19 July 2024

Closing in on Sancerre

Sancerre, pop. 1,329, is a famous Loire Valley wine village located about 2½ hours south of Paris by car and less than 2 hours west of Saint-Aignan. It's what is called un village perché (a "perched" or hilltop village). There's also a language school there where foreigners can spend weeks or months taking classes and improving their French.

These are views of the top from high ground to the west. I took them in June 2015 when Charles-Henry and I were on our way to the town of Jars, just north of Sancerre. Red, white, and rosé wines are made in Sancerre — which is one of the Plus Beaux Villages de France — using Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc grapes.

18 July 2024

Outdoor art at the Château de la Chapelle-d'Angillon

Here's what the town of La Chapelle-d'Angillon's web site says about the château:

Cette importante forteresse a pour origine l'un des plus anciens donjons carrés de la région, élevé au XIe siècle. A ce donjon primitif s'adjoignirent, au cours des âges, des bâtiments divers formant un ensemble fortifié de plan trapézoïdal. Ce château à la dimension romanesque, est meublé, habité et abrite un musée consacré à Alain-Fournier, l'auteur du Grand Meaulnes....

17 July 2024

Le château de la Chapelle-d'Angillon

La Chapelle-d'Angillon — pronounced [ã-zhi-lõ], with the nasal A and the nasal O as well as -ll- prononced as L — is a village of some 600 souls located approximately 30 km north of Bourges and 30 km northwest of Sancerre, and 75 km east of Saint-Aignan, on the eastern edge of the Sologne.

The château there was built starting in the 1100s (it's le donjon that dates back that far). The town and the region didn't become part of the kingdom of France until 1766, 25 years before the 18th century French Revolution. One of the most prominent families of the area were named Sully. Two Sully brothers were archbishops (of Paris and of Bourges) during medieval times. Another Sully was king Henri IV's finance minister in t/he late 1500s and early 1600s. His château is on the Loire just 50 km north.

The body of water next to the château is un étang (an artificial lake), of which there are hundreds in the forested Sologne region, as in the Brenne.

16 July 2024

Lunch in Vailly-sur-Sauldre

On June 3, 2015, Charles-Henry and I had lunch in a little hôtel/restaurant in the village of Vailly north of Sancerre and not far from Jars. Here's some of what we ate and drank. The only thing I forgot to take a picture of was our main course. I remember that I had a steak, and I think Charles-Henry might have had the same thing. The first course was a slice of pâté en croûte de canard, with some salad greens. We ordered red wine in a carafe.

The table set for five was not ours. On the right you can see the menu for the day. The choices include porc, steak (faux filet is sirloin), and chicken. We ordered a dessert, which I think was what's called une île flottante or floating island (sweet meringue with a vanilla custard) instead of having cheese, followed by un café. My memory of the meal is that everything was very good.

15 July 2024

One of the last day trips...

...that I took with Charles-Henry (aka CHM) was a drive over to the Sancerre area, a couple of hours east of Saint-Aignan. We just wanted to see the views. Then we drove up to a town called Jars (zhahr) which was our real destination. CHM had spent time there many decades ago and wanted to see it again. Other towns in the area are Noyer and La Chapelle-d'Angillon. I had never heard of any of them. What did we see and do?

We saw churches, of course. I don't remember going inside of any of them. The one on the right was in the little town called Noyer (Walnut Tree).

And this one was in Jars, which the French Wikipédia article describes as being located on the western edge of the Sancerrois and the eastern edge of the Sologne. It's hilly farming country.

Charles-Henry and I had lunch in a restaurant not far from Jars, in a village called Vailly-sur-Sauldre. I remember that the food was very good. The meal cost us about 30 euros, including wine. I just found the restaurant on Google Maps and learned that it is now permanently closed. That's my little Peugeot in the photo.

After lunch, we drove over to the little town called La Chapelle-d'Angillon and saw the château there. More to come about that...

Along the way, we enjoyed the countryside, as you can see on the right.

P.S. The reason why this was my last day trip with CHM was that he went back to the U.S. in 2018 and never came back to France. In 2016 and 2017 his health was failing so he just stayed in Paris. He passed away at age 99 about six months ago.

14 July 2024

La Brenne, suite et fin

We were invited over to our Blois neighbors' house for apéritifs yesterday evening. The weather was comfortable, though there were a lot of mosquitoes out and biting. Not clouds of them, but still. We haven't had mosquitoes in such numbers on our side of the road, so I don't know where they were coming from. When to sun went down, it suddenly felt chilly outside. The party broke up. We were at home by about 9:30. It was all very interesting. Tasha got along fine with the neighbors' dog, Nakara.

This is the last set of photos taken in the Brenne that I'll be posting right now. I wonder if mosquitoes are a plague down there, with all that water. Maybe there are enough fish and frogs in the étangs to keep them down.

I like the reflections on the glassy waters of the Brenne étangs, and I like the bark on those trees above.

13 July 2024

The church in Mézières-en-Brenne

There are also churches in the Brenne. This one, for example, dedicated to saint Marie-Madeleine, is in the town of Mézières-en-Brenne (pop. approx 1,075). Mézières is the biggest town in the Brenne natural region. Its church was built in the early 1300s, so it's about seven centuries old and was consacrated in 1339. The Michelin guide says the stained glass in the church mostly dates back to the 1300s as well. Some windows were restored in the 19th.

12 July 2024

Paysages et animaux dans la Brenne

We had a humdinger of a rain event last night. Luckily, it didn't last long. The rain gauge has 14 millimeters of water in it this morning. That's over half an inch, and it fell in about 15 minutes. I was up in the dark closing windows, and by the time I finished the rain stopped. The good news is that there's no sign of any damage. The roof didn't leak, in other words. I wonder if it rained like that down in the Brenne. Here are some photos from May 2006 and July 2011.

11 July 2024

Brenne photos

Even in the Brenne, there's always a château or two.

I don't really know if these are two photos of the same château, or of two different châteaux.

There's also a lot of wildlife. Damsel flies, for example...

...and frogs. Green ones.

And there are of course some people, too, enjoying the wild life outdoors.

And some nice houses to admire.

P.S. I had a lot of trouble getting yesterday's post to work right. I had to re-do it this morning, and it still didn't work. I couldn't enlarge the photos, and my sidebar disappeared. I've fixed it now. Problem is, in the process I lost the comments some of you had left on the post. Sorry about that. I apologize.