I went out for a long drive yesterday. The morning was chilly, but the sky was a deep blue color and the sun was almost blindingly bright. My trip had two purposes: shopping for groceries and giving the Citroën a good workout to re-charge its battery. The car has been driven so little over the past year that it was getting hard to start it. The battery was too weak. And it's a fairly new battery — I had a new one put in just five years ago. Since I bought the car in February 2015, when it had about 82,000 kilometers on its odometer, I've driven it a total of 20,000 kilometers. That's the equivalent of about 12,000 miles in six years.
So yesterday, instead of just driving the three miles over to our local Intermarché supermarket, I decided to drive to an Intermarché over in Valençay, site too of a famous château. This won't sound like much when I tell you that, as the corbeau flies, Valençay is only about 13 miles from our house outside Saint-Aignan. However, I didn't take the shortest route to get there, and I ended up driving the car about 50 miles (80 kms) by the time I got back home to finish preparing our lunch.
My route took me through Saint-Aignan over to the village of Seigy to the east, and then south to Châteauvieux and on to the pretty village called Faverolles-en-Berry. From Faverolles I headed east again, toward Valençay. I bet I didn't pass more than 15 other cars on that 30-kilometer drive — about 18 miles. I wasn't on a freeway, interstate, or autoroute, and the trip took about 40 minutes. What is that? Less than 30 mph, no? I was in third gear most of the time, and I drove through four villages. I had left home at about 8:30 a.m.
The scenery was beautiful. Green fields, flowering trees, pretty little houses and farms... Even outside the villages, I couldn't go very fast because I had the blinding sun in my face — I was headed basically east, after all. Life here really is life in the slow lane. I wish I had taken my camera with me, but then the trip would have taken two or three times as long. When I got to Valençay (pop. 2,350), things were different. There were quite a few cars in the store's parking lot — 20 or more. There were about a dozen people standing out in front of the entrance, waiting to be let it. It turns out that the Intermarché in Valençay opens at 9:15 a.m. I was a few minutes early, so I just sat in the car and waited, as did a few other people. More cars kept arriving, and the store was actually pretty crowded once I got inside. I wondered if I had made a mistake by going there, but I had my mask on and my bottle of hand sanitizer in the car.
In the store, I picked up a nice lamb shoulder to cook in a day or two, and it cost me about 15 euros — five euros a pound or so. I got a carton, as we call it, of red Côtes du Rhône A.O.P. wine for 12 euros. A carton is six bottles, so that didn't break the bank. I found a bunch of green asparagus — the local asparagus season has begun, but these came from Spain — for a good price (about $2.50/lb.); three big turnips for about the same price, and a nice eggplant for one euro. A package of spicy beef-and-lamb merguez sausages, the kind you eat with North African couscous, cost me less than three euros a pound. I picked up a bottle of champagne for ten euros — Walt loves champagne and other sparkling wines. A pound of farm-made Cantal cheese set me back about five euros. It was a successful shopping trip, and I ended up not having to wait long at the caisse to pay for everything.
For the drive home, I took a different route. I headed west and slightly south to the town of Luçay-le-Mâle and on to Nouans-les-Fontaines. From Nouans, the road runs northwest to the village called Orbigny, and from Orbigny there's a road that basically runs north, through farmland and forest, to the village of Mareuil, outside Saint-Aignan. There I stopped in the village bakery and picked up three baguettes de tradition and a big loaf of pain de campagne (that was seven euros' worth of bread...). The drive on that route totaled about 50 kms (30 mi.) and took about 50 minutes, so I averaged about 35 mph on narrow, curvy roads and through three villages. The sun was at my back, there was little traffic, and I was back home before 11 a.m. For lunch, we made Mexican-style enchiladas, filled with rice, black beans, and slow-cooked turkey. Some of the Cantal cheese got melted on top, and I had picked up a couple of ripe avocados at Intermarché so we could have guacamole with the filled corn tortillas cooked in a spicy pumpkin-and-tomato enchilada sauce.
The photos here are the last set that I will publish showing the interior of the abbey church in Saint-Savin-sur-Gartempe in 2009. If you want to see more, look at this web site I found this morning
. Finally, here's one more of CHM's photos of the inside of the Saint-Savin church.