Tuesday, 29 March 2011

A rose by any other name................Chédigny!

Last year we went out for the day with our friends John and Maureen. They have lived in the area for at least six months of the year since John retired, about 4 years ago. They have almost finished renovations to their house, and  a gite which they now rent out. More about this in a future post........

Anyway, at the end of May they suggested we all go to
Chédigny. We arrived at their house near Chatillion at midday, had an early lunch, and set off.

Chédigny is about 7km from Loches, and if you haven't visited is well worth a visit - especially if you like to see a good display of roses. The village is covered with them!

We visited during the annual Rose Festival, but I suspect the village would still be beautiful at other times in the summer, possibly when it wasn't so busy. However the festival also meant that there were various stalls selling roses, exhibitions of roses and rose products.

There were street entertainers and musicians tucked away in corners of the village, and wherever you looked there was something to see!

Jim McNeill ( A Social History of the Touraine) must have visited around the same time that we did; you can read his blog post and view his fantastic (much better than ours) photographs here.

I think we'll probably visit again this year, and buy one of the more unusual and rare varieties of roses to bring back to the UK, to remind us of France.

Towards the end of August Chédigny also stages a Blues Festival, which is yet another item on our ever growing list of 'things to do'!

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

A visit to Angles sur L'Anglin - to buy or not to buy, that was the question............

We first saw our house in August 2009. We had travelled across from Thollon to stay with our friends John and Maureen, near Chatillion. An immobilier had sent some details of houses, in different regions of France, that could be bought with our budget. We had a buyer lined up for our apartment, decided we had nothing to lose, so packed the car and set off!
When we met the estate agent, Tim was convinced he recognised her husband. His memory for names is awful, but he is much better with faces. After some discussion it transpired that we had taken a ski holiday with him about 25 years previously, (as the friend of a friend), and before they emigrated to France they had lived about five miles away from us!

What a small world........

We had big decisions to make, so decided to visit Angles sur L'Anglin. We didn't even look at any other property (we had looked at at least 25 in the Alps), except to glance at property advertised in windows and get a feel for prices.
We liked the house very much, but I love the mountains so there was a dilemma.

I have read some really interesting posts about Angles on Simon and Susan's blog Days on the Claise and also on another called Village de Vaux. They both have some beautiful photographs and know much more about the history.

The other big coincidence is that on our way to Angles we stopped La Roche Posay to buy a map. When we came out of the SuperU someone shouted to us. It was Chris and Sally, the parents of our daughter's partner Ben, who have a home near Angles. Chris had noticed a very similar number plate to our daughter's (there is a story there for a future post!).

An even smaller world..........

From Google images.

Angles-sur-l'Anglin is acknowledged as one of the most beautiful villages of France (plus beaux villages de France)
At the Office de Tourisme we decided the best way to see Angles was to follow the marked circuit of the upper town (ville haute), then take the steps down to the lower town (ville basse). As you walk down the steps there are some lovely views of the houses on the opposite side of the river.

The streets of the village are narrow and lined with attractive medieval houses. There is a chateau, and the Church of St Martin, a roman style church. Although the chateau is in ruins, it is still an impressive place to visit and the remains of the donjon, the prison tower, the chapel tower, and two chapels can be seen.

I read somewhere that Angles was the last stronghold of the English in the hundred years war. 

In 1948 important prehistoric carvings (said to be the most important of their kind in Europe), were discovered. They date from around 14 000 years ago and, in order to preserve them, they were not open to the public. In 2008 a replica of the Roc Aux Sorciers (witches rock) was opened.
From Google images

 In the centre of the village there is a lovely shaded area which is served by a couple of restaurants. We sat there for a drink, and wondered why some tables were being served and others ignored. We finally realised that the colour of the sun parasol determined which restaurant came to serve you. We moved to different seats and were served instantly! This is a great place to ‘people watch’.

Just across the square is an antique bookshop. On a visit last summer with my son, we looked for an old edition of L’Etranger by Albert Camus, as a present for a friend of his. They had many books by Camus, but not the one we were looking for!

Anyway, it was whilst sitting up at the chateau that we decided that we would put in an offer (not for the chateau!), and hopefully buy our house. We decided what we would pay, and started to negotiate. The rest, as I've said before, is history........

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Expect the unexpected.........

A few days ago I posted some photographs over the rooftops of Le Petit-Pressigny at dusk.

I've been sorting through folders of photographs on my computer, and came across nearly the same view taken at mid afternoon last summer.

On our way back home we noticed this unusual animal in a garage at the end of our road.

As far as I know he's still there............

Friday, 18 March 2011

Who lives in a house like this...............?

Although we’ve owned our house in Le Petit-Pressigny for just over a year, we've only spent about 6 weeks there, which means that we are only just beginning to find our way around and meet our neighbours.

One of our neighbours, who helps to run the Boulangerie,  told us about the  small walking group which meets every Wednesday evening (times change according to season).

We’ve only managed to fit in a couple of walks, and both times the route was the same, lasting just under an hour. The group are a mix of very friendly French, Dutch and English residents.

The walk passes near a lovely house, perhaps it is a chateau,  in a hamlet which I think is called Les Bordes, just off the D103 to Charnizay.

Does anyone else remember a television programme from a few years ago, where David Frost (of TW3 and Frost Nixon fame), used to say "who lives in a house like this"?

We couldn't quite get close enough to get clearer photographs, which is perhaps just as well, as it is someones home.

We are in the process of buying (downloaded the Which reports) a digital SLR camera - any advice or recommendations?

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

The best rooftop view in the village?

I wrote recently about a wonderful meal we had with our friends Chris and Sally at La Promenade in February. You can read about it here.

When we left the restaurant we walked back to Le Pre Vert, put our boots on and strolled around the village at dusk. 

In the summer we had spoken to some neighbours, who told us that the best rooftop view in the village was to be had from the top of some stone steps, along the edge of their garden. After a few deleted snaps we managed one that we were happy with. Although we will go back and experiment some more.

We also loved the church. We have a beautiful church in our village in the UK too, but it is never lit up.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Happy Birthday Tim ............

Tim is 56 today

Happy Birthday!

Tim, not looking his best. His dad looked very much like this at 80!
Ooops, this should have posted automatically yesterday.

Better late than never!

Sunday, 13 March 2011

A trip on the lake ...... to the Château de Chillon

Évian les Bains and Lac Léman is about 15 minutes drive down the mountain from Thollon, so boat transport to places along the French or Swiss side of the lake was a regular outing.

One of our favourite trips is to Lausanne, which takes about 35 minutes. The port is lovely and the Olympic Museum is about 5 minutes walk away. Shopping is above the port and there is a regular train service up the hill.

Sometimes if I had driven out to Thollon alone, Tim would fly out to Geneva. Mostly I picked him up at the airport, but sometimes he would get the train from the airport to Lausanne and then the boat to Évian.

The boats are very comfortable and the views spectacular.

The Château de Chillon sits on the lakeside near Vevey, just along the lake from Lausanne and Montreux. We visited one summer along with Tom, and his friend Ben.

The site has been occupied since the Bronze Age.
The Château is the result of several centuries of constant building, adaptations, renovations and restorations. The rocky island, on which the château is built, was both a natural protection and a strategic location to control the passage between northern and southern Europe.


The history of the château was influenced by three major periods:

The Savoy period (12th century to 1536)

The oldest written document mentioning the château dates from 1150; it says that the House of Savoy already controlled the route along the shores of
Lac Léman.

During the 13th century, the Counts of Savoy conquered most of the territory of Vaud. This marked the beginning of Savoy domination over approximately two-thirds of the territory which makes up today’s French-speaking Switzerland.
This land lay both to the north and to the south of the Alps, so they controlled the two major routes across the western Alps, the Mont Cenis Pass and the Grand St Bernard Pass.

The Bernese period (1536-1798)

The Swiss then occupied Chillon in 1536 so the château continued to be a fortress, arsenal and prison for over 260 years.

The Vaudois period (1798 to the present)

The Bernese left Chillon in 1798 at the time of the Vaudois Revolution. The castle became the property of the Canton of Vaud when it was founded in 1803. The restoration of the historical monument began at the end of the 19th Century and continues to this day.
 Lord Byron gave Chillon a mythical dimension in 1816, with his poem ‘The Prisoner of Chillon’.

The Patrouille Suisse practising over the Lake

Both the ch
âteau and the landscape, framed by the mountains, are well worth a visit.

Saturday, 12 March 2011

The first 500.....

I've just clocked 500 views; half way to 1000 .

Now I know some of you out there are in the thousands, hundreds of thousands or maybe even millions, but I've made a start!

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Relaxation Thollon style.........

Thollon les Mémises is also called Le Balcon du Léman. It is a pretty Savoyard village, perched on a plateau in the Alpes Chablais, on the French side of Lac Léman (Lake Geneva). It is situated at 1000 metres altitude and enjoys superb views over Lake Geneva.

Views over Lac Leman from Thollon.

The village is a quiet little ski station, with approximately 25km of ski runs, at green, blue and red standard. The runs are not very challenging to the experienced skier, but they are good fun. The ski area is above the village and reached by a telecabine (or bubble).

Views of the lake from the Frasse run at Thollon.
Our good friend Stephen with the lake in the background.

Our ski tracks in new snow.
For those wanting skiing of a more difficult standard and variety, the “Portes de Soleil” offers pistes from Chatel to Avoriaz, Les Gets and Mozine, all linked by cable cars and chair-lifts. Many of these stations are within an hour’s drive from Thollon.

The mountain walking is fairly challenging, but the views are worth it!

During the warmer months, the hills and mountain areas provide many opportunities for relaxation, walking and trekking. Locally, there are horse-riding, golf, tennis, sailing and rafting facilities. The Evian Masters Golf course is about 10 minutes drive away. But best of all, the thermals are perfect for those who want to experience para-gliding.

Tom, in the centre of the photograph, white water rafting.

Tim and Tom did a sailing course on the lake, and are now certified!!
Just before we sold the apartment Tim tried parapenting off the Mémises. Of course I did check his life insurance value first!!!

P.S. I will get my use of accents sorted soon. Anyone know how I go about it?