26 December 2017

The streets of old Chinon

What you see in the photos here are called "streets" (rues) in French, not (British) "lanes" or "alleys". There is also a word, ruelles, meaning "little streets". The rue on the right is paved with cobblestones (pavés or "paving stones"). If you think they would be rough to drive on and would make your car rattle, you're right. But as you might imagine, cars basically move at a snail's pace on streets like these.

Don't look for the sidewalk (or what the British call a "the pavement") because usually there isn't one. You just walk down the middle of the street, not on the side. Anyway, the cars, when there are any, aren't racing through. You'll have time to step out of the way. If you're walking in rainy weather, you'll want to avoid stepping into the rain gutter that runs down the middle of the street.

The narrow streets (les rues étroites) of Chinon are picturesque — that's for sure. Of course they were built without automobiles in mind, since they are hundreds and hundreds of years old. The Michelin guide uses the expressions ruelles médiévales, petites places ("tiny squares"), and quais tout au long de la Vienne (the riverside walk) in describing what old Chinon is like.

The Michelin guide also quotes this ditty by the Renaissance writer Rabelais, an illustrious Chinonais:

Chinon, Chinon, Chinon,
Petite ville, grand renom,
Assise sur pierre ancienne,
Au haut le bois, au pied la Vienne.

[Chinon, Chinon, Chinon,
A little town of great renown,
Solidly built on ancient stone,
With woods up and water down.]


  1. The first word which came to my mind was, lovely.

    1. There is something méridional about Chinon that is the essence of old Touraine.

    2. As far as I can recall, I've been only once in Chinon proper, the day we, Walt, you and me, had lunch on that square near a church, on our way to Cunault, and may be Angers?

      I agree about the méridional feeling.

    3. We went to Cunault and Angers in 2001, I believe. We went to Saumur years later and had lunch outdoors at a restaurant near a big church. I can't remember where we had lunch that day in 2001, and I can't remember a lunch in Chinon. My memory is failing me.

  2. It is beautiful, warm looking ... and not crowded ! It seems to me to be a perfect place to be :)

    1. Sometimes I almost regret that we didn't decide to settle in Chinon. I had been there before 2002, but only briefly. I didn't realize how beautiful that side of Touraine was until a couple of years after we moved to Saint-Aignan. Not that Saint-Aignan doesn't have pretty medieval streets too...

    2. Oh, did I mention that Tasha the Sheltie was born in Chinon?

  3. Chinon town is lovely, but where you are now has the land to grow your potager and is nice for the dog.

    I had to google "méridional."

  4. Chinon: the town where I first ate andouillette, in 1987!


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