23 September 2007

Back home under gray skies

Our rather austere village center — it's not
exactly the thatched-roof cottages you might imagine

I dropped Joanna (my sister) and Janis (a good friend of hers) off at Charles de Gaulle airport yesterday morning at 8:30 and left them to stand in the line to get their baggage checked in. I wanted to hit the road and get back to Saint-Aignan as early as I could. It took me more than four hours.

The little church in our village near Saint-Aignan.
There's been a church here since the year 500.

I decided to drive my regular route through the countryside south of Paris, passing through Milly-la-Forêt, Malesherbes, Tousson, Puiseaux, Beaumont-du-Gâtinais, Bellegarde, Châteauneuf-sur-Loire, Tigy, Marcilly-en-Villette, La Ferté-Saint-Aubin, the Sologne forest, and Romorantin and Selles-sur-Cher before coming down the hill into the Cher river valley just before Saint-Aignan.

View out over the Cher river and the countryside north of Saint-Aignan

It started raining before noon at about Bellegarde, and I drove around the south side of Orléans and into La Sologne in a hard rain to the rhythm of the windshield wipers on the Peugeot. I guess my sister and Janice brought the good weather with them, and then took it home with them. Radio Bleue-Orléans was broadcasting from a very damp festival that was taking place on the banks of the Loire river all day Saturday.

Entering the courtyard of the château in Saint-Aignan

On the blog, I'm running about a week behind events. I told Joanna and Janice that I would do a little travelogue over the next few days so they could remember the names of the places and monuments we visited and match them to their photos.

The château in Saint-Aignan

Last Monday, 17 September, we spend the day in Saint-Aignan. Callie had a late-morning appointment to get her stictches out, after her spaying a few days earlier, and J, J, and I were worn out after our travel adventures over the weekend. It was a morning of rest and of getting some food plans together for the following few days.

Saint-Aignan's château seen from the banks of the Cher

In the afternoon, we went to visit our village outside Saint-Aignan and the town of Saint-Aignan itself. The village has about 1100 inhabitants, who are spread out over a wide territory. The village center is fairly small, with a church, a library, a bakery, a post office, a grocery store, two cafés, and the village hall. We looked around inside the church and walked down to the banks of the Cher river, where there's a campground.

The massive towers of the old church in Saint-Aignan

Then we went on to Saint-Aignan, population 4000, where we walked up onto the grounds of the château, which is privately owned. The owners live there, and you can't tour the interior, but you can walk around the courtyard and enjoy nice views of the river, the surrounding countryside, and the rooftops of the town. Part of the château is about 1000 years old and is in ruins, and another part dates back to the French Renaissance, 500 years ago.

The rooftops of old Saint-Aignan seen from the château's courtyard

We also went into the church, which is a massive Romanesque building. The interior was radically restored about 150 years ago. We walked down into the crypt, which is actually an older church on top of which the "newer" one was built hundreds of years ago. In the old church, there are frescoes painted on the walls between the 12th and 15th centuries.

The church in Saint-Aignan seen from the eastern riverbanks

It was a cloudy day but it was about the only cloudy day we had all week. The next morning we went to Valençay to see the street market and the château there. That afternoon, we had a good time climbing around in the medieval fortress at Loches. And finally, we went on our area's grand châteaux tour, which includes Chenonceau, Amboise, Chaumont-sur-Loire, Blois, and Chambord.

Joanna and Janice in front of the château at Saint-Aignan
17 September 2007


3 comments:

  1. Oh, that crisp, clean, château-country look...things are so much messier here in the South!

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  2. I agree that it does have a neat classical look. But then again, any village scene in France beats what we have here in North America.

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  3. Beautiful photos in spite of the cloudy day. Your sister and her friend were really lucky, as the weather has been great this past week.

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