|
I still liked the idea of a tart but I would fill it with the goat cheese I enjoyed so much and then layer it with fresh tomatoes in season.
Madeleine brought back a sachet of Herbes de Provence from her study abroad so I added a tablespoon of this to my whole grain tart crust.
|My market day haul…well, part of it!|
Some chopped basil was thrown in the mixture and sprinkled on top of the tomato tart and I drizzled a little Cherry Balsamic Vinaigrette on top just to have a sweet and savory balance.
|The little town of Genillé, France|
How fun it would be to return the hospitality and sit for hours chatting with Sylvie around the my long country pine table. Better yet, we could include our daughters and they would enjoy swapping study abroad stories.
There were several varieties of soup to purchase at the french market in Loches. I would include a simple summer soup to go along with my Tomato Tart with fresh fruits from our market up the road here. Melons and cherries are taking center stage right now so that would round out my luncheon. I did prepare all of this for my family…but I imagined the entire meal for my virtual luncheon with Sylvie. Kindred Spirits formed…laughter and good times enjoyed.
|The quiet country roads of the Loire Valley…moving inbetween castle to castle|