Candes Saint-Martin, my favourite spot in La Touraine.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Watching people

One of our favourite occupations when we are on holiday, in France or elsewhere, is watching people. A great spot to do this is the sidewalk terrace of the little bar ‘Le Château’ at the foot of Amboise castle. Every year, on the first day, after arriving in Amboise and visiting the Sunday market to stock up on supplies, we head for the bar, find ourselves a little table on the sidewalk terrace, order a beer and sip it while watching the Sunday crowds go by.

Bar ' Le Château' in Amboise, a great place for 'people watching'

One of the most striking things we’ve noticed is that, in general, the locals are better dressed than the tourists, especially on a Sunday morning. The ladies of Amboise wear smart frocks or dress-pants and colourful tops or Chanel-like jackets, while the men are clad in formal trousers or designer jeans, short sleeved but neatly ironed shirts, leather shoes and sometimes even a tie or a hat.

On a hot day, you can sometimes spot men wearing a ‘Marcel’. A Marcel is what you would call in UK English a ‘vest’. The Marcel, however, is mostly dark blue, black or red, neatly ironed and spotless … especially on a Sunday morning. In the country, Marcels are the standard outfit of farm labourers and other craftsmen … in Amboise, however, they are fashionable, especially if you can show a nice tan and some muscel!

The tourists, regardless their country of origin, are dressed in Bermuda shorts, shaggy jeans, T-shirts or sweatshirts. Sneakers and Nikes are the standard footgear. They are indispensable if you have the intention of spending your day trotting up and down staircases in ancient castle and visiting their large gardens. Tourists walk differently, more relaxed as they are on holiday, while the locals are out there to do their Sunday shopping. I bet they dress like tourists too when they’re on a holiday… and so do we!

Although I would love to live in Amboise, I don’t know whether I would like my town being overrun by tourists for the best part of the year. But I guess it is all part of the charm of living in the Loire Valley.

P.S. If, over the last eleven years, you walked by the bar 'le Château' in the month of June, we might have been there, sitting on the terrace watching you go by. Just imagine !!



Anonymous said...

I love Amboise and I know the café. I love the hot chocolate that is served kitty-corner from the château, too.

You know that you can live in a small village outside of Amboise, thus avoiding the tourists. All of the Loire Valley is super!

Thanks for visiting my blog, too.

Daphne Wayne-Bough said...

Have you ever spotted Mick Jagger in the market? When he was still with Jerry Hall I was told they were regulars, and would load up the boot of the Daimler with veggies! His chateau is at Pocé-sur-Cisse just down the road.

chm said...

Just found this in a magazine. Thought it might interest you or your readers:

New Magritte Museum in Brussels

Bowler hats, floating bells, tobacco pipes, and apples are among the iconic images painted by surrealist René Magritte (1898-1967). Yet there was more to Belgium's most-acclaimed 20th-century artist. The Magritte Museum which opened June 2 in a five-level neoclassical building on Brussels' Place Royale, showcases some 250 paintings, drawings, and sculptures. Masterpieces such as The Return (1940,), Schéhérazade (1948), and The Empire of Light (1954) demonstrate Magritte's gift for mixing up everyday objects to conjure scenes of mystery and poetry. General admission: 8 euros (about $11); Tel: 2508-3211;


Nadege said...

People watching is a national pass time, and it is fun.

ladybird said...

Dedene, Thank you for visiting and joining my blog.

As far as living in the Loire Valley is concerned, I'm also rather fond of Vouvray ... and its wines. So that's another possible option.

Daphne, Thanks for dropping in! No, we never saw Mick Jagger, but we talked to a local tradesman who said that Mick often comes to town, and behaves just like a regular resident. Nothing fancy or freaky!

chm, Thanks for the interesting tip. Did the article also say that one of the paintings of the museum has already been stolen? Apparently the robbers knew exactly what the wanted because they only took the one painting called 'Olympia'.

Nadege, I didn't know it was an international trend ;)!