04 April 2011

The church in Meusnes

What is there to say about Meusnes? How the name is pronounced? The two S'es are silent, as is the final E. What you have left is Meu’n’. The EU vowel is not the open vowel of jeune or peur — it's the tightly closed EU of peu, veux, and, for example, Meuse (the river). To say Meusnes authentically, you definitely have to pucker.

Another thing about Meusnes is of course the church. That's what these pictures show. I took them in early July of 2004, when CHM was visiting and we were out sightseeing a lot. We were taken by surprise by the beautiful Romanesque church in Meusnes, which is about 10 km/6 mi. east of Saint-Aignan on the road to Selles-sur-Cher. It's in the Loir-et-Cher département, but in an area that used to be considered part of the Berry province, not the Touraine or the Sologne.

At first, Meusnes seems a drab kind of town. It all seems to be strung out along the highway, and you get the impression that you'll never get through it all. The secret to towns like Meusnes, of course, is to get off the main road and explore the side streets.

If you turn north in central Meusnes, right in front of the school and the church, you head toward a bridge over the Cher River that will take you to Châtillon-sur-Cher. It's a pretty drive past a lot of old-style Touraine houses, and then through the wide, low, green river valley.

If you turn south at the same place, you see similar houses as go up onto the highlands at the southern edge of the river valley. And you start seeing vineyards and old farmhouses with signs advertising wine for sale to the public. You can try just stopping in at one. Often, you'll be offered a dégustation and then you can buy a few bottles. Or a bag-in-box.

The church in Meusnes was built in the early days of the 11th century, so the village has been in existence for a long time. Its population is about 1,000 nowadays. There are some new houses, but there's nothing you could call a subdivision or a development. The same man has been mayor of Meusnes since 1977, according to an article I read. He was the youngest mayor in France when he was first elected. Now he might be the oldest... but probably not.

How did the village survive? Well, it and the neighboring village of Couffy were centers for the quarrying and carving of flintstone for three centuries — the 17th, 18th, and 19th. Napoleon's armies were armed with muskets that fired shots thanks to flintstone from Meusnes.

It's not surprising, then that the wines produced in and around Meusnes are sometimes described as "flinty." Meusnes is at the extreme eastern end of the Touraine wine region, on the northwest corner of the Valençay wine appellation. The grapes, as elsewhere in Touraine, are Gamay and Sauvignon Blanc, along with Cabernet Franc and Côt/Malbec. The local cheese is — what else? — goat cheese in the round disk style of Selles-sur-Cher.

Two more things about Meusnes: it has a nice bread bakery and that great butcher shop that sells beef, pork, and other meats. Chiquet's place is also a delicatessen with salads and hams and sausages and terrines.

And finally, I read that the famous French tennis player and latter-day singer named Yannick Noah, who lives in New York City these days, used to spend his summer vacations in Meusnes. Yannick Noah is known for going barefoot most of the time, even on stage. Maybe he learned that in Meusnes.


  1. I imagine Inspector Clouseau let out a leu meusnes whenever Kato hit him over the head.

  2. Oh, I do love those old stones :))

    Thanks for the pronunciation lesson on Meusnes.

    Now, tell me, what is the typical Touraine style of house? I am curious! I remember reading about elements that were typical in the Perche area, and down in the Quercy area, so what elements are typically found in the Touraine?


  3. Ken, like Judy, I'm interested in hearing more about traditional Touraine houses.

    And Judy,what do you know about traditional housing in le Perche? I know a little, but would like to know more. Let's get something architectural going here.

  4. Would liked to have seen more of Muesnes.

  5. Carolyn, all I really know about the traditional style in the Perche (at least in La Ferté Vidâme), is that there is usually a dark brick trim around windows, doors, and the corners where the walls meet.... like this and this one and this other one.


  6. Yes, LOL, Autolycus.

    Judy, the typical old country houses in Touraine are called longères. More about them to come.

    And Judy, I see one of the houses you linked to is in the town called L'Aigle. We'll be spending a week up there in a gîte rural in August, outside Mortagne-au-Perche.

    Hello Starman, now that you know Meusnes exists and know where it's located, all you have to do is come and visit!

  7. Autolycus - très drôle !!

    Ken, you're so right, it's important to stop the car and have a walk around - places that seem dreary from the main road can turn out to be delightful, with fascinating history.

  8. Those Perche houses are lovely;)


What's on your mind? Qu'avez-vous à me dire ?