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London City Airport to Angers:
Would I like to go to the Loire Valley with a group of food and wine bloggers? Of course I would! I love French food and wine and I haven’t been to the Loire since I was about eleven. But I remember it well! Fabulous chateaux, visits to vineyards and caves, my first taste of fizzy wine and some of the best food I’d ever tried. I suspect it was from that first trip to France that my love of the country was born, although by chance it’s not somewhere I’ve returned to until now.
Or perhaps it’s not just by chance. Travelling to the Loire when I was a kid was something of a trek. There were no direct flights, so, if you were determined you could travel to Paris and then get an internal flight. My Father preferred to drive so we took the ferry to Ostend and stayed overnight there (I think it was a hotel he’d been to with his OWN parents as we always went back to the same place). Then we would drive for what seemed like days. The three of us (I have two younger brothers) in the back of the car all fighting about who had a window seat and my Mother occasionally losing patience and telling us ‘we’ll all end up in a hospital if you don’t quieten down’.
How much easier it is now. There are direct flights from London City Airport to Angers that take a little over an hour. And what a surprise City Airport was for me. I have travelled from there before, when it first opened in 1987. I hated the experience because I arrived (from Amsterdam) in a tiny, half finished shell of an airport and then had to get a bus to Liverpool Street (the wrong direction for me) before getting the tube to West London. But all that has changed. Now it’s really quite chic and, with the DLR links, easy to reach. Just a short hop from Bank or Canning Town on the train at the cost of a Zone Three travel card. Other destinations include Chambery, Florence, Copenhagen and a Business Class only flight to New York which must be complete bliss if you are used to the relative chaos of Heathrow.
It’s small but perfectly formed. Check-in takes a few minutes, the queues are minimal and you don’t need to arrive hours ahead of your flight. I’ve travelled a lot on business and this was probably one of the easiest and least stressful experiences I’ve had – despite the increased security.
We started the trip by sharing some Loire wine and nibbles at the City Airport bar and grill. There’s a good city Brasserie type menu with a full breakfast, extensive wine list and attractive menu that we were told was to allow travellers to meet pre-flight in a relaxed and comfortable environment. We certainly enjoyed our cold meat platter and antipasti…and a glass or so of wine.
Then on to our flight which was quick and pleasant.
Angers airport is even smaller than City and home to an aviation museum, a flying club and the commercial airport. So we were charmed to be greeted by a deck of waving children who happened to be visiting the museum and were clearly excited at the sight of a (relatively) large jet landing.
Part Two, when we start to get down to business will follow soon.