Wednesday, July 31, 2013

vines at the château de Amboise

The château sits atop the high ground overlooking the Loire (here's the view as seen in an earlier post).  Thus, one enters the grounds of the château via a ramp along which grows this amazing vine...or vines  Note the intertwining base.  Anyway, I thought it made an unusual composition with the château viewed from below.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

brass band festival

Every summer the town of Amboise hosts a brass band festival where bands from all over Europe compete.  It's really fun as there are several venues around town where performances are given.  In addition, some of the bands stroll the streets throughout the day entertaining tourists, diners, and shoppers.

This photo was taken in the morning when all of the bands form a parade around the main square (the chapel of the château is behind).

Monday, July 29, 2013

la sterne - the tern

Here I am again showing off my new telephoto lens.  This time I am on the bridge in front of the château at Amboise, and shooting down onto this tern.  It was fascinating to watch as he would hover over the water (by aiming into a strong headwind) and then suddenly dive straight down under water to catch some tasty morsel.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

poppies among the wheat

I have seen poppies intruding on wheat fields before but not to this extent.  I thought it made for an interesting contrast in color and texture.   I found them on one of my favorite nearby bike trails.

As usual, I would recommend you look at this in a larger format in order to see the detail (click on the image and maximize your browser window).

Saturday, July 27, 2013

cooling off in the Loire

It's been really hot in France lately, so I thought it was time to post a cool picture of the Loire taken around dusk from the bridge in front of the château.  The swirls are eddies caused by the bridge supports.

Friday, July 26, 2013

the vegetable garden at Chenonceau

Here are some examples of different types of chard grown in the vegetable garden (today is a "three-fer").  The leaves on these plants are huge and the colors of the stems are really intense.  This is a very small sample of the variety and beauty to be found here.  I won't even start now on the flowers but save them for you for a later post.

Please view in full screen if you want to get the full effect.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

the 16th century farm at Chenonceau

A path next to this lush alley leads to the 16th century farm where one can see buildings of that era including Catherine de Medici's stables.  From here you can enter the adjacent flower and vegetable gardens from which flower arrangements for the château are harvested.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

les hirondelles et la tour à Château Chenonceau

This tower is separated from the main château at Chenonceau as it was constructed in a different era.  One of its most interesting details, in my opinion, are the swallows (les hirondelles) that have built nests under the overhang of the top level.  They're difficult to see in this first photo, so here is a close up; note that I luckily caught one of these fast flying birds in the lower left corner.

There are zillions of swallows in the area at this time of year.  Many home owners find them a nuisance, but I love these birds because, like bats, they consume huge numbers of mosquitoes at dusk.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Diane de Poitiers' garden at Chenonceau

This garden is a traditional formal French garden.  The wall seen in the background surrounds the garden and was designed to protect it from flooding by the adjacent river Cher.  The wall is also punctuated by white architectural urns which overflow beautifully with flowers.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Château de Chenonceau

Oh my it is the middle of July, I started this blog 6 months ago, and I just realized I have not posted anything from the nearby château de Chenonceau.  I will correct this blogatory malfeasance by doing a series (which I also have not done in awhile) on this fantastic place.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

purple haze

These purple beauties were growing on the edge of a vineyard operated by the local high school of agriculture and viticulture (Lycée Agricole et Viticole d'Amboise).  Learning how to grow and produce wine (among other things) that's what I call a useful education.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

le montgolfière au-dessus la Loire

The pilots of the hot air balloons ("montgolfières") love to see how low they can float over the Loire.  On this morning, it was pretty low!

Friday, July 19, 2013

the attic at Chaumont

Oddly, one of my favorite things about the château at Chaumont is the attic.  It has room after room of old stuff no longer used by the former residents.  I love the random mix of items and the soft light coming in from the dormer windows.  You can rest assured this is not the last of these to be seen on this blog.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

architectural detail

Sometimes architects just like to play with their creations.  For example, here's a mysterious little detail that sits way atop a nice townhouse overlooking the Loire in Amboise.  I couldn't begin to guess what this represents but it sure is playful and unusual.  Anyone know?...or want to make something up?  At least this gave me a chance to play with my new telephoto lens that I recently brought back from the States (where we visited the grandkids!).

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

the railroad yard

On my way Thursday to the Tour de France, I crossed over the railroad yard in Tours where I snapped these nice colors and diagonals.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

the long and winding road

Well, it's not really a road but it is actually a bike path through the woods next to the Loire.  Hikers seem to like it too.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Retro folies

As part of the quatorze juillet celebration (see yesterday's post) there was a "retro folies" event on Saturday where there was a look back to earlier days (that would be, ahem, the days of my youth, the 60's).  Pictured are samples of it which include a collection of items commonly found at service stations, an auto rally of many old and perfectly restored vehicles, and a cool collection of popular music (vinyl record players, vintage radios, and posters).  I think a good time was had by all...and not just by us old-timers who remember when these things were new.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

le quatorze juillet - la Fête Nationale

While the 14 of July (quatorze juillet) is the anniversary of the storming of the Bastille in 1789, the celebration is NOT referred to as "Bastille Day" in France as it is in the States (and elsewhere).  Rather, it is the "National Celebration" or just "quatorze juillet" similar to the way Americans refer to Independence Day as the 4th of July.

Also similar to the States, le quatorze juillet is celebrated with solemn ceremonies of patriotism, parades, music, all kinds of family events, and capped off, of course, by fireworks.  Today's photo was the ceremony last year in Amboise to honor those who sacrificed for their country.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

the candelabra

Of all the wonderful furnishings in one of rooms at Château Chaumont, this small candelabra in front of a complimentary window design caught my eye the most.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Tour de France - stage 12

The Tour de France is arguably the biggest sporting event in France (at least I would argue that).  The race is an amazing mix of complex strategies, teamwork, luck, perseverance, engineering, technology, scandals, bravado, and of course individual talent.  But then for the complete package (on French TV anyway), add in local culture, breath-taking scenery taken by helicopter, mini-history lessons, and unabashed patriotism (by all countries involved), and you have something in my opinion both magical and mesmerizing.

The Tour is comprised of 21 daily stages.  The routes change each year, and in this the 100th Tour de France, the 12th stage ends in the city of Tours which is just an easy bicycle ride away to the west of Amboise.   I took this photo with less than a kilometer remaining in the stage.  Here is the leading group of riders and they are bearing down for a very fast sprinters' finish.

For you serious followers of the Tour, you can pick out the eventual stage winner Marcel Kittel, the rider in white on the far left.  In the green jersey just to the right of him in the photo is Peter Sagan who finished 3rd today but is currently wearing the race's official Green jersey (representing the overall leading sprinter).  The other mostly white jersey in the center (or, 5th helmet from the left) is Marc Cavendish who finished 2nd today; coming into the race he was generally regarded as the best sprinter in the world.  In the yellow jersey is the overall race leader Chistopher Froome (who is so far ahead overall that he is simply trying to avoid any crashes by being at the front of the pack).  Like I said, it's complicated.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

sunset on the château at Amboise

Conditions were just right for these dramatic sunset colors on the château.  And the Loire just doubles the fun.  (It's not like this every evening!)

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

les deux chevaux

Similar to the popularity of the original VW "bug" in the US, the Citroën 2CV is a funky-looking, simply constructed, "people's car".  The model name 2CV evolved into the common name "deux chevaux" which literally means "two horses", but jokingly implies the horsepower of these little machines.  The last 2CV was manufactured in 1990, but there remain many clubs and individual owners who still love and collect them.  Here is photo from a local festival where there were dozens of them proudly lined up for display.

In the BBC series "A Year in Provence" (based on a wonderful book by Peter Mayle), there is a great sight gag where the main character's deux chevaux is passed on a hill by a bicyclist.  That says it all, yet if you want to know more (and you should!), Wikipedia will tell you more than you ever wanted to know about these classic vehicles.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Lavender at Villandry

In Provence in the south of France, lavender is a cash crop;  at Château Villlandry it's all about the beautiful color.  This château was constructed in the 16th century, but it is mostly famous (in my opinion) for its fabulous gardens...probably the largest and most extravagant  in the Loire valley.  You can be sure that this is not the last post you'll see from this incredible place.

Monday, July 8, 2013

les nénuphars - the water lilies

Here we are back again at Château Chaumont, this time in their fabulous gardens.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

July sunrise

Here's another sunrise as seen from the top floor of our house in Amboise.  The château is just to the left of center.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

heads down

I managed to catch this guy just as he was going heads down into a flower.   I hope it was worth the acrobatics.

Friday, July 5, 2013

l'allée ombragé - the shady lane

This shady lane leads to the cemetery in Amboise.  And, no, it's not a one way street.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Liberté !

On Independence Day in the United States, the 4th of July (1776), I just had to post a photo from the equivalent celebration in France, le quatorze juillet, the 14th of July (1789).  Last year the celebration in Amboise was a little wet (note the umbrellas), but it didn't seem dampen anyone's spirits.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

le pied du pont revisité - the foot of the bridge revisited

Here is the same subject and viewpoint as the post of February 24, but a different season and water level... and definitely a different feel.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

the horse farm

A bike trail near Amboise crosses this horse farm that reminds me of the state where I was born (Tennessee).

Monday, July 1, 2013

CDP Theme Day "Facade" - Ateliers à Clos Lucé

This industrial looking building actually houses the music and dance studios (ateliers) on the grounds of Clos Lucé (see my earlier post).  I found this grey mix of shapes and textures interesting although it certainly stands in stark contrast to the formal 16th century mansion of Leonardo da Vinci nearby.  Leonardo might have agreed as he was "into" engineering and spiral staircases.

The first of every month the bloggers of City Daily Photo post a photo on a common theme.  Today it is "facade".