eSSENTIALS OF radiology conference
loire valley, francE
MAY 12-18, 2019

 

 

 



  pre days in paris

 

For those who would like us to do so, we can suggest hotels, guides, restaurants, etc. for pre-nights in Paris.

sunday
MAY 12

Arrivals To Tours and on to Fontevraud

 

Our rendezvous point will be the TGV station of St-Pierre-des-Corps on the outskirts of Tours in the heart of the Loire Valley.  Train times may vary over the coming months but will be adjusted as necessary.  As present timing stands, two trains will be met, one from central Paris for those spending time in the city before the trip and one from Charles de Gaulle Airport for those just arriving to France today. 

TGV 8303 departing Paris Montparnasse Station at 12:35 arriving into St-Pierre-des-Corps at 13:39.  1 hour and 4 minute direct journey. 

TGV 5202 departing Charles de Gaulle Airport Terminal 2 at 11:19 arriving into St-Pierre-des-Corps at 12:58.  1 hour and 39 minute direct journey.

The TGV (French: Train à Grande Vitesse or "high-speed train") is France's intercity high-speed rail that went into service between Paris and Lyon in 1981.   A TGV test train set the record for the fastest wheeled train, reaching 574.8 km/h (357.2 mph) on 3 April 2007.   In mid-2011, scheduled TGV trains operated at the highest speeds in conventional train service in the world, regularly reaching 320 km/h (200 mph).   Due to the incredible service, cities such as Tours have become part of a "TGV commuter belt" around Paris.

The City of Tours

Tours is the largest city in the Loire region of France and stands on the lower reaches of the River Loire between Orléans and the Atlantic coast. The city is known for its quality wines, for the alleged perfection of its local spoken French, and for the Battle of Tours (732) in which Charles Martel at the head of a Frankish army defeated the invading Muslim forces from Spain.  The buildings of Tours are white with blue slate (Ardoise) roofs and its original medieval district, called le Vieux Tours, is filled with well-preserved half-timbered buildings, pleasant squares with open-air cafés, weekly markets and antique fairs. 

From our pick-up point it will be a 1-hour transfer to our Hotel Fontevraud situated within the World Heritage Site of Fontevraud l’Abbaye.   

A hotel in the heart of Fontevraud Royal Abbey.  The Saint-Lazare Priory, formerly the home of a community of nuns within the abbey, has transformed into a 21st-century hotel.  Every room of this four-star hotel has been fitted out with great respect for this almost 1000 year-old monument with high-quality bedding and elegant contemporary oak furniture. 

Here in one of the top 5 “connected hotels in France”, each guest receives an iPad on arrival with which they can access hotel services, call reception, take pictures, and find out about the Abbey and its surroundings.  And after the abbey closes its doors to the public at 6:30 pm, the entire grounds are ours alone to roam in total privacy.

 

Fontevraud-l'Abbaye is one of the largest surviving monastic cities from the Middle Ages. The Abbey was listed as a Historic Monument in 1840 and as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000.

The Abbey was founded nearly a thousand years ago in 1101 and has always been run by an Abbess who gave shelter to men and women in its four priories - Sainte-Marie for the ‘contemplatives’, Sainte-Marie-Madeleine for the lay sisters, Saint-Jean de l’Habit for the monks, and Saint-Lazare for nuns caring for lepers.



The 13 hectares over which the various buildings are spread illustrate the importance of this Abbey that was directly attached to royalty and the reclining effigies of Eleanor of Aquitaine, of her husband Henry 2nd and of their son Richard the Lionheart, seen in the Abbey Church, are a reminder of this glorious past.


Over seven centuries, 36 abbesses, often drawn from high nobility, and sometimes even of royal blood, succeeded one another in running the Abbey. Over time, certain rules were relaxed, opening the order up to worldly issues.  In 1792, following the French Revolution, the last Abbess of Fontevraud was evicted. Twelve years later, Napoleon Bonaparte ordered that the Abbey be transformed into a high-security prison. Housing up to 2,000 prisoners, Fontevraud was considered one of the toughest prisons in France.  In 1963, the prison was closed and the restoration of the buildings began in earnest. In 1975, Fontevraud Royal Abbey opened to the public, ending nine centuries of life behind closed doors.

A glass of wine in the garden while the workings and the ethos of this amazing landmark is explained to us.    

Those who would like to do so can have their bikes fitted, pedals mounted, special seats installed this afternoon.

This evening we start with welcome cocktails and introductions in the garden of our upcoming week. 


Followed by a gastronomic dinner in the Cloister enjoying some of the region’s finest sparkling, white and red wines from the Saumur wine region. 



Loire wine

The Loire Valley is often divided into three sections. The Upper Loire includes the Sauvignon blanc dominated areas of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé. The Middle Loire is dominated by more Chenin blanc and Cabernet franc wines found in the regions around Touraine, Saumur, Chinon and Vouvray. The Lower Loire that leads to the mouth of the river's entrance to the Atlantic goes through the Muscadet region which is dominated by wines of the Melon de Bourgogne grape. Spread out across the Loire Valley are 87 appellations under the AOC, VDQS and Vin de Pays systems.

Overnight: Hotel Fontevraud, Loire Valley, France. 

monday
may 13

Fontevraud

 

Buffet breakfast in the restaurant starting from 7:00 a.m.

8:00-10:30 am. Medical meeting in the Salle Anjou 1.

For spouses not in the meeting, time for bike fitting if you didn’t do it yesterday.  For those in the meeting, the fitting will take place post-meeting.  Bike and safety talk for everyone following the meeting. 

Today’s Ride: 55 km return ride through the Chinon vineyards to the ruined château, gardens and fascinating ahead-of-its-time grid town of Richelieu. 

Today’s Hike: 10 km hike along tiny paths and through the vineyards of Chinon to the this 17th-century Utopian experiment of Richelieu with moated palace, walled gardens and a very charming present-day town left-over. 



Both bikers and hikers will have lots of time to explore Richelieu. 

The town of Richelieu takes its name from its founder, Cardinal Richelieu the hugely egotistical character who, in his time, was the most powerful person in France after King Louis XIII.   The Cardinal decided his position demanded a great residence and in 1625 he commissioned the famous architect Jacques Lemercier to design his palace and the town bearing his name.   The “Utopian” town was built (1631-1642) in an innovative grid style which many modern cities follow today.  The château was demolished after the French Revolution but the grand park, the moats and the lovely town itself are fun to stroll around.

Lunch at leisure for both bikers and hikers.  Possible in numerous little villages we pass through during the day.  Or certainly in Richelieu.

Biking and hiking continues through the early afternoon.

Return to our hotel in plenty of time to relax, visit the abbey, stroll through town and get ready for this evening’s winery excursion.

This evening we take a short transfer to Saumur and the famous winery of Bouvet LadubayTour of their extensive cellars before a gourmet wine-pairing dinner in their private dining room.

Bouvet Ladubay, overlooking the Loire on the outskirts of Saumur is one of the major producers of quality wine in the region.  They have many kilometers of underground excavated tuffeau stone galleries that we will visit before a tasting gourmet dinner in one of the extravagant dining rooms.

Overnight: Hotel Fontevraud, Loire Valley, France. 

tuesday
may 14

Fontevraud

 

Buffet breakfast in the restaurant starting from 7:00 a.m.

8:00-10:30 am. Medical meeting in the Salle Anjou 1.

Today’s Ride: 45, 60 or 75 km.  Along the southern edge of the beautiful Vienne River, our route takes us to the “Sleeping Beauty Château” of Ussé, the Renaissance masterpiece of Château d’Azay-le-Rideau set on an island, and perhaps the world’s most impressive gardens at the Château de Villandry

Today’s Hike: 12 km along tiny paths at the river’s edge and through to Ussé and then on to Villandry as above.

The Château d'Ussé was first fortified in the 11th century by the Norman Seigneur of Ussé, Gueldin de Saumur, who surrounded the fort with a palisade on a high terrace. The site passed to the Comte de Blois, who rebuilt in stone.  In the 16th century, the ruined castle of Ussé was rebuilt in the Flamboyant Gothic style mixed with new Renaissance motifs that resulted in the elegant structure we see today. The French formal garden, designed by le Nôtre and terraced by Vauban added the finishing touches and finally transformed the château into an enchanting residence.   It is traditionally claimed that Ussé is the castle that Charles Perrault had in mind when writing "Sleeping Beauty" and that Walt Disney later modelled his own opening fairy castle sequence on it.

The Château of Villandry is a Renaissance château that is located at the heart of three levels of terraced gardens. It is the last of the great Renaissance châteaux to have been built on the banks of the Loire River. Although the estate is renowned for the harmony of its architecture, it is even more well-known for its gardens that spread across three terraces and combine aesthetics, diversity, and harmony. 



The decorative kitchen garden mixes both flowers and vegetables in a checker-board design with a profusion of plants. From one season to the next the plantations change, offering a constantly renewed, three-dimensional painting of plants.  The water garden plays an essential role in the creation of a relaxing atmosphere with the sound of the fountains and the wide open areas of lawn generating a sense of calm and tranquility. In the ornamental garden, the boxwood forms musical symbols, hearts, spirals, butterflies, fans, and more.  Also, be sure not to miss the new sun garden or the hedge maze where everyone loves getting lost.

Lunch at leisure for both bikers and hikers in any number of tiny villages or châteaux along the routes.



Biking and hiking and visiting continues through the early afternoon but both groups arrive back to the hotel in plenty of time to relax a bit before dinner and get ready for the evening’s activities. 
 

This evening we split into two groups. 

½ of our group will transfer to the restored historic river boat L’Amarante for an evening cruise along the Loire River viewing towering châteaux and beautiful villages from a river perspective.  Drinks and dinner onboard as we glide through the calm waters.   

The other ½ of our group will enjoy an after-hours’ private visit of the abbey and then dinner in the gourmet restaurant.  The Restaurant is Michelin-starred and we will organize the meal so that people sit at small tables of their own choosing and dine when they want as if they were without the group.

Overnight: Hotel Fontevraud, Loire Valley, France. 

wednesday
may 15

Fontevraud

 

Buffet breakfast in the restaurant starting from 7:00 a.m.

8:00-10:30 am. Medical meeting in the Salle Anjou 1.

Today’s Ride: 40 or 60 km past the towering Château de Saumur, through the vineyards of Bonnezeaux and to the mushroom caves of Chenehutte.  



Today’s Hike: 11 km
from the riverside town of Saumur south along tiny vineyard lanes of Champigny to the mammoth Château Brézé.

Château de Brézé is Renaissance in style yet retains medieval elements including a drawbridge and a unique 12th-century trogloditic basement cut into the tufa. Today, it is the residence of descendants of the ancient lords. The château is a listed ancient monument originally dating from 1060 and belonged to the powerful and influential family of the Dreux-Brézé for centuries before being taken over - by marriage - by the family of Colbert, descendant of the Minister of Louis XIV.

Lunch at leisure for both bikers and hikers in any number of tiny villages and cute cafés along the routes.

Biking and hiking and visiting continues through the early afternoon but both groups arrive back to the hotel in plenty of time to relax a bit before dinner and get ready for the evening’s activities.

This evening we split into two groups. 

½ of our group will transfer to the restored historic river boat L’Amarante for an evening cruise along the Loire River viewing towering châteaux and beautiful villages from a river perspective.  Drinks and dinner onboard as we glide through the calm waters.   

The other ½ of our group will enjoy an after-hours’ private visit of the abbey and then dinner in the gourmet restaurant.  The Restaurant is Michelin-starred and we will organize the meal so that people sit at small tables of their own choosing and dine when they want as if they were without the group.

Overnight: Hotel Fontevraud, Loire Valley, France. 

thursday
may 16

Fontevraud

 

Buffet breakfast in the restaurant starting from 7:00 a.m.

8:00-10:30 am. Medical meeting in the Salle Anjou 1.

Today’s Ride:  50 or 60 km ride south from our abbey home through the vineyards of Champigny to the stunning Château de Montreuil Bellay.  

Today’s Hike: 12 km along tiny country paths to the Château de Montreuil Bellay and then further south past the Neolithic Menhir Pierre de Lenay.

The magnificent Château de Montreuil-Bellay sits high on a hill on the banks of the Thouet River overlooking its terraced gardens that unfold down to the river’s banks.  It is the last of the 32 walled cities of Anjou and consists of two buildings - the medieval fortress or Vieux Château and the French Renaissance Nouveau Château built in the 15th century.  It is encompassed within massive ramparts that have retained 13 round towers, 6 gates, moats and drawbridges. 

Lunch at leisure along the routes.

Biking and hiking and visiting continues through the early afternoon but both groups arrive back to the hotel in plenty of time to relax a bit before dinner and get ready for the evening’s activities.



Short transfer into Chinon where we enjoy in-depth guided historical and architectural orientation walk of this stunning medieval town
.

Dinner will be at leisure this evening with all kinds of suggestions from us.  There are simple cafés, fun bistros and serious gourmet restaurants that we will direct you towards.

Overnight: Hotel Fontevraud, Loire Valley, France. 

friday
may 17

Fontevraud

 

Buffet breakfast in the restaurant starting from 7:00 a.m.

8:00-10:30 am. Medical meeting in the Salle Anjou 1.

Today’s Ride: 40 -65 km.  Across the Loire River to the vineyards of the Bourgueil region where there are limitless opportunities to drop in and taste at local wineries.    

Today’s Hike: 11 km along tiny lanes and vineyard trails through the Bourgueil wine region.

The area around Chinon, Bourgueil and Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil produces the majority of the Loire Valley's red wine based on the Cabernet franc grape—known in this area as Breton. The wines of the Chinon area are the softest and richest expression of the grape while the Bourgueil area produces more tannic and firm wines. The St-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil area produces the lightest colored wines. In the 19th century, the wines of the Chinon area were compared favorably by critics to the wines of Château Margaux and even today are considered some of the best expressions of the Cabernet franc grape. Unlike Cabernet franc from warmer climates, Chinon is typically served slightly cooler than most red wine.

Lunch at leisure for both bikers and hikers in any number of small villages, cafés, vineyards and restaurants along the route.

Biking and hiking continues through the early afternoon but both groups arrive back to the hotel in plenty time to relax a bit and  perhaps pack in anticipation of tomorrow’s departure.

Gala private final cocktails and dinner in exclusive Bas Dortoir of our special abbey space.

Overnight: Hotel Fontevraud, Loire Valley, France. 

saturday
may 18

departures

 

Buffet breakfast in the restaurant starting from 7:00 a.m.

1. Two group transfers will take place this morning.  In case anyone is trying to connect home today on a flight.  Departing the hotel at 6:45 am to connect with TGV 5260.  Departing St-Pierre-des-Corps at 8:02 am arriving into Charles de Gaulle Airport at 9:41 am.  In plenty of time to connect with any flight leaving at 11:45 am or later. 

2. For those spending time in Paris after the trip.  Departing hotel at 9:45 am to connect with TGV 8360.  Departing St-Pierre-des-Corps at 10:53 am arriving into Paris Montparnasse Station at 11:51 am.