We’ve all been complaining about the awful weather in France this summer. Then suddenly, when we were least expecting it, a heat wave turned up. Usually after 15th August, it starts getting cooler and you know autumn’s on the way, followed by winter, which is always a bit depressing. Not so this year. In the Loire Valley where I’ve been for the last few days, we’ve been having temperatures in the thirties. I’m not complaining.
To start with, we have natural cooling in our 400-year old house in Blois. It’s those 70 cm thick walls ! If you keep the shutters closed while the sun’s on the windows, the house keeps beautifully cool. When we saw the weather forecast we decided to repaint the front gate because every other time we’ve come this summer, it’s been too wet. I’ve been wanting to do it ever since Relationnel applied rust inhibitor.
The first day, we began late afternoon but it was still pretty hot outside and we were sweltering by dinner time. We continued next morning when it was cooler but couldn’t begin too early because of the dew. Once the gate was dry enough, the sun soon became too hot for the paint (not to mention us!). So in the end it took 3 days to complete. All those curlicues are time-consuming I have to say. But we’re very pleased with the result.
The gate painting was also complicated by the fact that we wanted to cycle every day as well without getting sunstroke. After rashly starting out late morning to go from Cheverny to Fontaines de Sologne and back the first day, including a very hot picnic on a bench in front of the church, we decided it would be better to cycle in the evening. So we tried to have dinner early so we could go for a ride along the Loire where it’s cooler. Unfortunately the barbecue wouldn’t cooperate and kept going out. When we finally got to the river, it was beautifully cool but there was masses of gnats. The activity on the river was incredible. You could hear the ducks and other wild fowl screeching for miles.
The third day, as we were going home to Paris in the evening, we didn’t have much choice so we set off late morning again as soon as the gate was finished. We started upriver in Muides so we could cycle along the Loire to Saint Dyé then onto Chambord because we were sure of finding somewhere to have lunch. We also thought there would be a lot of shade in the forest around Chambord but most of the time we were out in the open.
We had lunch under the shady plane trees at Chambord then sat opposite the château and ate raspberries bought at a nearby stall. Not a bad view! On the way home, we found lots of blackberry bushes. Sadly, most of them weren’t ripe. We’ll have to try again when we go back to Blois in two weeks’ time. Raspberries and blackberries are my favourite fruit in France – with the exception of those delicious green Chasselas grapes that are just coming onto the fruit stalls again.