Simon explained: 'No matter what I did the bunches were always large, full of juice and rotted easily. I just couldn't make quality wine out of them. So I'll replant but not with Gamay – I've got enough of that and it's not a fashionable variety, so I need to diversify. I'll probably plant Pinot Gris or possibly Riesling! Most likely it will be Pinot Gris."
We had an excellent breakfast on the balcony of our chambres d'hôtes – local fruit juices, homemade jams, delicious local yogurt etc. Our two rooms – Merlot and Chardonnay – were extremely spacious. Both with a separate sitting room, wc, and walk-in shower. Merlot is ideal for someone with reduced mobility as it on the ground floor, while with Chardonnay the bedroom and shower are upstairs. Good rooms have good views across the valley to Roanne. The Hawkins have four rooms – 68€ for two and 58€ for one with breakfast included. Excellent value, very comfortable and highly recommended.*
Climbing up from Saint-Alban-les-Eaux
Direction sign in the woods
Giant snail – sometimes going up hill we were close to a snail's pace!
View from the top over Roanne and the Loire Valley
That evening we had a very good meal at La Bonne Accueil in Saint-Hoan – several levels of quality above the Auberge de la Barrage, where we ate the night before.
La Bonne Accueil, La Croix Lucas
* We paid in full for all our accommodation and meals on our Upper Loire wandering.