Sunday, July 31, 2011

A Walk and an Early Weekend in the Tourraine

It's Sunday and we're home from our weekend. That's one of the advantages of no longer working; we get to choose when to go off on a weekend. First, though, Emma came back from her woofing on Sunday evening. Her project has matured and it's time to set it up. I won't say more about it until it's done, though. We will just enjoy having her home for a while.

J and E joined me for an Ile de France walk in the Forêt de Carnelle, north of Paris on Wednesday. This walk was less difficult that the one two weeks ago. It was mostly through forest. M-L sent us this description:

Thanks again, Daniel, for leading us on such a lovely hike and for keeping the rain at bay. I did a little research about the Foret de Carnelle which I would like add to what Daniel and Virginie told us on Wednesday. This is translated (roughly) from the FFR Topo Guide of the Val d’Oise, pp. 90, 94, and 95.
Picture from Wikipedia 
 The Pierre turquaise is the only megalith of the department composed entirely of sandstone. As Daniel said, the name could refer to its color or the Turks. The book says that it is very likely that the name comes from “Turc” because this type of megalith often was named after France’s enemy in medieval times.  As Virginie read to us, the Pierre turquaise was used as a kennel for the Prince of Conti hunting dogs. It was classified “Monument Historique” in 1869 in order to save it from being used to make paving stones for the streets of Paris. (!!) It was destroyed by explosives in 1985 and subsequently partially rebuilt. The book also says that the bas-relief of a woman is on the left “pillar”. I can’t understand why none of us saw her.

The forest probably gets its name from the Celtic word “carn” which means “stone”. Gypsum and marl (marne) quarries were dug in the 19th century. The lake where we ate lunch gets its name from the blue color of the marl underneath.  It and the one next to it are artificial, fed by springs and are former marl quarries, which explains their blue color. The book goes on to say that in present times the presence of microscopic algae give the water a more green hue.
The stone is not at all turquoise. It's a big slab of sandstone laid flat on smaller sandstone pillars, much like a table and very similar to other celtique megalithic structures you find here and there, and lots in Brittany. That the ponds are former quarries makes sense. Just looking at them, we figured that's what they were. They were definitely a greenish gray, almost smoky jade, color under the overcast we had. It rained a bit, mostly drizzle, nothing to keep us from walking. We went up and down hills, along a few fields, on the move for at least 16 km. (10 miles). We passed by an alpaca herd. The animals were very small and the shearing was still showing on their fur. They look very cute.J and E came home with me for dinner, where R joined us before she headed for NYC. Paul and Emma had set the table and everything was really ready, definitely no work for me.
We met Callie and her masters, Ken and Walt.
The next morning, Paul and I set off for St. Aignan. Well, not exactly St. Aignan, just outside, in Mareuil-sur-Cher, where my blogging friend, Ken lives. Ken wrote about our visit, so I don't have much to add. Just click on the link and read on. It was a really pleasant afternoon. I was happy to finally meet this family that I feel I've known for years, from reading their blogs. (Again, Ken's blog is and Walt's is I only took one picture, though, of Callie on our walk down the road that runs from the back of their lot through the vinyards to the slightly larger paved road. 
Ken wrote a bit about the Pierwige. Paul lived there as a student from Sept. 1965 until the end of the school year in 1970. I arrived in February, 1970, the same year as Ken. When he came for his Easter break, I was off with the Pitzer group and Claude on our tour of Normandy and Brittany. When Ken came back in May, though, I was probably there. We must have crossed paths, then, and just never knew it. Dick, the one who put us in touch with one another, was there in '68. He and Paul became close friends, but once I entered the picture, I was the one who corresponded most with Dick. In the early days of internet for the common people, the days of Compuserve, both Dick and I were subscribers and found each other. Then, with Facebook, he found me, again. Internet has allowed Paul to find Tania again, too. She was at the Pierwige the year before me and lives in Avignon. We visited her last year. I thought I had written about it, but I guess I didn't; I can't find it. Peter and Jeanne were Pierwigians, contemporaries of Dick's. They will be coming to Paris it see us in October. 
On Friday, we visited Montrésor in the morning -- just a bit of walking through this well-kept, midievel town with its castle at the top and the village below. The church is strange. It's got a magnificent facade, leading you to think it's enormous, but the building is very short! It's a very small church.
We drove through Loches and decided not to stop to see the château. I think Loches rhymes with moche (ugly) and it certainly did not look like a place to visit. I know I visited it 40 some years ago on that Easter trip with Claude, but I think once was enough. On our drive, both on Thursday and Friday, we took the smaller roads and saw some very beautiful countryside. We stopped for a moment in Tours before heading over to Gwen's parents' for an enjoyable lunch and family visit. We got up to leave and the car wouldn't start! Not just not start. There was no electricity, at all. We're not sure what happened; maybe when we stopped, Paul didn't press the Power button hard enough. Whatever it was, the insurance company sent around a repair guy who knew exactly where all the connections were and exactly what to do. We assume he's done this often and knows the Prius well. We are not alone. It was still quite a scare.
From the bouquet of Dalhias
at the Thomas's lunch
 on Friday
We returned to Montrichard for our second night, there. (I must remember that I definitely do not like charming provincial hotels. They are not comfortable.) Montrichard -- you pronounce the "t" because, apparently, it does not come from Mont + Richard, but from mon + trichard (tricheur = cheater). In the town, between the Place du Commerce and the Place du Marché, they have the Rue de la Juiverie, which was not an official ghetto, but is where the Jews who were expelled from Blois in the 12th century settled, before they were eventually exiled from France altogether.
Yesterday was Saturday and the last weekend in July, so the traffic reports of the "juilletistes" crossing paths with the "aoûtiens" were horrendous. We took the small roads through the countryside almost all the way to Paris and had no traffic problems at all.
Friday was Louis' birthday, and the reason we took this early weekend trip was to leave him the house so he could host a barbecue party. Anne is back from her escapade to Lisbon and we'll all get together with the Lebelles from Verrières on Tuesday. 


Ken Broadhurst said...

Sorry about the car adventures, and also about Loches, which is not moche at all! At any rate, it was a nice afternoon that we spent together and I hope we will see each other again soon.

Ellen said...

Thanks Ken. I think we were just not in the mood to stop.