Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Gone to the Pub

Well, not exactly. We're in Paris attending second round matches at Roland Garros - the French Open tennis tournamant. We will be eating and drinking and generally having fun. Stay tuned.

By the way, this is my 100th post! It's also the anniversary of moving to France (3 years) and Ken's and my anniversary (23 years). Happy happy!

Timber Walls

The Sologne is an interesting part of France. It's not well know outside of France; I wonder how well known it is inside of France. It's on the edge of the Touraine, the edge of the Berry, and is a place forested (thanks to planted forests of pine and birch) and filled with ponds (thanks to drainage projects dating from the mid 19th century).

Many towns in this region contain houses and buildings made with red brick, often with timber framing. Here are some examples:

These are just a few examples of the timber and brick/stone construction typical of this very beautiful region of central France.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

More Sights from La Brenne

Our drive and walks around the lakes of la Brenne continues. Since I got my new camera last month, I've been experimenting with its various settings including macro mode (for close ups).

A faded flower setting seeds.

A hook of some kind stuck in the marsh - not sure what it was for.

This is at l'Etang de la Mer Rouge, where the interplay of shadow and color caught my eye.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Un Jour, Une Tour [11]

Here is the eleventh in the series. How long can it go on?

Another gift from Cheryl, this "brown" tower is like the one from Las Vegas in that it opens up, revealing...

... a tiny bottle of "champagne" and two teeny glasses. Yum!

By the way, the bubbly is appropriate to celebrate the 1,500th visit (today!) to this site since I started counting. Thanks to all my visitors; you're a small but tasteful group!

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Bird Sanctuary

This is the first stop on our short drive around the Brenne regional park. It's one of the many man-made (hundreds of years ago) lakes in the park that has an interpretive center and blinds for observation and photography. It's called l'Etang Cistude.

The walk out to the observation blind.

From the parking lot, you walk out through marshy areas on paths and boardwalks. In many cases, there are screens set up along the path to hide your approach from the birds, turtles and other wildlife. The screens often have holes cut in them so you can look through.

A veiw from the blind out onto the lake.

The blinds are buildings with benches and long horizontal windows for observation, and they can comfortably fit up to 20 or so people.

A pair of Pochards, female on the left, male on the right.

We saw many ducks and grebes and other birds that I can't identify (but our friend Cheryl can - she helped me label these photos).

A black-necked Grebe.

Kikavuki/Kikavukoi* - or, Who's Observing Whom?

* Apologies to Laurent Ruquier.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

La Brenne

There's a regional park just south of our area called La Brenne. It's made up of many ponds and lakes and is a habitat/refuge for birds and other critters, like this colorful crawler:

Ken, Cheryl, Sue and I spent a day wandering around, visiting bird blinds, and taking in the sights. Oh, and we ate lunch in a town called Mézières-en-Brenne.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Last of Loches

Just a few more images from Loches (these are from a 2003 visit with Cheryl):

Shadow play on the château walls.

The ramparts of the medieval citadel.

Looking through a window across town.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Un Jour, Une Tour [10]

Another gift from Cheryl, this glass tower came from a shop in Amboise. She gave it to me for xmas in 2001 after our trip to the Loire Valley (Vouvray) earlier that year. We were still living in California then. My, how time flies!

There are still many towers to go. Keep watching!

Wednesday, May 24, 2006


Our friends Candy & John arrived today from California. We have a full house: Sue, Cheryl, Candy & John (although C&J are staying in a nearby gîte).

We celebrated with a magnum of Ruinart. Boy, was it good. There are only five glasses because one of us (no names, please) doesn't drink. It's not me...

After apéros of salmon spread on baguettes and peanutty-snacks, we sat down to a dinner of roasted duck legs, white beans, and a purée of cauliflower followed by green salad and cheese.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Loches, Part Trois

The not-so-wild-life of Loches:

A cat watches to ensure order in the neighborhood.

A pigeon rests in a modern-day gargoyle high on the castle wall.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Loches, Part Deux

As I mentioned, Loches sits on a high spot in the valley of the Indre River commanding wonderful views of the town below, the river, and the valley and heights around for miles. Actually, it's the old medieval city that sits on the bluff, with the newer town around its flanks below.

The photo (above) shows the church of St. Ours, in the middle of the medieval town. Construction began sometime in the 12th century, I think, with more added up until the 15ht century. The two conical structures between the steeple towers are hollow and are called dubes.

Above, the donjon of Loches rises amazingly high. It was built here in the 11th century by Foulques Nerra. It's a fascinating example of medieval architecture and worth the entry fee to climb around in.

You can scramble up to the top of the tower for amazing views, see the rooms in and around the complex, and climb deep down into the bowels of the fortress, where prisoners are thought to have been kept. There is also a very nicely restored garden on the ground level.

There is also a renaissance château in the citadel, well worth visiting, that holds paintings, furniture, tapestries, and suits of armour. The body of Agnes Sorrel once rested there, but it was moved into the church of St. Ours in 2005.

Above, the tower of St. Antoine rises up from the lower town. Loches is an amazing place where you can spend a whole day (including lunch, of course) if you're so inclined.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Un Jour, Une Tour [9]

Next in the series: a tower given to me again by Cheryl, who is visiting now. This one came from Pottery Barn, and it came it 2 sizes. Coffee table size and large. This is the large size. It's at least three feet tall and occupies a spot in our dining room. The little wire guy hanging off the side was a present from Sue's daughter Rachael a number of years ago. I thought he would love showing off his daredevil skills, and since he is made of wire like the tower, it's a perfect match.

Sue is here with us until the end of June, and she and Cheryl will be in Paris together in a couple of weeks.

Saturday, May 20, 2006


Back in the Touraine, we are still taking day trips with our California friends. Wednesday we ventured to the historic town of Loches. It's a good sized town, with a market on Wednesday (one reason for going - we picked up some asparagus and strawberries), and a historic medieval city on the bluff in the center that overlooks a great, green valley.

Clothes drying from a window in town.

Geraniums in a window.

Stained glass in the renaissance Logis Royal.

After walking around in the marketplace, we drove up to the cité médiéval for a quick look before lunch. We found a pizzeria and enjoyed lunch, then hiked back up to the cité and went into the renaissance château first, then over to the medieval castle. More pictures to follow.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Odds and Ends

This will be the last post from the Dordogne trip. Just a few more images from Collonges in Corrèze. It's basically become a tourist town, although not in the same vein as Sarlat. Many fewer people, shops, everything. There are a number of artists who've called the place home for 15 or 20 years now, and a few eateries, like this one (right) offering sandwiches.

A ceiling inside the church at Collonges.

Stained glass detail inside the church.

And, finally, in honor of our visiting friend Cheryl who is an avid birder and collector of owl images:

Thursday, May 18, 2006


More images from the Dordogne trip. This time: things that you find on doors.

Technically, none of these pictures was taken in the Dordogne. They're all from Collonges-la-Rouge in Corrèze. Take a look at Ken's post from Collonges for a more comprehensive view of the town.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Un Jour, Une Tour [8]

Number eight in the series: a tiny blue tower made of Limoges porcelain and hand-painted.

This was a gift from my friend Cheryl in 2003 when she visited us here. I thought now would be a good time to post this one because she arrives tomorrow for her second visit!

Tuesday, May 16, 2006


The museum of pre-history in Les Eyzies-de-Tayac-Sireuil. A beautiful little town, by the way, surrounded by pre-historic sites of interest, including many caves and this museum filled with bones, arrowheads, and other artifacts from the days of early homonids. The most famous of the caves, Lascaux, is north of here at Montignac.

Monday, May 15, 2006

I Can Row A Boat

Of course, the old joke doesn't work with the French pronunciation, in which the "o" and the "e" are pronounced seperately...

Seen in Montignac, on the Vézere River.

Sunday, May 14, 2006


As seen in and around Rocamadour:

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Un Jour, Une Tour [7]

Ok, this time there are more than one tower. These are glass bottles that I picked up at different times. The big one - it may have been a gift - might have contained oil or vinegar or something; I don't remember. The small one came, empty, from a second-hand store in San Francisco, on Potrero Avenue near 16th, I think.

Since they are alike, I decided to group them. Oh, and there is this pencil I acquired at one point that fits neatly inside the smaller tower-bottle. At the end of the pencil, in place of an eraser, is a tiny Eiffel Tower. So cool. Can you tell yet that I'm into this? It's a sickness...

Friday, May 12, 2006

Veal, It's What's for Dinner

Or lunch, depending. Doesn't a nice blanquette de veau sound great?

This unsuspecting youngster was lounging around outside of Montignac, near La Grande Filolie.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Le Ciel

A couple views of the sky in the Dordogne:

Le Château de Beynac.

Here in the Loire Valley the sky is big. That is, there are no large mountains or hills to frame it. It stretches wide when you look up. But in the Dordogne the valleys are deep and frequently when you look up you get to see only a piece of the sky.

Nuages sur Sarlat.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Cathedral in Sarlat

Here are a few images from inside the cathedral in central Sarlat. It's a cool, quiet refuge from the bustle of the market just outside.

The central nave.

Candles, mostly red.

Stained glass forms projected on the floor.