Here are a few more photos of the Sancerre area, two hours east of Saint-Aignan and two hours south of Paris by car. We drove through there last October and spent some time looking at the scenery. The Sancerre vineyards and villages don't look that much different from the Loire Valley (Touraine) vineyards, except for one thing: it's much hillier over there.
As I've mentioned, Sancerre's white wines are the standard for fine Sauvignon Blanc wines in France and even worldwide. A lot of Sauvignon grapes are grown around the eastern Loire Valley (Touraine) and a lot of good Sauvignon Blanc wine is made here. If you order a white wine in a Paris café, you'll probably get a Sauvignon made in Touraine. And the standard for what that should taste like is Sancerre wine.
But don't get the idea that Sancerre (or Touraine, or even Champagne) is a prettied-up, pristine environment. Grape-growing and wine-making are rural activities, and the atmosphere in wine regions might be more rural than you think. It's farming. Expect to see scenes like the one below. And also scenes like the others shown in this post. It's pretty but real.
The little town of Sancerre sits on a hilltop (below), with views over the surrounding vineyards and countryside. We didn't go up into the town this time, because we were on our way home and eager to get here. We've been to Sancerre several times before — once 25 years ago, and again about 15 years ago. And as I said, the area, which is on the banks of the Loire River but not really in what is called Le Val de Loire, where the châteaux are, isn't all that different from where we live except for the hilly terrain.
Oh, about stoves — yesterday we visited two places that sell and install wood stoves, one in Saint-Aignan and the other across the river in Noyers-sur-Cher. The first place is sending out a man to examine our current stove and chimney, and to measure the house, to see what stove he might recommend for our situation. I predict that his estimate of the cost will match or exceed the 2,500 € estimate we got from Invicta.
|Maybe a stove like this one would be nice in our fireplace.|
|Or this one.|
By the way, when we asked if this vendor deals in Invicta stoves, the answer was « Surtout pas ! » — "God no!" They are cheap stoves made with very thin cast iron that is manufactured in and imported from China, the woman said with a certain amount of disdain. Invicta stoves are of poor quality even though they are assembled in France, and they don't give off a lot of heat. So there.
The second shop we went to is the one where we bought our first stove back in 2006 and paid, yes, 2,500 € for, all included. Clés en main, as they say. The question we asked there is if they think we need to tear out the existing insulation and chimney liner. No, we were told. The existing 9-year-old insulation and liner should be just fine. They'll send somebody out to examine the installation and the house before the end of May and work up a bid.