30 December 2011

24 hours in Le Grand-Pressigny

About an hour south and a little west of Saint-Aignan by car there's a pretty area known as the Touraine du Sud. The southern part of the Touraine — the historic old province centered on the city of Tours — includes several quaint old towns and villages, including one named Le Grand-Pressigny. Blogger friends of ours, Jean and Nick, have a vacation home there.

Looking down on Le Grand-Pressigny from up at the château

Just over a thousand people — les Pressignoises et les Pressignois — live in Le Grand-Pressigny, which has existed under different names since prehistoric times. The town is built in valley at the confluence of two small rivers. The streets and houses climb up the side of a hill, with the ruins of an impressive medieval château at the top.

Callie enjoying a run in front of the château ruins

Like many French little French towns and villages, Le Grand-Pressigny's population now is only half what it was 150 years ago, when people started leaving the countryside to live and work in the big cities of France. The result is a place that feels like a town but has the population of a village. It also feels timeless, as if it hasn't changed in a thousand years.

Typical old cottages in Le Grand-Pressigny

According to French Wikipedia, there are 660 housing units in Le Grand-Pressigny, 94% of which are single-family dwellings. Five hundred houses are occupied year-round, and 75 are vacation homes. Nearly 90 more stand vacant. I can attest that the town and the surrounding villages are home (whether permanently or seasonally) to quite a few British people.

A bridge over the Claise River at Le Grand-Pressigny

The château grounds at Le Grand-Pressigny are also the site of a museum dedicated to the surrounding area's ancient past as a place where flintstone tools were fabricated and then exported all across Europe. The industry dates back to 2500 B.C. and employed the local residents for a good 500 years in the Neolithic era (the "New Stone Age").

Callie and Nick in the fields with the château ruins
and the prehistory museum in the background

We were lucky with the weather. It didn't rain. It was foggy on Wednesday, but we were able to take a long walk through the countryside just around the edge of Le Grand-Pressigny with Nick, our dog Callie, and his and Jean's dog, Lulu. Thursday dawned chilly but clear, so we took a second long walk. Before the first walk we had a great dinner of slow-cooked English lamb, vegetables, and English Christmas cake, and after the second walk we enjoyed a breakfast of back bacon, black pudding, and oatcakes (pancakes).

I'll post a few more photos tomorrow. It was a very fine holiday excursion for us, and a good time with friends.


  1. That's a lovely description of our village, Ken. But something you didn't mention is that it is beginning to grow [not too far I hope.]
    The commune have set out a group of plots for building on near the salle de fêtes and I read yesterday that they've also released land at the other end of the village towards Abilly.
    Another bit of info is that the major 'blade' production vas centered here between 3500 and 2500 BC, but the area was heavily populated [for the time] from at least 35,000 years ago. When Pauline and I dig up yet another flint tool from the potager it adds to the feeling that man has been here for a very long time... and we are just passing through!

  2. Sorry... I seemed to have slipped into ze German there... that should read "production WAS centered".
    Oh, I went out and bought your magazine yesterday... it is a good read. Our hairdresser doesn't have such interesting reading material... 'tis all fashion and fame!

  3. We just stopped in Orleans for a night on our way back to the Charente Maritime.

    Having walked the town for a second time, we are wondering about expanding our (geographical) horizons before making a commitment here in France...a lovely area up there it is indeed.

  4. Ken - when Sue I visited Le Grand Pressigny, Jean and Nick were not there (maybe someone told them we were on our way) anyway that tree in one of your photos is the same one that I took one of my very best pictures. That's a really nice area in the field.

  5. I agree Leon. I've actually now done at least 8 posts about Le Grand-Pressigny, because it is so photogenic and pleasant there.

  6. Nice post and photos, especially the one of Callie running. McConnells are here for NYE weekend. We just ate your blanquette de veau which was a big hit.

  7. Hi Evelyn, and hi to Conn and Betty too. And Lewis. Glad you liked the blanquette. Happy New Year's Eve from Walt and me.


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