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Saint Gaultier, visiting France
Despite being January, the sun was shining outside. The temperature was not higher than 8°C, but it looked like a lovely winter day. So after a late breakfast, of freshly baked croissants and coffee, we decided to take a walk on Saint Gaultier. As we have young children, we took the car there and started our walk in the town centre.
Saint Gaultier, a small village on the banks of the river Creuse, was one of many fortified villages in France. In the town centre, among relatively new buildings, the village has many ancient towers and streets dating back to 1500.
The name of the village comes from the Abbe Gaultier in who's honour was built the Church around 1050.
The Saint Gaultier's Church has a Roman-Limousin style. In 1913 it was declared a Historical monument.
Like most churches from this period, this one is dark and cold. As soon as you open the door and step in, you feel the temperature dropping at least 5°C and a musty smell of all those past centuries hitting you. My son is terrified to enter these buildings, while my daughter is a fan of the great stained glass works. Churches are always empty in this area of France -except at service times- This in turn adds to the eerie feeling of the building. The Church in Saint Gaultier has a square tower, as you can see on the photo.
The Creuse river
Remains of the fortified walls of the city can still be seen at the river bank. So after touring around the town, we descended through one of the cobbled streets to the river.
Walking along the banks of the river, the only noise we could hear, apart from my children playful screams, was the noise of the water. A strong river in times of rain, which becomes almost a puddle in times of dry weather. This is a perfect place to relax. Not only the sound of the water running, but the sound of birds and the sight of ancient walls and buildings framed by old trees and bushes complete the idyllic setting.
The area, known as Berry, is well known for its numerous lakes where you can fish, or just relax and sit and watch the birds and other wildlife. I like sunbathing during the summer, while the children play by the river or lake! Most rivers have a bathing area implemented for the locals, which makes it safe enough for children to enjoy the fresh water during the hot season.
The picturesque landscapes of the area have for long inspired many impressionist painters and other artists. This was the area where writer George Sand used to come to relax and gather inspiration. This is the ‘door' to the Parc Naturel Régional de la Brenne.
Sometimes I cycle, to this town, as it is only 10 km. from home. I take a lonely road that follows the river and just forget about everything while I am there. It is like being 8 years old again, excited about the sound of the water and the wildlife that I might encounter on the way. Quite often I see rabbits, birds of all types and even the odd "Bambi" looking at me curiously. When I arrive home, instead of being tired, I feel renewed and reassured that I made the right choice moving here. This is the type of life I want for my children.
Saint Gaultier is located 30km. from Châteauroux and 28 km. from Le Blanc.
The nearest train station is on Argenton Sur Creuse, at 10 km. with direct connexion to Paris.
Approximately 1 hour from Limoges airport.
Eating in restaurants: The area has some very good restaurants. But beware of timing. Lunch time is at 12 o'clock. If you arrive at a restaurant after 1:30pm it is very likely that they will refuse to serve you, as the cook would be having his lunch -a three course meal with wine of course!
Most shops close at 12 o'clock. So, even if you are not hungry yet, it would be a good idea to eat something as life stops for lunch in Berry. After all, eating is a main component of 'de art de vivre'
An not so far away...
- French Castles: Chabenet
A restored mediaeval castle in the heart of France, the chateau de Chabenet is the most beautiful castle I have seen in the area. As soon as you cross the entry gates you feel transported to a fairy tale...