30 October 2018

Dans les rues de Niort

Here are a few street scenes from our quick visit to the city of Niort in western France. We weren't there long enough for me to gather a lot of detailed information about the place, but I did get a feel for it. I'll go back one day if I get a chance — but there are so many places to see in France....

This is a spot near the central market hall in Niort. The weather there last Friday morning was basically an indicator of what was to come. Cold and gray. We have been plunged into winter here in Saint-Aignan — and in Niort too I imagine — over the past three days. High temperatures are around 5ºC (40°F). A cold rain is falling. It was predicatable, but it's still a shock.

Again, I was surprised by the hills that Niort is built on. I had imagined it very flat, since it's on the edge of an old marsh/swamp. There were nice views and perspectives in the part of the town we walked around in. I think that's the donjon in the background.

I managed to avoid including too many "wheely bins" — garbage totes — in my photos, but it's impossible to eliminate cars. They and the totes are unavoidable features of French cities. Above is a typical street in the neighborhood surrounding the Eglise Saint-André, on the left bank of the Sevre Niortaise river.

I have a book called Vanishing France (published in 1975). It's full of photos like this one — shuttered store fronts, houses in ruins, and other signs of the pace of change. I took classes from a professor in college who told us that the old France was disappearing rapidly. I'm not sure that the process is all that rapid. However, it's true that small, specialized shops are closing down, now that nearly everyone has a car, in favor of huge "superstores" called hypermarkets on the outskirts of the towns that sell groceries and whole ranges of clothes, hardware, and household goods. On n'arrête pas le progrès...


  1. The architecture of the town is very attractive. Too bad the neighborhoods lose the family run stores that make a community. This has certainly happened in the US small town main streets as well.

    1. I know. The main street in my home town in North Carolina pretty much died decades ago. There are no supermarkets in the town; there used to be three or four small ones. A new "downtown" built around gigantic parking lots has replaced the old one. Nobody seems to walk anywhere any more.


What's on your mind? Qu'avez-vous à me dire ?