28 February 2008

Montrichard in the Loire Valley

Here's a little break from the Provence scenes. Yesterday W. and I needed to go to Montrichard to deposit a check at the bank and talk to our "personal banker" about some things. Montrichard is a town about the same size as Saint-Aignan (pop. 4,000) and about 10 miles west, down the Cher River.

A medieval fortress, mostly in ruins, looms the narrow streets of
The sun was just breaking through morning clouds.

Why do we have our bank accounts there and not in Saint-Aignan? Because in 2002, when we came here to see about buying a house, the real estate agent who was receptive to our e-mail inquiries had offices in Amboise and in Montrichard. He asked us to come see him at the Montrichard office, and he proceeded to show us several houses in Saint-Aignan, where he said we would get more house for our money.

Almond croissants and other pastries displayed
in a baker's window in Montrichard

And he told us to go open a French bank account at the Crédit Agricole agency just down the street from his Montrichard office, on the town's narrow main street, called Rue Nationale. That's what we did, and we have left it that way, even though there is a perfectly good Crédit Agricole agency in Saint-Aignan, not to mention several other banks.

Montrichard's version of the Petit Casino grocery store.
Now it's going to be open on Sunday afternoons!

Montrichard, by the way, is pronounced with the T in the middle: it's [mon-tree-schar]. If you know French, you know that there are many place names where the final T of Mont- is not pronounced when that prefix is attached to another word. Montréal in Quebec is a good example — it's pronounced [mon-ray-al], with no T sound. « MonTrichard » is the exception.

A charcuterie's sign up above the street. Notice the sausages.

We don't have occasion to go to Montrichard very often (we don't go anywhere very often by car except to the Saint-Aignan and Noyers markets and supermarkets), but it's nice to a different town and look around once in a while. There seem to be two major construction/restoration projects going on over in Montrichard, both on the Rue Nationale. Three old buildings are being renovated.

A charcuterie is a combination pork butcher's shop
and deli. This one in Montrichard sells a full range of
ready-to-reheat dishes for people in a hurry.

Montrichard has more commerce than Saint-Aignan and is more bustling. There are several charcuteries, butcher shops, and bakeries in the center of town, along with florist's shops, real estate offices, banks, clothing shops, cafés, and a very nice produce shop. More than in Saint-Aignan, I think. People tell me that 30 years ago, Saint-Aignan was the livelier of the two towns, but that changed over time, and now Montrichard is more vibrant (if I can use such a grand word). Towns that have existed for more than a thousand years go through cycles, you know.

These two old houses on the Rue Nationale are being refurbished.
The same houses are pictured in the Michelin Green Guide
for the Châteaux de la Loire. I bet the new colors
are stirring controversy in Montrichard.

Montrichard also has outdoor markets twice a week (Monday afternoons and Friday mornings), while Saint-Aignan just has its Saturday morning market.

It wasn't sunny yesterday morning, but it wasn't raining. C'est déjà ça, we said to ourselves — that was better than nothing. We were early for our bank appointment, so we had time to wander the streets and admire the window displays. I personally was more attracted by the bakeries, butcher shops, and charcuteries than by the other store windows.


  1. The sky was somber but the croissants smiled at me! Montrichard seems to have a lot of different shops for just 4,000 people. I guess many outsiders visit the place.

    Frankly, the renovations are overdone. I wouldn't go and tell them, of course...

  2. I'd love to buy one of those croissants. Maybe not at $1.50 to the euro, however.

  3. I agree with Claudia, the renovations are overdone, and that mostly because of the awful colors the woodwork is painted with. If the wood were of a natural color that would be great. Unlike Claudia, I would tell them if I had a chance. Croissants are very appetizing. Can't wait to be in Paris in two and a half months.
    What happened to Ivan and murr?

  4. I just love the charcuterie sign with the chapelet de saucisses ! Makes my mouth water.
    Especially since this is just the stuff I am not supposed to have, or at least no more than once a week!
    I think the renovation are a bit garish too. But they'll fade out in the rain at some point. Don't worry ;)

  5. Going through Montrichard once, we stopped at Serge Granger, meilleur ouvrier of France. There I felt like some people feel about entering Tiffany's. But I like my jewels to be edible, and their barquette of strawberries and fruit confit with kirsch made us happier than diamonds. But I'm still wondering about a confection called Malices du loup. What was it and what does the name mean? I seem to recall it as kind of a fruit paste.

  6. Okay, seeing that photo of the almond croissants is pure torture, Ken. I don't miss them until I see them...what's a person in French pastry withdrawal to do???

    Meilleurs voeux!!

  7. Bluevicar, take up pastry-making. See my topic above on making bagels at home. I know, bagels are simple compared to most French pastries, but if you can get croissants, even stale ones, you can make almond croissants.

  8. I don't really care for thos new colors...but I love the piggy sign! I found the Touraine area had great pig signs on its charcuterie shops.


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