Sunday, March 31, 2013

Eglise Saint Denis

The first church on this site was constructed in 475; this "modern" version was built in the twelfth century!  It is still an active Catholic church.   The site is near the end of rue Nationale which leads to the château of Amboise at the opposite end.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

tracks at the gare d'Amboise

A pedestrian overpass gave me just the right angle on these tracks receding into the early morning mist.

Friday, March 29, 2013

family of ducks

I'd like to think the lonely duck from the post of 23 March found this gal on the Isle d'Or and that this is the result.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

trees along the levee

These trees are catching the early morning sun on a crisp March morning in Amboise.  That long dark blob at the bottom is the levee that protects the town from flooding of the Loire.  It's my understanding that due to a wide variety of flood control measures over the years all along the length of the Loire, that the risk of flooding is greatly reduced, if not eliminated.  But, still, it's comforting to have it there.  And with that climate change thing, who knows ?

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

the red door

Amboise has a wide variety of architectural styles and touches.  This old hotel is right off the main plaza of the town, and while not luxurious, it's entrance has a certain subdued interest and charm.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

wine barrels

Back to the wine cave for a tour of one of the local winemaker's production facilities.  Many of the producers offer tours and while the process is pretty much the same, they all have their own look and style.  There are also cooperatives that cater to bus loads of tourists, sometimes with wine making museums, extensive tasting rooms, and of course, gift shops.

Monday, March 25, 2013

equinox sunset

I hope you don't tire of sunsets on the Loire...'cause this will not be the last.  This one includes one of the often seen sail boats that were originally used for local commerce but are now used for tourism.  This flat bottomed design permits navigation in shallow waters such as the area around Amboise.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Carnaval des écoles !

Every March the local schools celebrate Carnival by conducting a costumed parade through the streets of Amboise, complete with adult bands and dancing girls. I had a difficult time deciding which of the 130 photos I took this morning to use.  So I had to cheat a little and combine four that catch the flavor of the event.  As you can see, it's not just the students that are into it.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

a lonely duck

The mallards here look to be the same as those in the States.  This one is lounging on the edge of the Isle d'Or, the island of gold, which is right in front of the château.  The island is located at the Loire's widest point, and I think also probably the shallowest.  That makes it the perfect place to build a bridge in two segments that connect the left bank and the right bank.

Friday, March 22, 2013

the vegetable vendor

While it's still not very green around town, it's always green at the vegetable vendor's stall at the market.  This one is actually "bio".  The couple that run it are really nice and now actually recognize me.  Of course how many local Anglophone customers struggling to speak French do they have?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Général Leclerc equinoxe

Spring at last.  This is a little memorial to the WWII French general after whom is named the bridge over the Loire at Amboise (see 25 February post).

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Monday, March 18, 2013

Château de Pray - veil of winter

In winter, leafless climbing ivy on a retaining wall next to the entrance takes on a distinctly veiled appearance.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Château de Pray - sunset

Setting sun on the woods surrounding the château.  (Please click on the image to see in a larger format.)

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Château de Pray - the footpath

There is a nice footpath on the grounds of the château.  Large portions of the path are completely covered by a thick carpet of moss.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Château de Pray

My wife Elizabeth and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary last year in March by staying in this little château on the edge of Amboise.  It dates back to the thirteenth century when it was a stronghold on the Loire (and named after Geoffroy de Pray).  During the Renaissance, it was turned into a private residence.  And now it is a nice hotel and restaurant.  It could not be more peaceful.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

March sunset on the Loire

The three little splashes of reflected sunset are the Amasse river (in the US we would call it a creek) as it meanders its way to the Loire.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

cold night on rue Nationale

Tonight it doesn't feel like we're a week away from Spring.  This photo reflects the feeling I have on this day where we had heavy overcast, a high of  0°C/32°F, a bitter wind, and snow flurries.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

the bell tower

Here is another landmark of Amboise, the bell tower which straddles rue Nationale, our "Main Street".  During the day, the street is closed to traffic so the pedestrians can peacefully enjoy all the shops which cater not only to the locals but also to the throngs of tourists.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

cedar at the château of Amboise

Taken from inside one of the portals to the château.  This cedar is well over a hundred years old.  Closer is a bust of Leonardo da Vinci (who spent his last few years in Amboise).

Friday, March 8, 2013

Azay-le-Rideau series - through the trees

Early châteaux were built like fortresses to protect their owners from invaders, but as the Renaissance swept across Europe, their style shifted to being beautiful and luxurious private residences for the royalty and the wealthy.  King François I is credited with bringing the Renaissance to France.  Under his influence, many Italian designers and craftsmen came to France to help construct châteaux in this style in the Loire valley, including Azay-le-Rideau.

You can make a nice walk all the way around the château and find many different angles to frame this jewel in tuffeau (the local white stone mentioned in the 13 February post).

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Azay-le-Rideau series - inside

Azay-le-Rideau has some nice furnishings on the inside.  Generally, the items found inside of the châteaux are not the originals but rather pieces collected that are representative of the times.  The detailing in this room is wonderful and it feels like dinner could be served at any moment.

Ooops.  Sorry for late post.  (Scheduled it incorrectly, duh).

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Azay-le-Rideau series - wooded grounds

And if I said the grounds are also a quiet place for reflection, would this be your last visit to the blog?

I really like the fact that the château is nestled in the trees.  It’s a bit more modest than some of the other châteaux here, but then again, this was not built as a royal residence.  As you will see there are a number of royal châteaux that show off their grandeur in broad expanses of open spaces and extravagant gardens.  Nevertheless, I found Azay-le-Rideau to be well worth a visit.  

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Azay-le-Rideau series - rowboat on the Indre

This little rowboat in the river next to the château caught my eye as it basked in the winter sun.  I guess it's like everyone else here... trying to dry out and warm up.

The wooded grounds around the château are not extensive, but it is a really pleasant place to walk around and find little details to photograph.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Azay-le-Rideau series - le château

Azay-le-Rideau is a community to the west of Amboise.  The "Azay" part of the name dates back to the name of a local landowner in Roman times.  The "Rideau" (originally Ridel) part comes from the builder of a fortress on the Indre river in the twelfth century.  Ridel d’Azay, a chevalier (knight) of king Philippe Auguste, was charged with the construction to protect the route between Tours and Chinon.  Fast forwarding ahead, the current château was constructed in the early sixteenth century on the same site by Gilles Berthelot, a financier to kings Louis XI and Charles VIII.

The Indre river protects the Château like a moat.  This makes for great photo reflections of the south-west side in the afternoon sun.  It was fortunate to have that sun on this late February outing.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

night scenes series - carousel ride

Very much like the state fairs in the US, there are travelling carnivals in France as well.  Here is a snap of a swirling carousel ride in Amboise that could just as well have been taken at the North Carolina state fair.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

night scenes series - place du marché

Here is the market place long after everyone has gone home.  This was taken from the same point of view as my post of 4 February.

Friday, March 1, 2013

night scenes series - la creperie

This creperie on the Place Debré is one of our favorite eateries in Amboise.  Here it is at night with the holiday lights still going strong.  I like their optimism in keeping the seating available outside despite the winter weather.