08 August 2012

Tomatoes, grapes, and — yikes! — traffic

The tomatoes in the picture below might not be the most beautiful ones you've ever seen, but to us they look very fine. We should be getting a lot more because we're having warm sunny weather this week.

Tomates du jardin

The other crop that seems to be enjoying the weather right now is the grapes. There are a lot of them, it seems to me, despite earlier predictions that the 2012 yield would be small. I haven't seen any grapes that look like they are starting to ripen, but it's still early.

Grappes de raisin

Have I mentioned the Saint-Aignan zoo in a while? With the arrival of two giant pandas from China earlier this year, attendance has skyrocketed, according to news reports we've seen on the national TV channels. Yesterday I went shopping in Contres, 10 miles north of Saint-Aignan. When I headed home back around 10:30 a.m., I was caught in a traffic jam for 20 minutes, which is how long it took to drive the two miles from the train station, through the traffic circle, and across the Saint-Aignan bridge.

That may not sound so bad to you, but traffic around Saint-Aignan this summer is much worse than ever before. It's everybody going to the zoo. There's no bypass around the town, and there's only the one ancient, narrow bridge. The people who own and operate the Beauval zoo want the town to build a second bridge and a new road to make it easier for tourists to get to the zoo from the north (from Blois, Orleans, and Paris). It'll be interesting to see what changes take place here over the next few years.

Meanwhile, I have to think twice before going to SuperU (near the zoo) or Intermarché (across the river) to do my shopping, at least for the rest of August. It takes to long. Maybe I'll start driving over toward Montrichard, 10 miles west, to shop in the supermarkets there.


  1. Strange that you should mention that traffic because we noticed it after we left your place in May this year and the traffic was streaming into town. Were the Pandas there then?

  2. Pandas are so much fun to see-yes you will need to shop somewhere else for a while.

    Ah, those tomatoes were worth the wait!

  3. Gosh a traffic jam--living here you almost forget about them!
    Had a rude awakening in Tours recently when I got caught up in one! Glad it is no longer a fact of daily [commuter] life.

  4. There was a story in yesterday's Nouvelle République about a new baby elephant at Beauval. He looks really cute. The "awww" factor will draw in the crowds I fear.

  5. Your shopping problems are one of the top reasons I prefer living in a city!

  6. The traffic problems seem to be the topic of the month. When I went in to Saint Aignan for a hair cut everyone in the salon was talking about the traffic back-ups at the roundabout and how long it took to get across the bridge. Our neighbor came over to examine the vine trimming and commented about how long it took to get back over from the recycle center/dump and John now refuses to go until closer to 11:00 or even afternoon to avoid the "mayhem". Funny how we ignored the terrible traffic in Aberdeen, or Houston or Phoenix and now we think we live in a congestion zone.

  7. Leon, yes, the Pandas were already here and on view in May. Thus the traffic you noticed. It's only worse now in August, with all the vacationers.

    Evelyn, luckily, I can head west to Montrichard this month. I'm sure things will calm down again in September.

    N. and A., I hear you. The slightest traffic delay seems like the end of the world now. When I think about the life I lived as a commuter in SF and Silicon Valley...

    Polly, that picture of the new elephant baby appeared even in the Washington Post in America. Beauval is enjoying worldwide fame. Good for them; not sure for us.

    Keir, confirmation!

    Starman, but traffic... I lived in cities for nearly 30 years. There are upsides and downsides.

  8. If Beauval is doing so well, do they pay local taxes? (I forget if that was one of the things done away with during the Sarkozy years.) If they do, then they should probably get their bridge. If the town is sputtering forward without the help of the zoo, then maybe the council could give the zoo a permit to create its own bridge and bypass. (Wishful thinking on my part.) There was a documentary last week on the zoo -- not so much on the inmates, but on the management, where they get the food from (mostly local produce, which must be a boon to local farmers), how much food they need, the specialty stuff they have to import...
    A Parisian American friend of mine was there last week with her kids and I immediately thought I'd recommend your blog to her.
    Her blogs are completely different (all listed on the main one, www.prissymag.com). She's a generation younger and a delightful person. I loved her short book, "Next of Kin" and having a short discussion with her.


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