06 July 2010

Swallows’ nests at Chenonceau

One of the sights I saw last week with our visitors from California was the château at Chenonceaux, which is called « le château de Chenonceau » in French. I don't know why the name of the village is a plural form, with a final -x, but the name of the castle is in the singular. I think it's just one of those things designed to trip up foreigners.

I hadn't been to Chenonceau in 5 or 6 years. It's one of those places about which you might say: “Nobody goes there any more — it's too crowded.” It was crowded last Wednesday, but it wasn't mobbed. I enjoyed the visit. We went through all the rooms in the château that are open to the public.

Swallows' mud nests on the old tower at Chenonceau château

I have a lot more pictures but today I'm posting only two. I noticed there were a lot of swallows' nests under the ledges on the upper sections of the old tower of the château. The gift shop used to be located in this tower, but now it's closed and a new bigger, more modern shop is located at the entrance to the property, in the building where tickets for admission are sold. You can't stop progress. The old shop had more charm.

Unusual birds' nests, made of mud

Swallows were swooping all around the tower, catching, I assume, insects to feed to chicks in the mud nests you see here. There are many nests like these on the walls of buildings in Saint-Aignan and other towns and villages too.


  1. Oh, hey, that's great info about the "x" and lack of "x". I have wondered about that, and wondered why I saw it both ways... town vs château name. Thanks :))

    Those are very interesting mud nests. Are they still referred to as nids, even if they're made of mud?


  2. Ken

    You may have the answer :

    La différence d'orthographe s'expliquerait, selon des sources à confirmer, par une dame Dupin qui, étant propriétaire du château au moment de la Révolution française aurait voulu, par cette suppression du « x » final, marquer sa différence. Depuis lors, le château est majoritairement orthographié sans le « x » final, à la différence de la commune, qui porte invariablement cette lettre finale.

    BTW: We are suffering from extreme heat in the NE and part of Eastern Canada.

  3. That's interesting. I didn't know birds made nests of mud.

  4. I love the "song" of the swallows. You just know that when you hear them, summer is here.
    It was indicated that you had "0 comment" and yet, there were 3 of them.

  5. Hi Nadège, the comments were acting funny earlier, but it all seems normal now. Judy, yes, the swallows' nests are called des nids. The Beaver, I hadn't looked up the explanation for the Chenonceaux/Chenonceau difference; thanks for that.

  6. The nests are House Martins / les Hirondelles de fenêtre, a swallow relative.

  7. It's funny that in English we have two words, swallow and martin, for different birds in the same family. Wiki says there is no scientific distinction. In French, they are all hirondelles, swallows. When I lived in North Carolina, we had purple martins living in a birdhouse in our back yard. When I look up purple martin in Wikipedia, it tells me that they are the largest North American swallows.


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