I suppose the lights have to be installed somewhere. At Chenonceau, they're installed everywhere. I've never been to the castle after dark. It closes at five o'clock in the afternoon between November and February, which is pretty much right when it gets dark. But I have seen photos of it all lit up.
You light up my life.
One way to see the lights is to walk along the river path on the left bank, which is free and doesn't close. I should plan to do that one of these days, or evenings, as it were.
This is the area of outdoor tables at the self-service food place on the castle grounds. It always looks inviting, until it fills up with people. It's not very often that I visit the castle in the height of the tourist season, so I usually see the place empty with all the umbrellas folded up as it's cold and/or raining.
Just a few folks enjoying a break and cold drink.
But this day was nice and people were enjoying sitting out and having a snack. Lunch time was over, but I can imagine that there might have been quite a crowd an hour or two earlier.
There are a couple of places to eat on the grounds of the Château de Chenonceau. One is a nice looking full-service restaurant tucked away behind the out-buildings and the other is more of a self-service place with tables inside and outside closer to the main walkways. Next to that second place is a little stand that sells ice cream cones.
What's the scoop?
The woman working the stand on this day was pretty busy. I noticed that she had a constant line of two or three people while I was wandering around.
I did cross that bridge. Many times. It's one of a couple of spans across the water to get from the "mainland" out to the castle at Chenonceau. The river bank on the castle's entrance side (the right bank of the Cher) is carved into small channels, a stone dock, and a boat launch. On either side, and high above the water level, are the two signature castle gardens.
Visitors crossing a bridge on their way to the castle.
I was down by the docking area watching the fish, which were probably des brochets (pike), swimming around among the river plants when I took this picture.
Many of you know that Ken and I bend tradition a bit at Thanksgiving. For nearly fifteen years now, we've been roasting a leg of lamb rather than a turkey for the day's meal. We've been in France for nine (wow!) Thanksgivings so far and our non-traditional tradition has served us well; turkeys aren't generally available here until the Christmas holiday.
The main course: roasted leg of lamb and gratin dauphinois.
This year, instead of a bone-in leg, we bought a leg that had been de-boned and rolled into a roast. We still have the bone from last year's leg in the freezer, so we knew we wouldn't miss the bone at all. And a rolled roast is much easier to cook and carve than a whole leg.
The raw rolled leg of lamb with it's chopped rosemary rub.
The entrée (in France, the entrée is the first course, what Americans often call the appetizer) was a salad of radis noir (black radish) with mimolette cheese, a hard orange cheese from the north of France. The radish is only black on the outside. I peeled it, sliced it into rounds on the mandolin, and arranged the rounds in what's called arosace pattern on plates. I used sherry vinegar, olive oil, and salt & pepper to dress the salad along with slices of the cheese and a garnish of cilantro from the garden.
Ingredients for the entrée salad: black radish and mimolette cheese.
I got that recipe from a French cooking show several years ago and we really like it. I realized this year that we hadn't made it in a while, so we decided it would be good to do for Thursday. The original recipe calls for chervil, but we have the cilantro growing out back so we substituted. It was delicious.
This is an example of arranging slices "en rosace." You can see that the radish is white inside.
I made a rub for the lamb with fresh rosemary chopped finely with salt and pepper. Ken put a few whole garlic cloves in the roasting pan and that was it. Along with the lamb, Ken made a gratin dauphinois (what we used to call scalloped potatoes). I used the mandolin again to slice the potatoes thinly. Ken arranged them in a dish with a mixture of milk and cream that had been flavored on the stove with bay leaves, garlic, and nutmeg. That got baked in the oven until it was golden and bubbly.
The finished and dressed salad, ready to serve!
The lamb and potato dish were our main course. The lamb got slightly more done than we like, but it still had a pink center and it tasted great. We drank a bottle of Bourgueuil with the meal. It all went very well together.
Sliced and seasoned potatoes, ready for the milk and cream mixture.
Dessert was a variation on pumpkin pie. I grew the small French pumpkins called potimarrons (red kuri squash) in the garden this year. They have a very chestnut-like flavor and are delicious as a vegetable, but work great in pumpkin bread and pie recipes. I use a standard pumpkin pie recipe, but I cut down on the sugar and the spices. That lets the nutty flavor of the squash come through and we both really like that.
Pumpkin pie for dessert!
With dessert we opened a bottle of still (as opposed to bubbly) red wine from the town called Bouzy (appropriate?) in Champagne. We had brought the bottle back with us from our trip there last month. The wine is made from pinot noir and it's very light. Not excellent, but totally drinkable. The empty bottle bears witness to that.
All in all it was a great meal, and we have leftovers!
This is the only photo I took inside the castle that day. Like I said, I got out of there after about ten minutes. People milling about in enclosed spaces make me nervous. Many of the castle's windows are made this way, and most of them are not shuttered so you can look out through them.
The window is attached to metal rods that are bolted to the casings on either side, providing added stability.
It looks to me like the precisely cut bits of glass are held together by strips of lead, constructed in much the same way that a stained glass window is.
On Wednesday night, we watched one of my favorite television programs. It's called Des racines et des ailes. I call it Roots and Wings. The program is a documentary that celebrates cultural, artistic, and architectural heritage, most often French, but from time to time they go abroad. The last show I saw was dedicated to the recent renovation of the Musée d'Orsay in Paris.
This week's edition profiled artisans involved in other recent restorations that included the Presidential palace, the Crillon Hotel, and Versailles, as well as a story about a man here in the Loire valley who makes wallpaper (by hand) and recreates vintage wallpapers, most recently in the rooms of the Pasteur Institute in Paris, and yet another story about a glass and crystal manufactory in Alsace.
At one point there was a brief fly-over of the Château de Chenonceau and a mention of the stonework restoration that was going on there. I thought that was pretty cool, since I've been talking about it here for past few days.
This is a shot looking directly up at one of the corbelled supports under a balcony (I think) on the front of the Chenonceau castle. It looks to me that it's been recently cleaned, if not repaired. A fancy bit of stone work, to be sure.
This is one of a pair, the other is to the right.
This is one of the few photos of the castle that I took on this day. Like I said, I spent most of the time outside looking at the construction work that was going on and at the people coming and going.
At one point, two women who saw me taking pictures asked me to help them with their camera. I don't remember what the problem was, but they had some setting wrong and I was able to fix it. They were very nice and very grateful.
And hoist a few of those big stones up here, while you're at it. These are some of the stones that were cut to replace the older crumbling stones in the façade of the Chenonceau castle. You may be able to see that they're slightly curved; they were intended for one of the round corner towers on the building.
Expertly cut blocks of tuffeau stone, numbered and ready to be installed.
I assume that the stone is the local tuffeau, the nearly white limestone that was and is quarried in our region for building many of the châteaux. The stone is soft enough to be easily carved, but it's also quite susceptible to acid rain. I've seen quite a lot of ravaged stonework around the area.
I'm glad they have a life-preserver on hand in case of an accident.
The guys I could see on the scaffolding were busy loading the stones so they could be lifted up and put in place. Keep in mind that they're working on platforms built on scaffolding that's sitting in the river. One false step... The part of the castle that is being worked on is hidden behind a big sheet of some kind of material that is printed with a photo of the castle. It doesn't fool anybody, but it certainly looks a lot nicer to the visitors than the raw scaffolding it's hiding.
The underground quarries in the Loire region, left after the stone was depleted, were often converted into wine caves. One rather large one near us, which I understand provided a lot of stone for the Chambord castle, is used for growing mushrooms on a commercial scale.
The Château de Chenonceau is undergoing the final stages of a multi-year restoration project. Parts of the building have been covered in scaffolding while repairs are made to the exterior stonework. From what I've read, the work is almost done and the scaffolding should be down soon.
Les échaffaudages dans l'eau (scaffolding in the water).
Since the castle is built over a river, I'll bet that the placement of scaffolding is pretty tricky. But these folks must know what they're doing. I was intrigued by this bunch of scaffolding set directly in the water.
It's been a long time. I took this picture in the middle of September when I was trimming the hedge. And trimming the hedge this year is what gave me this pain thing that I'm still dealing with. Apparently, I pulled some muscles in my chest the wrong way, and they're pressing on the nerve that goes into my left arm. Ugh. You know all about it.
Callie poses out by the hydrangea. Which reminds me, I have to trim that back.
As is my wont, I took photos of the progress on the hedge trimming. Callie, as is her wont, was out cheering me on. So I took her picture, too.
We're still working on preparing the yard for winter. My shoulder/neck/back thing is much better and I can get out and do light yard work. Using the lawnmower, for example, is not a problem because it's tractée (self-propelled). Tractée is in the feminine form because une tondeuse (a lawnmower) is feminine. Hey! I can cut my grass in two languages!
Back in early September, after I got back from the Paris trip, we enjoyed the company of two of Ken's friends from back in his grad school days. Well, Bob was from grad school, Norma became his wife soon after. Ken participated in their wedding back in the (gasp) 1970s.
A planter on one of the terraces outside the castle, overlooking the Cher River.
One of the things we did during Bob and Norma's fun but all-too-brief stay was to visit the Château de Chenonceau. It's the castle that spans the Cher River and it's all of a twenty minute drive from our house. Ken and I have been to this castle numerous times over the years. It's a must-see on the château circuit. And, as such, is often very, very crowded.
On this day the crowds were not as bad as I've seen them, but I still got antsy inside the smaller rooms of the place. Since I tend to get a bit claustrophobic in enclosed spaces with a lot of people (or even a few), I ditched Ken and Bob and Norma and went outside to wander while they enjoyed the castle's rooms.
That's the phrase that's all over the media and in the stores on the third Thursday of November in France (and elsewhere around the world). The release of the new (young) wine from the Beaujolais region was a marketing event invented around sixty years ago when an exception to a decree allowed certain wines to be released prior to the official release date of December 15.
A recently consumed bottle of Beaujolais-Villages Nouveau.
The fad waxes and wanes from year to year, but it's definitely fun to taste the new wines when they come out. It's become one of those traditions that marks the season, and for us Americans it comes along just in time for the Thanksgiving holiday.
We've already tasted some local primeur wines in addition to a couple of Beaujolais. I think the Beaujolais that we've tasted so far is better than our local "new" wine. The Beaujolais region is not too far away from us, and the grape is the same gamay that's grown here. I'm sure we'll try a few more bottles in the next week or so.
Les toits de nos maisons, en France, sont souvent habités par des chats qui sautent de toit en toit et se font entendre la nuit. Après une bonne soirée entre amis, et quelques verres, il se peut que vous les entendiez aussi. Ne soyez pas effrayé s'ils vous apparaissent « rouges », il peut s’agir du reflet de la lune sur leur pelage… ou de quelques verres de vin qui auront mis de la couleur dans votre vie !
The roofs of our houses in France are often inhabited by cats who leap from roof to roof and make themselves heard at night. After an enjoyable evening among friends, and several glasses of wine, you might just hear them, too. Don't be frightened if they appear "red," it could be the reflection of the moon on their coats... or it could be that those several glasses of wine have put color in your life!
Who's that knocking at my door? The other day, Bertie showed up on the deck outside the living room. It's unusual for him to climb up there during the day; he usually prefers the cover of darkness so the dog won't see him. But on this day he was brazen. And he sat out there, looking in, meowing.
Of course I just had to take a photo of Bertie peering through the window.
I went out and played a bit with him and he seemed restless, but nothing was obviously wrong. Then he heard Ken down in the garage below and he headed down there and meowed at Ken. At that moment, Ken noticed that the cat's kibble bowl was empty. So he filled it up and Bert snacked away before heading back outside for more kitty adventures.
Bert's told us before that his bowl has been empty. But this is the first time he came knocking on the door to do it.
I spent forty-eight hours in Paris at the beginning of September and have been posting the photos I took while there for the past two months. This is the last one. At least for now.
After finishing at the museum we went out for lunch and then I got my train back home.
It's a view of the corridor on the top level of the Pompidou Center that connects the exhibit space on the inside of the building to the escalators that hang off the exterior. I really enjoyed this museum and I appreciate that my cousin Mark and his wife Julie let me tag along with them for a couple of days during their honeymoon. It was great fun.
So, what's next? Well, we still had some visitors in September and October and we got out and about a bit. You'll see.
As I wandered around in the museum, I passed by the larger of the terraces. This is the one from which I took the skyline photos. The sun shades were pulled down, but I noticed my cousin standing out at the edge with his back to the view. Then I noticed Julie, across the little water feature, taking his picture.
The terrace was moderately crowded, but I got a shot with just the two of them. Lucky!
Because of the sun shade, they couldn't see me inside the building, so I snapped a few shots of them. This one turned out to be my favorite.
This sculpture is on a terrace on the north end of the building. I don't remember seeing anyone out there, nor did I go out myself. I'm not sure if the door was locked or if I just didn't notice the door, but I didn't go outside.
I didn't make it out onto this terrace.
The sculpture is instantly recognizable as one of Alexander Calder's. It's called "Nageoire" which is the French word for "Fin." As in shark fin. He completed it in 1964.
Some familiar sights from up on one of the Pompidou Center's terraces. In the first picture, in addition to the Eiffel Tower, you can see several of the ornate rooftops of the Louvre palace. The Louvre is a fascinating maze of a building, or collection of buildings, as it were.
Looking southwest, toward the Eiffel Tower with the Louvre in the foreground.
In the second picture you can see the big La Défense business development on the horizon. A little to the left of that is the top of the Arc de Triomphe. The pointed dome on the building in the middle of the image is the Bourse de Commerce (the Commodities Exchange). To the right of that is the church of Saint-Eustache with its beautiful Gothic flying buttresses.
There are outdoor terraces on the upper floors of the Pompidou center for taking in the views without having to look through heavily tinted glass or sun shades. Each terrace has a small water feature and some sculpture. Not to mention a pigeon or two.
Just perfect for wading pigeons!
This one was enjoying standing in a shallow pool out of the sun. I did take a few view photos (like yesterday's) that I'll post over the next few days. We're almost at the end of these forty-eight hours in Paris. I started the series on September 11, two months ago.
That's an old joke, I think. It means that if you climb up, lean out, and look just the right way, you can see the church of Sacré-Cœur in Montmartre; an expression that pokes fun of people who brag about the view (or lack thereof) from their tiny Parisian apartments.
This is quite a long shot with the zoom lens. See all the tourists? It was a gorgeous day to be outside.
Maybe the joke was on me, because I lived in an apartment in Paris where, if you leaned out the window and looked to the right, you could just see the domes of the church between the buildings next door. And here's the proof, an actual photo that I took leaning out the window of the apartment I shared in 1982.
See what I mean? I also had a view of the Tour Montparnasse.
But the views of the basilica from the Pompidou Center are superb, and you don't have to climb up, lean out, or look just the right way. The church was built in 1873 at the top of the Montmartre hill, the highest point in Paris. The church and the surrounding neighborhood, a famous gathering spot for certain nineteenth century painters such as Pissarro, Toulouse-Lautrec, Van Gogh, Modigliani, and Picasso, is a top tourist destination these days.
The views south across Paris from the terraces of the church are among the best to be had for free in the city. You can tour the church itself, or wander the neighborhood. There's a lot of kitsch around begging for your tourist euros, but that's not unusual.
I just had to take my own photo in the Pompidou Center. I think it's the law. You can also see me in this week's Image of the Week on the right. I'm reflected in a silver ball that sits in the middle of the room, the silver ball being the reason the walls and floors look distorted.
Self portrait at the Pompidou Center.
I don't know what piece of art this is, but I took my picture in it. An improvement? Maybe not. But I'll tell you about a real improvement: my back. I went to see the kiné again on Monday and after my session, my neck was really sore. But then at some point on Tuesday afternoon I noticed that it didn't feel so bad. I think I'm actually healing. There is still some pain, but it's much duller than it has been. I notice it more when I'm sitting at the computer, so I get up and walk around after about ten minutes in front of the screen. That's probably a good thing, anyway.
Here are a few pieces of art in the Pompidou Center's permanent collection that I thought made for interesting photos. I am not a student of art, and I didn't write down, let alone remember, the titles of these pieces or the names of the artists. Except for the Warhol. So I looked them up on the museum's web site. I found all of them except for the light bulbs.
This was sitting on the floor in one of the dark rooms. I really liked it. It's called Identité (no. 2) by Piotr Kowalski, 1973.
The permanent collection is installed on two of the upper floors of the building. One level is for contemporary works, 1960 to the present. The other level is for pre-1960 modern art. I could even tell the difference.
Eight of the "Ten Lizes" by Andy Warhol, 1963.
The three of us kind of split apart and wandered around. We saw each other here and there, pointed out something that we thought was cool or weird, and continued on our ways. It was a nice way of doing the museum. My cousin is a professional artist and I'm certain that he was looking at things very differently from the way I was.
This one cracked me up. My favorite part is the cord on the floor. Very artistic.
There were several "dark rooms" among the exhibits. They were rooms with video or specially lighted art works in them. In one of these rooms, I noticed that I and a small girl (about nine years old or so) were alone. I quickly made my way out of there. It doesn't look good for a middle aged guy to be alone in a dark room with a little girl. Dang if she didn't follow me right out into the light. I wonder why her parents (or whomever she was with) let her go wandering around alone.
This was a set of 3 video screens showing British schoolkids reacting to Picasso's "Weeping Woman" at the Tate museum in Liverpool, England. The work is by Reneke Dijkstra, 2009.
This week's Image of the Week is also from the museum. It's called "AGAM Aménagement de l'antichambre des appartements privés du Palais de l'Elysée pour le président Georges Pompidou," 1972 (The Redecoration of the Vestibule in the Presidential Palace's Private Apartments for President Georges Pompidou).
I also wandered up to the roof to check out the museum restaurant. They have an outdoor terrace with tables up there and, silly me, I thought it might be a nice place for our lunch. I changed my mind very quickly when I saw the menu. I wasn't sure if they were selling food or works of art, the prices were that high. Other plans would have to be made.
But we were in no hurry and had the time to linger a bit before heading out to find some lunch.
Inside the Pompidou Center. I think this was the first time that I had ever been up in the main galleries of the permanent exhibits. After thirty years, I finally visited the museum of modern art. Well, better late than never. I loved the exhibit space. It is vast, and yet it has many intimate spaces.
The main corridor in the museum. Smaller exhibit spaces branch off on either side. That's an Andy Warhol on the right. Ten Elizabeth Taylors.
The art itself... well, it's modern. And like all art, you like some of it, and you scratch your head at some of it. And make no mistake, the Pompidou is huge. There is a lot to see and absorb. It's not possible to take it all in during a single visit.
I'm going to post some of my photos of some of the art. I'm warning you now. Not too much, but some of the stuff made for good photos. Brace yourselves.
I waited in a very long line to get into the museum. We had arrived about fifteen minutes before the doors opened and there was already a crowd. Mark and Julie had museum passes, so their line was much shorter. We agreed to meet inside in the book shop once I got in.
Riding the "up" escalator. That's Mark on the right.
To my amazement, the line to get in moved very quickly. Too quickly. It turns out that it was just a line to get into the building. A ticket line formed inside the lobby, one of those Disney-type queues with ropes and everything. Fortunately, I noticed a bank of automatic ticket vending machines with no waiting, so I used my bank card and got my ticket pretty quickly.
I found Mark and Julie and we headed up the escalator to the main museum space.
Even though I didn't take any photos of the exterior of the Pompidou Center, I did find this model of the building on display inside. It's a nice model, and very pretty. The problem is that it's only in red and white. The building is loaded with blues and greens too, and is amazingly colorful. This model is like a sterilized version of the actual place. Maybe an idealization? I don't know.
The Paris Modern Art Museum at the Pompidou Center. Click to Pompify.
At any rate, you get the idea if you've not been there before. That snaky tube crawling up the front of the building is a set of escalators. That's the way visitors move from floor to floor. The row of façades from yesterday's post are affixed to the buildings you see on the right hand side of the model. It's an amazing place, even if the model doesn't reflect the total reality.
It's funny, I went to the Pompidou Center, but I took no photos of the Pompidou Center. This seems to happen to me a lot. I have a bunch of photos from inside, but none of the exterior. Oh well. This is a row of buildings seen from the fifth or sixth floor of the museum.
The renovation was completed thirty years ago. But you can see how new-ish looking all the windows are in these buildings.
I remember this row of buildings from when I lived in Paris in 1981 and 1982. The neighborhood around the relatively new Pompidou Center was undergoing renovation and these buildings were actually gone. But their façades remained, propped up by temporary support structures. New buildings were constructed behind and the preserved façades were tied back into them.
If you're there, and you look closely in certain places, you can see how this worked. I believe that the reconstruction of this block was part of the larger plan for the Quartier de l'Horloge, adjacent to the Pompidou Center on the north (to the right of the buildings you see in this photo). If any of you know more of the details, I'd love to hear from you in the comments.
PS: I hope I didn't give you the wrong idea yesterday. I still have a few more photos from this adventure coming up!
I walked up through the quiet residential neighborhood south of the Panthéon and the Lycée Henri IV (one of the bigger and most prestigious of Parisian high schools). It was quiet because it was the last Saturday morning of summer vacation. The huge dome (you've seen it several times already) loomed up above the building tops.
The very top of the Panthéon dome behind the trees.
A couple of quick shots with the camera and I was on my way back to my cousin's hotel. Mark and Julie were kind enough to let me stash my backpack in their room while we went off to the Pompidou Center. After, I'd pick it up and head to the Montparnasse station for my train home.
And I'm amused that I, a 51 year old man, can travel to Paris with only a backpack. Of course, the weather was hot (no heavy clothes) and I only went for two nights, but still. It felt great to travel light, just like a kid again.
The coffee I had on the Place de la Contrescarpe cost a bit more than the one I had down on the rue Monge. For the extra centimes, I got a nifty glass of water along side. I thought it was weird, but then I drank it (after the coffee) and it was good. Go figure.
I think this coffee was about €2.80 compared to the first one which was an even €2.00.
It was just about time to meet Mark and Julie. I walked a short loop up to the back side of the Panthéon before heading back down to the rue Monge and their hotel.
There's a big café on the Place de la Contrescarpe that faces south and on this sunny Saturday morning it was very inviting. There were a few tables taken, but the place was mostly empty. Three American (I think) men were finishing their coffees at a table close to where I sat. They were obviously planning their day as tourists.
This café wasn't bustling, which was perfect. Click to caffeinate.
Another couple were eating croissants with their coffees. A man in a suit was buried in his newspaper. I ordered a coffee and took out my camera. A delivery truck pulled up in front of the café on the other side of the place and the driver unloaded whatever it was he was delivering.
I walked over to the rue Mouffetard after my first cup of coffee. The street was very quiet. The shops were not open yet. There are a few restaurants and night clubs on this street and I imagine that they are open well into the wee hours.
La Vieille Tour means "The Old Tower." I've never eaten there.
I walked past this place with its neon lights on, so I snapped a photo. Then I arrived at the Place de la Contrescarpe. I felt like having another coffee, so I sat down.
On to more recent happenings: I had my third session with the physical therapist. I've decided to call him that since he's not really a chiropractor, and "massage therapist" sounds a bit strange. This session was different from the first two in that he got more forceful with the massage. I guess the first two sessions were to get me and my muscles used to the therapy. Now it's time for the serious stuff.
He told me that my left shoulder muscles are still very tight and he was working on relaxing them. It seems to be working, although I will say that my worst pain has occurred in the twenty-four hours following the treatments. If I haven't changed this entry by the time it publishes, you'll know that it didn't turn out that way again. In fact, I feel pretty good today (Monday). A bit sore, but not wracked with pain as I have been.
I go back again on Friday morning for session number four. I'm supposed to have ten sessions in all, but the kiné said that he didn't think I'd need all ten. We'll see.
By the way, if you're not a French speaker, kiné is short for kinésithérapeute and is pronounced [kee-NAY]. The big word is pronounced [kee-nay-zee-tay-rah-PUT]. I'm not a linguist, so Ken will correct me if I didn't get it quite right.
Living outside of Saint-Aignan-sur-Cher since 2003. You'll find here pictures and descriptions of our life in rural France, some travels, and other stuff about me, my husband Ken, our dog Callie, and our cat Bertie.
All photos in this blog were made by and are the property of the blog author, WCS, unless otherwise noted. If a photo is mis-credited, please leave a comment so that it can be corrected. Photos belonging to others will be removed at the owner's request.