Saturday, August 31, 2013

the maple tree

I have never seen a maple tree like this before.  Even my tree book didn't have one like it among all those other maples in it.  The white border just seemed to glow in the bright sunshine the day I discovered it on the grounds of château Chenonceau.  Below is a wider view.

Friday, August 30, 2013


These rowboats at château Chenonceau are all ready to go.  Just add tourists.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

white flower

Here is another reason to thank the gardeners of the town of Amboise.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

the town house

This house inside the fortified walls of the old town of Loches has many characteristics of houses in this area.  That would include the use of stone in the building and surrounding walls, slate roof, shuttered windows, cascading flowers, multiple chimneys, and ironwork.  (Also is typical, the pigeon on the roof!)

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

the waterfalls

Seen from above, these gentle waterfalls in the gardens at château Villandry take on an abstract (if not sensual) look.

Monday, August 26, 2013

fresh from the garden

There is only one thing better than these luscious veggies and that would be our friend and neighbor who grew them in his garden and shared them with us !  He is one of many Amboise gardeners who have a garden plot on the banks of the Loire.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

another summer sunset

I guess everyone has figured out by now that I can't go more than a few weeks without posting a sunset on the Loire.  Best seen enlarged of course.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

church Saint-Ours at château de Loches

The château de Loches was constructed in the 12th century by king Henry II of England (Plantagenet) and his son Richard the Lionheart.  If you haven't seen the film The Lion in Winter, be sure to do so before you visit here; or watch it anyway, it's a classic.  This all ties in to yesterday's post referencing Henry's wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine (and you know of course who played her in the movie).  But I digress.

This hilltop fortress was built during the hundred years war between England and France.  In 1204, the French took control of Loches and kept it.  By the 15th century, the château had become one of the royal residences of French king Charles VII.  While here, Joan of Arc came to plead that Charles go to reclaim the French crown that had been "given away" by his father Charles VI ("the crazy") to the English.  Today, you can still stand in that same room (see plaque below).   Later Charles gave the château to the first French royal mistress, Agnès Sorel, who is now interred in the church Saint-Ours.  It turns out that almost all of the current royal families of Europe as well as two French presidents are her (and Charles') descendants.

Ah, history is so fascinating to a recovering engineer such as I who is now trying to put together a huge puzzle from pieces collected over a lifetime.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Fontevraud Abbey

Construction on this abbey began in the 11th century.  It's located west of Amboise near Chinon and has quite the history.  Its most famous nun was Eleanor of Aquitaine following the death of her husband Plantagenet king Henry II (at the time this area was not part of what we now call France, it was controlled by England).  Following the French revolution, the abbey was disbanded and became a prison until 1963.  A lengthy modern renovation was completed in 2006 and now it is a beauty to behold.  This gallery is just the tip of the iceberg.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

à la cour du Roy François I

Every July and August, a group of some 400 Amboise volunteers put on a show about life in the royal court of King Francis I.  The "stage" is the château itself.  The show has evolved over the years to include impeccable costumes, historical narration, scenes with live horses, music, light projection, and at the end, fireworks. It is really a charming evening in the open air on the grounds of the château.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

moon rise / sunset on the église St Florentin

The glow of a sunset a few days ago was spectacular on the stone walls in Amboise.  I was lucky to find in addition a nice half-moon to embellish this shot of the église St Florentin.  This church was constructed in the fifteenth century by order of king Louis XI.  Today it no longer serves as a church but instead hosts art exhibitions and small concerts (église St Denis now serves as the local catholic parish).

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

the urns at Chenonceau

Here is a close up of one of the urns at Chenonceau that are perched atop the walls surrounding one of the gardens (seen here).  Because of all the many details in these gardens, one can spend a long time exploring and taking snaps.

Monday, August 19, 2013

the red silos

These are part of the co-op that I posted earlier.  I considered titling this post "RGB" but figured that was too obscure.  In any case, I do like the colors and the basic shapes that I found on one of my bike rides through the nearby town of Onzain.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

August brocante

Every August 15 (Assomption, a French national holiday), there is an enormous brocante in a nearby town that attracts people from all over the region.  It was full of things begging to be taken home or photographed.  It took about three hours to see it all.  I might have a few photos "in the bank" now.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

August sunflowers

At last !  The sunflowers like all the other crops are almost a month behind schedule due to the unusually cool spring.  Anyway, they are here and are glorious.

Friday, August 16, 2013

high season for the montgolfières

In France, hot air balloons are known as montgolfières, named so for the brothers Montgolfièr who invented them in 1782.  The tourist businesses that fly them in and around Amboise are in full swing during this peak tourist season.  Balloons are generally launched in the early morning or late afternoon, weather permitting of course.  Here I caught one flying directly over the town at a pretty low level.  They must have gotten some great photos of the château.   Ahhhh, some day.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

tiny purple flowers

OK here I go again posting a flower that I cannot identify.  I got the tree book.  I got the bird book.  So the flower book has got to be next on my list.  Someone out there, however, will tell me what this is before then.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

the shutter

Here's another example of the variety of shutters to be found in Amboise.  I really like the unpainted, natural wood.  Of course, I'm also a woodworker so that is no surprise.  I think that the early morning light and shadows also adds interest (that's the shadow of a chain for the latch on the left).  You can see that this shutter has had its abuse...a little scarred, a little beat up...but in the right light it still holds its beauty and  integrity.  May we all do so.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

the Chancellery

I read that the Chancellery in the garden of Diane de Poitiers at Château Chenonceau was the house of the estate steward.  This guy must have been really busy.  The front of the house is now swaddled in a thick covering of wisteria.  You can imagine what it looks, and smells, like in the spring.

Monday, August 12, 2013

view from the pagoda at Chantaloup

If you would like to see the pagoda itself (and read a snippet of its history), take a look here.  In today's photo, I found the view straight down on these curves is as interesting as the view straight out.  Maybe I'll post the latter another day.  Anyway, the brown is a graveled area around the base of the pagoda and the green is the reflecting pool.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Cedars of Lebanon

I think the cedars at chateau Chaumont are spectacular. I read that the Count of Aramon planted many cedars (among others) on the grounds in the 1800s.  I cannot say if these are among those but it looks to me like they might be.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

la brocante - part 2

Here is a follow on to this post.  And this post demonstrates that you never know what you're going to find at these markets of "stuff".  That would be anything from the interesting to the bizarre.  I'll let you decide in which category this falls.

Friday, August 9, 2013

a classic entry

As in many French towns, this main entry into Amboise from the west is lined with plane trees (or, platanes, in French).  They are similar to sycamore trees found in the US.  I find the multicolored, peeling bark really interesting looking.  These are towering trees (up to 150 feet / 50 meters) and thus keep the road shady and always photo-ready.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Festival International des jardins à château Chaumont

Every year during tourist season, the château at Chaumont dedicates garden space to designers of all stripes to construct very creative and unusual garden installations.  I'm guessing there are twenty or more installations that interpret the theme for the year.  They provoke a very wide range of reactions from the viewers who may find some of the installations weird or intriguing, beautiful or ugly, intelligent or incomprehensible.  I generally find them at least interesting if not dazzling.

The photo today is just one example.  The designer has placed metal butterflies onto slender rods in such a way as to give the impression that a whole "flock" of them have all decided to fly away together into the woods.  Don't ask me why there are small carpets on the ground.  See what I mean?  Anyway, I find people we know either love this stuff or hate it.  In fact, one friend hated it one year but loved it the next.

You can count on seeing more examples on this blog in the future.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

pigeon on the roof

Pigeons like this one are very common in Amboise.  This guy seems to be very proud of himself for finding such a formidable roof on which to roost.  I love these old roofs with their rusty colors and all kinds of moss and lichens.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

the old boat

This old boat is always tied up in the same place along the Loire.  I don't know if the water in it is from a leak or from rain water.  And I don't know if the owner ever plans to use it.  Anyway it makes for a nice foreground for the bridge Leclerc so I hope he leaves it.

Monday, August 5, 2013

more from the gardens at Villandry

As promised, here's another view onto the incredible gardens at Villandry.  And this is still just a fraction of the grounds around the château.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

antique cars

I discovered a fantastic display of antique cars in front of church St Florentin this morning.  The cars were produced in the 1930s and included both French and American manufacturers. Each one had been restored as if new.  And as you can see in the polished reflection, it was a glorious summer day with lots of blue sky and white clouds...and most importantly, not as hot as it has been recently.  Here's a wider view:

And if you want to see more, take a look at this slide show.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

a place to rest

I snapped this table and chairs at château Villandry where after a long tour of the gardens, one can just relax.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Summer sunset

Everybody was cooperating on this summer evening...the sun, the boat, the couple, the clouds, the Loire.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

City Daily Photo August theme day - street lamps

The first of every month is "theme day" for the bloggers of City Daily Photo.  Each blogger interprets the theme according to their own city and their own individual tastes.  And today's theme "street lamps" should be really interesting as interpreted from bloggers from around the world.

In Amboise, I snapped this just before sunset in the main square, Place Debré.  The red awning is from one of the many restaurants there.  The swirls in the lamp support and the window railing are motifs often seen in Amboise.