Saturday, November 30, 2013

Eglise St. Denis at night

Here is a November night shot of the local Catholic church.  For going on 900 years old, it's looking pretty good.  You might remember this church from this earlier post taken in the daylight and in the spring.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving and the table of bounty

No this is not my Thanksgiving table, unfortunately, but one at château Chononceau.  But this is the image I'll hold in my mind on this Thanksgiving day.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

up my alley

This alley leads up to the entrance of the music school in Amboise.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Charcuterie St Hubert

Alas, the charcuterie (pork butcher shop) St Hubert no longer exists on the Place Debré, but its former shop sign still remains.  I don't know if the building owner finds the old sign as charming as I do, or just has never gotten around to taking it down.  (I'm guessing and hoping the former.)  In front of the building, one can view the chapel St Hubert where Leonardo da Vinci is (supposedly) interred.

Monday, November 25, 2013

bike path by the Loire

It was an early November day when I took this snap of the bike path just west of Amboise.  It's one of my favorite stretches as it comes very close to the Loire.  There are lots of dedicated bike paths in the Loire valley and more seem to be added every year.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

you think the sun is low now ?

We're a month before the winter solstice, yet the shadow cast by this little gargoyle on the château at Amboise is already quite extraordinary (at 11:30am).  I think most folks would be surprised to learn that the latitude of Amboise is above that of the state of Maine in the US.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

not the Sydney Opera House

In fact, this is greater downtown Amboise.  But these gabled roofs did make me think of a similar image.

Friday, November 22, 2013

chococate chaud à Bigot

It really felt like winter in Amboise today.  Cold, windy, rainy, you know the drill.  What else could we do but go to the local chocolate shop (chocolatière Bigot) and have a cup of hot chocolate?  Inside it was warm and cozy and the chocolate was hot and rich.  While enjoying this wonderful respite, I snapped a picture of one of their wall sconces whose shadows I thought were mesmerizing.

I cannot let this day pass without acknowledging the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.  For my generation of Americans, this was one of the most monumental days of our youth.  JFK came to France (and other destinations in Europe) during his university years (1937) and I suspect that this trip had a lasting impact on his world view and policies.  Would that all Americans make a voyage beyond their borders to comprehend other cultures and the world at large.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

first frost

Amboise had its first frost of the year Tuesday night.  Wednesday morning I found this pile of fallen autumn leaves next to the Loire.  C'est partie! as they say here (it's started, that would be the winter weather).

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

the lookout

This lookout, or keep (or donjon en français) is at the corner of the grounds of the château at Amboise and overlooks the Loire.  First of all, I liked the three tourists I captured enjoying the view (they actually seemed to relish that I was taking their portraits).  Secondly, I am intrigued by the door that appears to lead to nowhere (but down!).

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

la bicyclette abndonnée

I encountered this poor bicycle on the banks of the Loire not far from our home.  It raises so many questions.  It looks reasonably new, yet it clearly has been left out in the elements a long time, causing all that rust.  Why was it abandoned?  Was it stolen and discarded?  Is there a creepier story yet untold?

Monday, November 18, 2013

a windy château

As you can see from the banner on the right that the winds were quite impressive here a couple of weeks ago.  In spite of that, the clouds and the sun made for a nice photo op.  This is of course the château in Amboise.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

le moineau domestique - the house sparrow

The sparrows show up every morning in force thanks to my neighbor who feeds them. I was happy to get this gal (I think this is a female as the male has a black "bib") to pose for a nice portrait.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

the ginko tree

I have always loved ginkos for their leaf shape and their brilliant golden color in the fall.  Here's a tree that looks out over the Loire and appears to be very content with that.  

Unfortunately, I was not able to capture it in full sun during its peak.

Friday, November 15, 2013

la tempête de grêle - the hail storm

It was pretty exciting this afternoon in Amboise.  A hail storm blasted through what was beforehand a nice sunny day, leaving a thick covering of hail stones and providing the not so usual thunder and lightning.   Here you see the hail stone "pearls" on top of a few recently fallen leaves.  Is there any doubt that winter is on its way ?!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

les jumeau de l'Amasse - the twins of the Amasse river

The "twins" here are two steel gates that allow the Amasse river to flow into the much larger Loire river underneath the levee that protects the town from flooding by the Loire.  This tributary flows underneath the town of Amboise for the last several hundred meters before emptying into the Loire.  I'm not really sure what purpose these gates serve except maybe to prevent a backflow into the Amasse should the Loire reach flood stage.  I understand that historically that the smaller Amasse has been the greater risk for flooding of the town.  And today this is a relevant subject as the Loire river has been rising this week as a result of all the rain we've had.  In any case, I thought the "twins" looked a bit like something out of a science fiction movie.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Paris-Tours bike race

Almost everybody is aware of the Tour de France in July, but that is only the most famous of many bike competitions throughout the country every year.  Another big race is the one day race from Paris to Tours.  The route may vary a little from year to year but I think it always goes through Amboise as it did this year in October (note the château in the background).  While it may not have the caché of the TdF, it is still indeed exciting to see some of the best cyclists in the world speed by even for only a few seconds.  The route is relatively flat so it does favor the cycling sprinters so the mountain climbers (who win the TdF and other major races) generally do not participate.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Armistice day - 11 November 1918

Yesterday, Monday 11 November, was Armistice day in France, called differently throughout the world but all remember the end of World War I.  France had 1.4 million military deaths, or about 4.2% of its total population.  There were another 4.2 million wounded.  Basically, a generation of young French men were nearly wiped out by this war.  It's hard to comprehend.

Monday, November 11, 2013

in the woods

I believe that these are some variety of cyclamen that I found in proliferation in the woods at Chenonceau.   The closest thing in my newly purchased flowers of France book is Cyclamen de Naples.  Anyone who is an expert here, please chime in.  No matter what they're called, the effect is truly magical.  Here is a wider view (and this is only a fraction of it):

Sunday, November 10, 2013

le marché en novembre

This parking lot is the site of the Friday and Sunday markets (les marchés) in Amboise.  The Sunday market is the largest in the region and draws not only tourists but also the local residents throughout the area.  I have an ongoing project to take a photo here from the same vantage point at different times of the year and in different weather conditions.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

the seagull

Even though Amboise is inland, there are still plenty of seagulls that congregate around the Loire.  This back-lit fellow seemed to be having the flight of his life as he drifted overhead.  I love the aerodynamic look of these guys.

Friday, November 8, 2013


I love this pile of clay flower pots that I discovered in a maintenance area of the gardens at Chenonceau.  I can only imagine the work that will be required to fill them up next season.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

la taupinière (it's not what you may think at first look !)

While I have not seen the creator of this pile of dirt that was pushed up from below, I can almost promise that it is one of many moles (les taupes, en français) that reside on the banks of the Loire. I saw these all the time in my yard in Virginia years ago and I never saw the critters there either.  Francophone test: There is an expression in English regarding what one should NOT make out of this mole hill (taupinière); what is it?

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

the happy mushroom

This happy mushroom was growing on the same section of the levee as shown in a recent post.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

ivy art

I know I recently posted a wall of red ivy but I couldn't resist this one too.  This wall of ivy has dropped all of its leaves except for some of the precious red ones.  I liked the patterns from the sinuous shoots remaining over what appear formally to be windows through the stone wall.

Monday, November 4, 2013

St Antoine tower

This is the Saint Antoine tower in the town of Loches as seen from the château.  It is a bell tower that dates back to the 16th century.  It is 52 meters high (about 170 feet) and offers a wonderful view of the town when it is occasionally open (alas, I have never been up into it).

Sunday, November 3, 2013

the levee in fall

This stone facing is the levee that protects Amboise from flooding.  On top are trees and a wonderful path for walking and biking.  The back-lit trees from a late afternoon sun I thought gave this scene a nice warm glow.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

the plowed field

I liked the trajectory cut by the farmer's tractor in this field on the outskirts of Amboise.  The smooth tracks glistened in the sunlight perfectly.

Friday, November 1, 2013

November City Daily Photo theme day - "heights"

Every first of the month the bloggers of City Daily Photo post a photo according to a theme and this month the theme is "heights".  So my interpretation is this stairwell in a shopping gallery (the predecessor to the US shopping mall) in nearby Nantes where you can go to new heights both literally and figuratively.  The combination of wood stairs and cast metal risers I found to be be very interesting (not to mention the hand rails).  Find other interpretations by the other CDP bloggers here.