A Walk Along the Loire

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It’s Sunday and we’ve been looking forward to having a break after a week of kitchen renovation (Jean Michel) and seismic concrete translation (me).  During breakfast we look at the weather report. The temperature is below 20°C and rain is predicted so cycling is out. We decide to go for a walk along the Loire. By the time we dig up some potatoes for dinner and get ready, it’s our usual 12 noon.

Purple flowers along the banks of the Loire

Purple wild flowers (lythrum salicaria) along the banks of the Loire

We turn right after leaving the house, then left at the end of the street so that we can cross the main highway along the Loire and join the path on the other side. Jean Michel immediately wants to push through the vegetation to the edge of the Loire but I insist that we walk along the path to the right until we see a suitable opening. We soon do. It takes us to a sandbank that is usually underwater but with the recent lack of rain, the level of the Loire has diminished considerably.

The sandy bank with its vegetation

The sandy bank with its vegetation

We walk onto the uncovered sandbank. It’s almost like being at the seaside, a very strange impression. The sand is soft and vegetation has already sprung up.

The banks of the Loire with Blois in the distance

The banks of the Loire with Blois in the distance

Far down to the left we can see Mitterand Bridge and the spires of Blois.

Yellow wild flowers

Yellow wild flowers

I’m intrigued by the wild flowers. I don’t know these yellow ones. We later discover they are Ludwigia peploides or floating primrose-willow, which is an aquatic plant and, sadly, Susan from Days on the Claise, expert in such things, tells us it’s an invasive alien.

The second bluish-purple flowers

The second bluish-purple flowers

Nor these purple ones on the path beneath our feet. They look vaguely like cornflowers. Susan tells us they are long-leaved lungwort, which normally flower in late spring.

Some spiky flowers

Spiky Field Eryngo which Jean Michel thinks is thistle but in fact, it’s not. It’s in full bloom and is related to carrots and parsely

As predicted there is rain, but every time we think it’s more than just a few spits and put our jackets on, it stops ! And we get hot if we keep them on when it isn’t raining …

Jean Michel resting at Fosse aux Poissons

Jean Michel resting at Fosse aux Poissons

We continue along the path which provides glimpses of the Loire from time to time until we get to Fosse aux Poissons (the fish pool) where there is even a log to sit on – which we do because my feet are starting to burn.

The fisherman in the kayak

The fisherman in the kayak

While we are resting, a kayak comes past. Jean Michel scrutinises it. “That looks like a great idea for a fisherman”, he says, “not that I have any time for fishing this year.” I can hear regret in his voice.

The highway - you can see how dry the grass is at the moment

The highway – you can see how dry the grass is at the moment

We start thinking about going back as we’ve already been walking an hour and a  half. There is a parking lot at Fosse aux Poissons so we walk up the embankment to the highway and cross over. On the other side, there is a steep grassy bank that leads down to another path. We scramble down (well, I scramble – Jean Michel is a very practised walker and takes it in his stride).

Flowers that Jean Michel calls combs

Flowers that Jean Michel calls combs – you can see the embankment I scrambled down

I notice a strange flower waving in the wind. “We call them combs”, says Jean Michel, but they look more like brushes to me. It appears to be a Dipsacus fullonum or teasel.

The berries used to make

Blackthorn berries – the young shoots are used to make a local liqueur

We’re hoping the path goes as far as the Chouzy-sur-Cisse turnoff which we seem to have overshot. Jean Michel tastes some unripe mirabelle plums and then points out the black thorn bush to me. It’s tender shoots are used to make the liqueur that we tasted when we bought our three tonnes of free stone. “The berries are very bitter”, he tells me. He doesn’t taste them.

Little mirabelle plums not yet ripe

Little mirabelle plums not yet ripe

Our path ends with a very closed looking gate so I have to scramble up the bank again. Fortunately we only have to walk about 200 metres alongside the 90 kph highway before going left towards Chouzy to take the walking path to the right that will take us home.

The very closed gate at the end of the path

The very closed gate at the end of the path

By now my feet are killing me so we find a useful little stone bridge to sit on while we eat some biscuits. It starts raining in earnest so we finish our excursion with our jackets and hoods on.

A very wet end to our walk

A very wet end to our walk with the last of the Tour de France going under the rail bridge

I’m glad to get back after walking 9 K in 2 ½ hours which is not very fast, I know, but quite an exploit for me !

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10 Responses to A Walk Along the Loire

  1. William Kendall says:

    Very pleasant countryside! You really need steady rain.

  2. Susan Walter says:

    I hope you also discovered that Ludwigia (the little yellow flowers) is a seriously invasive alien and the local river technicians are doing all they can to eradicate it (very difficult as every little piece strikes roots).

    The blue flower is Long-leaved Lungwort Pulmonaria longifolia (flowering very late in the year — normally it is flowering in early spring). Pulmonaire à feuilles longues in French.

    The spiky thistle isn’t a thistle, it’s actually related to carrots and parsley. And it is in full flower 🙂 It’s called Field Eryngo Eryngium campestre or Panicaut champêtre in French.

    • Rosemary Kneipp says:

      Thank you Susan. I hoped you’d comment. What a pity about Ludwigia. They are so pretty!

      I’ll add the name of long-leaved lungwort.

      I didn’t think it was a thistle either but JM was adament. It seems that panicaut champêtre is also called chardon Roland so I guess he’s excused. I’ll update that too.

  3. Jan says:

    Those spiky blue plants are called ‘blue devils’ in the part of Australia I come from. Sorry but I don’t know their botanical name.

    • Rosemary Kneipp says:

      Hi Jan, and thank you. I checked it out: Eryngium ovinum A.Cunn. Its the same plant but a different colour here.

  4. Helen says:

    Our walking group has the motto ” It’s not the distance. It’s the journey.”
    Please insert ‘speed’ for distance. So much to enjoy.
    Here’s hoping good rain will break the drought cycle.

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