If my memory serves me right, our meeting with Marcel took place on the banks of the Loir. The Loir has its spring south of the cathedral town of Chartres. It meanders its way south and confluents with the Maine, which on its turn empties itself in La Loire some 7,5 km south of Angers.
As far as length (only 311 km) and width are concerned, le Loir is a midget compared to the ‘Fleuve Royal’, as La Loire (over 1000 km), is called in France. Yet, it has a special cosy charm that his big brother lacks.
The water and riverbanks are full of wildlife. During our picnic, before Marcel appeared, we heard the twitter of birds and the squeaks of waterfowl, while multicoloured dragonflies hovered and hopped over the water surface. We watched how a small family of crayfish made its way through the shallow clear water near the river bank. It was very hot, and every now and then a fish would come to the surface to blow bubbles. No other noise was heard, except perhaps the occasional car passing on the nearby bridge.
So next time you’re in the Loire Valley and you feel like a break from the madding tourists’ crowds, drive north to the ‘Vallée du Loir’. I bet that you’ll enjoy it as much as we did. Don’t forget to take you fishing gear if you’re into river fishing. The Loir makes excellent fishing ground!
Unfortunately, there is little chance that you’ll run into Marcel. But if you were to see a big brown dog wandering along the river bank, it just might be Marcel’s spirit, looking for friendly tourists who don’t mind sharing their picnic lunch with him.
(*) Title inspired by the novel 'Far from the madding crowd' (1874) by Thomas Hardy, and the John Schlesinger film (1967) with Julie Christie, Terence Stamp, Alan Bates and Peter Finch.