Autumn Walk
24th October

Mme Monique Sansoni

On Friday 16th October 2020, Tony Oakley organised the ESU autumn walk, which took place around the village of Sainte Gemmes-sur-Loire.

This village, situated South of Angers at the confluence of the Loire in the South and the Maine in the West, dates back to the Roman history of Angers.

The group of twenty-two walkers, made up of ESU members and friends plus Gracie the dog, met in front of the Town Hall, all of them masked, for a 10am start on a beautiful sunny morning.

Very soon we got to the edge of the Loire. At first, we noticed the riverbed was so dry, only sand could be seen. Across the other bank is in fact an island called ‘ l’île aux Chevaux ‘, inaccessible on foot, where a few families have been living for generations.

Soon on our right appeared an impressive building behind large gates. This château built at the time of Louis the XIVth, in 1707, became the property of the Maine et Loire department in 1842 after a law passed in 1838 required each department to acquire a specialised establishment to take charge of ‘lunatics’. This property was chosen and has been the core of the well-known psychiatric hospital of the region ever since.

Further on, the other arm of the Loire brought flowing water with swans and birds enjoying the sunshine. We even saw a group of cormorants flying home after their feed.

We continued walking in small groups, some having to stop and wait for the slow walkers now and then, passing some beautiful tall trees changing colours until we reached the point called ‘La Pointe’, where the Loire meets the Maine. There we stopped a while enjoying the scenery and trying to locate the neighbouring villages on the banks of the river.

On the way back we had time only to spare a minute or two to enter the ‘Jardin Méditerranéen ‘, a botanical garden with a profusion of plants, flowers, and trees from the Mediterranean region. It would be well worth going back for a relaxing visit.

We came back to the Town Hall at 12. 45p.m. after having walked roughly 10km, reaching the ‘Restaurant de la Loire’ in time for a well-deserved lunch. A few people left for home while others who find walking difficult joined the group just for lunch making 18 in all.

A big thank you to Tony for a beautiful location and well organised walk enjoyed by all, even though we were wearing masks due to the resurgence of the Corona virus. Looking forward to the next opportunity for another lovely walk amongst friends.

Those who met for lunch were not to be disappointed. We had a room to ourselves and sat at tables of four or six people. Two menus had been prepared especially for us and everyone had previously selected their preferred meal. No-one was to be disappointed. The atmosphere was very friendly. The food was delicious and beyond all expectations at such a reasonable price: so much so, that the chef was called to receive a round of applause. The committee has added the ‘Restaurant de la Loire’ to our list of those we hope to visit on another occasion. Thank you again, Tony, for introducing us.