02 November 2010

Savoir profiter...

To know how to take advantage — in the good sense of the expression — of something. Yesterday started off very foggy and chilly, but we went out anyway. Predictions were that we'd have sunshine by later in the morning.

It ended up being a beautiful day, overall. We drove to and walked around in two of the villages we planned to explore. The third village — Francueil — was probably the most picturesque, but it was built on the side and top of a steep hill and I didn't think I could manage that kind of walking.

On November 1, All Saints' Day, people in France go to the cemeteries, clean up the graves and stones, and set out flowers, mostly big pots of 'mums. They had a sunny warm day for it.

Our friends walking around the church at Saint-Julien-de-Chédon.

In Faverolles-sur-Cher, we spent some time in the cemetery, then. One youngish woman was busy watering, dead-heading, and sprucing up pots of 'mums of all colors, which she seemed to be setting out on numerous graves. There are water spigots and dumpsters in the cemeteries to make the task easier for people like her.

The church and graveyard at Faverolles

A well-dressed older woman, accompanied by a woman who was probably her daughter, stood at the foot of a man's grave and cried. The 'mums were beautiful and the scene was touching. The man had died in 1991, according to the inscription on the headstone. Still the woman's tears streamed down.

You can't really take pictures of things like that without feeling like an intruder.

Abandoned graves

One of the strange things we saw in the Faverolles cemetery was a series of signs on graves all around saying that those graves were being more or less expropriated because they seemed to be abandoned. Contact the village hall if you have any questions or comments. I guess that there's a shortage of space.

Later in the morning, we went to Chenonceaux and did the river walk behind the château. The fall colors there knocked our eyes out.

Then we drove home for lunch. We stopped in our own village and took a walk around. We admired the church, the library, and the fall colors. We went to the boulangerie for bread, and we were nearly too late. There was one half a loaf of bread (un demi-pain), one salt-free baguette (une baguette sans sel), and one day-old pain (un pain d'hier) left for sale. We bought the first and the third. The day-old bread was soft and good, not hard and dry.

Walt just took some pictures in Faverolles,
using his tripod.

Did I mention that yesterday was a holiday? Bread sells like, well, petits pains — hotcakes — on mornings like yesterday's.

Autumn leaves in Mareuil-sur-Cher, near Saint-Aignan

After lunch — melted raclette cheese with boiled potatoes, steamed broccoli, oven-roasted mushrooms, plus ham and salami — we went to Chambord. Now that's a busy day. Two major landmarks, 40 miles apart, in the space of eight hours. It was dark by the time we got home. But we had taken advantage of — nous avons su profiter de — what could be one of the last mild sunny days of 2010. Winter won't wait.

An allée on the grounds of the château de Mareuil

Predictions were for rain this morning, but now they seem to have pushed that out to afternoon. Good. That means we can go to the open-air market over in Valençay — another major landmark, that château — this morning and get something good for lunch. This afternoon I have an appointment at the radiology lab to get my ankle x-rayed. It's feeling a lot better in spite of all the walking I did yesterday.


  1. Wise to have taken advantage of this day...I think winter just arrived here....

    In village in Hungary one doesn't buy a plot in a cemetery, one rents it for twenty years at a time. When there is no one left to do this, the people buried in such a grave can be moved to the edges. We arrived once, purely by accident, just in time to pay for another twenty years for my husband's grandmother. It was strange. His family plot in Budapest is, on the other hand, not only forever, but in an historic part of the cemetery maintained by the government.

  2. There is a very amusing "effet d'optique" in the first photo. The lady seems to be hanging, like a small puppet, from the tree in the foreground!

  3. In most cemeteries in France, you don't own the plot, you only rent it for a certain time period. And if at the end of that time period, the grave has obviously not been cared for in some time, they have to post the sign similar to the one you saw, saying that if someone does not stop by within X amount of time, the grave will be reclaimed and whatever is left will be put in the communal box of dust/bones.

    It used to kind of shock me, but then I realized that with a country as a old as France, these kinds of practices were really necessary - otherwise there would be no room left for the living!

  4. Thanks, Ken, for your translation phrase (nous avons su profiter de)- I really appreciate it!
    Do you have the fancy machine to do the raclette? My daughter and I sampled it in Annecy. She "had" to have it ($79 for the two of us in 2003 for melted cheese on potatoes and sausage!). It was good and I have looked into purchasing the burners here - but again, close to that $80 price for the meal!

    We didn't arrive at Chenonceaux in time for the tour (we were both soooo disappointed). I tried to talk the tickettaker into letting us in for a reduced rate for only 30 minutes. He refused but did tell us how to drive further down the lane and then cross the small bridge. We turned right and probably just like your walk, we were able to spot the backside and get some pictures and admire the location on the river. Is that where you went for the walk? I WILL get back there someday soon, I hope.

  5. Glad your ankle is feeling better.

    We really enjoyed walking along that path on the other side of the river from the chateau at Chenonceau. Did you veer off and see Madame Dupin's grave? H/R loved finding that in the middle of the forest. It's so nice to be on the other side of the river, away from the crowds on the other side. Beautiful spot!!! It's nice on both sides! We love doing "raclette" night!!!

  6. Lovely pictures, especially the colored leaves. They look almost like the fall colors in New England. Didn't realize that France had such similar seasonal attributes.

  7. Ken, can you tell me what types of trees those are (the large ones) in the cemetary? They look very unusual, but maybe it's because they don't have their leaves.

  8. Natalie, I think they are probably plane trees — des platanes. They've been pollarded, which means pruned that way.

    Emm, those trees and leaves are maples, aren't they? The fall colors here are really pretty right now. More pictures to come.

    Mary and Lynn, we don't have a raclette machine. We just put slices of cheese in little ramekins, pop them in a hot oven for a few minutes, and bring them full of melted cheese to the table. You have to do several rounds, usually. The melted cheese doesn't stick to the dishes. And that path on the north (left) bank of the Cher is where we walked. It's a biking/hiking path.

    CHM, it looks like Chrissoup is holding up the tree, or hanging from it, doesn't it? She isn't. She's just walking behind it.

    Kristi and Sam, CHM told me the graves might be held in perpetuity or for something like 30 years. But I'd never seen such signs in a cemetery before.


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