24 October 2016

So many “châteaux”

First photo: not a château, but our little house just outside Saint-Aignan-sur-Cher. As I mentioned the other day, we are having a serre adossée set up over our back door. A serre is a greenhouse, and adossée means it leans on or backs up to a house, a building, or a cliff or hillside. In other words, it's a "lean-to" greenhouse. We could have spent a good sum of money to have a new back door installed, but we decided to invest in this greenhouse instead.

So far the aluminum frame is built. It sits on a metal base that is solidly anchored to the ground on concrete footings, and it will be screwed into the exterior wall of the house. It will have a gravel floor. We'll start seedlings it in in the spring before we set them out in the vegetable garden, and we'll keep certain plants in the greenhouse over the winter to protect them from freezing temperatures. The glass will be put in next weekend.

But back to châteaux. The English-language dictionary I just looked at gives that as the plural, not "chateaus." It says a "château" is (1) a castle or fortress; (2) a stately residence imitating a distinctively French castle; or (3) a country estate, especially a fine one, in France or elsewhere...

Where else but in France could you walk right by a château and not even see it? That's what we did in Châtillon-sur-Indre last Wednesday after having lunch in a restaurant there. The photo above shows the back side of the château, which was built in the 13th century. The photo below is a bird's-eye view of Châtillon-sur-Indre, the château, and the 12th century fortified tower (castle keep) in the middle of the town.

We were on the place [plahss] or "square" in the middle of the photo, behind the château and focusing our attention on the old tower (which originally was nearly twice as tall as it is now). The town of Châtillon-sur-Indre is located in the Indre département in central France, covering part of the territory of the historical province called Le Berry. According to this web site, there are 298 châteaux, 17 châteaux-forts (medieval castles) and 46 manoirs (manor houses) in the département de l'Indre, which covers about 2,600 square miles — half the size of the tiny U.S. state of Connecticut. I wonder how many years it would take to find and photograph all those buildings?


  1. Half the size of CT - that is quite large....it puts things into perspective, as does the wonderful aerial view. From a distance you would never know the town is emptying out.

    Your greenhouse looks like it will be very useful.

    1. For comparison, L.A. County covers about 4,700 sq. mi., nearly twice as much as the Indre department. Where we live is at the center of three departments — Indre, Indre-et-Loire, and Loir-et-Cher — in which there are more than a thousand châteaux.

  2. Voilà du pain sur la planche!

  3. That aerial shot of Châtillon really shows the chateau in its entirety....
    and it is clear that it would have been a dry moat castle, like GP.
    A half ring of houses has been constructed on the outside of that fosse...
    and the bottom of the ditch is now a road!!
    My brother used to live in a similarly positioned house in Lincoln.

    The newer part of the chateau, the tallest in the straight line...
    with the crenellated gable ends....
    would have been built once the defensive role / policing role of the site was no longer of importance....and living in what was essentially a motte & bailey became less than comfortable!
    There would have been buildings on the same footprint as the newer chateau ones, or very nearby, because everyone tended to live within the walls initially... including the animals!
    And the reason wasn't just raiders, it was wolves.

    I particularly like the houses that are built up against the nearest, straight part of the outer curtain wall... the section that faced the river... talk about having high roofs....
    I hazard they have some extremely useful grenier space...but the rectangular tower seems out of place...
    unless it was originally the gateway at the end of the road to Tours...
    which now diverts around the town itself.

  4. And, your house is your Château... is it not?

  5. Your little serre adossée looks good already :)

  6. Callie is going to have a surprise next summer when she goes down to the cellar to find her favorite cross ventilation spot beside the open door...which might not even be open.

  7. Soon you will be pottering around in there and gathering some sun rays this winter.

  8. "I wonder how many years it would take to find and photograph all those buildings?"
    I'll start trying next year.:-)

  9. My favorite chateau in the Berry is Chateau de la Verrerie. Worth the journey. Not sure how far it would be from your place. http://www.chateaudelaverrerie.com/en/chateau-de-la-verrerie-a-brief-history-10-44.html

    1. I have been there, a few years back. I guess I didn't get any photos (how could that be?) or didn't post any, at any rate. I remember the place well. Châtillon-sur-Indre also has a history with the Scottish from the 15th century.

    2. Yes, we went to La Verrerie a few years ago on our way back from Bourges (?) and Meillant, I guess. I was not very impressed and rather disappointed.

  10. Your greenhouse looks like an excellent addition. Will it also give you any useful passive solar heat?


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