My friends from Santa Fe, the artists Gail and Zack Rieke, and Nelly, who lives in Paris, came to visit last week. Over the past six years Gail has offered several workshops at the Maison. This time she came just to visit and see the area, which she hasn't previously had time for. Every day was better than the last in terms of weather and spring springing. I took so many photos. I thought you might enjoy coming along with us on the adventures we took.
Rick has been working for the new proprietor at the château during the last month. The new owners liked the way the lime wash looks in our house and asked Rick if he could help them achieve the same thing in the guest rooms they are redecorating. He's gotten to know all the other contractors and has permission to bring friends and family for tours. He showed off the rooms he has finished. Out the window is a view of roofs, the valley and the back of our house.
Before leaving the castle grounds, Rick took us to the "glaciere" which is essentially a mammoth-sized hole in the ground where ice, layered with straw, was piled up in winter as refrigeration for the castle before electricity. The walls of the passage leading to the deep hole are covered with ancient graffiti and vendors' calculations.
Gail, Nelly and I did a collaborative collage project in the atelier one day. I always find that I get inspired and filled up when I work with Gail. She has a wonderful way of seeing possibilities and solving problems in ways that never fail to open my eyes. Nelly and I like to work together and when we're both free we often do.
In my last blog post, I put up some photos from our drive to Le Loir, the river valley north of La Loire. I have more to share.
On the way down the road we saw these stupa-like sculptures on the side of the road. Rick drove right past, not noticing them, but the rest of us simultaneous called out "wait, stop, turn around." We got out and spent quite awhile walking among the rows of this installation. Not what one expects to see in the deepest France profonde.
I told you last time about the shop we discovered in La Chartres-sur-le-Loir, which had only opened a few hours before we arrived. I didn't mention all the other coincidences we had with the owner, Grégoire. He had just seen a photo of Gail's famous suitcase wall the day before; he had gone to school just down the street from Nelly's house in Beaugency; and he knew the people who sold us Maison Conti. Suffice it to say we all made friends with him very fast, and couldn't help taking many photos of his gorgeous shop, which was like a nineteenth century cabinet of curiosities:
Our second adventure together was to La Loire, the more populated and well-known areas, which Gail and Zack had never actually visited.
First stop was Vendôme, an elegant city with lots to recommend it.
We lunched in Vendôme and then went a little further south to Blois, one of the biggest of the cities on La Loire
After coffee and a walkabout in Blois, we drove to Nelly's house in Beaugency for dinner. She has her apartment in Paris, where she mostly lives, but she also owns a very charming house on the river.
Happy spring and Easter to all.