Europe | France | Loire Valley | Tours – Flowering Heights
Practice, practice, practice! Sometimes in the middle of a song, I forget that we are in France. But in the last few days, after rehearsals, it’s straight to the square (Le Place de Plu Mereau) for a drink and a chill-out session with a few friends, while a few shady men smuggle and sell firecrackers and M-50s/M-80s in the alleys of the square and light them randomly, anticipating the coming holiday.
Our first concert on the eve of Bastille Day went well, considering the heat. Even in the stone Eglise St. Pierre that we sang in we had no relief from our velvet choir dresses and humidity!
Our completely free Bastille Day was a great chance to just walk and take in the city of Tours. I went with a couple of girls to take a self-imposed walking tour of a garden where a photo exhibition of the Loire Valley’s rich culture of wine and Chateaux was on display. Then we sat under the shade looking out upon the very manicured garden and walkways of the Cathedral, next to the Musée Beaux-Arts, where paintings from Rodan (among others) and city archives are treasured.
Sitting within the cathedral for the second time was relaxing, as the muttled colors from stained glass windows high above hit the carvings and sculptures of Jesus on the cross just right, to create a lasting impression.
Walking on, we passed the partially damaged Chateaux de Tours; not the most impressive of the Chateaux in the Loire Valley, but important, all the same. It guards the Loire River crossing, a sentinel next to the Pont de Fil, a bridge that had houses and vendors along it’s sides until a flood made it obsolete in the 1700’s. Now there is a convenient pedestrian bridge in its place, but you can still view the old foundations in the shallow summer water of the Loire.
The other side of the Loire in Tours is less touristed, so we had a quiet break in the shade of the local bar and tabac before walking along the river again to cross back over at the beautiful Pont Wilson bridge that connects to the Rue National and all its trendy shops and outdoor caf?s.
As always, my walk made me aware of the beauty and creativity in France’s landscaping. The colors used in flower beds are so complementary and calming in their rainbows of color, while the choice of plant or flower is made with almost as much respect for the shape or touch of the leaves and petals. A consistent but varied combination of height and color lead to a winning work of art. The Bastille Day fireworks display I saw with my choir and thousands of others in the city last night mirrored this same design concept. Set in stages, the fireworks looked like so many floral arrangments, and if flowers could produce sound, they probably would have liked the big whirring, whistling, booming displays of floral fire echoing off the walls of the Loire River.
Hundreds gathered in the square after the show, and joined the throngs dancing to live music in the middle of all the bars by a band with accordian, violin, drums, and guitar in tow. The traditional Jewish, Turkish, classical and populare French songs played went well with the colorful show of light we had just seen. This had been a day-long soirée, indeed.