Places of interest

Les Bouts de Ralle may be snuggled in the heart of the countryside, but we are well placed with several large towns and places of interest in the surrounding area.

The closest are around twenty minutes by car, but If you are happy to travel for half or three quarters of an hour, you’ll find chateaux, market towns, forest walks, the bustling city of Le Mans, towns like Vendome, La Ferté-Bernard and La Chartre-sur-le-Loir with it’s strong racing car heritage.

We’ve included a few of the places we’ve visited, we’re sure this page will keep growing as we find new places to explore… that’s part of the fun of France!

Château de Cogners, Cogners

Travel time: 6 minutes
Distance: 4 kilometers
We had to include the Chateau at Cogners as it is one of our closest neighbours. It is, apparently, a fine example of the transition from the Renaissance styles of Henry IV and Louis XIII.

Although undergoing renovation at the moment, it’s still a beautiful old building with examples of incredible brick work.

We walked around a intriguing walled garden, part of which has been seeded as a wildflower meadow.

You can imagine just how beautiful this chateau will be when the renovations are finished. It made a interesting change to see just how much work goes into bringing these old buildings back to life.

The Chateau is not open all year round, please let us know if you are thinking of visiting and we’ll check opening times for you.

Château de Courtanvaux, Bessé-sur-Braye

Travel time: 8 minutes
Distance: 10 kilometers
We knew there was a château close by, we’d been told about it by our favourite grocer in the market at Bessé-sur-Braye. What we didn’t realise was how close it was, and what an intriguing history it has.

We won’t spoil the story, and certainly didn’t want to take any photos inside the château (although you can do so)… we’ll leave the history up to the engaging and knowledgeable guide who showed us round. Our guide spoke English as well as French, so we had a chance to brush up our language skills by listening to the story in both languages. Well worth a visit, you can find out more on their website.

The town of St. Calais

Travel time: 15 minutes
Distance: 14 kilometers
St Calais is a busy town with restaurants, bakeries, post office, hospital, flower shops, a covered market, tourist centre and small cinema. 

The restaurants serve a range of food from moderately priced ‘galettes’ to an 'à la carte’ menu in the dining room of a small hotel. We have eaten in three of them, and found them all to be very much worth a visit... it all depends on your preference and budget. There is also a cafe bar on the main market square which while informal, is friendly and very typically French. 

On Thursdays there is a covered market just off the square, with fish, meat, amazing cheeses and fruit and vegetables on sale. Well worth a visit if you want to experience really fresh French food. 

If you love cakes… large and small… the patisserie facing the main square has a wonderful array to choose from, it’s very difficult to buy just one! 

Approximately 5 minutes further on from the town centre is a large ‘Carrefour' supermarket which has a wide range of goods from food to hardware. There is also a ‘Pointe Vert’ garden centre that could help you find a gift if you are visiting friends in the area. 

St Calais has banks with ATM cash points, a chemist and two petrol stations within five minutes of the market square.  

Lake, St. Calais

Travel time: 15 minutes
Distance: 14 kilometers
We have visited nearby St. Calais many times since living here, especially for the wonderful indoor market they have twice a week... and of course the restaurants and cafés.

It came as something of a surprise to us that just outside the town was a beautiful lake with many, many lilly pads. We missed them this year when they were in bloom but we intend to go back and photograph them when they are in flower.

A walk around the lakeside is another of those tranquil moments we enjoy so much about this area.

Glass blowing, Poncé-sur-le-Loir

Travel time: 20 minutes
Distance: 15 kilometers
Nicolas et Lucille Pinquier have their glass blowing premises in Poncé-sur-le-Loir, just 20 minutes away from us. They are usually open all week (except Monday and Sunday morning) and during the afternoon you can watch Nicolas and his team blowing glass.

I've always been fascinated with the idea of glass blowing, so to be able to see it happening just a couple of feet in front of me was a real treat. The glass pieces themselves are wonderful, practical, decorative and unique depending on the piece you fall for.

One of the most rewarding trips you can make from Les Bouts de Rallé!

You can find out more about Nicolas and Lucille on their website.

PS. We intend to go back (yet again) with a camera next time and with Nicolas et Lucille's permission we'll have a few photographs to show you.

Arboretum-du-Tuffeau, Saint Gervais de Vic

Travel time: 20 minutes
Distance: 17 kilometers
We met Nadine Dutier during a day with Les Offices de Tourisme du Pays Calaisien et du Val de Braye. Nadine and Yves have an amazing arboretum with 200 species of trees and shrubs from all over the world. Planted 30 years ago, some have already reached a respectable size.

Nadine and Yves wanted to create an enjoyable walk for families where they can enjoy the fresh and fragrant environment with many contrasts. You will probably see deer, pheasants and squirrels along with bees, birds and dragonflies. If you are a botanist or entomologist you are likely to find rare species such as ‘la spiranthe d’automne’. Mycologists too will be able to see many mushroom varieties.

Tours of the arboretum are by appointment only, you can find out more by visiting Nadine and Yves’s website at L’Arboretum du Tuffeau.

Manoir de la Possonnière, Couture-sur-Loir

Travel time: 25 minutes
Distance: 19 kilometers
The Chateau Poisoner is a delightful, unpretentious manoir just outside the village of Couture-sur-Loir. If you visit, do make use of the audio player available at the ticket desk... it really helps bring the manoir to life. Although small, the manor house has a fascinating history with troglodyte rooms set into the hillside where staff used to live.

The manor itself has bright and airy rooms which have been sympathetically renovated to show off super fireplaces and hand painted coats of arms on the walls which were hidden for many years behind wooden cladding. The gardens are full of many different types of roses and if viewed at the right time of the year must be truly stunning.

As we left we were shown a short woodland walk taking only 20 minutes, where we saw red squirrels, a deer and hares just a few feet from us. Very much worth a visit if you enjoy finding out about local history.

The ‘Sprit of Adventure’ river boat, La Chartre-sur-le-Loir

Travel time: 25 minutes
Distance: 22 kilometers
A few minutes from the centre of La Chartre sur Le Loir is the 'Spirt of Adventure' river boat, owned by the wonderful Captain Michele.

Gliding along at a calm 4 kph, we were able to take in the sights along the river bank and listen to some fascinating history stories about the river, who used to visit and how this (and the town of La Chartre sur Le Loir) has changed over the years.

The weather was perfect, not a cloud in sight. What a treat for us, a really pleasant way to see this part of the river from a different perspective.

River boat excursions may need to be booked in advance… a quick telephone call will check to see if they are open. You can find out more by visiting their website.

Jeanne d'Arc tower, La Chartre-sur-le-Loir

Travel time: 25 minutes
Distance: 22 kilometers
Overlooking the town of La Chartre-sur-le-Loir is a memorial to Jeanne d'Arc. You can approach it by walking (or driving) out of town and taking the sign-posted road to a small car park... a few minutes walk brings you out next to the tower.

Or, you could take the route from the middle of the town (the start of which is shown in the images below) up a steep but manageable path... either way, at the top you not only get to see the memorial but also fantastic views of La Chartre and the surrounding areas, including the beautiful lake.

If you take the route out of the town, as we did, you might meet a very well looked after and friendly goat on your way!

You can find out more about the history of the tower by visiting this website.

Classic Car Show, Marcon

Travel time: 30 minutes
Distance: 27 kilometers
This event is only on for a weekend in the middle of august, but it's well worth a mention here if you are staying with us.

Beside the lake at Marcon, once a year, is a classic car and motorcycle show. We were completely unprepared for what we found... truly beautiful cars, restored with love and care, a range of motorcycles from different countries and years, military vehicles... as well as a huge market for second hand and replacement parts.

If you don’t agree on whether or not classic cars are interesting, there’s always the lake and ‘beach’ right next to the show!

Several food and drink tents were at the venue too, we didn't intend to stay for lunch but there was just too much to choose from. Another fantastic day in France.

The town of Vendome

Travel time: 30 minutes
Distance: 33 kilometers
Even when the sun isn’t blazing down, visiting the nearby towns can be a delight. We knew very little about Vendome before we arrived so didn’t know quite what to expect. It’s another beautiful French town! There’s a pedestrianised town centre with plenty of shops, boutiques, restaurants… lots of inviting coffee shops (something I have come to rely on) and gorgeous architecture.

Vendome lies within the department of Loir-et-Cher and is its third biggest town, one of the main towns along the river Loir. Vendome dates from the Gallic period and was later fortified by the Romans… much of the architecture reflects this history.

Places of interest within Vendome include the Chateau de Vendome, the Abbey church, cloister and Trinity Abbey gardens, the St Jacques Chapel and Bourbon Vendôme castle with its ancient ramparts.

We didn’t take a camera with us, but we’ll be back to do Vendome justice later this year.

The town of La Ferte Bernard

Travel time: 50 minutes
Distance: 48 kilometers
We visited La Ferte Bernard on a rather grey day, but still found it charming. As you can see from the photographs, the umbrellas covering one of the town centre streets were very striking. I’m sure they’ll look amazing in the sunshine.

The town has links with motor racing having been involved in the 1906 ‘Grand Prix de l'Automobile Club de France’, the world's first motoring Grand Prix. Beautiful buildings, the usual array of cafes, plenty of interesting shops and restaurants… a little further away from us but still a very worthwhile trip to make.

You can find out more about La Ferte Bernard by visiting their website.
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"Thank you very much for allowing us to enjoy this wonderful stay with you."

Juan and Angeles, Spain, May 2017
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