This historic village in the heart of the Pays de Loire has an abbey dating from the 16th century which has interesting and colourful stained glass windows. The village was at the centre of a thriving mining community and you can still visit traces of the old coal mines.
But now, Montrelais is a lively village, divided into two parts by the railway line, the old part to the south – where the holiday cottage and the abbey are situated, and the new part to the north where one finds the school, the community centre and the newer building projects.
The village itself boasts a Centre d’Art where both established and budding artists are given a chance to display their works. There are about four exhibitions a year and the Centre is open almost every weekend throughout the year.
The nearest towns are Varades and Ingrandes-sur-Loire, both five minutes drive away. Montrelais is situated only 15 minutes from the historical town of Ancenis and the well-known abbey and town of Saint Florent-le-Vieil.
Les Orientales, the festival of Saint-Florent-Le-Vieil, takes place at the end of June every year. Musicians from all over the world take part in this renowned festival.
Ancenis is another historical town only 15 minutes from Montrelais. More information here
A little further are Saumur, Candé, Challain-la-Pôterie and Laval. The nearest beach is at La Baule, about two hours drive away on the Atlantic coast.
St Florent le Vieil
There is a restaurant 100 metres away from the gite – Le Mont Relais – which is open each lunchtime and occasionally in the evening. Other excellent restaurants can be found along the banks of the Loire including La Closerie des Roses and Le Petit Pêcheur at Varades, Le Poisson d’Argent on the south side of the river at Ingrandes, and for a more simple meal, La Gavotte crêperie in the centre of Varades.
Great choice of restaurants in the area
Located in the west of Brittany, Nantes is an intriguing city on the River Loire. You will find plenty of things to see and do in this charming and historic region.
Nantes is situated at the western end of the Loire Valley where you can take in the sights of the city or head off into the countryside to explore the various vineyards and chateaux.
Nantes at night
Other attractions and local buildings within the city include the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul and the Eglise Notre-Dame de Bon-Port (Basilica of Saint Louis).
The home of the author Jules Verne, Nantes was once an important port and is today a diverting an innovative place with cultural events all year round such as theatre and jazz festivals.
The central Place du Commerce is home to the historic square of La Place Royale, the wild night-life of le Quai de la Fosse, and the designer boutiques of La Rue Crébillon. Down the road you’ll find the Passage Pommeraye, a small beautiful 19th century shopping mall filled with statues and covered with a delightful skylight.
The old dockyards that were based on the Ile de Nantes in the middle of the River Loire, have been modernised to become a leisure destination containing the not-to-be-missed Machines de l’Ile de Nantes. This artistic and fantastical workshop inspired by Jules Verne, features a monumental mechanical elephant which roams around carrying up to 49 passengers.
Angers, situated in western France about 300 km (190 mikes) southwest of Paris is the historical capital of Anjou and the main city of the Maine-et-Loire department. Before the French Revolution Angers was the capital of the province of Anjou and inhabitants of both the city and the province are called Angevins.
For centuries, Angers was an important stronghold, a cradle of the Plantagenet dynasty and was, during the reign of René of Anjou, one of the intellectual centres of Europe.
Angers developed at the confluence of three rivers, the Mayenne, the Sarthe and the Loir, all coming from the north and flowing south into the Loire. Their confluence, just north of Angers, creates the Maine, a short but wide river that flows into the Loire several kilometres south. The Angers metropolitan area is a major economic centre, particularly active in the industrial sector, horticulture and business tourism.
Angers enjoys a rich cultural life, made possible by its university and museums. The old medieval centre is still dominated by the massive chateau of the Plantagenets, home of the famous Apocalypse Tapestry, the biggest medieval tapestry ensemble in the world. Angers is also both at the edge of the Val de Loire (a World Heritage site) and the Loire-Anjou-Touraine regional natural park.
There are many interesting châteaux to be visited including Palais Briau (open April to October), Serrant, Brissac and Saumur, as well as the ruin of Champtocé, and Les Jardins des Pins (by appointment only).
Nature has been preserved with many woodland walks, interesting wild flowers and birds, and at night one can hear the frogs and sometimes, amongst others, the song of the nightingale.
This area, and further to the south and east, are famous vine growing areas and there are many producers who regularly offer wine tasting and bee-keepers who sell delicious honey. We recommend especially a visit to the beautifully laid out Les Vignes de l’Alma between Saint-Florent-Le-Vieil and La Boutouchère, run by Roland Chevalier and his wife, Marie-Pauline. You will receive a warm welcome, as well as a glass (or two) of good wine!