22 March 2012

Vierzon — le pays des cinq rivières

That's what the Vierzon area is called: the town of the five rivers. The main rivière is the Cher, which is a 300-mile-long river that runs through the center of France. At Vierzon, 35 miles/60 km east of Saint-Aignan, four other smaller water courses — the Arnon, the Yèvre, the Barangeon, and the Canal de Berry — come together. It is, in French, a ville d'eau.

Vierzon, in the old Berry province and on the edge of the Sologne

Vierzon also has a passé industriel, as the Guide Michelin points out — it doesn't award the town a star. It's a little gritty, and definitely not touristy. Foundries were in operation around the town by the late 1700s, and a porcelain industry like the one in Limoges got going in the early 1800s. By 1900, there were 10 or more porcelain factories plus other manufacturing and ironworks facilities.

Old half-timbered house along the streets and canals in Vierzon

The town of Vierzon (pronounced [vyehr-ZÕ] with the nasal O) itself was formed only in 1937, when four small municipalities were merged into one. It was working class and the railroads were important to local commerce. A big population of factory and railway workers turned the town into a communist stronghold in the 20th century. The population of Vierzon now is about 30,000. It's 60 miles south of Orléans and 25 miles northeast of Bourges.

Walt and Collette strolling along the canal in central Vierzon

I went back into my photo archives to figure out when it was that Walt and I drove over to Vierzon and took a walk along the river and canal in the center of town. It turns out that it was eight years ago — time flies — and it was on a February 2, which is la Chandeleur ("Crêpe Day" in France).

You can see from the pictures that the weather was beautiful. I'm sure that's why we decided to go for a drive and a walk, and to shake off cabin fever and discover a new place. Our dog in those days was named Collette, and she loved to jump in the car and go for a ride. Nowadays, we do less of this kind of touring around because Callie hates to ride in the car.

The Canal de Berry in Vierzon

As you can see, some of these pictures have been "enhanced" in Photoshop. I'm not a expert, but it's fun to take a photo that is slightly blurry, for example, and turn it into a kind of digital painting. Photoshop, the last refuge of shutterbug scoundrels, maybe.

Thanks to Google Maps

Tomorrow, we plan to drive over to Vierzon to go shopping. I had hoped to go to a Carrefour "hypermarket," because we don't have one closer by. But researching the trip yesterday, I found out that the Carrefour has been turned into what they call a HyperU — a larger version of our local SuperU supermarket. Tant pis. We'll go over there anyway. The weather is supposed to be beautiful and warm tomorrow.


  1. Salut Ken,
    It sounds like both you and Walt are going on your shopping trip tomorrow. Will Callie come too, or, given her dislike of travelling by car, is she happy to stay 'home alone'? Just wondered....
    Bonne journee (please excuse lack of accents!),

  2. Bonjour Catherine, Callie will just stay at home. She does just fine alone. But we don't like to leave her alone too much, quand même.

  3. Vierzon looks good to me in your photos. Any town with five rivers has the potential to be really scenic, if only for the lavoirs.

  4. With so much water, it's not surprising it's an old industrial town.
    Hope you have a lovely spring day. Here in Nogent, it's about 20°!

  5. Ellen, yes. Water power. And yes, it's at least 20C here this p.m. too. And sunny. Nice.

  6. Hi Carolyn, I need to go to Vierzon and look for lavoirs. One day...


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