Tag Archives: wild flowers in France

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 !

May Flowers in the Country

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Last time, I took you on a tour of my garden in May. I thought you might like to see the wild flowers in the surrounding countryside as well. Here are the photos I took last Friday when we cycled along the Loire from opposite Saint Claude sur Diray to Saint-Dyé-sur-Loire, then through the forest to Château de Chambord, a 30 km round trip.

eglantineThe first flowers I noticed were all the dog roses (églantine in French) which are a delicate pink.


These are elder trees (sureau). The berries are used to make elderberry wine.


These very tall trees (Jean Michel is on the bike path in front of me) are the Robinia pseudoacacia or false acacias that I mistook for wattle in my last post. It’s a bit confusing as the French actually call them acacias.

water_irisesThese yellow water irises are a little past their prime but I still love seeing them.

buttercupsButtercups are everywhere at the moment. These are on the banks of the Loire at Saint Dyé. When I first came to France, I fell in love with the buttercups and used to take my moped out into the countryside and lie down in the fields feeling very romantic.


You see both these flowers on stone walls everywhere. I understand that the lavendar one on the top right is a geranium (what we usually call geraniums are actually pelargoniums). I have no idea what the ones on the left are though.

blue_astersThese pretty little asters are also very common. You can see another geranium at the bottom of the photo.

cornflowersThese cornflowers are next to a field of barley on the path from Saint Dyé to Chambord.


No flowers in this one but I couldn’t resist posting a photo of one of my favourite châteaux!




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