Saturday, August 16, 2014


Tourism is serious business in France, the most visited country in the world.  
This snapshot was taken at a roadside rest stop and filling station along the Autoroute 16 near the Baie de Somme.

le confort matériel:  creature comforts
une aire de repos:  a rest area

©2014 P.B. Lecron

Wednesday, August 13, 2014


We were surprised to happen upon this neglected glacière, or icehouse, gaping open on the grounds of the Château de Chenonceau; but even more intrigued by the deteriorated sculpture above its entrance. We can't quite make it out; in its present state it seems to resemble either the head of a hunting dog, a wolf, or even a horse. The masonry structure was built to cover a deep pit where ice was stored.

The very feminine Château de Chenonceau, on the Cher River in the Loire Valley, is the second most visited castle in France, Versailles being of course the first.

©2014 P.B. Lecron

Monday, August 11, 2014


French summers and fields of sunflowers are almost synonymous. Sunflower oil is the third most consumed cooking oil in France.

une foule:  a crowd
entasser; s'entasser:  to crowd, to crowd oneself in
évincer:  to crowd out

©2014 P.B. Lecron

Friday, August 8, 2014


Une pause s'impose.
When French people feel inclined to take a break and are waxing poetic, they sometimes announce their need with the above expression--one that means it's imperative to stop and rest. So attractive was this downed parasol that we first thought its positioning was intentional. We noticed it while visiting a delightful park of fifty or so old-fashioned outdoor games on the grounds of the Pagode de Chanteloup. Below is an example of one of them, called le jeu des alignements. 
Adjoining this area is an Anglo-Chinese garden, as was fashionable during the latter half of the 18th century, but which features child-size pavillons or playhouses. 

breaker:  an anglicism for "to take a break" (pronounced brake-ay)
une pause:  a break
s'imposer:  to be imperative, to impose
poser:  to put down; to pose

©2014 P.B. Lecron

Wednesday, August 6, 2014


Sailing class in progress at Êtretat on the Normandie coast.


un voilier:  a sail boat
faire de la voile: sail; to go sailing

à pleines voiles:  litterally with full sails; signifies "without hesitation"

©2014 P.B. Lecron

Sunday, August 3, 2014


We didn't count the steep steps up the narrow, winding staircases of the seven levels of the fanciful Pagode de Chanteloup, but they do add up to an exotic 44-meter ascension. The climb is recommended neither for the faint of heart nor for more than six people at a time. 

Erected in 1775 by the affluent Duc de Choiseul, this fabrique de jardin or architectural folie, is bordered by an ornamental lake in the form of a demi-moon. When the duke, once an all-important minister to Louis XV, lost favor with the king he was exiled from the royal court to Chanteloup. On the grounds of his magnificent château there, he built the pagoda and dedicated it to friends and supporters who surrounded him after his fall from power. 

The pagoda is all that rests of the estate. The château was entirely destroyed in the 19th century by unscrupulous real estate speculators, loosely known as the bande noire, who after the French Revolution dismantled historic domains in order to resell the buildings' materials and decorative elements. A visit to the pagoda, not far from the royal city of Amboise, is a pleasant interlude when exploring châteaux in the Loire Valley. 

une pièce d'eau:  an ornamental pond or lake

©2014 P.B. Lecron

Friday, August 1, 2014


A sunflower speaks out in the Loire Valley near Chambord.
un tournesol:  a sunflower
héliotropisme:  heliotropism (this easy cognate means a turning or curving toward the sunlight, just as the head of a sunflower does)

©2014 P.B. Lecron