Regular readers will know that Scott and I have been staying in the picturesque, medieval French village of Sancerre. Situated on the very edge of the Loire Valley, perched high on the top of a hill, Sancerre is about two hours from Paris by train.
Our primary reason for visiting Sancerre was to enrol in a French language immersion school, in an attempt to improve our ridiculously poor French language skills (yes, they were still truly dreadful, even after all our trips).
But there are heaps of other things to do in Sancerre apart from wandering the beautiful streets (which we’ve spent hours doing) and improving your French. Here are my top five, assuming time is tight.
- Climb the Tour des Fiefs for the most amazing view. Built in 1380, the tower formed part of Sancerre’s original fortifications. The climb is a big one but the view is more than worth it. You’ll find the tower about half way through the self guided walking tour of Sancerre. The Sancerre Past and Present walking tour leaves from the Sancerre Tourist Office and takes around an hour and a half to complete, assuming you choose to climb the tower (which you should). Just follow the burgundy line. Interpretive signage – in both French and English – provides information on the 28 sites you’ll see along the way.
- Try the wine. The Sancerre region is famous for producing elegant wines. The white wines are made with Sauvignon Blanc grapes and Pinot Noir grapes are used for the red wine. There are many places within Sancerre to taste (and buy) the wines.
- While I’m on the topic of wine, don’t miss the Maison des Sancerre, which looks at the history of wine making in the area. Interactive and fun, the highlights for me were the 4D movie and the garden where you practice identifying the aromas that you find in the wines.
- Try the famous local goat’s cheese – Crottin de Chavignol. These little, round, white cheeses are on every menu in town – served either traditionally (ie cold) or baked – and you can also buy them to take home. You can choose between cheeses of various ages – but as far as I was concerned, they were all yummy. Try a Crottin de Chavignol with the local ham – Jambon de Sancerre – for a special treat.
- Ride a bike. Our school schedule didn’t allow us time to try this one but we saw lots of people riding – perhaps to the nearby village of St Satur to see the stunning viaduct or maybe just to take in the rolling green hills. Bikes are available to rent for a very reasonable rate from the Sancerre Tourist Office.
If you happen to have a little more time, I can highly recommend a scenic flight across the region. Our flight, organised via our language school, occurred not long before sunset. The flight was an amazing way to take in the stunning region of Sancerre.
Our French has improved markedly since coming to Sancerre…but I’d have been happy to have stayed here even if it hadn’t! Sancerre is full of history, beauty, fantastic food and fabulous wine – what more could you ask for?
Have you ever visited Sancerre? Feel free to share your thoughts on the area in the comments below.
And until next time – au revoir.