Yvonne is our chatty greeter here in Montrichard, in the Loire valley – the heart of France.
Tourist gîte and apartment rentals are such a business in France that most owners employ ‘greeters’ that meet you at the assigned time, hand over keys and show you the ropes.
This gîte is a beautiful serene place with great kitchen, babbling creek nearby and a pool.
Yvonne informs us a guy will come every morning and night to cover and uncover the pool. His name is Jean – Francois but know as Jeff. We chatted to Jeff and his girlfriend when he came to cover that evening.
She has a vast knowledge of the area and has places for us to see and restaurants to try.
“Let’s meet for lunch!” Which we did in a restaurant in town and chatted about everything.
She knew all the staff.
One of her many food recommendations for the night was “La Plage” (the beach) saying it’s not classy but you get a decent feed and its by the river.
Its 7pm and a hot afternoon so we give it a try. True to name, La Plage is a sandy riverside beach restaurant. Families under umbrellas and kids splashing in the cool of the water. The restaurant is packed and lively.
Huge steaming cauldrons are being bussed to the hungry throng.
“Sorry missu-dame (gentlemen and ladies) we are full. Next table in an hour”
“OK, may we have a drink in the bar area?”
Miraculously, within minutes our drinks with menus arrive. Was that a test?
We are in luck. It’s moules-frite night – mussels in white wine and chips. Ever had mussels that come in a casserole the size of a bucket? The owner come over, chatted and apologised. The mussels are not all opening because its end of season.
The next day, we took up Yvonne’s offer and meet her at the major produce market in Amboise, so she could show us around. Yet again she knew what was good, what to avoid and even rattled off some recipes.
Tomatoes in full blush. Glistening fish.
We buy stuff for tonight, then head to a café for lunch. Its Le Bigot. Established 1913. Yvonne enquires and it turned out it has been handed from daughter to daughter to present day.
“Come back to my place for coffee!” Which we did but she took her bike, in true French fashion.
So it turns out over coffee that she is the owner of the gîte, Jeff the pool man is her ex-husband, she didn’t know Jeff had a girlfriend until we said we had chatted to Jeff and his girlfriend, and that she has a new boyfriend from Germany.
Oh yes, and her son owns La Plage.
And this is what I made out of some of the stuff from the market.