02 October 2012

Le château de Saint-Aignan

The château at Saint-Aignan stands on a high bluff that rises up above the Cher River valley. The old town spreads out on its east and south sides.

The château building itself is never open to the public, but you can walk up onto the gravel terrace to see the façade close up and enjoy views out over the town and river. It's all privately owned, and it dates back to the French Renaissance in the 1600s.

Looking out over the rooftops of Saint-Aignan, you can see the old Bernardines convent, which was severely damaged in a fire a couple of years ago. The wood-beam roof structure was destroyed and the roof tiles fell into the old building.

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After all the talk about wall painting over the past couple of days, I can't resist showing here the result of one of my own painting projects. I didn't paint a wall (though I've painted many over the past 8 or 9 years) but I painted a cabinet that we have now mounted on a wall in the bathroom. No plaster was involved.

The cabinet itself was in the house when we bought it. It was in sorry shape, with old cracking and peeling paint and rusty hardware. We stuck it down in the garage, where it had sat since 2003. Then, a few days ago, we started talking about our need for more storage space in the bathroom (the older get, the more medicines etc. you need to keep on hand!).

Since I had a good supply of white paint that I was using on my window-ledge and radiator painting projects, I took the job on. First I sanded, and then I painted. Most of the cabinet required only three or four coats of paint, plus a coat of varnish. But there was a nasty stain on the cabinet's door that was hard to hide. Only after six or eight coats of white paint did it disappear, and then I put on the varnish. Besides that, it took me several trips to BricoMarché to get the right hinges and screws we needed to replace the old rusty ones. It's amazing how a small, simple project can stretch into days and days of activity and attention.


  1. That is why some projects/maintenance never get started. We always use that excuse and that French paint never 'covers' well.
    BTW the new Archos is playing away as I write!

  2. "how a small, simple project can stretch into days and days of activity and attention"... only when you want to do it right!!
    Many, especially here in France for some reason, would have just slapped a coat, or even two, on and used some easing oil on the hinges... stood back and said "Job's a goodun!"

    You've created an Eiffel lot of room too!

  3. Why are all the English people I come into contact with here so consistently negative about France, French people and the slipshod ways they do everything, French food (oh, the times I've been told how much better the sausages in England are), and French paint... well, you all moan about that. I've never had any trouble with it. Maybe U.S. paint is even worse.

  4. Just to be silly, is it a wall painting you just did because it's hanging on a wall?

    I like it. I'm sure our were waiting for my approval!

  5. Too bad I can't edit my awful typos. ...sure you were... Sorry!

  6. You guys have one sparkling, shiny clean bathroom! Great job on the little cabinet. Once again, your attention to detail shines through with a lovely result.

    Isn't it nice to have a spot to put things?


  7. It stands well against the light custard colour wall. The towel rack stand also shows off all teh white elements surrounding it.

  8. Bonjour Cousin

    If you sign in with Blogger , you will be able to delete your comment and post a new one. We would be scratching out head wondering what joke you had posted and then decided to delete. LOL!!!!!

  9. Nice work- it's good that you never gave up and got it done right.

    There must be some distrust between the Brits and the French that we Americans don't have- maybe because the French helped us break free of the British several hundred years ago. I still give the French unconditional love;-) Don't have anything against the Anglo Saxons either...

  10. The château is closed to the public, but the Marquis & Marquise de La Roche Aymon rent out their 2 bedroom gatehouse on a weekly basis (Aux grilles du château).
    It looks like a fun place to stay.

  11. Hi Evelyn, I'm sure you are right. Also, proximity and familiarity breed contempt, I guess. I can understand why English people in England might have negative attitudes (superficially) about France, but it's hard for me to understand why people have decided to come live here would hold on to such ideas. It just makes their lives more difficult. Just remember that France is a whole world unto itself, as is England or the U.S., with all the good and the bad. Focus on the positive.

  12. Roofing Contractor Queens said...

    The view from the top of the roof is the most gorgeous thing I've ever seen, how is it that dating back all these years they still knew how to make buildings look better and more majestic?

    -Adam Ahmed

  13. Thanks for your comments, Ken.
    You addressed an issue that has always bugged me, i.e. people who move from one part of the world to another and then choose to stay and complain about how miserable life is in their host region, rather than just packing up and going back "home".
    A good example was when Jean and I tried (unsuccessfully) to find a chambre d'hôte run by "des français de souche" in the Dordogne. Unfortunately, those establishments are few and far between these days down there.
    We ended up staying in a beautiful property run by a British couple. (The fact that they were British isn't the point; they could easily have been malcontents from any other country.) What struck me as odd was that these people had chosen to move to France (10 years ago), make their living there, use French social services, etc., and yet they spent every evening we were there denigrating the French. I didn't understand it and I really didn't like it.
    After they'd gone on and on about how much better things were "back home", I mentioned that I had lived in Swindon, England for four years and had loved it. One of them looked at me and said, "Well, I guess somebody had to". Wow! Really? I was speechless.
    I agree with you, Ken: Wherever you are, focus on the positive!
    Le Paradis n'existe nulle part...ni en France, ni en Angleterre, ni ici aux Etats-Unis.

  14. Dean, I think some people focus on the negative, and that's just their personality — I don't have anybody in particular in mind, by the way. I enjoy many of the other expats I've met here in the Loire Valley. But I think the reflex expats acquire to always see the negative in the surrounding culture is a very dangerous mindset. It almost guarantees that the person is going to remain an outsider, and an unhappy one. We expats are not refugees who have been forced by miserable conditions at home to come live in France. We chose it of our own free will. We don't have to be pollyannas, but we need to be aware of our attitudes and figure out their causes.

  15. Did this expat stuff really start cos I said we use an excuse for not doing maintenance/projects that French paint doesn't cover?
    Well years ago it didn't. Things like that have changed and there are some great paints now on the market - in the mix your own colour too.
    We came here because we loved it, as some say, warts an' all. There are differences and being anti French/British/American/...etc will not change them or endear you to your neighbours.

  16. Hi Lesley, sorry for my outburst! But I do think it is a shame to run down the French as a people and culture as a reflex reaction. Not that you did, or Tim either, really. But I could give you a list of half a dozen or more negative comments I've heard from other expats over the past month or two.

    It's really dangerous, as a new resident, to start thinking in "us vs. them" terms (not that I think you have done so). We all need to be careful. Sometimes I think that people who are struggling with the language fall into that trap, because they can't talk to French people and get to know them.

    Yesterday I was listening to WUNC radio from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, which was broadcasting an interview with a man from Pennsylvania who talked about his arrival in N.C. years ago and all the cultural differences he noticed. Both he and the interviewer were displaying all the signs of the same phenomenon. They talked about N.C. food and ways of life in the worst stereotypical terms. They were obviously two outsiders who were eager to bash the locals. What's the point, especially on North Carolina university radio?

    Anyway, Lesley, thanks for writing back. Hope you are enjoying the Archos radio. Mine is fine as a radio, but I'm having a lot of trouble getting it to play music I have stored on my computers. And I bought a micro SD card because that's what the Archos takes for extra storage, but I can't get it to work either. Oh well. What I really wanted was a wifi radio, and now I've got one.

  17. By the way, some American friends of mine brought some British paint with them from the UK, and they said it was so thick that it was more like glue than paint. They had to thin it quite a bit. The paint I'm using on window ledges is thick like that, but I've been using it as is. I also used it on the medicine cabinet door, and it helped, but the stain still showed through a little. I'm not sure what kind of stain it was. Oily, I think, so it came through the water-based paint.

  18. I'm a long time reader, I perform ( a little) my English reading your blog. You and your friend are wonderful, I've a lot of respect for you. Coming from the US, you are in France and you speak perfectly our langage, well integrated, living your life in France with the best and the worst , without any stupid remarks I'm used to read about France. ( coming from " foreigners " ). I'm not even sure I could do the same in the US ! Avec tout mon respect et mon admiration. Pardon pour cet anglais scolaire !

  19. Anonymous, thanks for your nice comment. Of course, la perfection n'est pas de ce monde and we are still learning more French every day, and becoming more comfortable in the language. (I've been working at it for nearly 50 years now, including more than 20 in France.) We love the life here and intend to stay to the bitter end! Ken


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