Friday 21 May 2010


Chenonceau may be the most visited tourist attraction in France, and the carpark always packed, but it's popularity is well deserved. On a sunny day in May the gardens are lovely and the interior always magnificently presented.

The back of the stableblock at Chenonceau. The French for stable is écurie.
The grounds are home to a wide variety of wildlife. The French for squirrel is écureuil. Unfortunately, French people never have any idea whether I am talking about stables or squirrels (écureuil is notoriously difficult for the non-French to say).

The formal gardens, in blue and yellow this spring and looking superb.

A rose growing on one of the farm cottages within the grounds. I think the rose might be the Bourbon Mme Isaac Perrière, one of my favourites.



Liquid Roof said...

The french houses are looking very good the house which is covered with greenery is looking like heaven.

Leon Sims said...

I took the same photo of the rose covered cottage as well. I wonder how many people discover this area after the Chateau?
Love your work.

Diogenes said...

The stableblock is beautiful in its own right. I have been to Chenonceau, but must admit I didn't see or notice it. The roof is beautiful.

Our tour guide said that during WWII, one side of the river was controlled by Germany and the other by the Allies, with the chateau spanning betweeen.

Jenny said...

Gorgeous? Yes! Great pics. How is it that even the French squirrels are fancier than our Texas variety? Ah, the French.

Jean said...

Beautiful. I love Chenonceau. It has always been heaving with tourists when we have visited but it is still a magical place.

Emm said...

I wonder if ecurie and ecureuil are related as words? I'm struck by the similarity in spelling. But the meanings are so different.

John said...

Clearly there are parts of Touraine where it is OK to have domestic paintwork that is not off-white, or grey, or pale blue. I wonder if this colour went past the appropriate authorities for approval.

Next time we take visitors I must look out for this building. I am pleased you have included something which is more vernacular and domestic in scale. There is an understandable tendency for Touraine to be represented only by images of its grand buildings.

Ken Broadhurst said...

Emm, according to the dictionary, écurie and écureuil come from different Latin/Greek roots.

Susan, the last part of écureuil (-euil) is the same sound as the middle part of the name of your town, Preuilly [pruh-YEE]. Except for the -y at the end of the town name, it would rhyme with écureuil, as écureuil does with the words Mareuil, accueil, Bourgueil, and oeil, not to mention deuil, orgueil, seuil, feuille, and a thousand others. It's not difficult to say once you get it. It's something like [UH-yuh].

The French -u vowel as in tu or lu or vu, or the semi-vowel form in tuile, huile, puits (puis, puy), lui, fuite, truite, is harder for an Anglophone to say, I think.

John said...

Thanks to Ken for his comment. I certainly find the French u vowel more of a problem.

Preuilly is undoubtedly a problem for Anglophones.
I sometimes even wonder whether the name Preuilly has a negative or positive effect as regards tourism. Does it help visitors remember the town because it has that 'funny' but perhaps memorable name, or would they fight shy of recommending it to friends because of fear of stumbling over pronunciation?

This is the sort of linguistic concern that those in advertising spend ages debating when naming a product!


Simon said...

I have problems with vowels that are preceded by an 'r'. I am always getting picked up on 'trou' for example, and French friends ask why I can say 'vous' but not 'trou' properly. I don't seem to have any trouble with Preuilly any more, and haven't been corrected on it for ages. I have never pronounced it 'Prelly' though, and am surprised by the number of longterm resident anglophones who do (likewise the number of people who say 'Pressigny' with the stress on the wrong syllable). I hear Ligueil pronounced in all sorts of ways too.

You are right about words like 'puits' Ken. I am often asked to repeat our address, which contains this word, and even when I've said it well, a French person will spell it in one of the other ways and I have to correct them.

Susan (signed in as Simon and can't be bothered changing it)

Ken Broadhurst said...

Hi John, I live in the village called Mareuil-sur-Cher, and that Mareuil word is also a problem for English-speakers. Friends of mine from California, in fact, said Walt and I had managed to find a place in France where all the village and town names are unpronounceable, starting with Mareuil and Saint-Aignan. Preuilly falls into that category. It's not that hard if you ignore the spelling and focus on the sounds. [preuh-YEE] = Preuilly. [ma-REUH-yuh] = Mareuil. [san-tay-NYAW] = Saint-Aignan. A lot of English people around here pronounce it with the stress on the second syllable, saying something like *[sen-TAY-nyun]. That's wrong. I mean, wrong in French. In English, we can pronounce it any way we agree on. But don't expect French people to understand other pronunciations, besides the "right" one.

So many Americans don't want to pronounce the final S of Amboise = [awm-BWAHZ]. Pronounce the Z. But not with Blois! That can be a hard one too — [BLWAH], one syllable.

[ay-kyu-REUH-yuh] = écureuil, with the all-caps syllable carrying the tonic stress.

Susan, that u sound, or the semi-vowel in a word like puits, is difficult to pronounce even when you know intellectually what it is supposed to sound like. We have no sound really like it in English.

And the R. Just pretend you are gargling. Make your throat bubble, and then tone it down some, and you've got it. Trou is a particularly French word, isn't it? You have to gargle the R and then really round out the OU.

Susan said...

Ken: I don't have a problem doing the 'r' or the 'ou' separately. It's the mouth switch between them when you have to combine them I have trouble with. My solution is to set my mouth up for the 'ou' first and say the 'r' through that. It's easier said than done though when you're on the spot. Quite often what I say sounds like 'tryew' instead of 'troo'. Doing an 'r' before 'ui' is even more difficult. It will take me a long time before I can pronounce 'bruit' correctly. At the moment it sounds like 'bwee'.

PS I pronounce both Amboise and Blois correctly.

Ken Broadhurst said...

Susan, if you are doing a really proper throaty (guttural) French R, you'll get the French -ou- vowel better when it follows. The English R, pronounced in the front of the mouth, interferes with the round French -ou- sound and leads one astray.

As for bruit and fruit, those are some of the most difficult for us. Nuit, puits are easier, I think, but not obvious.

Susan said...

Ken: I bet that's it. I'm not pronouncing my 'r' correctly. I need to think French actress from the 1940s, drop my chin, deepen my voice...

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