Saturday, 11 April 2009

Chambon

About 12 months ago Susan and I travelled along the back road from Boussay to Chambon whilst exploring new and picturesque routes to the supermarché in la Roche Posay. At the time we were both taken by the view as you enter the valley of the Creuse river above Chambon, but couldn't find anywhere to stop and take a photo. (As usual, once we saw the view we were past it.) Last week, however, I found a little chalk quarry by the edge of the road which gave me enough room to park safely and take some photos. You can see it as a white blob in the middle of this map.

Chambon isn't the only settlement you can see though - there are hamlets and farms scattered all along the valley, as you can see from the Géoportail map. This is la Penneterie,

and this is la Poussardiére:

One of the more interesting buildings in this view is the farm on the edge of Chambon, called le Château, although if it is really a château we don't really know.

All these photos were taken from the one spot and turning the camera through an arc of about 45°, which really does give an idea of how full the landscape is.

Simon

15 comments:

  1. Nice pictures of quiet, almost sleepy, rural landscapes.

    Chambon is a village because I think I can see a church in the background, but La Poussardière is just a hamlet, not having a church of its own.

    The Chambon "château", I think, is what we call "une ferme fortifiée."

    That's the kind of landscape I mostly miss in the U.S., where, sometimes, nature seems hostile! Nothing is perfect!

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  2. chm - we knew the difference between a hamlet and a village, but it's the next one that seems nebulous - the difference between a village and a town. In the UK, hamlets dont have churches, villages have a church, and a town has a weekly market.

    What it is in France we don't know! We always say Preuilly is a town, but that is because everybody else calls in a "ville"

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  3. Simon — I have always been baffled by the use of the word village in American English. But, of course, the scale of the country as opposed to France is staggering.
    In France, as far as I can say, an urban setting which has a population of, lets say, 5000 people, would be a ville (in American English it would be a village!). With less than 5000 people it could be, in descending order, a petite ville, a gros bourg, a bourg, a petit bourg, a gros village, a village, a petit village.
    Of course all this is not scientific, but gives you an idea of populated settings. I don't think the number of churches has anything to do with any item in the above enumeration. Except, as you said, with village and hamlet.

    Here is the Robert Dictionary definition of a village and of a ville:
    Village: agglomération rurale: groupe d'habitations assez important pour avoir une vie propre (à la différence des hameaux).
    Ville: Milieu géographique et social formé par une réunion organique et relativement considérable de constructions et dont les habitants travaillent, pour la plupart, à l'intérieur de l'agglomération, au commerce, à l'industrie, à l'administration.

    As you noticed, village is a rural setting.

    Depending on the population of Preuilly, it could be, in my opinion, a gros bourg or a petite ville, or a ville, for short!

    Of course, you can also use the word agglomération which is very vague but conveys an idea of a number of houses stuck together!

    I hope you're now completely confused, just as I am!

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  4. http://www.linternaute.com/ville/ville/demographie/27363/preuilly-sur-claise/

    According to that site, the population ten years ago was 1290 and is losing ground.
    Consequently I'd call Preuilly une petite ville or un bourg. It is, population-wise, a little larger than Salton City.

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  5. I'm pretty unreliable but I seem to recall reading that "bourg" designates a village with its own market. Where that puts it in the hierarchy I do not know, other than that it lifts it off the bottom.

    Is hameau the smallest? How many houses does it take to qualify as un hameau?

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  6. Carolyn — Yes the hameau is the smallest. I'd say that a hameau has several houses, at least more than one, and doesn't have a church. It is just comprised of houses with no businesses like bakery, pharmacy, tobacconist or butcher, at random. So the people who live in a hameau have to go to the nearest village for groceries, bread, medicine, etc. and to go to church.
    For instance, Ken and Walt live in a hameau which is part of a village which is close to a town: Saint-Aignan-sur-Cher.

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  7. We once stayed in a hameau in Provence that had a boulangerie, but that was it -- no church, no other commerces.

    What about a bourgade? That or bourg is how I think of Saint-Aignan. Its population is less than 5,000, but for me in French it is not a village. Selles-sur-Cher, Contres, and Montrichard all have about the same population. In English, they are probably all villages, but not in French.

    Hey, in America we have "urban villages." So who knows what the term means? It's all convention. Near my home town in N.C. (pop. 8,000) there are a lot of little "communities" that would be called villages in France, but we don't use the term "village" there. It sounds exotic and old-fashioned or quaint. These communities all have churches (that's for sure) and some businesses, especially gas stations. I'm not sure they are "incorporated," however.

    Preuilly is a bourg or a bourgade, I guess. It has about the same population as Mareuil-sur-Cher, though, and Mareuil is a village. You have to feel the difference.

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  8. Also, the main public building in Saint-Aignan is called L'Hôtel de Ville. In Mareuil, a village, it's called La Mairie. Which does Preuilly have?

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  9. Ken: Preuilly has an Hôtel de Ville, but if you go around the side, it is the Mairie. The locals generally seem to refer to Preuilly as a ville. Until we realised this, we assumed it was a village.

    The term village is not used in Australia either. Places the size of Preuilly would be called a town, and Chambon would be a hamlet.

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  10. I prepared this comment before I was able to read Susan's comment. It shows how cultural all these appellations [not controllées] are.

    In my opinion, bourgade is somewhat pejorative, whereas bourg stands on its own. Of course, all this is subjective, depending on the idea you have of a village, a town or a bourg. You can add gros, grand, petit, etc. to precise your mind. But, as I said, this is not scientific, but cultural. Maybe, all those terms are interchangeable to some point.

    I thought about l'Hôtel de ville and la mairie, too. Once again, in my opinion, it's exactly the same thing. The first one sounds grander than the second one, that's all. At the same time, when does a mairie becomes a Hôtel de ville? As Susan says, you just have to turn around the building!!

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  11. And here's how a few hamlets can band together and provide for themselves and each other. I read this article, which appeared in the 4/5/09 Sunday Observer, on the guardian website.

    "A restaurant qualifies for the de pays epithet only if a local resident is involved in running it, it stays open most of the time (to provide a social hub for other villages), and it always has food available - usually a single plat du jour. I was surprised that Portet d'Aspet, a place of only a dozen houses, had a restaurant at all.

    "It's a co-operative system," explained Ed. "One village in a valley has a post office, another has a baker, another a small shop or a school - and so one of them must have a restaurant. In this way all the key services are provided by a group of small hamlets which, alone, would be unable to offer anything."

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  12. And here's how a few hamlets can band together and provide for themselves and each other. I read this article, which appeared in the 4/5/09 Sunday Observer, on the guardian website.

    "A restaurant qualifies for the de pays epithet only if a local resident is involved in running it, it stays open most of the time (to provide a social hub for other villages), and it always has food available - usually a single plat du jour. I was surprised that Portet d'Aspet, a place of only a dozen houses, had a restaurant at all.

    "It's a co-operative system," explained Ed. "One village in a valley has a post office, another has a baker, another a small shop or a school - and so one of them must have a restaurant. In this way all the key services are provided by a group of small hamlets which, alone, would be unable to offer anything."

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  13. According to my research, Portet d'Aspet is not a HAMEAU in French but a village [a site calls it a ville?], even though its year-round population is only 75 people. In summer it is populated by many tourists and "vacanciers."

    Obviously hamlet doesn't translate as hameau or vice versa. A French hameau would be smaller than a British [or American?] hamlet, and wouldn't have a church.

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  14. Carolyn: Clever idea. The French have really got the hang of co-ops and partnership ventures it seems to me.

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  15. Okay, now I'll tell you this. Some of my neighbors refer to our hameau as a village. When they say dans le village, they mean at La Renaudière, which has 9 houses but no church and no shops. When they want to talk about the center of the village, where the church, post office, bakery, and café are, they say dans le bourg.

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