Thursday, April 20, 2017

March Wanderings - Souzay-Champigny and Parnay

Leaving Chateau de Beaulieu freshly invigorated with coffee and cookies I headed south-east, upriver along La Loire, passing through a string of villages that squeeze themselves between the river's edge and the 50' to 100' limestone escarpment that runs parallel to its left bank.

This is the geography that defines La Loire. These limestone cliffs create the soil conditions that make the region's wines so famous. The stone itself is the primary building material. And the caves that riddle these cliffs, natural and man-made, are even lived in. Houses built up against the cliffs often open directly into caves at their backs and even whole houses are contained within caves. Quite a few of these so-called "troglodyte" houses are lived in to this day and are quite comfortable.

This plan shows the caves behind a house.

An oddity inhabits the land between the villages of Souzay-Champigny and Parnay. This oddity goes by the name of the Chateau de Souzay. Built of limestone taken from the cliff, it squeezes itself between the cliff and the river. It feels miniaturized compared to other castles in France, almost as if it was a stage set.
Chateau de Souzay

 On the escarpment above an old manor and the XIth century church of St. Pierre de Parnay bask in the sunlight.

Eglise St. Pierre de Parnay - the steeple was just restored.

Semi-circular Romanesque arches of the XIth century

Delicious simple details of form and material
Leaving Parnay I passed a small architectural salvage yard with a small sample of its wares on display in the open. When I find myself a half ruinous old place to restore and expand I'll certainly be stopping by here again.
Architectural salvage, Loire style

Next stop, Chateau de Montsoreau ...

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