Friday, January 31, 2014

January surprise

I was out and about desperately trying to find some interesting shots in all the grayness, when I happened upon this shrub (or tree?) with these wonderful bright yellow flowers.  As usual, I cannot identify it even with extensive searching on the internet and my book of French flowers.  I will add that it has leaves that look a lot like the hollies that I know in the States (but it does not look like the holly, or houx, I found in my search).  100 points to anyone who can identify.

OK here's an update to the original post.  Below is an image of the leaves.

Thursday, January 30, 2014


It's tree-pruning time in Amboise.  These plane trees along the quai next to the Loire were getting their "haircuts" today.  You may have to look carefully to see the guy sawing away with a hand saw.  Below are before and after shots.  It has always seemed severe to me to do these trimmings but the trees seem to accept it well.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

hide and seek

This little guy appears to be trying to hide in the one of the grands halls of the château at Amboise.  (He's well above floor level.)  I find these little sculptural embellishments just charming and fun.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

a plain tree - I don't think so

No comment on this except to say that the only retouching on this plane tree trunk was that I converted it to black and white.  Don't hesitate to tell me what you see, if anything.

Monday, January 27, 2014

tall grasses - part 2

As mentioned earlier, here is another tall grass that I found near the Loire in January.  This time, after checking on the internet, I think this is commonly called pampas grass (cortaderia selloana).  Its bright whiteness really stands out against a blue sky.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Saturday, January 25, 2014

plane shadows

I found the shadows of the plane trees on this white facade captured well the stark contrasts of winter weather in Amboise.

Friday, January 24, 2014


As is often the case, I cannot identify this beautiful vine that occupies long stretches next to the bike trail in Amboise.  Please enlarge (by clicking on it) to see all the wonderful tendrils of this vine.  I was lucky to catch this cluster backlit by the sun recently.  Here is a wider view of a larger mass of them on a metal gate:

Thursday, January 23, 2014

under the bridge

As usual, to see this panorama better, you'll need to click on it.  The Loire is a little higher than usual lately but not so high as to submerge the bike trail (on the left) as I have seen it do so only a few times.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

tall grasses - part 1

You may have noticed that I can't publish enough photos with blue skies lately.  We have been very lucky this January to have a number of really wonderful ones.  Anyway, I spent more time than I want to admit trying to identify these grasses that I found near the Loire.  The best I can tell this is called (among other things) maiden grass (miscanthus sinensis).  Before my Googling of this, I would have thought it was pampas grass, which is similar, but I think different.  Anyway, stay tuned for part 2 on that topic.  Any experts may please chime in !  Whatever it is, I liked the way it fluttered in the breeze on this beautiful day.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

sunflower and friend

Yes, it's been warmer than average in Amboise so far this winter, but not this warm.  I just thought everyone might appreciate a flash back to July to escape all the grayness for the moment.  (All right, well maybe not so much you Aussies!  I'll be posting more snow pics for you later.)

Monday, January 20, 2014


If anyone immediately recognizes that this is what's left of a rear view mirror, I'll be impressed.  Not only knocked off its home perch, it looks like it has been driven over a few times.  Oh the indignities.  But to the end it can still make an interesting reflection of the blue sky and white clouds above (as Mick would say, "in tatters... but still surviving on the street...").

Sunday, January 19, 2014

January thistle

Well, at least that's what I think this is with its colorful flower long gone.  I found him and his friends hanging out down by the Loire next to the bike trail.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

snow cones

No, it still hasn't snowed in Amboise.  Darn it.   But as promised here are those spherical shrubs at the the château d'Amboise in last year's snow.  In the States, there is a summer treat that is basically a man-made snowball on top of a paper cone with sugary flavoring poured on top... et voilà, a snow cone !

Friday, January 17, 2014

winter plowing

The other day was so nice that I went for a short bike ride and came upon this farmer plowing under last year crop (maybe wheat?).  That is not snow on the freshly plowed earth, but the reflection of the sun off of the smooth surfaces.  It's too bad it's not possible to capture the full range of brightness in a photo as this was wonderful to see.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

the pond

This little pond is right next to the bike trail to the west of Amboise.  I managed to catch this scene just a couple of days ago when the sun was at its glorious January best.  Click on it and maximize your browser to see it better.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

blue skies

We've been really lucky lately with the sunshine here. And the temperatures have been a bit above average.  No matter, I'm still waiting for that snow.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

the château at night

At night, with the lights from below, the château at Amboise appears quite imposing.

Monday, January 13, 2014

spherical shrubs

These carefully trimmed shrubs overlook the château at Amboise from a hill behind it.  And this is just a fraction of them !  I don't know how they manage to get them so nearly perfectly spherical.  On this somewhat misty January day, the colors were less uniformly green as they are in summer. On another day, I'll show you what they look like in the snow !

Sunday, January 12, 2014

the cathedral at Orleans

This is the portail (portal, or doorway) of the cathedral Sainte-Croix upstream on the Loire in Orléans. The construction of the cathedral began in the 13th century.  It has had a tough life, including being partially destroyed during a religious war (1568).  Reconstruction and additions continued from 1601 to 1829.  However, it is probably most noted for Joan of Arc celebrating mass here in 1429.  Today there is a series of stained glass windows commemorating this event.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Pont Leclerc - at night

Here is the bridge that spans the Loire between the château and the Ile d'Or (Island of gold) on a cold, misty January night.

Friday, January 10, 2014

the wall

This wall is part of the entry passageway up from the street-level of Amboise to the château grounds that sit on high.  The site has undergone many reconstructions and renovations over the years since it was occupied by royalty.  This wall appears to have been "patched up" with bricks as these were certainly not available during the original construction.  What's interesting is that they have "melted" over the years leaving rectangular crevasses and a very thick surface texture.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

walking the dog in the snow

No it didn't snow in Amboise today.  In fact it was actually around 13 degrees C (56 degrees F) !  But it happened about one year ago so hopefully you'll find this in the spirit of winter scenes.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

the antlers

I thought I had already posted this snap of antlers on the wall at Château Chambord, but I remember now that it creeped out my wife so much that I didn't.  Well, it's January, and the pickin's are slim as they say where I grew up.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

a little warmth

After seeing the extreme cold hitting the States now, I thought I would provide some virtual heat.  This is in the château at Amboise.

Monday, January 6, 2014

il dort / gendarmerie

Today's play on words goes out to all my French friends to whom I don't have to explain this sign given today's title (I hope).  (And OK, I know there's a little problem with the agreement in gender, but hey!)

To explain to my Anglophone friends, I will point out the part of the road sign above that says "Ile d'Or... Gendarmerie".  As hopefully you have learned from previous posts, the Ile d'Or (island of gold) is the island in the Loire just across from the château in Amboise.  The sign is a homophone (sounds the same, but is spelled and means something different) for "It sleeps / the police station".

Saturday, January 4, 2014


This frosty paper bag was found by the Loire in December.  It's not that cold now.  In fact, we're have above average temperatures now.

Friday, January 3, 2014

the bumper car

For me, this is what we call a "blast from the past"... a memory lost until jogged by an unexpected reminder.  In the States, we call this amusement ride "bumper cars" where the idea is to intentionally drive your car into someone else's.  But the bumpers prevent any damage... except for the whiplash incurred by the occupants.  I haven't seen these in a long time although I'm sure they exist at lots of State and County fairs around the USA.  Anyway, I was pleased to see that these kids in Amboise can still have fun with this temporary travelling amusement show even when it's not on a tiny glass screen.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

réveillon du nouvel an 2014

New Year's eve is celebrated differently in France than what I was accustomed to in the US. Here, the evening is spent over a leisurely feast that starts around 8pm and ends around midnight.  First, are the "starters" which are often served with Champagne.  This photo shows how we started with our neighbors in Amboise.  After that, the guests move to the dinner table where a series of courses are served.  Often this consists of a main course, a cheese course and, of course, a dessert course, and finally coffee/tea/digestifs.  There could be additional courses (e.g., soup and fish courses) !   Wine is served with each course, but at a reasonable pace when spread over the four hour evening.  We had a wonderful (and safe) time ringing in the New Year.  I hope you did as well.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

CDP Theme Day "Photo of the Year"

The first of every month is Theme Day for the City Daily Photo bloggers.  The theme today is "Photo of the Year".  I chose this photo (from February 11) not because it's my favorite but because I think it captures the spirit of Amboise by including the château, the bridge, the Loire, and the levee all in one shot...  and all are subjects of many of my posts this past year.  Plus the rainbow could symbolize the hopes of the new year to come.  Find out how other CDP bloggers interpreted today's theme here.