Charron

Here is Jacques, just before he decided to roll in all that ooze that has his attention. At least he didn’t roll in the dead jellyfish.

Someone got me thinking about beach towns. When I was a kid, they were great. Some towns were built up, some not, but a cruise along Pacific Coast Highway was always a fine, cheap summertime thrill, especially when we went as far as the beach towns in Baja. So here it is, the Fourth of July. PCH is far away but still, time for a beach run. Sort of. This time the border crossing took us to Charron, in the Charente Maritime and at the mouth of the Sèvres Niortaise river.

Charron is pretty downmarket, perhaps because of a flood that took out of goodly part of the surrounding area. For my American friends, 1m10 is about waist height. 1.5 milliard is 1.5 billion euros. 52,000 hectares is almost 130,000 acres. No wonder people aren’t in any hurry to move back.

It’s not a bad place, though, as long as it’s above sea level. We parked at a dry dock, where some boats were being repaired. There are also fishing companies and Bistro La Ponetère, which is just what you see, plus a couple of tents. A nearby sign gave a number to phone for reservations, though I doubt that you’d need one today.

The government has made the best of a marshy situation by declaring much of the coastline to be a nature preserve. Kinda sorta, pretty much. I’m not sure agriculture fits, but whatever. Those bales of hay in the distance are also in the nature preserve.

The Tour de France will roll by here in a couple of days. I’ll be off at a family party, so I’ll watch on TV, which is probably the best way to see it, anyway. Folks are excited, though, and towns are hoping for their fleeting moment of fame; 15 minutes might be a bit optimistic. Here are a couple of shots from a nearby town, located at a turn in the course.

Happy Fourth, all. Light a sparkler for me.

19 thoughts on “Charron

  1. I was concerned when I read your post about visiting Charron. I thought you might be crossing the rivers Styx and Acheron while gumming an obolus. Snorf. Aww shucks, I don’t spell French good, I guess. Charron/Charon…close enough.

    Charron looks to be a scenic and peaceful place with room for Jacques to roam. Were I to visit I’d have to pack our chien lunatique into his stroller and head to Bistro La Ponetère to sample the local chowder although “soupe de palourdes” doesn’t have that same ring to it.

    Happy 4th, ex-pat.

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    1. I can’t believe it. After all those years spent in Jungian analysis, I should have my mythology down. Obviously that time, and definitely more than an obolus, was wasted. I didn’t make the connection. Combine it with the storm damage, though, and things get creepy. I left out a photo of a subdivision with the street lights and landscaping in place, but all the houses gone. It would have been perfect.

      In any case, Maxwell is safe from the potholes his poussette would encounter. There must exist a clam soup of some kind — the French eat everything, so doubtless there is — but La Ponetère likely serves only raw oysters, with sides of bread and butter, washed down with quantities of muscadet. Given the connection, which I will now never forget, lighting a fire would be too creepy.

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      1. On the plus side, Charron is likely named after the 16th century philosopher. One of his big beliefs was that animals (dogs!) we’re of equal worth as humans. Jacques and Max would buy into that concept and, maybe, so would I.

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  2. Really? Charron is in heavily Catholic cow country, so it could be.

    Now, the French consider it totally rude to ask personal questions, but my in-house French guy is used to me and I care only superficially about the rest of them. So I’ll ask.

    This is obscure. We’re really down the rabbit hole, here. That’s fine with Jacques, but still. So the question is, do you actually know this stuff, and if so how so, or do you spend even more time online than I do?

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  3. Lynn

    thx for the pictures – I like the bike sculpture of the bikes – being on the TdF course could be just the ticket for this town

    GMN

    >

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    1. Sainte Radegonde des Noyers, St. Radegund of the Walnuts, to you and me. She was a 6th century French queen who established an abbey in Poitiers. That’s all I know about her.

      The village is small and cute, located about halfway between my house and La Rochelle. I’m not sure, but I think it is just a cluster of houses — no train, no pharmacy, no post office, population about 900.

      I wonder about the effect of TV coverage of the TdF on peoples’ decisions to retire to the French countryside. It can’t hurt.

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  4. Such an odd route the Tour de France this year. I had to study the stages really closely to understand how it was working. It will be fun. It always is. I love it. Or rather I love the excitement that the small communities experience particularly those that haven’t been une étape before. The fourth was fun. In so much as sitting on the deck watching fireworks in the distance is fun. That. 😉

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    1. I think it’s odd that the route isn’t better posted. One can sort of tell, by how clean and decorated some places are. Plus Julien was complaining about so many roads in our area being blocked off. There’s a clue. He figures I’m smart to get out of town, but I’m new here, so I’d kind of like to see it. I think the spot I photographed might be a good choice. Oh, well.

      We get fireworks on the 14th, of course. I love fireworks, but crowds, ugh. Sitting on a deck, adult beverage in hand, seems totally the way to go.

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      1. Oh you should certainly go. The atmosphere is carnival and it’s great fun as the entourage go through throwing branded freebies. So long as Chris Froome isn’t leading it’ll all be good – the French do get a little over zealous in their patriotism and can’t understand how the British are any good at ‘their’ sport. At best they mutter ‘le dopage’ and at worst start hurling dangerous objets at the cyclist. I remember going to a dinner party the year he won it first and a fellow asked me how I could explain his mastery of the mountains when we have none in Britain. I said that we may not have Alps nor Pyrenees but we do have Scotland, Wales, the lake and peak district and it might also be a possibility that he had trained abroad. I was told that was cheating and that this proved that he should not have won. Seriously! Hilarious.

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          1. Tomorrow is now today …. so I hope you did get to go and see it. Your area is not one it will pass through often, after all. Freebies vs family …. I know which I’d choose right now but don’t let me colour your judgement with my cynical desire to throw a sack of you know the expletives into the mire 😂

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          2. Nah. I’ll do the family thing. It’s a big deal, a landmark anniversary. Feelings would be quite hurt if I blew off a boat ride and major meal to watch a bunch of drug-crazed bikers fly by. It won’t be as close on Monday, but I may run up to Cholet to see it. Plus there will be less competition for the freebies.

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  5. Don’t bother about the Tour unless you are planning a picnic with friends to pass the time. Hours of waiting, trashy freebies and a load of men in lycra.
    Ste. Radegonde was the wife of King Clotair, one of the less attractive Merovingians – in itself an achievement. She fled the court for a convent and his troops pursued her. The general legend is that she caused a field of oats to grow from seed to full growth in order that the peasants, when questioned, could truthfully say that they had not seen her hiding in it – though you might think that said troops might find it odd to have a field of oats in full growth at that time of year – but the local legend in the commune of Ste. Radegonde des Pommiers, near us, was that she spent the night in a field covered in her ermine mantle which was decorated with stars and that if you prayed to her and passed your hand over the field you would find one of them. Well, you would. It was a field full of tiny star shaped fossils
    From what I remember about the storm which led to so many deaths, the commune had granted planning permission on land that was known to be subject to flooding…I think the maire adjointe’s son was the estate agent doing the deals on the proposed lotissement.

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    1. Ooh, men in lycra… If only they weren’t always either so skinny or so fat. I see the Tour as a one-time thing. The family was today. Tomorrow we’ll head up to Cholet to wait for trashy freebies. I’m with you. If they are throwing out a lot, they can’t be that good. But it has to beat waiting in Paris. No freebies at all, there.

      What a great story about Queen Radegonde. Add it to Wikipedia! All I saw was “founded a convent,” which in itself, given that it was the 6th century, would be notable, but if there is a miracle there, let’s hear about it.

      Those estate agents must have moved on to La Tranche. That flooded too, but the vacation houses have mysteriously reappeared and their value is astonishing. Julien and I did an analysis of who stays where. We agreed that the real pigeons for those beachfront properties are folks with kids 7-12. They’ll pay any price to be free of the kids for a bit. Younger and you kind of have to watch them. Older and yikes, you’d better keep an eye on things. Kids 7-12, though, and it’s head for the beach. You open the door and you are guaranteed peace and quiet, all day long.

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      1. Those houses used to be bought by grandparents so that the whole family could go to the seaside for the holidays…must have been pretty overcrowded if the whole shebang turned up in the same month.
        I was put off the idea of any men in lycra when the local cycling groups used to pass in front of the house on Sundays…the shapes…the sizes…
        Going to Cholet? Make sure to buy your mouchoir.

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        1. No wonder those houses are rented out so often. If most of the kids are like the ones I deal with, they are not much happier than teenagers with the idea of spending time with their parents. Fortunately I’m a bit of a drive from the sea and there are few things I prefer to gardening while Jacques keeps an eye on the hedgehogs. Kids, stay off the lawn!

          Did you know the mouchoirs du Cholet are out this year in a special Tour de France edition?

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          1. Never miss a trick, do they.
            I liked Cholet…once I had worked out its traffic system.
            There was a shop going out of the centre on the Saumur road which sold the best merguez I tasted.

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