17 September 2009

Le Château de Val

On our first day in the Auvergne region, we drove up to the town called Bort-les-Orgues to see the château de Val. CHM had told us about it and recommended it highly, and then Linda who was traveling with us saw it in a guidebook and really wanted to see it.

That morning had dawned rainy and foggy. Our plan for the day was to go over to the old medieval town of Salers first thing in the morning, and then maybe take a drive into the heart of the Parc des Volcans in the afternoon. We wanted to go up the to top of the Puy Mary — puy is an old word meaning "peak" or "summit," and is how the Cantal mountains are named. Puy Mary is about 6,000 ft. tall. A nearby peak is called the Puy Violent.

Callie in front of the Château de Val

It was so foggy that morning that we decided to spend the day on lower lands. The château de Val qualified. After walking around in Salers for a while and buying some cheese at the farmers market, we drove up to the town of Mauriac to have lunch. We ended up getting pizzas from what was basically a carry-out joint and sitting at a table out on the sidewalk, under an awning. The other restaurant in Mauriac where we tried to get a table couldn't seat us outside, and it seemed stuffy inside the place. The sun had come out, and we wanted to enjoy it.

The pizza was delicious and the owner of the pizzeria
was accommodating, funny, and talkative.

The château de Val was built 500 years ago on a rock outcropping that overlooked a deep valley. The Dordogne River flowed down below. In the mid-20th century, a large dam was built just south of the château, on the northern edge of the town of Bort. The Dordogne then flooded the valley, leaving the château de Val sitting on what is a small peninsula, almost an island, surrounded by the waters of the artificial lake.

The old towers of the château de Val
with their different-colored roofing

Lewis, Walt, and I, with Callie, walked quite a distance along the shore of the lake to get a view of the château that wouldn't include the boat basin full of pleasure boats at the foot of the building. Part of the walk was on steep paths through woods, and part was over rocks on the shore and even across muddy patches.

Rocky shores around the lake

We made it, and Callie went wading. The dog had never seen such a large body of water that wasn't salty. She seemed fascinated and kept tasting it with her tongue. Her only other similar experience was on the beach at the Ile d'Oléron, on the Atlantic coast, in 2008, where the salty water surprised her. She was obviously enjoying it, but we didn't want her to get too wet, because we had to put her back in the car afterwards.

The château from up close

* * * *

We had an interesting Callie experience last night, by the way, in Saint-Aignan. We put her in the car and went into town to have a Monaco (that red drink made with beer, limonade, and grenadine syrup) at the Lapin Blanc café. We were with Bill from NH, who is visiting Saint-Aignan.

As we went to sit down at a table outside, under the café awning, a woman at the table next to ours cried out: "Oh my god, is that Callie the Collie?" And it was, of course. Here's Walt's post about our day.

Sylvia and Paul are Australians from Sydney who have been in Saint-Aignan for nearly two weeks. They picked Saint-Aignan as a destination partly because they had seen our blogs and were attracted to the place. Paul seemed a very distinguished gentleman, and Sylvia was, I must say, quite lissome. It was a pleasure to meet them.


  1. Not only are you famous, your dog is famous! Meeting you must have made the vistor's trip.

    The chateau is amazing--just like one imagines a castle would look. Thanks for the effort of making just the right photo.

  2. Fabulous photos. We were there a few years ago, on our bikes and camping. It certainly is a lovely spot and a very photogenic château.

  3. What a lovely castle! It reminds me of those Scottish castles overlooking the famous 'lochs'. Martine

  4. That is a hoot of a story! I love that château, too :)) I've never seen it before.

    I have another language question, if anyone is game:

    Using "quelque soit" to express something like "whatever might be":
    I'm transcribing from a movie, and the line said by Depardieu (it's from "Camille Claudel") is:
    "Quelque soient tes idées tu dois me les soumettre!"

    Now... I had not been thinking at all, and had written it originally as "quelque soit tes idées"... obviously, we need to conjugate with "tes idées", right?

    Now... to me, I thought that "quelque" was invariable... am I wrong? There isn't some feminine form of that that I should be using with "quelque soient", is there?

    Now, the French subtitles have the phrase a little different than Depardieu actually says it. They had:
    "Tu dois me les soumettre, quelles qu'elles soient."

    I admit that I would never have realized that this was the way to write that! My French colleague (from Lyon, been here for 25 years) said that the second structure, having the phrase at the end, would have it written like that, but, when the phrase is at the beginning, as Depardieu actually says it, it wouldn't be "quelles qu'elles ..." However... she was thinking that it shouldn't be just "quelque soient"... she thought there should be a feminine form... but... then she wasn't sure if her mind was playing tricks on her.

    What say you, Monsieur Broadhurst? (or anyone else!)


  5. Hi Judy,
    I've never heard of "quelque soit" with "quelque" in one word. The correct spelling would be, depending on the subject: "quel que soit, quels que soient, quelle que soit or quelles que soient". The common mistake comes from the fact that the pronunciation is exactly the same and most people don't know the difference. The meaning of course is : Whatever is or whatever are.

    So, Depardieu said : "Quelles que soient tes idées, tu dois me les soumettre. And, of course, the subtitle is correct: "Tu dois me les soumettre, quelles qu'elles soient."

    "Quelque" [not invariable] et "quel que" can be translated both by whatever, for instance:
    "Quelques idées que tu aies, ..." = Whatever ideas you may have, ...
    "Quelles que soient tes idées, ... = Whatever your ideas are, ...
    As you can see there's a very slight difference in meaning between the two sentences.

    Ken will and shall correct me if I'm wrong.

  6. Good question Judy.
    Quel que est un adjectif relatif indefini, ou "quel" est variable et s'accorde avec le sujet du verbe; il introduit alors une propostion de concession au subjonctif.
    QUELLE QUE soit votre apprehension, vous ne pouvez eviter cette rencontre.
    QUELLES QU'aient ete vos erreurs passees, je vous excuse.
    Place immediatement devant le verbe "ETRE" quel que s'ecrit en DEUX MOTS. (Merci au Larousse grammaire)

  7. Oh my my!! I can't believe that I've had that wrong all these years! That is one thing that I never learned about in school anywhere along the way or, in fact, have even ever had in a grammar section of a textbook I've taught from... I just picked it up (incorrectly!) over the years. Yikes! I'm usually pretty good with my grammar, so I'm red faced :)) Thanks SO much for clarifying for me CHM and Nadège. It all makes sense :))



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