Saturday, June 3, 2017

Tuesday May 30 - Villandry Encore and a new game

Our neighbor and egg lady got all excited when we told her we had learned about a game called boule de fort, a bocci or pétanque game unique to this region. It seems she plays on Tuesday mornings from 9-noon in Vauchrétien (town 5 miles away that we visited the first day here). We were invited to stop in to see the game in action this morning. I promised we'd try to make it.

Our goal for the day, Judy's last day, is to re-visit Villandry, famed for its gardens.
It's on Chris' must-do list as well and I wanted to see it again, knowing how much it would have changed since our early spring visit. So off we go via Vauchrétien.

Most towns have a recreation center for people of all ages. They vary in size and function, but generally they are where the local activities are held. A large multi-function room provides space for meetings, dinners and other social activities. Often there are other rooms devoted to some particular purpose such as computers with Internet access. This community center houses a court for playing La Boule de Fort just behind a room with a bar and tables.

A Boule de Fort court needs its own space much as a bowling alley does. The court is curved, a bit like the hull of a flat-bottomed boat used on the Loire. Some claim that 19th century Loire sailors invented this game, but there is no real evidence of this. This sign greets you on entry:
We ask spectators not to discuss the way players play although they should feel free to applaud well-played points by the teams.

After greeting us at the door and making somewhat vague introductions, we enter the court to watch the game in progress. Two teams of three each are playing a game to 10 points where the boule (ball) closest to the small white ball (maître) wins the point.
Each person has 2 boules - wooden balls with a steel band around the center each weighing between 1.1 to 1.5 kilos (2-3 pounds) whose center of gravity is weighted to one side or another.

The skill of those throwing the boules is quite amazing as both the ball and the court affect the trajectory in ways mysterious to us.

Some throw slowly, others fast with a loud crash of balls flying at the other end. Those playing are very gracious in explaining the game and answering all our questions. But we must be on our way, Villandry is calling.

Driving two cars because of our number, the six of us arrive at Villandry just in time for lunch which we eat at our "usual" picnic table next to the grassy parking lot.
This school group was arriving at the picnic spot just as we were leaving.

The four who have never been are sent off to tour the château interior
 while Dave wanders the grounds

and I find one of the lovely shaded arbors to watch the garden and passers-by while knitting.
the arbor covered in roses. Me with my back brace and cane. sigh. getting old is hard work

what a lovely place to knit
The arbors are now covered in roses of many shades and with the soft splashing sounds of the small fountain, it's a place so soothing, I almost fall asleep.
the gentle fountain in front of my arbor

Among the visiters are school groups. This group had booklets made and were writing and drawing in them as the teacher pointed out architectural details.

Once we join up again, I see how much the kitchen gardens have filled in.

Careful plantings of lettuces, cabbages, and other vegetables within the geometric hedges provide a chessboard of colors in the vegetable patches. Rose trees are in full bloom at intersections within each patch.
The outer "hedge" of each patch can now be seen to be apple trees trained horizontally on low iron supports. I would never have guessed that.

the tree trunks at the end with the metal bars they are tied to
But the apples are proof.
a single branch is trained horizontally along iron supports

The gardeners were ever present - this time replanting the the flower gardens.
New plantings are laid out

Gardeners at lunch in the barn area. Do you suppose they are cooling their feet in the fountain?

And the pear trees in the corners of the gardens have set pears now. 

A few more pretty flower pictures from Villandry and then home. 

intrepid flower seekers, Nancy, Chris, Ron and Judy

An after-dinner walk in the neighborhood vineyards for the 9:45 sunset. 

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