For the last few posts, I've been talking about the Loir River. Le Loir, as opposed to la Loire. You may also have noticed that the départment we live in is called the Loir-et-Cher; there is no "e" on Loir. I was confused when I first moved here because I really didn't understand what this was about until I looked at a map.
La Loire is the longest river in France, and the Loire Valley is famous for its historic châteaux and its expansive wine industry. Along la Loire are the cities of Orléans, Blois, Tours, and Nantes, to name a few. La Loire runs roughly east-west through the middle of our département. But the Loir-et-Cher takes its name not from this big river, but from two of its lesser tributaries, le Loir to the north and le Cher to the south.
In French, la Loire is known as un fleuve because it empties into the sea. Two other well-known fleuves in France are la Seine (which runs through Paris and empties into the English Channel) and le Rhône (which runs through Lyon and empties into the Mediterranean Sea).
But the Loir and the Cher are not fleuves. They are called rivières because they feed other rivers as opposed to emptying into a sea; we would call them tributaries in English. Le Loir runs into la Sarthe which, in turn, empties into la Maine which is itself a tributary of la Loire near Angers. Le Cher empties directly into la Loire just downstream of Tours.
And just to make things a little more confusing, while le Loir (big "l") is une rivière, le loir (small "l") is a tiny rongeur (rodent) that we call a dormouse.
By the way, la Maine is a curiosity in France in that it is une rivière without a traditional source. It is formed by the confluence of three other rivers and flows for only twelve kilometers before it meets the Loire. I can think of at least one major river in the United States that is formed by the joining of two smaller rivers. And that river itself is only a tributary in an even larger river system.
But in English, we have no words to distinguish rivers from tributaries. They're all rivers as far as we're concerned. Otherwise, it's all too much trouble. I said Trouble. With a capital "T" and that rhymes with "P" and that stands for...
Le Mariage pour Tous validé en France
20 hours ago