03 June 2016

Glad to be on high ground

I had to go out yesterday afternoon and I decided to take some photos of the Cher river around Saint-Aignan. Even though our heavy rains of the last week seem to have stopped, the level of the river is very high. The flooding here is not catastrophic, at least for the moment, but I'm not sure the river has crested at this point.

The riverfront in Saint-Aignan-sur-Cher

I took over 200 photos yesterday — a third of them in the kitchen, a third down on the river and in town, and a third out in the vineyard on my walk with the dog. I'll focus on the river today. When I went into Saint-Aignan (pop. 4,000), I was surprised by the number people who were out taking in the scene. As a friend said, it was as if a couple of big tour buses had driven in and dropped off crowds of curious people. But I saw no buses.

High water flowing under the Saint-Aignan bridge

It's hard to choose which photos to post, and it's hard to give you an idea of the scale of the flooding unless you are pretty familiar with the area and know what the Cher normally looks like. One of the most disturbing pieces of news is something I read in the local newspaper (here's a link to the article, with photo): the fast-flowing floodwaters are threatening the structural integrity of the Saint-Aignan bridge. Experts and engineers are assessing the situation.

The church and château at Saint-Aignan, high above the flooding river

Maybe words are better than pictures in this situation. The reason I went out was to get my hair cut at the salon down in the village center. The young woman who runs the place (she took it over from Madame Barbier a couple of years ago) was obviously under a lot of stress.

Looking across the Cher from Saint-Aignan

She told me she had gone home at lunchtime to find that her house was starting to flood. Her partner and a friend were in the process of moving all the furniture out. Water had started coming into their garage early in the morning, and because the house is all on one level, that meant there would probably be a certain amount of water all through the place.

The bridge at Saint-Aignan

The woman and her partner live on the east side of Saint-Aignan near a big campground on the river at a place called Les Cochards. She told me that when she got home around noontime, she was surprised to find 9 or 10 little rabbits in her garage. Her partner's mother had rescued them from the floodwaters, not wanting to see them drown.

The island across from Saint-Aignan is mostly under water.

She also said that a neighbor had also come home for lunch and was in tears because the chickens he keeps in his back yard had all drowned during the morning hours when the river rose. And she said the man who runs the nearby campground was also in tears because his office building and all the little mobile-home bungalows he rents to tourists had waist-high water in them. He has probably lost everything, she said.

The campground office at Mareuil-sur-Cher (not the one at Les Cochards)

Today, we are glad to have bought a house on high ground when we came looking in 2003. At the time, we were shown several houses in charming locations down along the river. However, there had been flooding on the Cher a few years earlier, and the sellers warned us of the danger. One woman said at her house, the water had "only" come up to the front door. A man down the street said he'd had a foot or two of water in his basement, where he had set up a guest bedroom suite.

Rains have knocked the petals off our peonies.

The amazing thing to me is that despite all the heavy rains of the last week, our roof hasn't leaked. What a relief. It has leaked several times since 2007 when really heavy rains have fallen. We've had work done several times. The roofer who came by last year said the roof was not designed to cope with such downpours, and that the same was true of many houses in the area. He did good work for us.


  1. The Cher seems to be pretty high. In addition to the local rain, there is the water coming from tributaries upstream.
    I didn't know -- per your link -- that the chapelle Saint-Lazare could be flooded. The Loire will also be flooding low spots along its banks with all the water coming from the Orléans area.
    In Paris, the Seine is also very high, but, so far, nothing to be compared to the 1910 flooding.

    1. The Louvre and Orsay museums are closed as they are moving reserves from basements to higher ground.

    2. Bonjour cousin,

      J'ai vu aussi que le RER est fermé et le trajet CDG-Paris par RER B suspendu.

  2. Good luck. I hope the worst is over for you. We have clear blue skies today in the south.
    Our little village was flooded a couple of years before we arrived. Everybody still talks about it more than 20 years later. Floods will get worse as more land is covered with buildings and concrete that make the water run off immediately rather than soaking in.

    1. There is also a problem with the farmers! In our valley most of the land in the floodplain was grazing or cut for hay when we bought the house in 2003.... the farmers have ploughed up more and more of this...right up to the river's edge....
      A field full of grass acts like a sponge and delays the arrival of the water into the system... the rivers don't rise as quickly... or as high!
      When you have a situation where it is a field of winter wheat in neat rows with bare soil between.... or worse still a recently sown field of maize or sunflowers... there is nothing to hold the water back....
      A good quantity of soil also ends up in the river...destroying the bed and as it settles out, raising the bed...
      This means that the water arrives at any constrictions... bridges and towns mainly.... far, far quicker and in greater quantity....
      And, as evidenced in our valley... the land, compacted by the much larger, heavier machines used now.... takes ages to dry out.... a complete rethink on the use of floodplains is urgently needed!!

    2. An excellent point re industrial farming. You don't want the French rivers to become like the Mississippi basin with all its man-made problems.

  3. Wow yes I remember what the river normally looks like there, yikes. Biarritz has has several hard downpours but no flooding at all. And the kids apt is very high .....I have to lug the grocery cart up the hill so I know we're safe. Sadly I leave on Monday and will be spending a delightful afternoon and evening at CDG (the Ibis in fact). Glad the pilots decided not to mess with my flight up there.

  4. What can I say! Thanks for taking those photos and for the latest information. It looks catastrophic at present.
    We obviously will not be camping at Les Cochards in two weeks time and we feel so very sorry for the campsite proprietor, Ludovic. A nice young man who has spent the last couple of years improving the campsite so much. He had flooding last winter, on a small scale, from the drainage ditch at the rear of the reception building, but could not have anticipated anything on this scale.
    The Nouvelle Republique photo we found yesterday online showed the water level at the bridge lower than yours do and the restaurant on the bridge looks to be flooded too in your photos. The NR also told us that the Musee de Sologne at Romorantin-Lanthenay is threatened and closed and the Matra car museum, also there, is flooded too.
    Our caravan is in a barn at Couffy on the edge of the nature reserve so hopefully the water will disperse through the reserve and not reach the barn. We know undeveloped land can be very good at absorbing water if left to get on with it so hope we will have drt wheels, although we will have to find another campsite this time.

    1. They are raising the cars at the museum on blocks of parpaing!!
      I hope they are able to het them high enough!!

  5. Southern California needs rain so desperately. El niño missed us and gave the brunt of it to Texas. Wish there was a way to take your extra.

  6. Replies
    1. Very descriptive. Glad we are not there, at present!

  7. It's horrible for those poor people. Flooding takes such a long time to get over, to dry out the house, have it replastered and replace all the furniture and belongings. It can often be as much as a year before the house is habitable again.
    The loss of wildlife, pets and livestock is also tragic.
    A terrible time for so many people. It's good to feel safe, but I feel so sorry for those flooded out if their homes and livelihoods.

    1. The coiffeuse and her partner are in the process of buying a longère up on high ground on the other side of the village from us. Their plan was to move there in early July. Kind of a chaotic move for them now. Hope you two and your place are all in good condition.

  8. I hope your bridge hold out... it must be a helluva drive to get to the other side otherwise!!
    And those poor people in your town.... I'd hate it!!
    Bonne chance!

    1. It wouldn't be too bad a drive, and the town has been talking for years about having a new bridge built. Zoo traffic has made that more attractive, I think, with attendance now at a million per year.

    2. HOW MANY!!?
      Leave the old bridge and build another.... further along, just for the Zoo traffic!!
      Given the work that Beauval does... more power to their elbow!!

  9. Merci Ken , grâce à vous je visualise , mon beau frère au Cochards s'inquiète . Continuez à en faire .

  10. One of the restaurants we use in Cour Cheverny is flooded. I phoned them yesterday and they were busy cleaning it up. We are going to have to completely redesign tomorrow's clients tour (was to have been Villandry and Azay-le-Rideau, both of which are closed). Working out routes isn't easy.

  11. It must be awful for the people affected and it would be awful to see the bridge significantly damaged or condemned. I remember the difficulties with your roof and you finally had it properly fixed.

  12. This is a recurring nightmare to me ... floods . . I don't think I have ever lived through one or near one but the whole thought of the danger, the loss , the worry scares me witless.
    The loss ... so very very sad ... even when the monetary worth is small, the mementoes, the hard work , the care and love of ones home and property .. the animals. . it is really tragic to me, every time, wherever it happens.
    I am so so glad the chickens are alright, the pups and you two.
    As someone wise once said, They are just Things ... your family/pets/loved ones are what is important.
    Of course, keeping your *dry* roof over your head is pretty damned important too !
    Good luck, will be crossing my fingers for you all.

  13. I'm glad you kept at your roof repair. Hopefully a flood like this won't happen agin any time soon. I have a flood map of Louisville from the flood they had in the 30s I think. The Ohio river is a mile wide there and it was awful. I saw several photos from Paris and they are having problems too.

  14. I'm so sorry to hear about all of the flooding. So sad. I did love yesterday's grocery store post, though :)

  15. News about Chambord is that it has water damage. Hope it's not too awful.

  16. I looked up St Aignon because I am worried and the weather website did not say anything dire or sad ... rain but not downpours, sunshine mixed in and warm ... I imagine things will be disrupted everywhere, even the dry areas, deliveries etc.
    And then there are the road conditions, bridges etc that have to be inspected and made sure that everything is in good / safe shape. Best of luck through all of this- at least you have each other and the pups and geese and chickens :)
    It would just me me and 2 cats ... how pitiful would that be ! ? :)

  17. Very concerned for Carol, Mikee, Annike and Gerard across the river from you.

  18. Video wrt Chateau de Chambord



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