Monday, February 28, 2022


If this image looks familiar, just look up to the banner photo at the top of this blog. It's the Château de Chambord, King François I's "hunting lodge" built just south of the Loire River, not far from Blois. It's one of the most ornate roofs that I think I've ever seen. I believe that the tower in the photo is the roof over the castle's chapel, given the cross at the top (it's on the right in the banner photo). Of course, I committed a photographic no-no by cutting the top of the cross out of the picture.

The black and white version. Chambord, digitized color slide, Fall 2000.

I found conflicting information on the internet, but Chambord is among the most visited, or most beautiful, or most liked of the Loire Valley castles. There are so many to choose from.

Sunday, February 27, 2022

La Chapelle Saint-Hubert

The Saint-Hubert chapel was built onto the western ramparts of the Amboise château in the late fifteenth century. Inside is the tomb of Leonardo da Vinci, who spent the last years of his life in Amboise at the invitation of King François I.

I like how two gargoyles are visible on either side of the chapel. Chapelle St.-Hubert, Amboise. Digitized color slide, Fall 2000.

The chapel is built in the flamboyant gothic style, near the time of the transition between gothic and renaissance architectural styles. Of course, I'm not showing you any of the detail, just the silhouette of the chapel against a late afternoon sky.

Saturday, February 26, 2022

Somebody's having a bad day

Here are a couple of gargoyles at the Château d'Amboise. There's probably a story behind the one clasping his forehead, but I don't know it. Most of the time, gargoyles depict fantastical, and often scary, animals. Many resemble lions and serpents.

It could be worse. Rain water could be pouring out of your mouth. Digitized color slide, Amboise, Fall 2000.

Our new refrigerator is operating smoothly. We're adjusting to a smaller capacity, but it's not a hardship. The shelves are closer together than those in the old fridge and they are not adjustable. In fact, we took the horizontal bottle holder shelf out to make a taller space for bottled sauces, like ketchup and teriyaki. We've gone from four crisper drawers to one, so I picked up a few plastic bins to hold some items in the main refrigerated section.

It seems strange to be talking about a refrigerator with all this mess going on in Ukraine. I hope it calms down sooner rather than later.

Friday, February 25, 2022

Roof tops

This is the view from up in the Château d'Amboise, the top of the tour des Minimes I think, looking more or less west across the center of town. The Loire River is just to the right of the trees on the right edge of the image. The roofs in Amboise are made with slate tiles. Les ardoises d'Amboise, if you will.

The round tower is the Tour Garçonnet at the Château d'Amboise. Digitized color slide, Fall 2000.

We're back to flirting with freezing temperatures for the next few mornings. High pressure is building in, so the night skies are clear. It will be interesting to see if the predicted sunny days materialize or whether we'll be under an inversion layer through the weekend.

Today is a day of errands for me. I'm going to the vet's office for some more dietary kibble for Tasha. I have to go to the dump again -- they're issuing ID cards to show we're residents and I needed a piece of paperwork that shows my address along with my normal ID, so I'm going to turn that in. Then a stop in the housewares store for a couple of little things and, of course, a quick run through the grocery store. An exciting life, indeed.

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Banners in the breeze

Most of the royal château at Amboise was demolished long ago. What remains are the logis royal (royal residence) and the chapelle Saint-Hubert where Leonardo da Vinci's tomb is. Whether he is in it or not is still an open question. Also intact are the castle's ramparts and towers. The grounds have been turned into gardens.

Part of the logis royal. On the left is the tower des Minimes, one of two with spiral ramps that made it possible for horses and carriages to ascend to the castle grounds from the city below. Digitized color slide, Fall 2000.

Our refrigerator arrived as promised late yesterday afternoon. The appliance guy and his assistant made quick work of bringing it in, unwrapping it, and setting it up. They also took the old fridge away. It's a smaller fridge than the old one, so we have to work on what goes in and where. I also have to take some photos and sign up for a manufacturer's rebate of a little less than 10% of the price.

Wednesday, February 23, 2022


Let's spend a few days at Amboise. It's a small city on the Loire that's very popular with visitors. Shops, restaurants, a lively weekly market, and a beautiful château attract the crowds year-round. Not mention Leonardo da Vinci's final residence and tomb. Lots to see and do.

The Château d'Amboise seen from the city below. Digitized color slide, Fall 2000.

Well, the refrigerator was not delivered on Tuesday as expected. Something to do with scheduling. It's been promised late this afternoon. We have no choice but to wait. At least the kitchen floor is clean.

Tuesday, February 22, 2022


The Château de Chaumont sits on a bluff high above the Loire River as this image shows. The castle is fun to visit; many of the rooms are furnished. The grounds are beautiful, including art space and a special annual international garden festival. In the old days (like when I took this picture), visitors could wander around the grounds without paying an entrance fee. Those days are gone, but the fee is worth it if you've never been, and maybe even if you have.

A little slice of the Loire River below the château de Chaumont. Digitized color slide, Fall 2000.

Today is the day we're expecting delivery of our new refrigerator. Keep you fingers crossed! I plan to take advantage to wash the kitchen floor before it arrives. I lead an exciting life. It will be nice to move the food out of coolers and the old chest freezer in the garage (which we've been using as a interim fridge by turning it on and off to keep it cold but not freezing) and get back to a little normalcy.

Monday, February 21, 2022


The roofs on the Château de Fougères-sur-Bièvre are covered in ardoises (slate tiles). That and the intricacies of the roof lines are among the post-gothic, early renaissance features of the castle, according to Wikipedia.

Inside the courtyard at Fougères-sur-Bièvre. Digitized color slide, Fall 2000.

The Olympics are finally over. The winter Olympics don't really interest me except for the occasional figure skating competition. The excitement of curling is too much for my delicate nerves. But more than that, the Olympics coverage pushes tennis tournaments off the tv schedule. Nonetheless, I have been able to watch the guys play in Marseille and Doha. One of the sports channels we get carried selected matches, so I wasn't deprived. This week we get the guys in Dubai. That's a big tournament (ATP 500 category). Even bigger is the first of the nine Masters 1000 events. It starts next week in Indian Wells, California (near Palm Springs). I'd like to attend that tournament one day. Probably should have done that while I was living in California.

Sunday, February 20, 2022

Windows and doors

I took this photo inside the courtyard at the Château de Fougères-sur-Bièvre, about a half-hour drive north of where we live. The castle was built in the fifteenth century, rebuilt from a previous structure the only vestige of which is the donjon (keep). The overall style of the building is medieval, but early renaissance elements were incorporated into the reconstruction and subsequent additions.

On the grounds of the Château de Fougères-sur-Bièvre. Digitized color slide, Fall 2000.

The castle is not furnished, if my memory serves, but it's fun to wander around inside nonetheless. There is a gallery inside for art installations.

Saturday, February 19, 2022


To get into the Château de Chenonceau, visitors have to cross this small bridge. I can't find anything definitive about it, but I wonder if it wasn't a pont-levis (drawbridge) at some point. It's not now. There is one existing drawbridge that connects the galerie across the Cher river to the left bank. I've also seen historical photos that show another drawbridge on the right bank, just north of the Tour des Marques, at the time of the second world war. It looks like it was replaced by a fixed bridge similar to the one in this photo.

Crossing the bridge at the Château de Chenonceau. Digitized color slide, Fall 2000.

Refrigerator update! The appliance guy came to look at the fridge yesterday. The short story is that he could repair it, but it would cost almost as much as we paid for it. Somehow I knew he was going to say that. Certainly not worth it, especially given that something else could go wrong at any time. So, we've decided to spend a little more for a new fridge. His wife, who runs the store, told us they could have it for us by Tuesday.

In the meantime, we decided to use our old chest freezer (which we've been storing in the garage) as a makeshift fridge. We turn it on and get it cold, then turn it off again before the temperature goes below freezing. This goes on several times a day and we have to be vigilant about it, but it keeps the food cold.

Friday, February 18, 2022


The Château de Chenonceau is widely known for the gallery that spans the Cher River, but it's not visible in this photo of the castle's northern façade. You can see the Renaissance chapel on the left and on the right is the Tour des Marques, the only surviving part of the original medieval castle.

Château de Chenonceau on the Cher River. Digitized color slide, Fall 2000.

I have taken better photos of this place in the years since we've lived here. First, this shot from 2000 (above) was leaning terribly to the right. I fixed that with software. Second, in my original photo, I cut the spire off the lantern on the Tour des Marques. I can't fix that.

My 22 year-old self and friend M. Digitized Kodak 110 print, Chenonceau, May 1982.

Just for fun, the second photo is from 1982, the very first time I visited Chenonceau. I was with some friends, one of whom I'm posing with as if we owned the place. The person who took the photo had the same problems that I did 18 years later: the photo was quite crooked and the spire is cut off the tower. Nobody's perfect.

Thursday, February 17, 2022


We did visit this château/winery, not on this trip, but after we moved to France. The vineyards stretch out to the north and east. Our rental home was adjacent to the Moncontour vines.

The château de Moncontour sits on the heights above the Loire River in Vouvray. Digitized color slide, Fall 2000.

A bit of bad luck hit us last evening. Our seven year old refrigerator stopped working. Yikes! It looks and sounds like it's working (the lights, the fan, etc.) but it's not cold any more. We moved all the frozen foods to the stand-alone freezer downstairs (and some just got tossed) and we're trying to keep the fridge food cool with ice blocks and a camping cooler. Ken will call our local appliance guy this morning to see if he can repair it, otherwise we're going to need a new one. Double yikes!

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Sparkling Vouvray

While most wine makers in the Loire Valley region make sparkling wines, the towns of Vouvray and Montlouis (across the river) have a special distinction. They use only chenin blanc grapes in their wines. Both areas make still wines, dry and sweet, and sparkling wines. And they're all tasty. The chenin grapes give their wine a unique taste among the blends that other wineries make. The standard sparkling Touraine wines, for example, are made with mostly chardonnay blended with other grape varieties. Those wines are great, too, in my humble opinion.

We may or may not have tasted this guy's wine. Vouvray, digitized color slide, Fall 2000.

This winery, Domaine des Lauriers, is a short walk from the vacation house we rented in Vouvray. Neither Ken nor I remember if we went in, tasted, or bought wine here. But we did visit other wineries nearby. By the way, a laurier is a bay laurel tree. They grow all over our region.

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Kid on a bike

This is the best that I could do with this old slide. Still, I think it has a certain quality to it. The street is the rue du Commerce, I think, in Vouvray, the one that climbs the hill up to the church in yesterday's post.

Rue du Commerce, Vouvray. Digitized color slide, Fall 2000.

The nights got clear again. The moon is waxing toward full and it's setting in the north west. It's so far north that it shines in through our north-facing window in the wee hours. The clear sky means that it's cold in the morning. We're expecting yet another warm front tomorrow with rain and spring-like temperatures. This is March weather, a bit early.

Monday, February 14, 2022

In Vouvray

This is the bell tower of the church of Notre-Dame-et-Saint-Jean-Baptiste in central Vouvray. The older part of town is built along a street that rises up from the river valley toward the vineyards on the heights to the north. The 19th century church sits near the top of that street.

The bell tower is topped with a coupole (small dome) and a lantern. Vouvray, Fall 2000.

We took a walk into town from our gîte and up the hill to the church. I don't remember going inside; it might have been locked at the time.

A closer look at the lantern where the church bell hangs. Vouvray, Fall 2000.

The wind blew most of the night and the house creaked and whined. When it gets light out I'll see if the tarp covering the wood pile has blown off. Again. We had a brief rain shower around 04h30. Tasha and Bert were quiet through the night and got up for breakfast at their normal time.

Sunday, February 13, 2022

Set the WABAC machine... fall in the year 2000. While I had been briefly through the Loire Valley back in 1982, this trip would be the first I had spent some time here. We traveled with our friend S. from California and rented a holiday home in Vouvray, on the edge of the chenin blanc vineyards there. Little did we know that visit would be a foreshadowing of our move to the region two and a half years later.

Our little home away from home in Vouvray, Fall 2000.

The gîte rural (holiday home) that we rented was a two bedroom stone house. It was cozy and comfortable, especially because we could spend some of the time sitting outdoors. The house was our base for exploring the area, especially the famous châteaux along the Loire and Cher rivers.

A little sitting area outside the front door. Vouvray, Fall 2000.

These next posts will contain some of the photos I took during that trip. I've digitized the images from slides -- I was really into taking slides back then. The photos' technical quality may not be the best, but at least it's a way to preserve the images for viewing. I stopped taking slides in 2002 and dabbled in digital for a few years until 2006, when I got my first digital camera. I hope that my photography skills have improved some in the past 22 years.

Saturday, February 12, 2022

La fenêtre

I believe that this is the dome of the Institut de France. I'm looking south through a window in the Pavillon des Arts at the Louvre, in the ground-level passage between the palace's Cour Carrée and the Pont des Arts on the Seine. The Institut is where the famous Académie Française meets.

The dome of the Institut de France, seen from the Louvre, April 2009.

We're down to freezing again this morning, but just barely. It's enough to ice over the car windows. It'll warm up a little when the sun rises. Then things are supposed to warm up some more as another minor rain system comes in on Sunday. I'm looking forward to the equinox (still six or so weeks to go) and to moving the clocks ahead again. And spring. Winter has been mild, but it's not really outdoor weather.

Friday, February 11, 2022

Le noir et blanc

Here's another photo of the Pavillon de Marsan at the Louvre, a little closer than the last one and in black and white. I like the look of that woman with the trench coat blowing in the breeze and the two dogs, although I can't see any evidence of a leash on those dogs. UPDATE: I just realized that the guy walking toward the camera has leashes around his shoulders.

A glimpse of the Pavillon de Marsan from one of the allées in the Tuileries Garden, April 2009.

I'm getting to the end of these Paris photos. Most of them were already posted in years past, although I've reworked many of them. Some were "rejects" that I've dusted off for lack of new material. We're obviously not getting out to take photos in new places. And now, with the dog's injury, we won't be any time soon. And taking photos on our walks is problematic because our walks are short now and we have to keep Tasha on a short leash.

So, I've been thinking that I might dig into some of the color slides I took before I made the move to digital. I have slides of our first trips to the Loire Valley and other places in France. It means scanning and fixing up the images, but what else have I got to do in these winter months? It's always good to digitize older photos, especially since the slide projector is kaput and I have no other way to enjoy them.

Thursday, February 10, 2022

Le pavillon

This is the Pavillon de Marsan, part of the Louvre palace in Paris. It was the northern end of the Tuileries Palace until the Paris Commune in 1871, when that palace was burned down. The pavillon was reconstructed shortly after, but the Tuilieries Palace was demolished and not rebuilt.

The Pavillon de Marsan (and a few of the other Louvre pavillons) seen from the Tuileries garden, April 2009.

When I was done at the Arc de Triomphe, I think I took the métro down to Concorde for a brief walk through the Tuileries garden where I took a bunch of photos. I was on my way to catch my train home. I obviously had some time to kill.

Wednesday, February 09, 2022

La Défense

Just outside the city of Paris, on a straight line from the Louvre, up the Champs-Elysées and through the Arc de Triomphe, is the business district called La Défense, built on the site of a battle that was fought during the Franco-Prussian War. The statue that commemorates the "defense of Paris" was preserved near its original location.

The avenue de la Grande Armée stretches from the Arc de Triomphe to the Porte Maillot (city limits), then the avenue Charles de Gaulle continues the line through Neuilly-sur-Seine to la Défense. April 2009.

I took this photo from the top of the Arc de Triomphe in 2009. Since then, several other high-rise buildings have been added to the district. Many French companies are headquartered there along with other businesses, government offices, hotels, shopping, and residential neighborhoods.

At the western end of the district rises the Grande Arche de la Défense, a 35 story office building with a large viewing platform on its roof. On a clear day, it's worth the trip up the glass elevators in the center of the cube to take in the view.

Tuesday, February 08, 2022

Toilet humor

With our global economy, many of us around the world have become accustomed to product packaging and instructions provided in several, if not dozens, of languages. I'm guessing that a lot of the translations from the producers' language are done by computer. This can result in sometimes puzzling, sometimes hilarious translations.

Maybe it's different for other English speakers around the world, but in the US, the word "flush" is frequently associated with a bathroom fixture.

We found these Chinese noodles on a recent shopping trip. The cooking instructions in French are pretty clear, but the English is curious. "Cook the noodles in boiling water for about 4 minutes. Then flush the noodles and drain." Flush the noodles? In French it says to "rinse" the noodles, not to send them down the toilet.

I'll never forget many years ago when our friend, CHM, got a new George Foreman Grill, a kitchen appliance. The translation of the instructions into French had us rolling on the floor with laughter. Like the directions for cooking filet de semelle. In English it was fillet of sole, but in French, une semelle is the sole of a shoe. Mmm, tasty! Then there was the non-baton surface, in English: a non-stick surface. But the French word baton means stick, like the kind that falls from trees. There were many other funny translations. I'm sure I can't remember them all.

Monday, February 07, 2022

La dame... fer. The Iron Lady. No, the other one. Before Margaret Thatcher got that nickname, it was lovingly (I assume) bestowed on the Eiffel Tower in Paris. This is what the tower looks like from the top of the Arc de Triomphe, looking down the avenue d'Iéna.

The Eiffel Tower is just about a mile from the Arc de Triomphe as the crow flies. April 2009.

Tasha continues to recuperate. She's fine with being confined, most of the time. She's using the injured leg more and more during her short walks, but she still doesn't put her full weight on it when standing, often holding it up in the air. She has a good appetite, too, probably because she's on a diet and is getting less to eat than before the injury. On Wednesday it will be three weeks since her operation.

Sunday, February 06, 2022


In yet another view from the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, this is the nineteenth century parish church of Saint-Augustin near the intersection of the boulevard Malesherbes and the boulevard Haussmann in the 8th arrondissement. The church's dome is very impressive, which, according to Wikipedia, reaches 81 meters (over 250 feet) toward the sky. The church was designed by Victor Baltard, famous for the pavilions at les halles de Paris (they were dismantled in the 1970s).

Looking up the avenue de Friedland before it becomes the boulevard Haussmann, April 2009.

This is another place I'd like to visit in more detail one day. I've never been inside, but the photos I've seen make it seem worth a look. In 2018, I took this photo of the church from near the church of la Madeleine at the other end of the boulevard Malesherbes.

Saturday, February 05, 2022

Le palais

Le Grand Palais in Paris was built between 1896 and 1900 as part of the Universal Exposition of 1900. It's undergone numerous renovations since then. One of the most spectacular was the renovation of the glass roof that you see in this photo. I remember from my first time in Paris that the roof was grey, and the glass never seemed clear. Now it gleams, especially in bright sunlight.

The glass roof of the Grand Palais seen from the Arc de Triomphe, April 2009.
I wish I had framed the photo a little better so as not to cut off the Panthéon dome.

I've never set foot inside the "nave" under the glass, although I did go to one exhibit in another part of the building, and I spent many hours in the west wing's Palais de la Découverte, a science museum with a planetarium. According to Wikipedia, the Grand Palais and the Palais de la Découverte are currently closed, undergoing a few years of further renovations.

Friday, February 04, 2022


Another view from the Arc de Triomphe, this time of the Opéra Garnier (also known as the Palais Garnier), one of two sites that serve as home to the Paris Opera. Built in the 1870s, the building was originally known simply as l'Opéra de Paris. In 1989, it was renamed for its architect, Charles Garnier, to distinguish it from the "new" Opéra Bastille across town.

The Opéra Garnier dominates it's 9th arrondissement neighborhood. Paris, April 2009.

I've never been inside either building, but one day I would enjoy taking a tour of the Palais Garnier. From what I've seen in photos and on television, the interior is spectacular. This was the building haunted by the Phantom of the Opera in Gaston Leroux's original 1910 novel.

Thursday, February 03, 2022

La basilique

While up on top of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, I did what most tourists do: I took photos of the views in all directions. This one looks toward the northeast and the Butte Montmartre, atop which is the basilique du Sacré-Cœur. The pointed tower to the left of the domes is the campanile (bell tower). To the left of that is the château d'eau de Montmartre, a water tower.

My photo of Sacré-Cœur on the Butte Montmartre gets the black and white treatment. Paris, April 2009.

A little architectural tid-bit: when you hear the word basilica, do you think of a religious building? The Christian, and notably Catholic, church adopted the common ancient Roman building form around the fourth century or so. Before that, Roman basilicas, built with a high rectangular central nave pierced by clerestory windows and supported by columns, lower side aisles, and typically an apse at one end, were civic buildings used for public and judicial functions. The basilica would usually be located adjacent to the forum in Roman cities.

Wednesday, February 02, 2022


Called by the French la plus belle avenue du monde (the most beautiful avenue in the world), the avenue des Champs-Elysées is certainly one of the best known avenues in the world. It stretches 1.9 kilometers from the place de la Concorde westward to the place de l'Etoile and the Arc de Triomphe. I was standing on the roof observation deck of the Arc when I took this photo. Curiously, I went up into the arc on this trip but I took no photos of it.

Typical pre-covid traffic on the Champs-Elysées seen from the Arc de Triomphe, April 2009.

There are plenty of recognizable monuments in this shot. From left to right, back toward the horizon, I can see the Pompidou Center, the Louvre and the Tuileries gardens in the center, the Obélisk in the place de la Concorde, the spire of the Sainte Chappelle, Notre Dame cathedral, the small dome of the Institut de France (home of the Académie Française), the expansive glass roof of the Grand Palais, the rooftops of the Orsay museum, and the Tour Zamansky at Jussieu (featured in a recent post).

Tuesday, February 01, 2022

Tasha Tuesday

Tasha's stitches came out yesterday without incident. The scar looks good and the cone of shame is no longer necessary. She spent a good deal of the day making up for lost licking time.

Happy to be home, happy to be rid of the cone, not so happy to be still stuck in the corral.

They weighed her at the vet's office and she's lost a pound since the last time. We're cutting her food portions by half and she's transitioning to a new dietary kibble. She gets about 50 grams of kibble in the morning and about 50 grams of wet food at lunch time. Not to mention a half-biscuit after each walk. That's it. According to the dog food manufacturers' portion recommendations, we're starving her. But the surgeon told us that it really doesn't matter which food we give her as long as we give her less of it. I don't think we could give her any less.

Her poops are a little weird right now, but that always happens when we change her food. It should get better in time. It's too bad, because we thought we had a good brand there for a while. Now we're trying a brand that the vet sells. Ka-ching! It's pricey, but since we're feeding her less, it should all even out.