14 September 2011

Rainbow near Mortagne

After our visit to Carrouges and its château, we drove east back to Mortagne-au-Perche for dinner. The route took us under a dark line of clouds through the towns of Sées and Le Mêle-sur-Sarthe. At Le Mêle we stopped at an Intermarché filling station to put more diesel fuel in the car. The bottom fell out at that moment, and the rain fell hard and straight down.

This rainbow formed as we were leaving the filling station
in Le Mêle-sur-Sarthe (late August)

Lewis's chipless American credit card wouldn't work in the fuel pump, and there was no attendant on duty, so I used my French bank card (avec puce) and he reimbursed me with cash. Evelyn and I went into the supermarket to pick up a couple of things for the next morning's breakfast.

Un arc-en-ciel entre Le Mêle et Mortagne dans le Perche
Click the picture to enlarge it.

As we drove on toward Mortagne, the sun came back out and an amazing rainbow formed out in front of us. We were on a section of road that was more or less an autoroute, so we couldn't easily stop the car. I just took some pictures through the windshield.

Two views of Mortagne as we drove south into town

When we did turn off the autoroute, we had nice views of the town of Mortagne-au-Perche as we drove in from the north. Mortagne's population is only 5,000 but the town feels larger than that. It bustles with activity, at least during the day. In the evening, the streets are quieter.

The streets of Mortagne, looking north toward countryside

After walking around the historic district behind the cathedral for an hour or so, taking pictures, we had dinner at a crêperie near the main marketplace. Our vacation was ending, but we had had some very nice days. I have a lot more pictures to post over coming days.


  1. That may be the most beautiful rainbow I've ever seen. We're loving all your photos and reports of your stay in this area. Right now we're near Laval but are returning to le Perche Thurs or Fri. You're making me homesick for it.

  2. As always - a great travel thru France with you.

  3. Wowwwww! Great photos.

    Now, see, I usually rely on my (no-puce) credit card and ATM card when I travel, but I've never rented a car and driven in the countryside. I can just see me ending up needing gas in the middle of nowhere and having no way to pay for it!

    French question about prepositions: for the départements, can one use either dans le or au for masculine ones? It seems that I've heard things like, "Nous allons passer du temps dans le Perche."... but, the town you describe is known as Mortagne-au-Perche, so...? Thanks in advance!


  4. For those traveling in Europe, where you often need credit cards with chips, I've seen some exchange offices that will sell you a pre-paid cards. I imagine you have to put an amount on the card that you estimate to your needs. At least you have access to gas stations and probably to the automats in the Paris metro system that way. Might be worth looking into.

  5. If you don't mind, Ken, I'll simply say to Judy that "le Perche" is a "province" and not a "département"... Yet, though I'm French, the name itself "Mortagne-AU-Perche" sounds a bit "strange", but will Ken agree with me if I say that "au" = "à le" = "en" = "dans le/la/les" + names of a place, among which : countries, provinces ? We say "EN Normandie, Bretagne" and "au Havre" (when speaking about the Norman harbour "Le Havre" close to Rouen, my home town...

  6. Now, about les "départements", on says "en Seine-Maritime" (it's a feminine noun) and "dans le Perche" (a masculine noun) ; we'll also say "dans la Normandie d'aujourd'hui"/in today's Normandy...

  7. Heu, j'ai utilisé du français "on" et de l'anglais "says", lol, for "on dit" in French/"one says" in English !!!!

  8. LOL Mary07, I love the French "on" and wish we had it in English. I sometimes use the word, "one" but it's not as good. Love saying "on y va" when I'm in France with friends.

    A rainbow on a trip is especially nice...

  9. Some while ago I tried and failed to use my (British, chipped) credit card at the filling station at Intermarché in Descartes - it's carte bleue or nothing. We didn't have enough fuel to get home and had to ask another customer if they would mind paying for us, and we'd give them cash. She turned out to be a shop assistant on the way home, and she very kindly agreed, thank goodness. I have a carte bleue now!

  10. Polly, you were lucky. Bank cards work in some places and not in others, and you can't count on a card working in one place two times in a row. I thought the problems were only with chipless U.S. cards though.

    Judy, the "rules" about en or dans with French department names seem to be in flux. With our local departments, I usually hear dans le Loir-et-Cher, dans l'Indre-et-Loire — not au, however. And then if you start looking at (or listening for) U.S. state names, well, all bets are off. When a name is feminine or starts with a vowel, people tend to use the preposition en; names that begin with a consonant and are masculine get dans le.

    Carolyn, I hope you are having a great trip. If you get a chance to go the the Haras du Pin today, do so. The show starts at 3:00. Also in the area are the Château d'O and the Château de Médavy, not to mention Carrouges.

    Marie, Evelyn, Ellen, Starman :^)


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