The Three Gs: Gien, Grapes and Goats’ cheese

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Now, simply read on to discover more about Gien, Grapes and Goats’ cheese, in the Loire Valley.

Gien, the town on the Loire

Excavations have shown that Gien was a trading post for farmers and blacksmiths in pre-historic times, and that a town was founded in Roman times.
As a Protestant town, Gien suffered greatly during the Religious Wars, with the looting of the churches and clergy being hunted down.
More sorrow followed when over 400 buildings, including two churches, were destroyed during WWII by a great fire, ignited by the bombing of Gien’s 18th-century bridge,  the previous bridge having been washed away during severe flooding in 1733.
The 12 arch bridge is a symbol of the tenacity of the Giennois!

 Gien 12-arched bridge
Gien 12-arched bridge

The town was rebuilt after the war and has a mix of ancient and more modern quarters worthy of a visit.

Dating from the 15th century, the chateau was a gift to the Regent Anne of France.  Take a stroll in Gien to follow in the footsteps of royalty…it has hosted many french kings including Francis I, Henri II, Charles IX & Louis XIV,  the Queen Consorts Catherine de Medici and Anne of Austria.
Although the chateau was bombed during WWII, it was rebuilt and is currently being restored to its former glory.
The national hunting museum, housed within the Chateau, remains open during the restoration.   The museum is one of the largest of its kind in Europe, and exhibits include beautiful artwork and sculptures.

The Gien pottery, founded in 1821 by Englishman Thomas Edme Hulme, produces world-renowned pottery at a reasonable cost.

The tableware is hand-painted, and visitors can see the artists at work in the factory, and buy unique pieces in the boutique.  The history of this remarkable pottery is traced through artefacts in the museum.


Grapes have been grown in the Loire region since the 1st century.
There are numerous vineyards producing red and white grapes, the most famous being the Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir.

The vineyards change so much throughout the year, from the bare Cordons in winter, to leafy foliage on the fruiting cane in the spring, through to the glorious grapes ripening in the sunshine in late summer/early autumn.

The vines can be trained in various ways…  single stems, glass shapes, upright, low… but with the sole purpose of ensuring that the grapes are of good quality.
The vineyards at Sancerre and Pouilly are a must-see for any enthusiast!


While Pouilly produces white wines only,  Sancerre produces white, red and rosé wines.

Goats’ cheese


The tradition of making cheese from goats milk dates back to the 8th century, when the fleeing Saracens, defeated at Poitiers, left their goats and cheese-making recipes behind in their haste to escape.
With over 300 cheeses produced in France,  goats cheese accounts for 30% of this daily delicacy.
The Loire region boasts six AOC (Appellation d’Origine Controlee) cheeses:

Crottin de Chavignol

A sweet and sour, slightly salty cheese, presented in a small round.
Serve with Sancerre de Chavignol.

Sainte Maure de Touraine

This log-shaped cheese is quite firm, with a hint of walnut flavour, and is characterized by a blue-grey mould.
Serve with  Chinon or Vouvray.


The shape of this cheese owes itself to Napoleon’s temper!
On returning from Egypt after a disastrous campaign, he took offence to the pyramid form of the cheese while dining at the chateau of Valencay supposedly took off the peak with his sword!
To this day, the pyramid cheese has a flat top.
Serve with Quincy, Reuilly, or Sancerre.

French goats cheese


This is a slightly sour, but creamy cheese often served in a flattened round shape. Serve with a Reuilly or a Sancerre wine.

Chabichou de Poitou

A proud standing cheese with a sweet flavour.
Serve with Pouilly Fumé or Sancerre.

Pouligny-Saint-Pierre: A dark coloured cheese in the form of the Eiffel tower, aptly nick-named the Pyramid cheese.
The taste changes in the mouth from sour and salty to sweet. This cheese is delicious served with Sancerre or Reuilly.

While some may find the appearance and odour to be rather ‘unique’,  the taste of goats cheese, when accompanied by a well-chosen wine, is wonderful!

What better way to discover Gien, and taste these fine wines and cheeses than in the area in which they are produced?
Do so on a cruise holiday, and you can also enjoy the stunning views of the beautiful countryside and visit the enticing towns and villages alongside the beautiful canal and adjacent river.

Whether you wish to pilot your own boat, or join other guests aboard a bespoke hotel barge, we have plenty of choice for all, with some irresistible offers when cruising in the Loire Valley this year.

Self-drive boating holidays

Both modern and traditional styles, for groups of 2 to 12!

Le Boat: A range of modern style boats, including some air-conditioned models.
15% off one-week cruises (excludes Horizons)Valid until February 2nd

montage nicols

Nicols: Perfect for families, the Nicols range has modern-style boats.
This week we are offering a  20% discount on one-week cruises (25% if cruising in April!) Valid until January 26th

penichette montage

Locaboat: A great range of modern and traditional styles ideal for couples, groups and families alike.
20% off all one-week cruises; Valid until January 31st

Don’t delay! These discounts are valid when booking with Hotels Afloat.

Hotel barge, luxury cruising

Adagio hotel barge

Adagio: A luxurious and exceptionally spacious barge for up to 8 guests
Completely refitted for the 2020 season.

Private wine tastings in Sancerre.
Discover Gien, the Chateau Geudelon, Chateau de Fontainebleau & Chateau of St Fargeau

Charters & cabins* available: From June 7th to July 26th.
SAVE 10% on charter bookings!

*Minimum of 2 cabins

To discover the Loire with Hotels Afloat this year, simply complete the contact form below.