Europe 2011

Mosnac: 25-27 May

 

Our hotel was built onto an old water mill a few kilometres outside the tiny village of Mosnac. The water mill was still there, visible from the hotel lounge, and could still be used for flour and olives, but there was not enough water while we were there. *

 

The hotel also had an excellent restaurant. This is Lynn's dish of chicken crumble and rolled, poached chicken leg. *

 

One night we gave in to temptation, and each had an after-dinner cognac from the hotel's "Library". *

 

Our first excursion was to Saintes and Cognac. This is the side nave of Saintes cathedral. *

 

Saintes also has a large Abbey de Notre Dame complex, now used as a conservatoire and art centre. Its church is decorated with these contemporary embroideries. *

 

While murderous battles take place over the doorway. *

 

Cognac has a nice historic centre. †

 

And an attractive church of St Pierre. *

 

We did a tour of the Hennessy cognac factory. They have large dark storage areas where they keep thousands of barrels of maturing cognac. †

 

Each barrel is carefully labelled with the year and producer. *

 

The master tasters blend samples of the various barrels to ensure a consistent quality and taste in each of the kinds of brandy produced by Hennessy. *

 

Cognac vines are planted and trained for mechanical harvest, wide apart and flat rows. The grapes hang low on the vines. *

 

The second day, we headed towards the coast, starting at the fortified town of Brouage. *

 

A lookout on the walls of Broage, which is the birth place of Simon Champlain, the founder of Quebec. *

 

A shop with roses, baskets and toys on the main street of Brouage. *

 

We wanted to visit Fort Louvois, which is accessible on foot at low tide. Of course, it was high tide and the seasonal boat service had not started. †

 

However, the harbour there was interesting. †

 

There were quite a few of these flat-bottomed oyster boats for getting around the marshy areas and looking after oyster farms. *

 

The start of the pedestrian causeway to Fort Louvois, and the long bridge to Île d'Oléron. *

 

We had lunch on the main square of Marennes, a town noted for its oysters. The town has this immense bell tower, with a quite small church attached. This is because the original church was destroyed during the Wars of Religion, with only the bell tower remaining. *

 

Hanging from the church roof was this model ship. Wikipedia suggests it was probably a votive offering. *

Then we moved on for our week in Loches.

 

Copyright © 2011 by *Lynn Booth or †Nick Booth. Please contact us if you wish to use a photo.