Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Word Of The Week


Anyone who has traveled in France knows this word. Strike! It means the trains aren't running, the planes aren't flying, or the garbage isn't being picked up.

This past weekend there was une grève of Air France flight attendants, wanting better pay and better working conditions. Last month we saw une grève of SNCF and RATP employees, making train travel a little bit painful. And they're threatening to do it again in November. Nicolas Sarkozy better be paying attention. All is not well in Camelot. He should be so lucky.

Anyway, there is another meaning of la grève. From the popular Latin, grava, it means sandbank, or beach. Like graviers, or gravel. Who knew?

Image from :

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Kitchen Collection [46]

Cocktail forks are essential. Or maybe they're not. But they do come in handy from time to time and for many things. We have these two sets, as you can see here.

Examples of our two styles of cocktail fork.

One set is two-pronged, with long prongs. Good for spearing things like stuffed olives. The other is more spoon-like and they're good for things like roasted red peppers in olive oil. We also have little picks, those tiny forks that are best for olives and pickles, some with fancy handles, but I haven't pictured them here.

I think we have about six of each of these, and we actually do use them for parties and other events. Who woulda thunk it?

Monday, October 29, 2007

Pumpkin Muffins

Okay. I know the pumpkin thing is getting a little bit out of hand. But still. I've got pumpkins and I have to use them. So on Sunday, I made pumpkin muffins.

My pumpkin muffins, cooling on a rack.

The recipe is the same one I used for pumpkin bread a week ago and it worked just wonderfully in the muffin tin. I had two of these for dessert on Sunday and I'm a happy guy.

I made one dozen, froze six (so Ken can taste them when he gets home), and kept six out for munching. Yum!

Ken emailed me from Anniston, AL, where he is staying with friends for the next couple of days before going to North Carolina. They took off from CDG yesterday about 18h00 CET. He said they actually sat on the plane for two hours before takeoff, but once in the air everything was smooth. The plane wasn't even full and he and Marie had a row of three seats to themselves.

He'll probably start updating his blog before too long, but in case he doesn't, I will provide updates. He'll love that...

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Sunday Is Laundry Day

At least it is for some people. Not for me, at least not today. We do laundry whenever we need to, usually running our machine overnight and hanging the clothes out the next morning. When it's cold or raining, we either hang the clothes inside or wait.

Looks like sheets and towels.

A nice thing about living in the country is that we can actually hang our clothes outside to dry rather than always using the dryer. It's especially nice in the summer, but on dry sunny days we can even hang them outside in winter. We do have a clothes line inside for wet days. It used to be in the utility room, but I recently moved it to the garage. Too much information?

The house pictured above is on the right bank of the Cher in Noyers, right across from Saint-Aignan. It was last Sunday and the laundry was out.

And here's an update for those of you tracking Ken's trip. He made it to Paris with no problem, but the shuttles that operate at the airport to serve the hotels were a bit messed up. He canceled his dinner plans and ate at a restaurant close to his hotel. He told me on the phone that there were lots of people and they seemed dazed and confused.

I later saw on the news that the Air France flight attendants were striking on Saturday over salary issues and as a consequence many flights were delayed or canceled. I'll bet that had an impact on the shuttles and the number of people trying to move around the airport to make alternative plans. The flight attendants are still not happy, so there will likely be a continuation of the "labor action" on Sunday.

This is the start of a holiday week here in France and people are traveling in large numbers (Thursday is la Toussaint - All Saints Day - a day off). The travelers they interviewed on the news were not happy campers. Usually these strikes don't affect long-haul international flights, but the reporter said even some of those were being delayed and canceled this time.

I'm hoping that Ken's flight gets off ok. I checked the website and there's no indication of anything screwy yet, but it's too early. I'll know in the afternoon.

Saturday, October 27, 2007


This is a quick image from last weekend's island walk. As I've said, there are many garden allotments on the island. Each of them probably reflects the personality of its owner.

Like this one. It says, "It's no use breaking in; there's nothing worth stealing." I'll post more island pictures over the next few days. Today I'm taking Ken to the train station. He's starting his grand adventure to the States - Alabama then North Carolina.

As for me and Callie, we're staying home to guard the house.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Puppy Pic Of The Week

Last weekend Callie and I went over to the island again for our Sunday afternoon walk. We made our way to the downstream point of the island and Callie decided to jump into the river for a swim.

Well, she only went in knee-deep, so it wasn't really a swim. It was probably too cold. She waded in again when we got over to where the little beach is on the other end of the island.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Pâte De Soja

Having lived in San Francisco for nearly eighteen years before moving to France, Ken and I developed a taste for good Asian food. Chinese, of course, but Thai, Japanese, and Vietnamese cuisines were big favorites. Filipino, Malaysian, Korean, it was all available.

We know that there are great Asian restaurants in Paris. But out here in the countryside such exotic cooking is hard to come by. We decided that we would make our own Asian food, to the best of our ability, that is. And we do all right. Not gourmet fare, but decent stir-fries, noodle dishes, and even our own egg-rolls (nems) and spring rolls (rouleaux de printemps), and California rolls.

So we searched for ingredients. Our local supermarchés have tiny little foreign food sections made up mostly of Old El Paso Mexican ingredients, some Portuguese things in cans, and some very basic, and quite expensive, mass-market Asian things. Among them, soy sauce, bean sprouts in a jar, rice noodles, and pre-made microwaveable meals.

A friend told us that there was an Asian grocer in nearby Blois, but we couldn't find it. And I'm sure there must be some in Tours, but that's an hour each way.

This is the label from the can of tofu that we buy in Paris.

I went online to find an Asian connection. The best I could do was to find Tang Frères, a huge Asian food importer in Paris with several stores in the metropolitan area. So we decided that Asian food shopping was as good an excuse as any for a drive to Paris every now and then. And, whenever we happen to be in Paris, a stop in the 13th (a large Asian population and the site of several Tang and many other Asian grocery stores) is usually on the agenda.

We normally get things like dried mushrooms, all varieties of dried noodles, Asian sauces, rice paper, cans of baby corn or bamboo shoots, sushi rice, wasabi, and other stuff that fills up the pantry. What we can't really get for storage is fresh food. Like tofu.

Except that we can. As in CAN. It's not fresh, but tofu in cans does exist, and I have to say, it's not bad. Especially if that's all you can get. So we buy cans of tofu and use it in our stir fries and other Asian dishes. It's not bad. Really. Not the same as fresh, but ok, nonetheless. Trust me.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Word Of The Week


It's happening early this year. We usually don't see le givre until late November, early December. But this year it's here in October.

It's not a lot, not the heavy variety, but we do notice it here and there when we walk the dog each morning. And Jacques Givre nips at our nose (I know that Jacques is the French equivalent of James; work with me here).

By now you've guessed that le givre is frost. Also known as les gelées d'automne. From the pre-Latin Gaulois word joivre.

If this photo looks familiar, it probably is. I posted it last December when, on Christmas Eve, we had a particularly frosty morning here at the house.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Kitchen Collection [45]

When you live in France, you must eat cheese. And to eat cheese, you need knives. To cut the cheese, as it were. I will say no more.

Two of the four cheese knives in this set.

Except for this: we have many knives for cutting cheese. Those pictured here are part of a special set, given to us by a friend from Chicago who knows what good cheese cutting implements they are.

We love to use them on special occasions.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Time For Nerdiness

One of the things that I have time for these days is keeping track of the temperature at our house. I don't have a fancy weather station linked to the computer, though. That would be too easy.

We do have a fancy-pants electronic thermometer with three remote sensors. One of those sensors is outside on the north side of the house, out of the sun, so we can see how warm or cold it is out there. The main unit inside the house records the current temps and the highs and lows for each sensor.

I have to read the main unit each day, write down the highs and lows and re-set it for the next day. It's become a little routine now after about three years. I put the data into a spreadsheet and have all kinds of nerdy fun with it.

Click on the image for a bigger view.

This is a chart of the median daily temperature here at our place since March 2005. For the less nerdy among you, the median is the mid-point between the high and low for each day. You can see the summer peaks (starting with 2005) and the winter valleys pretty clearly.

You may also be able to see that Winter 2007 was much warmer than the same season in 2006 and the end of 2005. The difference between Summer 2007 and the previous two years is also evident. We certainly weren't imaging our mild winter and cool summer - the data backs it up.

And so far, this October is cooler than the last two were.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Boo !

Yes, I know. It's a little too early for Halloween. But still. These webs were just there, begging to be photographed. I saw them in our neighbor's yard, hanging from the cognassier (the quince tree) that we can see from our kitchen window.

The tree died this past year, but our neighbor loves the way it looks and she's leaving it there. On this particular morning, the tree was just full of these webs. They were between us and the sunrise, so we saw them glinting in the light. There were at least eight or nine of them. I didn't see a single spider, however.

It was a pretty foggy morning, and the fog had condensed on the webs. Spooky !

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Pumpkin Biscotti

One of the few successes from this year's vegetable garden was the pumpkin patch. After the first round of seeds failed to sprout, I put in a second round and up they came, albeit a little late. After a while we had six or seven vines and about eight pumpkins growing.

It turns out that I had planted two varieties. One, a very round, large pale beige pumpkin, and another smaller one that's a more reddish orange with deeper ridges (pictured above). We harvested about four of each variety.

My fist batch of pumpkin biscotti.

Since I like to make biscotti during the holiday season, Ken found this recipe at Recipes for biscotti made with pumpkin. I roasted one of our reddish pumpkins in the oven and made two batches of cookies. The rest of the flesh we used to make a pumpkin soup with smoked paprika.

I added walnuts to the recipe since I had some on hand, and I sprinkled crystal sugar on top of the dough before baking it for a little extra visual appeal.

I thought the cookies were very good, but boy, were they chewy.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Puppy Pic Of The Week

Here's a close up of Mademoiselle Chose (Miss Thing) crunching on a doggy treat out on the deck.

She gets a treat right after her meals and every now and then when she's been especially good.

It's hard to get these shots because she's in constant motion. For every one I get like this, I have about eight that are completely blurry. Thank goodness for digital photography.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Hedge Status

Wednesday was a wet day, so I made no progress on the hedge. Temperatures are predicted to fall a bit now, but if it dries out I will be able to continue. Here's the progress so far:

The back hedge wraps around to the right of this photo the width of the yard. That conical bush in the back is a laurier sauce and we use the leaves in cooking. The concrete thing is the backyard barbecue.

The hedge is bay laurel, but not the edible kind. We have a very tall laurier sauce in the back, which is the edible kind, that I've also trimmed. I have to get very high up on a tall ladder to reach the top and it's a bit tricky what with the big hedge trimmer and the electric cord.

The back hedge wraps around two sides of the yard and is over six feet high. After trimming each side of the hedge, I have to attack the top from both inside the yard and outside the yard because it's over 1.5 meters wide and I can't reach across it from up on the ladder.

The portion pictured here runs along side the road and is the longest bit. You can see I've done inside and half the top. The next challenge is the outside and other half of the top. It's a pain because of the ditch out there (see this post from last year for pictures).

We're going to have to talk to the folks at the Mairie about getting that ditch filled in. Other people in the neighborhood have done it. It involves laying a drainage pipe then covering it over, and it has to be done by professionals. That means we foot the bill. But filling in that ditch would look a whole lot better and would make it much easier for me to trim the hedge.

After the back hedge is done, I have to do the front hedge. It's less long, but not by much.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Word Of The Week


This is another case of my having heard a word a thousand times without ever really knowing what it meant. I swear, learning another language makes me feel like I'm back in elementary school sometimes. For the rest of my life.

At any rate, I heard someone use this word on television last week and I was confused, because I couldn't get the idea from context. I had to ask Ken. He looked at me like I had just stepped off the plane. Or the boat.

I've now forgotten the context in which I heard it, but désaltérer is a verb that means to quench one's thirst. Its root word, altérer, means to change or modify, to alter in English. It's from the Latin alterare, to change. Its second meaning is to make thirsty. Stick the dés- in front and it means just the opposite.

Image from :

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Kitchen Collection [44]

Life is just a bowl of... salad! These glass saladiers are everywhere in France. From Parisian cafés to country households, you will often see salad served in these bowls which are shaped to resemble a lettuce leaf.

They're inexpensive and available at just about any super or hyper market. They come in all sizes, including an individual serving size. We just have this one medium sized one, and we don't really use it that often since we have other, bigger bowls for tossing salad.

Remember that in France, une salade usually refers to just a green lettuce salad dressed with a mustardy vinaigrette. It's often called une salade verte (a green salad) if there are other salad offerings on the menu. If you're having something other than that, it'll likely be called une salade composée, like une salade Niçoise, or a salad of one vegetable, like une salade de tomates.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Leftovers Again

Here are a few leftover images from our walk through the magic wood last week. There are many oak trees out there and we often found ourselves crunching along paths covered in acorns. Still, there are a few nuts left on the trees.

Acorn, Bcorn, Ccorn...

These curious things (below) were a mystery until I asked one of our neighbors about them. They're plastic wine jugs, the five liter size, suspended from trees in various locations on the edge of the wood. They have cylindrical baskets attached to the bottom and they're filled with seeds. At first I thought it was poison, but it's just feed for the pheasants to keep them around until hunting day.

Bird feeder.

Most of the pheasants around here are farm raised then released in the fall for hunting. Some, of course, survive the season and become wild birds, but not in sufficient enough numbers to sustain the population.

This is the plaque that's attached to that rusty old piece of farm machinery by the log pile.

Ancenis is a town in the Loire-Atlantique department, west of here, on the Loire River between Angers and Nantes.

And, of course, you can't get away without another look at the grape leaves changing color.

This one's going from green to white.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

More From The Magic Wood

At one edge of the wood there is a huge log pile that I've pictured here before. Behind the wood pile there is someone's collection of found things. Chimney pots, pipe sections, corrugated metal, boards, bricks, wheels, all manner of stuff. There are a couple of trailers, an old piece of farm machinery, and a funky little shed that's locked tight.

Callie scopes out the shed at the edge of the Magic Wood.

The paths around the site are well worn, but we've rarely, if ever, seen anyone there. Not even a tin woodsman. As Callie and I emerged from the Magic Wood, I could almost hear Optimistic Voices:

You're out of the woods
You're out of the dark
You're out of the night
Step into the sun
Step into the light
Keep straight ahead for
The most glorious place
On the face
Of the earth or the sky

Golden vineyards in the afternoon sun.

The views are indeed glorious. The vines have begun their transformation from lush and green to golden, after which the leaves will tumble to the ground leaving only the brown vine behind. Then, as winter settles in, the pruners will come out to snip them back.

The Cher Valley dips below a line of poplar trees and rises up on the other side.

The Emerald City can't be far now. Just gotta watch out for those poppies...

Ooops. Looks like the Wizard made his escape before we arrived.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

The Magic Wood

Yesterday afternoon, after our high pressure-induced, temperature inverted fog layer dissipated, the sun actually came out. I took the camera on my walk with the dog.

We stepped into the magic woods yesterday and, lo, the dead leaves are purple !

Callie is very different from her predecessor, Collette, on our routine walks. Collette was a right-down-the-road-and-back kind of gal. I'm talking here about the dirt road, two dirt tire tracks actually, that runs through the vineyard out back. Callie does not like to walk on the road.

A fern in the magical fall woods.

When I first tried to get Callie used to her leash, we walked on the road. She always wanted to turn back toward home. I think she thought I was taking her away. No fun there. When we did turn around to go back home, she galloped right along.

The grape leaves are transforming into brilliant patterns.

So, rather than take her on the road, I started taking her around the vineyard on the paths between the vines and the woods that surround them. Pretty quickly she forgot all about home and was riveted by the sights and smells of the woods' edge. So that's how we do it now, all around the edges, and no leash. We use the road sometimes, and she no longer has a problem with it.

And now we're actually venturing into the woods, following deer and footpaths through the trees. The woods can be dark and full of funny noises, especially with acorns and chestnuts dropping all around you. Lions and tigers and bears, oh my. Or, in our case, sangliers et lièvres et chevreuils, ma foi (wild boar, wild hare, roe deer).

I found a few of these on the ground in the middle of the vineyard. They're beer bottle caps. Someone had a little party out there.

Of course, our next big challenge is getting her to be comfortable riding in the car. It scares the crap out of her now. Actually, to be more precise, it scares the drool out of her. She gets so stressed in the car that she drools uncontrollably. Yuck.

Once she realizes that every car trip doesn't land her at the vet's, I think she'll be ok.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Puppy Pic Of The Week

A few weeks ago Ken's sister visited and got along famously with Callie. When she left for home, she left behind a pair of old socks for Callie to play with.

Callie poses with her li'l blue sock.

Well, Callie just loves these socks. They're tied together with a knot in the middle and they're great for chewing. But the best thing to do with the sock is to play tug-o-war. We're playing right now as I (try to) type this. I'll have to come back later and edit out the typos.

The socks will soon be no more, as Callie chews and rips them into oblivion. But I now have an idea for giving new purpose to all those socks of mine that have holes in them.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Black Eyed Susan

A while back, on one of her visits, our friend Chris brought us a couple of packets of black-eyed susan seeds. We've planted them in different locations, some wildly successful, others not so much.

This year a volunteer came up unexpectedly. I recognized the plant and just left it alone to grow or not. It grew. And now we have a beautiful, although lonely, black-eyed susan plant next to the well.

It's a great fall treat. Thanks, Chris !

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Word Of The Week


Thanks to Chez Loulou and her work on Like to Cook for this great idea (follow the links for the recipe) !

When Loulou said she made liqueur de coings (quince liqueur) every year it got me thinking. Our neighbor has a big old cognassier (quince tree) and most of the fruit rots every year. You can only do so much with quince.

One year, Ken made so much quince jelly that I don't think we'll ever need any more. So I got the liqueur recipe, pilfered about six quince from the neighbor's tree, and went to work.

My ratafia de coings bofore going into the cellar to macerate. I tripled the recipe (!) and divided it into one-liter canning jars.

The original recipe that Loulou quoted used the word ratafia to refer to this cordial. I've been served ratafia in French homes, and I think we've even bought some in a bottle once. So now I was wondering, what the heck is ratafia, anyway ?

The Larousse Gastronomique defines ratafia as a homemade cordial that's prepared by macerating (almost any) fruit in an eau-de-vie (distilled alcohol) with sugar. This as opposed to distilling the juice of the fruit directly. In Loulou's recipe, the quince are grated and macerated in vodka and sugar.

The macerating process will take a couple months, and our ratafia should be ready for this coming holiday season.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Kitchen Collection [43]

There's a point in the life of some people when they realize that food and cooking figure big in it. They understand that they are not dabbling, but are serious about making good food at home.

It's not about becoming a professional chef or anything like that. Just that they enjoy the process of planning, shopping for, preparing, and eating great meals. Not only on special occasions, but every day. It's not a passing fad, but an important part of why they enjoy life.

Our sauteuse, one of a collection of Tools of the Trade we got at Macy's in the eighties.

For me, this realization came around the time of our move to from Washington, DC, to San Francisco, back in the mid eighties. Ken and I had been back from France for nearly five years, but we tried to shop and eat as if we'd never left. We were always on the lookout for good bread and good wine at reasonable prices. We'd drive miles to seek out French ingredients or American ingredients that resembled them (the elusive equivalent of lardons, for example).

We'd make pot-au-feu, rabbit, duck, steak-au-poivre, purée (of everything), and tartes-aux-fruits. We collected cookbooks and watched Julia Child on television for ideas and tips. And we started expanding our collection of kitchen tools, our batterie de cuisine, so that we were well equipped to make everything.

As we settled into San Francisco, this process continued. We discovered Macy's Cellar, a great place back then for reasonably priced kitchen tools of good quality. This was in the days before the proliferation of specialty kitchen stores, and in the days before we could afford to frequent them (later, on a trip to Seattle, we visited Sur La Table for the first time - wow, that was fun !).

I remember that Macy's carried a line of pots and pans called Tools of the Trade. This was good quality stainless steel cookware that was affordable. But it also had a feature that was important to us at the time : the pots and their lids were 100% metal, with no plastic parts, so any of them could go into the oven. We bought several pieces.

The sauteuse pictured above is one of those we got back then. It has served us pretty well for the nearly twenty years we've had it, and looks none the worse for wear. It's been used on electric, gas, and halogen burners, in the oven, and under the broiler, too. Its only drawback is that it won't work on an induction cooktop. But we don't have one of those.

We'll probably have it and the other pots from the same line for the rest of our lives. What more can you ask from a kitchen utensil ?

Monday, October 08, 2007

Some More From The Island

Just a few leftover shots from the island at Saint-Aignan-sur-Cher.

The downriver, or western, point of the island. This looks like a directional signal for boats coming up river. If you went left instead of right, you'd miss the lock and end up facing a spillway that you couldn't navigate.

This is looking downriver from the point of the island. Not far from here, the Château de Chenonceau spans the river.

Above, the Grand Hotel de Saint Aignan faces the river. Friends of ours have stayed here and told us that it's a very nice place. I've eaten lunch in the dining room, but have never seen one of the rooms.

Patterns in the lock at the bridge.

I have no idea what this is. I'm guessing it's an access point to a storm drain or something whose entry is above a certain high-water mark. Either that or it's the pulpit in the church of the sand bar.

That's it for my island photos this time around. I didn't go this week because I've had a sore throat kind of thing going on. Nothing compared to what Ken had, but a pain in the neck nonetheless.

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Les Sept Secrets

Well, they're not really secrets. At least not any more. I have been tagged by the Hudson Valley's own Bill Braine. Check out his most entertaining blog, exurbitude, when you can. That's WCS III and IV in the picture on the left, my dad and me, looking very stylish in our Perry Como sweaters circa 1963.

Seven little known facts about moi :
  • I'm short. I know, it's hard to tell by looking, but it's true. One meter sixty-eight. That's five feet six inches for the metrically challenged.
  • I still have one of my baby teeth. It just never fell out. The dentists have told me that the adult tooth is lying sideways in my upper gum. Lazy bastard.
  • I have a degree in architecture, but I did not become an architect. I have a degree in engineering, but I did not become an engineer. I have a degree in city planning. I DID become a city planner whose knowledge of architecture and engineering made him invincible.
  • I've read "The Lord of the Rings" seven times. I'm not sure the word "geek" shows up in there, but I haven't finished looking.
  • I am the oldest of eight children. We're all grown up now, but saying I'm the oldest of eight adults just doesn't sound right.
  • Through the combined miracles of death and divorce, I have had five grandmothers and five grandfathers. Ah, family values.
  • On official documents there are roman numerals after my name. IV, in fact. I am the fourth in a very short line of nobodies in particular.
  • Bonus fact (seems to be the fashion) : I don't like blue cheese. I hope they don't throw me out of France for that one.
There, I've done it. I know some of you out there already know some of these things. You are entitled to feel superior.

Now, up next : reb, claude, mpabner, if any of you are willing. If you've already played, then you're off the hook !

Saturday, October 06, 2007

La Collégiale, Seen From The Island

The two towers of the Collégiale de St.-Aignan are visible from the point of the island in the Cher River.

Saint-Aignan-sur-Cher is known for, among other things, it's romanesque church. It dates from the 11th and 12th centuries and is distinguished by its two towers, one over the entrance and another over the transept.

The collégiale reaches nearly the same heights as the château to its right.

Another distinguishing characteristic of the collégiale is that the current building sits on top of the original church built on the site. You can visit the vestiges of the original building by descending into the church's crypt, where you'll find some amazing old frescoes.

The towers of the collégiale visible above the Cher River bridge.

But today's post is only about the exterior that you can see from the island at St.-Aignan. The collégiale competes with the château for control of the town's skyline. In fact, from some angles it looks as if the two buildings are one.

Reflections in the river.

A collégiale is a church that, while not a cathedral, is the home base of a chapter of chanoines (canons). I think this is a historical reference in St.-Aignan's case because I don't know of a group of clergy that is based here.

The Saint-Aignan "skyline."

Friday, October 05, 2007

Puppy Pic Of The Week

Here's a shot of Callie on her Sunday walk this week. She walked around the island in the Cher River at Saint Aignan. She had a great time, once she got over having to get there in the car.

She's really turning from her puppy brown to a reddish color. That's not unexpected, given that she's a "red" border collie. Her father, Vince, was very red, almost rusty in color.

I think this could turn into a regular Sunday thing for us, at least during hunting season. There are other places to go, too, not far from home. It'll help us get her used to the car.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Le Pont De St.-Aignan

The Château de Saint-Aignan rises above the southern end of the bridge over the Cher River.

Saint-Aignan sits on the Cher River about forty kilometers south of Blois. The road that connects them, the D675, crosses the river here and continues south to Châtillon-sur-Indre. The crossing is the only significant bridge over the river for about ten miles on either side of St.-Aignan.

A view of our bridge from up-river in the town park.

When I say significant bridge, don't be thinking Golden Gate or Brooklyn. No, this is a stone, two-lane bridge that cars, trucks, buses, bikes, and pedestrians squeeze across. There are a couple of other bridges nearby, but they are one-lane, weight restricted bridges that serve only very local traffic.

The bridge hits the island. The St.-Aignan lock is on the right in this photo. One of those buildings on the left has recently been remodeled and opened as a bar.

The bridge also marks the location of one of the many locks on the Cher River. These were used in the old days when river traffic was heavier, connecting the Loire, via the Cher, to the now defunct Canal du Berry and points east.

A view of the northern end of the bridge on the Noyers side. There's a small beach in the river here. If you look closely you can see a guy standing in the river fishing under the arch.

The bridge provides the only access to the island where the town allotments, municipal pool, and local park are located.

A log hangs on one of the bridge abutments as a testament to the high water level last winter.

The entire town of Saint-Aignan has four signalized intersections, and two of them are on the bridge. One is on the Saint-Aignan side to regulate traffic into and out of town. Another is on the island to regulate traffic to and from the municipal pool. These two traffic lights are no more than ten car lengths apart.

The island's traffic light.

I didn't get a picture of it, but there is a monument to WWI American soldiers on the bridge where it crosses the island. This bridge also had strategic importance in the second world war, as a crossing point between occupied France to the north and free France to the south.

There's even graffiti under the bridge. One statement on the right says, "La vie est belle," life is good.