The summer holidays are here and I've promised my offspring that I'll spend some time with each of them. At the beginning of July, I'm taking Hugo, my history-loving teenager, to follow in the footsteps of Richard the Lionheart at Saint-Rémy-sur-Creuse. During the Hundred Years' War, this unusual village served as a fortress for the heir to the English throne against French incursions.
There's no traditional hike or tour on the programme, but a connected treasure hunt signed by Tèrra Aventura. A morning full of surprises awaits us with La Sorcière des troglo'.
WHAT IS TÈRRA AVENTURA?
It's a free smartphone application, 100%, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. Boxes/bottles, called "caches", are hidden around the country. The aim? Find out where they are and what treasures they contain.
In the caches live the Poï'z, little characters with a strong character, present in the form of badges to collect. Finding them is easy. Choose a route, let yourself be guided, answer the riddles and that's it!
There are no time constraints. Everyone experiences the adventure at their own pace. Some even picnic along the way, or stop off at a café or museum...
Muggles (those who haven't heard of Tèrra Aventura yet) be warned: this 2.0 treasure hunt appeals to all generations and is great for families. It's a clever idea to get the youngsters going and the teenagers out and about.
More than 350,000 teams have already registered and more than 1,260,000 caches have been discovered!
If you're a regular reader of this blog, you'll know how important it is for Hugo to visit the Tourist Offices! So we start our tour with a stop at the Dangé-Saint-Romain office, 10 kilometres from Saint-Rémy-sur-Creuse. Aurélie welcomed us, surrounded by a fine selection of local produce. After a pleasant break in the cosy rattan garden furniture, we consulted the documentation.
Then it's on to the village of 400 inhabitants founded by Richard the Lionheart, at the gateway to Indre et Loire. Before immersing ourselves in the world of Les Poï'z, we decided to follow Aurélie's advice: push on to the edge of the village to get the best view of the tufa cliffs pierced by troglos: photo opportunity guaranteed! The scene is set.
LA SORCIÈRE DES TROGLO' TRAIL
A quick glance at the app tells us that we need to park in the car park opposite Paille en Queue, the restaurant where I've booked lunch. Equipped with our smartphone, a water bottle and some good trainers, we set off on a two-kilometre micro-adventure!
Hugo proclaims himself Chief Adventurer: " I'm guiding Mum! ". Captivated by the dialogue between Zarthus, Zeïdon and Zéroïk (oh yes, I forgot to mention: all the Poï'z surnames begin with Z), he read out the directions on his phone and followed the GPS route. Good training for his sense of direction! As the questions and clues come in, Hugo validates the answers, six in all. Adding up the correct answers will give the GPS coordinates of the cache... and save the spinner's baby, who has been kidnapped by the wicked witch!
Don't worry, I'm not going to spoil anything. I can, however, tell you that this route is an opportunity to take an interest in our heritage: a charming wash-house, a small Romanesque church perched high up, a defensive tower built by the son of Eleanor of Aquitaine...
This original and fun walk also immerses you for a while in the woods, where the paths are sometimes steep but never dangerous. The treasure hunt ends with a magnificent view over the Creuse valley. " The river below served as the border between France and England in the Middle Ages, can you believe it? "says my budding historian.
But the highlight of the show is, of course, the troglodyte village, which dates back to the Magdalenian era and is still partly inhabited today. As the Poï'z tell us, these caves were occupied by weavers from the 17th century.e to 19e century. Troglodyte craftsmen grew hemp here.
After an hour, thanks to our six correct answers out of six, the GPS guided us to the treasure. In a frenzy, Hugo searched carefully everywhere and was about to give up when, suddenly... a QR code jumped out at him! Just behind it was the famous bottle filled with badges bearing the image of Zarthus. Hugo dipped his hand in to retrieve the grail and start his Poï'z collection. His face was full of joy, satisfaction and even pride.
What I liked best: the fascinating anecdotes, the shady walk through the lovely undergrowth, the banana trees in the troglos, the little grotto of Notre-Dame de Lourdes and sharing a special moment with my son.
Hugo's opinion, aged 16 : " You quickly get hooked. I loved visiting the village while following the trail, because I was an actor, not just a spectator. This little village has quite a history and the houses in the cliffs are so beautiful! "
- Name of route: La Sorcière des Troglo' (The Troglo Witch)
- County : Vienne (86)
- Cache theme: Views and nature
- Puzzle difficulty: 3/5
- Difficulty of terrain: 3/5
- Duration: 1 hour
- Distance: 2 km
- Poi'z to find: Zarthus
After the effort, the comfort...
We're on our way to Le Paille en Queue, the village's bar, tobacconist and restaurant for the last 10 years. Originally from the neighbouring department, the smiling Angélique welcomes us while her husband Frédéric takes customers on a voyage with his Creole-style cuisine. The Reunionese menu is served at weekends or by prior arrangement.
After hesitating between the room with its colourful fresco and the island atmosphere, we opted for the terrace surrounded by aviaries. Canaries, cockatoos, kakarikis and turquoise parakeets provide the soundtrack.
We'll be trying accras and prawn curry on our return home (a big hit with the whole family) as I ordered takeaway.
For now, it's time for the more traditional daily menu at €14. For starters: an effective chef's terrine for me and a Piedmontese salad for Hugo, who was won over. Main course: chicken curry and beef with delicious home fries. For dessert: refreshing Italian-style ice cream.
I appreciate this quiet tête-à-tête with Hugo, as well as the kindness of our hosts.
Le Paille en Queue
52 rue du Val de Creuse 86220 Saint-Rémy-sur-Creuse Tel: 05 49 85 94 22
Open daily for lunch, Friday and Saturday evenings.
Sunday evenings: takeaway pizzas, burgers and paninis.
Traditional or Creole dishes to take away in jars (easy to store).
AND ALSO IN GRAND CHATELLERAULT
The region is a vast playground to discover. Five other routes await Tèrr'aventuriers in the châtelleraudais region:
- "Overheating at La Manu!" in Châtellerault For those who like their investigations hard-boiled
- "Les Jours d'Angles sont contés" at Angles-sur-l'Anglin as picturesque as it is sporty
- "Neomaye aux pieds palmés" in Scorbé-Clairvaux ideal for the very young
- And in La Roche-Posay: "Kerlouët sonne l'alarme" and "Un bain d'eau de velours".
Until I tell you about my next adventures, I leave you with the six golden rules laid down by the Wise Men of Tèrra Aventura:
Rule 1: Respect nature, the environment and its inhabitants
Rule 2: Find and flash a QR code, then look for the treasure.
Rule 3: Write your adventure story in a commentary
Rule 4: You'll be as discreet as a shadow
Rule 5: You'll pick up litter along the way
Rule 6: Have you fallen on a bone? Call the tourist office!
You can download the application free of charge from your smartphone from Google Play and Apple Store.
The application also works offline. Remember to download the route data beforehand.
If you don't have a smartphone, don't panic! You can print out the route map from home. You'll also need a GPS.