It had been a long while since I’d gotten out to explore our own little town.
Isn’t that always the way? We travel the world in search of new, and big, and unfamiliar, and exotic, all while driving right by some lovely things in our day-to-day.
Covid19 has certainly honed that down quite a bit, but if I went exploring Châtellerault one early morning, two weeks ago, it wasn’t so much covid-related as it was car-related…
Bike > Car
…OK, maybe not all the time, but that morning it was…
I won’t spend a lot of time on this, because I want to show you the pictures, but it’s the story that led to my early morning exploration.
I had to drop the car off at the garage for a repair that would be completed within the day. They didn’t have a loaner car available but they did have something else that I’d used once before… a Peugeot bicycle (How cool! Who knew that the car manufacturer also had a line of bikes!? – Bike photo taken in summer).
Before heading home though, since it was still very early and the sun would soon be breaching the horizon, I took a detour down by the river. Here’s what I saw:
A Mysterious Castle
Right across from our Peugeot dealership, there’s a castle that I’d never even noticed during our first 2-3 years here. In summer it’s well hidden behind lush greenery and tall trees.
In Winter however, the trees are bare and you can see the roofline.
I can only assume it’s a private home because I’ve never been able to find any information about it online… the mystery remains.
This is how it looked as I left the dealership this morning.
The Workers’ Bridge
The Camille de Hogues bridge was built during the end of the 19th century and inaugurated in September 1900. Originally called le Pont de la Manufacture, it allowed hundreds of workers to go from downtown, directly to la Manufacture a giant factory which, at the time, was the beating heart of industrial Châtellerault. It has since been renamed after the mayor who commissioned its construction… Camille de Hogues.
Looking down river from here, you can see the Henri IVth bridge in the distance. These are some of the riverside quais that at one time would’ve seen various cargo vessels moored until the waters were high enough to carry them downriver and eventually out to the coast.
Châtellerault’s Eiffel Tower
That may seem like a big claim, but everything’s a matter of scale. In terms of important landmarks or monuments, the Pont Henri IV is to Châtellerault, what the Eiffel Tower is to Paris. It’s of signicant historical importance.
I’ve written about it before, but as a quick overview…
- It was built in the 16th century (hence its historical significance – the original request to build the bridge was adressed to Catherine de Medicis)
- It is wide enough to have structures built on either side of the roadway, similar to the Ponte Vecchio, in Florence Italy.
- It was nearly destroyed by the Germans in their retreat during the end of WWII – they wanted to slow the advance of the American army and were prepared to blow up both this and the Camille de Hogues bridges. (They were both completely wired with explosives and only spared after heavy lobbying by the Sous-Préfet, Pierre-Marcel Wiltzer)
(One of the bridge’s observation turrets)
‘Tis the season for high water.
Normally these trees are firmly ‘planted’ on a solid base of rock and lightly groomed underbrush. Given the winter rains however, that rock base is barely visible and any fish not swept up in the current could now easily find a way to cross the island at its mid-point, without having to go around.
To the left of the bottom picture you can see the tip of l’île Cognet and to the right, dancing in the shadows in silhouette, is the old river boat, moored directly to the bridge.
The sun’s getting a little higher in the sky and so I met Timo for a hot chocolate before heading home. (He was beginning his work internship and was waiting for the optician to open). There was a chill in the air still, so he was glad, both for the company and the hot chocolate.
Time to head home….
(the view from our driveway)
Thanks for joining me on my early morning jaunt around Châtellerault.
We live in a beautiful spot and I’m glad to share it with you.
God bless you today.