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

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Back to France and Gallo-Roman times

After this short Belgian interlude, it’s time for the next instalment of last summer’s French Odyssey.

I’m temporarily skipping the Saumur-Champigny wine tasting episode, which took place after our delicious lunch at L’Hélianthe in Turquant on Tuesday. But I may pick the story up later, when I run out of cultural subjects. On Wednesday morning we set out for a day of discovery.

When in March J.L. and B. had asked me to prepare a program for our week’s stay, based on my past experiences and relatively good knowledge of the area, I thought it would be nice and interesting to visit some places I hadn’t been to before. Intriguing places that I had seen from the road or visited in the early days of my Loire Valley travels. Three of those places are located west of Tours, near the village of Luynes.

History of the Aqueduct - click to enlarge.

The first one on our list was the Gallo-Roman Aqueduct of Luynes. The monument is hidden somewhere in the fields that overlook the village. I had some vague memories of a grand open space with the Aqueduct towering over it. Driving into the village we quickly spotted a worn sign with faded lettering showing us which way to go. J.L. agilely steered the car up the meandering road. At some point the road became very narrow and we were wondering what would happen if another car were to come from the opposite direction. We didn’t meet any other cars though and later – on our way back – found out that it had been a one way street.

We safely reached the plateau overlooking the village and were … lost! No more signs of where to go, several crossroads in the middle of nowhere and not a soul in sight. And no sight of the Aqueduct either!!  We drove on, with J.L. carefully watching the road and B. and I scrutinizing the horizon, looking for the Aqueduct.

The farmhouse that comes with the Aqueduct.

And then, all of a sudden I saw it to the left, mostly hidden by a couple of houses, which probably hadn’t been there in 2000 when I visited for the first time. J.L. made a U-turn and drove back to the last crossroads we had passed, turned to the right and finally found the Aqueduct. We parked the car and walked around for a while, admiring the A.C. monument – or what is left of it. The importance and grandeur of the edifice is somewhat spoiled by the intrusive presence of a farmhouse that has literally been built ‘inside’ the Aqueduct. And it’s definitely not of Gallo-Roman times!

Sheep living in Gallo-Roman settings.

I’ve put a cleaned-up photo of the monument in the blog header. I used the clone brush to blot out some recently built houses and the entrance to the farm in an attempt to transport you back into Gallo-Roman times. I hope I’ve succeeded. Look closely and you may even spot Astérix and Obélix lurking in the bushes ...


leon sims said...

sometimes we just need to use more imagination than normal to transport ourselves back in time. Just the same, these monuments to a time gone by are worth preserving.

Food, Fun and Life in the Charente said...

Well done you have done a fantastic job of that header photo. An interesting post. We need to spend some time going North. The Loire is so close and we have seen so little of it. Have a good week. Diane

The Beaver said...


It was a miss for us back in 2011, we went all the way where the lane narrows and then got lost and decided to get back to the main road- we stopped a couple of walkers but to no avail.

chm said...

When Ken and I went to Luynes a couple of years ago we didn't know tere was a gallo-roman aquaduct, so we completely missed it!

Niall & Antoinette said...

Like chm, we didn't know it was there -- until now :-) Thanks for the post!
Well done on finding it, often they don't make it easy do they!

ladybird said...

Leon, I so agree with you. Hope you'll get to visit the Aqueduct next time you're in France.

Diane, I know it's a bit of a drive for you, but really worth your while!

TB, Sorry you missed it. But then again, the village of Luynes should invest a bit in road signs. Or maybe they want to keep this treasure for themselves. Or maybe the mayor is living in the farmhouse and doesn't want too many tourists roaming the area :)

Chm, I'm sure it'll be on your to-see-list the next time you're staying with Ken and Walt!

N&A, If you need special directions, please let me know. I think I now can find it blindfolded ... well, almost.

VirginiaC said...

So glad you finally found the aqueduct....lovely photos.

ladybird said...

Virginia, Thank you!