Tag Archives: Loire Valley Time Travel

Introducing Célestine, Susan & Simon of Loire Valley Time Travel in France

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You no doubt read Susan’s description of a country “Charcuterie” in yesterdays’s bloggers’ round-up. But she doesn’t just spend her time buying “persillé” – she also runs a business. Susan and Simon and Célestine, their 1953 Citroen Traction Avant vintage car, who has just acquired a little sister called Claudette, take visitors on luxury tours of the Loire Valley, visiting châteaux and tasting wine. What more can you ask of life? My post on My French Life this month gives all the details!


Now before you go any further, I’d just like to tell you about a competition I was invited to enter recently. You may remember that I received an honour award from Expat Blogs last year thanks to your help. They are currently running an expat contest. You’ll find my entry, “Ten Top Châteaux  in the Loire Valley, if you click here. Please feel free to make a comment and twittter the post if you enjoyed it. You might help me win a prize.

And now for Susan, Simon and Celestine!

Introducing Célestine, Susan & Simon of Loire Valley Time Travel in France

What better way to visit the beautiful French châteaux of the Loire Valley than in a shiny black 1953 Citroën Traction Avant!

When I learnt that Loire Valley Time Travel is run by two fellow Australians, I was curious to hear their story and learn more about their tours.


Susan and Simon lived in England for many years before coming to the Loire Valley. Susan, the tour leader, worked in one of the world’s leading heritage organisations and has a particular interest in textiles and costume. Having originally trained as a hotel manager, she is passionate about the food and recipes of the Touraine region.

Simon, the driver, was formerly a professional musician and teacher. He loves Célestine and thinks that 80 km/h is the perfect speed to cruise through the countryside. He’s very willing to stop and have visitors take photos or just soak up the scenery. After all, none of the historical sites in the area will disappear “if we take 10 minutes longer to get there,” he says. Read more

Chateauneuf, my secret hill village – La Charcuterie – Musée Nissim de Camodo, Paris

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Some more Australian connections for this Wednesday’s Bloggers’ Round-up, starting with Phoebe from Lou Messugo, who takes us on a visit to Châteauneuf in the south of France; Susan from Days on the Claise who describes her local charcuterie in Touraine and Carolyn from My Sydney Paris Life who gives us a very moving description of the beautiful Nissim de Camondo museum in Paris. Enjoy!

Châteauneuf, my secret hill village

by Phoebe from Lou Messugo, a traveller, francophile, expat, mum and foodie now living in Roquefort les Pins where she runs a gîte after many years of travelling and living in Asia, Eastern Europe and Australia.

chateauneufThe Alpes-Maritimes is bursting with a multitude of pretty hill villages, called “villages perchés” in French, built during the middle ages in strategic spots on mountain tops and hill sides. There are at least 15 within half an hour’s drive of Lou Messugo, all with their own charm and more or less renovated/developed for tourists or left in an authentic untouched state. But there is one so close and yet so hidden that many people visiting the area wouldn’t even realise it exists. (I’d be prepared to bet a significant amount of local residents don’t realise there’s a medieval “perched” bit either). I’m talking about the village of Châteauneuf de Grasse on the outskirts of its famous neighbour, Grasse. Read more

La Charcuterie

by Susan from Days on the Claise, an Australian living in the south of the Loire Valley, writing about restoring an old house and the area and its history, and running Loire Valley Time Travel.

charcuterie1The charcuterie in Preuilly is well patronised and they have a good range of products. Most are made in house, some brought in. French charcuteries focus mainly on value added pork products — often cured, but sometimes simply cooked and ready to eat. They also do salads and prepared dishes. This is because many of them, like the one in Preuilly, are also traiteurs (caterers). Read more

A Legacy of Beauty and Remembrance: Musée Nissim de Camondo, Paris

by Carolyn Barnabo from My Sydney Paris Life, writing about global families and change and life in special geographic places that have captured her heart

nissim_museumEarlier this week, Clive and I visited Paris’s Musée Nissim de Camondo. In the days since then, we’ve often found ourselves returning to the story of the family whose sad, horrific history shaped our experience of spending time in what was once their home.

The first time I read about Musée Nissim de Camondo was in Edmund White’s ‘The Flâneur’ (2001). I know little about ‘decorative arts’ and tire quickly of stately homes brimming with historic furniture and all manner of objects — I’d rather explore the gardens and grounds outside. But White’s recounting of the de Camondos’ personal story grabbed me and I’ve had this museum on my Paris to-do list ever since. Read more


The Fireplace is Still Not Finished

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This is the post that was supposed to announce that the fireplace at Closerie Falaiseau is finished and that we have opened our vintage champagne and eaten our home-made foie gras to welcome in the New Year.

The state of the fireplace in the last post
The state of the fireplace in the last post

Well, we’ve eaten some of the foie gras because of its relatively short lifespan. But you’ve guessed it – the fireplace is not finished despite the fact that we’re staying an extra day and that I have contributed far more than I initially thought I would. You may remember from my last post on the subject that I was going to put rendering on the wall on either side of the fireplace after priming it.

What it looked like behind the mantel before Relationnel covered it all with refractory mortar
What it looked like behind the mantel before Relationnel covered it all with refractory mortar

Well, since the mortaring of the inside of the mantel proved far more time-consuming than Relationnel initially thought, I figured I should volunteer for something else more urgent. I was told that I could fill the joints between the lintel stones. Not with putty, of course, but with lime mixed with sand and water. We’re doing this the traditional way. The information came from Nicolas, the man in charge of renovating our balcony in Paris who is apparently a superduper expert when it comes to stone.

Damaged lintel before filling the joints and reconstructing the stone
Damaged lintel before filling the joints and reconstructing the stone

My experience with mortaring the back of the fireplace came in good stead and I eventually got the knack of filling the joints. Then I filled the other cracks and holes. Relationnel said I was doing so well that I could reconstruct the missing bits of stone. Great! I was very skeptical at first but in end I managed to create something very reasonable. However, half the reconstruction fell out of one of the gaps I had filled, which was disappointing to say the least. So I didn’t even look at the biggest one.

Partial reconstruction on the largest gap
Partial reconstruction on the largest gap

Next day, I surveyed my handiwork and declared that the sand was too coarse so Relationnel produced some ultra-fine sand. Now why didn’t he tell me about that the day before? It produced much better results and I was able to reconstruct the one that broke and, with infinite patience, complete the gap I hadn’t even attempted. I was getting the hang of it.

The lintel after doctoring
The lintel after doctoring with a multitude of different colours and textures

On Friday we needed more mortar so we both went to Brico Depot together. It was the first time in four days that Relationnel had set foot outside the yard. I’d been grocery shopping in the morning, so I was marginally luckier. We decided to go out for dinner on Saturday night to have a côte de bœuf at Au Coin du Table in lieu of champagne in front of an open fire and not talk about renovations  or fireplaces. We almost succeeded.

On Sunday morning, I got a new job – putting a coat of light-coloured rendering on the mantel using a water-down version of the fine-sand and lime concoction applied with a spatula. That was a joke! The first batch was too thick but we eventually found a workable consistency and did it together, with me on either side and Relationnel at the front. When it dried, it looked very uneven and not much lighter than the first time, just not as rough. Hmm …

Mantle after second lot of rendering
Mantle after second lot of rendering on the mantle

When Susan and Simon from Days on the Claise arrived for lunch, with half the meal to boot, we were definitely glad of the diversion. They also run a tour business called Loire Valley Time Travel, taking visitors to the châteaux in Celestine, a Citroën called a traction avant which started life in 1953. Unfortunately, the weather wasn’t brilliant and we didn’t get to meet Celestine, though maybe we’d never have got back to our renovations if she we had!

After lunch, I volunteered to whitewash the fireplace. Well, I gathered that was what “fleur de chaux”, water and a savvy mixture of pigments corresponded to. I was a bit doubtful  about its ability to cover up all my handiwork, not to mention someone else’s plasters and the remains of a colour job somewhere along the way, ranging from dark red to yellow and pink. So we got out the scales and made up our extremely liquid mixture.

Result after the first limewash
Result after the first limewash

Relationnel started panicking and said it wasn’t even worth trying but I was more philosophical. It looked a darned sight easier than anything else I’d done up until that stage. Why not give it a try? The result was not quite what we expected. I’ll tell you what we did about it in the next post!


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