Sunday, June 30, 2013

le chardon - the thistle

This is yet another planting by the town of Amboise in the flower beds next to the Loire.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

the co-op

This agricultural cooperative is located in Onzain just across the Loire from château Chaumont.  It apparently was constructed in 1937 (that's the date on the front side of the taller building) in an art deco style.  It's difficult to get a good angle on this building as it is very long and is partially obscured by this row of tall vegetation.  The three red silos on the right also make for an interesting shot against a blue sky, but I'll save that one for another day.

Friday, June 28, 2013

the frog pond

This guy is one of a gazillion that inhabit local ponds and the banks of the Loire.  Their distinctive sounds can be heard from quite a distance especially when they all get together to give a concert.  In reality, of course, this noise is all about mating, and this is mating season.  The other distinctive feature of these frogs are the large air "bubbles" in their "cheeks" they create in order to produce the mating sounds.  This is all too complicated to explain, so here is a video I took that shows them in action in a little pond alongside one of my favorite bike routes near Amboise.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Château Chaumont

I have already posted three photos at Château Chaumont (click on "Chaumont" in the list of labels on the right-hand side of this page), but none of the château itself.  It is one of my favorites to visit because of its inventive gardens, extravagant stables, and beautifully restored and furnished castle.  While the original château on these grounds dates back to the 10th century, this "new" version was constructed in the 15th century.  One of its former residents was Catherine de Medici (wife to King Henry II).

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Amboise creativity

One of the residents has taken the whimsical route to growing herbs and decorating at the same time.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Reflecting on the Loire

OK, to give you (and me) a break from the bike tour, here we are back on the banks of the Loire in Amboise to watch a nice sunset reflecting on the shallow waters.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Jules Verne museum

Riding through Nantes on the bike tour reminded me of the wonderful Jules Verne museum and "factory" where they create incredible mechanized creatures in the style of Jules Verne.  As promised in an earlier post, this is probably their most well-known creation.  If you enlarge the photo (click on the image and make your browser full-screen), you can see people riding on this enormous elephant as it roams around the museum grounds.  And if that's not enough for you, here's a video of it I found on YouTube (it's not a great video but the best I could find).

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Saint Nazaire

On the last day of our bike tour we arrived at Saint Nazaire, a major shipping port on the Atlantic where the Loire meets the ocean.  In the background is a huge bridge under which enormous ocean-going vessels can pass underneath.  In the foreground is a classic fishing "pier"... here at low tide.

Saturday, June 22, 2013


Here is another stop on bike trip, le château de Saumur.  What exists now was constructed in the 12th century.  And, the area around the town of Saumur is famous for its wines.

It was another grey day on the tour, but at least there was no rain or wind.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Fishing on the Loire

Fishing is still important in the lower Loire.  Here is an example of the old and the new boats that can be found there.   I saw these on the last day of our bike tour as we neared the Atlantic.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

the countryside

I was able to catch this country scene while one of my fellow travelers changed the tube in his flat tire.  It happens on the best of bike tours.  The morning of day 5.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

les bateaux sur Loire - boats on the Loire

These flat-bottomed boats are typical of many small boats on the Loire.  You should know I did not hire the guy to pose with his umbrella while doing a little fishing (although I would have!).  Day 3 of the bike tour.

Monday, June 17, 2013

les coqueclicots - the poppies

Another photo from the first day of the bike tour.  This field of poppies next to the bike path was stunning.  I just wish I could show the entire length of it.  This helped to make up for all the grey skies we had for the first few days of the trip.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

la Loire à velo - bike tour of the Loire

For those of you who placed comments during this last week and wondered why I hadn't responded, it's because I was on a five day bike tour of the Loire valley between Amboise and the Atlantic.  Fortunately, Blogger allowed me to queue up the weeks' posts in advance.  Pictured here are my fellow bike tourists on the first day as we approached château d'Ussé.  This is claimed to be the castle that Charles Perrault had in mind when he wrote Sleeping Beauty.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

le montgolfière - the hot air balloon

When the weather is good...which means clear skies, warm temperatures, and light winds...these balloons are launched at sunrise and sunset in and around Amboise.  I would love to take a ride someday as I imagine the ride over the Loire and its châteaux are spectacular.  (Blois is a nearby city to the east and Chambord is a nearby château.)

Friday, June 14, 2013

the moth

I was lucky to catch this moth in one of the public gardens in Amboise.  It's the only one of this type I have seen.  He was very polite to strike and hold this pose.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

castle keep

A "keep" or defensive tower is called a "donjon" in French.  This is one of those "faux amies" (false friends) where the French word is similar to (or the same as) an English word but the meaning is not the same.  Thus, a "dungeon" in English (a subterranean jail cell) is really the opposite of the French word "donjon" although pronounced similarly.  Unfortunately, there are other French words that can really get an anglophone in trouble.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

lovers' sunset

The sunsets over the Loire always attract the young and the young at heart.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

roses at Chaumont

The roses at château Chaumont are always spectacular.  This year was no exception.

Monday, June 10, 2013

les volets en bois - the wooden shutters

There are all kinds of window shutters in France and they all require some maintenance (aka "tender loving care" in the States), for example those shown in my theme day post.  But these are in pretty good shape and in my opinion the texture of the rough paint looks quite nice in the early morning sun.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

l'abeille - the bee

This flower and bee are brought to you by the town of Amboise.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

the pond

Next to the bike path just on the outskirts of Amboise is this nice little pond.  One day I will post another picture of this pond if I can ever manage to capture the heron that is often "fishing" here at the water's edge.

Friday, June 7, 2013


I encountered these sheep on a recent bike ride near Amboise.  I've never seen any like this before.  They didn't seem to mind that I was taking their fact they almost seemed to be happy to pose for a family portrait.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

le châtaignier - the chestnut tree

As they are every year, the chestnut tree blooms were spectacular.  This one is next to the train station in Amboise.  (Note the sign for SNCF, Société Nationale des Chemins de fer Français, the national railroad system.)  It's interesting that the blooms can be in a variety of colors.  And the trees are often planted in rows alongside roads and boulevards such as along the Champs Elysées in Paris or along entrances to châteaux.

And here is a close up of the blooms.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

a ride in the countryside

Actually, neither of these "rides" is the title reference.  Rather while I was on one of my recent bike rides nearby Amboise, I found these guys grazing in the grass.  All concerned enjoyed this rare Spring-like day this year.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

My running route

Here is a snap of a section of the route I like to run several times each week.  The foreground is a little path on top of the levee that protects Amboise from flooding.  It connects to the bike path you see to the right that follows the left bank of the Loire river.  These red coquelicots (poppies) and other wildflowers are just the inspiration I need to keep running.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Darth Cheminée

You can find this imposing guy on top of many chimneys in Amboise and throughout France.  Although a bit scary, these guys are actually a very efficient use of sheet metal to make chimney caps.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

the doors of Chaumont

I find these old doors in the "attic" of château Chaumont to be interesting not just because of their subtle shades of color but also because I have my own door renovation projects to do on our our 19th century house.  At first I thought our old doors covered in who-knows-how-many layers of old paint should just be replaced.  But after spending a week stripping, sanding, and refinishing one of them, I decided I could not replace them in spite of all the work.  Apparently, they thought the same thing at the château as these old doors seem to be standing by waiting for someone to come renovate them and put them back to work.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

June theme day - the beauty of decay

No, this is not a post about a dentists' convention.  Rather, on the first day of every month the bloggers of City Daily Photo share a common theme;  today's theme "the beauty of decay" will surely have a variety of interpretations.  In Amboise, these steel shutters are very typical as they provide great protection from the cold in winter and the blistering afternoon sun in summer.  Unfortunately, they do require attention as they are so exposed to the elements.  I try to keep up with the maintenance on ours, but since these belong to someone else, I can relax and enjoy these painterly smears of rust.

Here are other interpretations of today's theme.