30 July 2014

La Celle-Guenand & Le Petit-Pressigny

The village called La Celle-Guenand is located southwest of Châtillon-sur-Indre, between Saint-Flovier and Le Grand-Pressigny. I skipped Saint-Flovier, by the way, in my photo-taking. La Celle-Guenand is not large — it has a population of 400. The village has existed since the 1200s, and maybe longer.

Coming into La Celle-Guenand from the north

The word Celle comes from the Latin cella and means a cell or house where a hermit-monk lived in the Middle Ages. The spelling is variable, and another example of a town with the term in its name is Selles-sur-Cher, just upriver from Saint-Aignan.

Guenand is a family name. I don't know how the people who live in La Celle-Guenand pronounce it. If you go by the spelling, it would be [guh-NÃ], with what is called a "mute E" and then the French nasalized A vowel. But some texts I've looked at spell the name of the inhabitants of the village as les Cellois-Guénandais, leading me to think that the word might be pronounced [gay-NÃ]. Does anybody reading this know how it's pronounced locally? [I think it's pronounced either way....]

There's a château in La Celle-Guenand that dates back to the 15th century. Part of it is used as bed-and-breakfast (chambres d'hôtes in French). If you want to spend a night or two in a château, this is one of your options. Prices run from 110 to 160 euros per night for a room for two persons, breakfast included. Here's the web site.

Above is a picture that I took on the grounds of the château in La Celle-Guenand in April 2006. At that time, we were exploring the southern part of Touraine for the first time, after moving to Saint-Aignan in 2003.

The next village along the road we took is called Le Petit-Pressigny — population about 325, down from nearly 1,100 in the mid-19th century. I misidentified it in my first version of this post, but Tim set me straight. Thanks to him.

Above, a series of three photos taken as we drove into the village called Le Petit-Pressigny.

29 July 2014

Plum tuckered

I'm taking a day off from my posts about the car trip.

A couple of days ago, I came upon a tree that was just covered in little yellow plums. I was out on the edge of the vineyard with the dog. I hadn't planned for fruit-picking, so I didn't have a plastic bag or basket with me. Zut alors !

My only option was to fill my pockets with as many plums as would fit. Luckily, I was wearing a pair of fairly baggy shorts with two front pockets. The plums were nearly ripe, and putting them in a basket to ripen some more for a couple of days made sure they were ready to be put into a tart. Just a small amount of almond powder went under them to soak up their juices, and a sprinkle of sugar went on top. Miam miam...

28 July 2014

Les rues de Châtillon

There are three ways to get through Châtillon-sur-Indre. One is around the east side of the town center. You go that way if you are headed straight south toward Le Blanc or east to Châteauroux. Or you can drive directly through the center of town, which is the slowest route.

Coming into town from the north, the road narrows seriously as it crosses the Indre River. In the photo above, you can see the donjon, which is about a thousand years old, with the French and, I think, Belgian flags flying (I don't know why). A donjon in French is what is called the "keep" or main tower of a fortified castle. I don't know why we Americans think of a dungeon as an underground space.

A little farther along, this is where you make your decision about going around to the east or to the west of the center of town. We usually turn right (where the road appears to end in the photo above, because our destination is toward the southwest. If you choose the eastern route, you come to a big intersection with traffic lights and you see the restaurant pictured below, in an old photo of mine. It looks fairly fancy and is on the main road that runs along the Indre River from Châteauroux to Loches and on to Tours.

On the western route, you go through a basically residential neighborhood made up mostly of big stone houses. The one business along the way is the café pictured below, Le Bon Coin, which I think is especially picturesque. I also like the little blue Citroën C3 car parked on the side street. I'm thinking about buying a car like that one next year.

On our latest drive, I spotted the old Renault 4 GTL, below, parked at the curb. I had a car like it 30 years ago, when I lived in Paris. Walt and I have friends who say they are going to try to buy such a car this year or next, and this looks like a very nice one. I think the last R4s rolled off the assembly line more than 20 years ago. I saw no sign indicating this one was for sale. Hélas...

As you can see, the road is very narrow here. That red Loches Boissons truck up ahead has to wait for us to drive through before he can continue his route — delivering bottled beverages to cafés and restaurants, I assume. When parked cars leave just a narrow passage for traffic, the vehicles on the side where the cars are parked are supposed to give way to oncoming traffic. Driving in little French towns and villages that were built before motorized vehicles existed is always interesting, and slow.