The great journey of Saint-Martin de Tours is the first that connects Eastern Europe to Western Europe, from Szombathely in Hungary to Candes-Saint-Martin in Touraine, through Italy and Slovenia. This long journey on the traces of San Martino – an indefatigable walker born in Hungary seventeen centuries ago, lived in Italy and died in Touraine in Candes-Saint-Martin - well represents the values of intercultural dialogue and the need to share the water, the air, the environment, cultures, knowledge, the right to education and to health. The French section of the saint's pilgrimage, which partly coincides with the Via Francigena and joins the European Cultural Routes network, can be retraced following three itineraries: Le Chemin de l’Été de Saint Martin (Chinon, Candes-Saint-Martin, Langeais, Tours), Le Chemin de l’Évêque de Tours (Poitiers, Ligugé, Le Louroux, Tours) and Le Chemin de Trèves (Tours, Vouvray, Amboise, Villedômer, Vendôme).
The historical, cultural and patrimonial contribution of wine have great importance, also witnessed by the fact that Saint Martin is considered the patron saint of winemakers in the region of Tours. It was around the Abbey of Marmoutier, founded by the Saint in IV century in the territory of Rougemont in the Loire Valley, that the first vines brought from Central Europe were planted to produce wine for mass and medicinal potions for the sick and the elderly. History attributes to the saint the introduction of the vine and a pruning method still used today. Certainly he is responsible for the domestication of the local wild grape and the graft of the black Chenin on the wild Chenin which gave life to the white Chenin (or Pineau of the Loire), element of many wines of the AOC Vouvray of Touraine and of the Anjou-Saumur wine area. At his death, he was buried like all the monks in the bare earth, but on a bed of vine branches and his tomb, to whose right you can admire a magnificent vineyard, was the scene of many miracles related to wine. Over the centuries the monks continued to cultivate and develop the Vouvray vineyard on stony slopes with a tufaceous substratum (white gypsum), interrupted by confluent valleys, by “perruches” (silicate-rich clays) and by “aubuis” (clayey and calcium deposits, that give strength to liqueur wines). At the edge of the valleys, the soils heat up quickly under the influence of the ocean. The sunny autumn season favors overgrazing, allowing the formation of the noble mold. The possibility of obtaining soft (semi dry), sweet or liqueur wines depends on the climatic variability: the vintage effect is decisive. Moreover, every year great secscovering 40% of a total annual production of up to 115 000 hl.
Balzac also left his influence in Vouvray by setting there his novel “The illustrious Gaudissart”, so much so that the statue of this imaginary travelling salesman still finds a place in a village square.
Must see attractions:
The Abbey of Marmoutier, founded by Saint Martin of Tours in 372, after it had become bishop of the city, in 371. It is an ancient Benedictine monastery that rises just outside the city of Tours, on the opposite bank of the Loire. The Latin name Majus Monasterium (“major monastery”) gave rise to the current toponym of Marmoutier. In 852 it was sacked by the Viking Hasting. During the French revolution it was suppressed and some of its parts were demolished. Currently the structure houses a private school.