Visitors to France will be familiar with the colourful signs that proudly inform travellers that they are entering a new Département. For those not accustomed to French regional government, it’s sort of similar to the County principle found in the UK and USA; though in the wonderful French way it’s not quite as simple as that – there are also other regional layers of administration, but let’s leave that aside for now!
Many of the Départements take their name from geographical features, most common of which are the names of rivers. For example, from Angers today we passed through Maine-et-Loire, Indre-et-Loire, Loire et Cher and finally ended up in Cher.
As rivers go I have a real soft spot for the Loire, it’s such an incredible thing and to me oozes character. The Loire is over 1000 kilometres long, drains more than a fifth of France’s land area and is the 171st longest river in the world.
It rises in the highlands of the southeastern quarter of the Massif Central in the Cévennes Mountains; flows north through Nevers to Orléans, then turns west through Tours and Nantes until it reaches the Atlantic Ocean at St Nazaire.
Which sort of brings me to the River Cher. I’m sorry my Dear Cher, but I really can’t get very excited about you as a river! True the Cher is about 400 kilometres long, but for a lot of this it’s a mere trickle and for the rest becomes weed laden, muddy and lazy.
What the Cher does have going for it however is wide floral water-meadows, fertile plains and simply gorgeous countryside. It’s very hard to put your finger on exactly what it is that the Cher has going for it. There’s certainly nothing spectacular, so maybe that’s it in a nutshell it’s just all roundly nice, easy on the eye and totally bucolic! Soft and gentle, just like the wines that are produced in this central region of France.
I’ll raise a glass to the Cher, the Dear Cher!
“I will walk alone by the black muddy river,
And listen to the ripples as they moan.”
Catch you all soon.
PS 385 miles today. Fancy some more tomorrow?