Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Catching the Train to the Donjon de Loches

The station at Tours has a series of 18 painted ceramic panels decorating the walls. Their purpose is to beautify the station concourse and entice travellers to the destinations portrayed. At present the panels are badly in need of conservation and a crowd-funding campaign is underway to raise the money to save them. Each panel will cost €8000 to clean, conserve and reattach the tiles to the walls. To learn more about the restoration fund and the panels themselves go to Ulule Gare Tours (in French).

We thought that it might be fun to show one of the panels every now and then, with the timetable information for how one gets there from Tours today. The well preserved medieval/renaissance town of Loches is about an hour by train from Tours. These days the 'train' is mostly a replacement bus. From the station it's just a short walk to the Donjon. Cross the bridge over the Indre river then meander your way through the streets, remembering to look up and admire the architecture. The Donjon is at one end of the Cité Royal, accessible by entering the walled inner defensive perimeter which protected the Counts of Anjou, the Kings of England then the Valois Kings of France, via the Porte Royale.
Catching the train to Loches caused this frustrated outburst by Henry James in 1883:
The trains in Touraine are provoking; they serve as little as possible for excursions. If they convey you one way at the right hour, it is on the condition of bringing you back at the wrong; they either allow you far too little time to examine the castle or the ruin, or they leave you planted in front of it for periods that outlast curiosity. They are perverse, capricious, exasperating. It was a question of our having but an hour or two at Loches,...
It has to be said the situation hasn't changed very much.

The photo of the ceramic panel above was taken a few weeks ago, and it appears to be covered with a semi-transparent film. To see what the panel looked like a few years ago, go to this post.

7 comments:

  1. "It has to be said the situation hasn't changed very much."....
    before I read this line, I was reaching the same conclusion...
    It is quicker by bus...
    but not the "substitute train" one...
    and far quicker by car!!
    But then you have to park...
    does a lot for tourism, that approach...

    The material glued to the tiles is a protective gauze...
    often used with fine ceramics and also in archeology.
    I'm wondering if they intend to remove the panels as a block...
    clean off the backing...
    reback them...
    then work on the actual tiles on the flat...
    in comfort...
    before remounting them.
    It would be nice to know what they are intending....

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  2. Tim: Yes, I assume it's Japanese rag paper or Tyvek or something like that to ensure bits don't fall off, but I didn't see it myself and Simon, who took the photos couldn't be sure what it was. I am sure they are intending to remove all the tiles in a panel, clean and conserve them in the ceramics conservators studio and reinstate them panel by panel. Arcachon has already gone to the studio I think.

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  3. Henry James was a great pioneer of mmotorised tourism, and I can't blame him! Pauline

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  4. What are they intending to do with the ones half in and half out of the tea room's conservatory?
    Any idea?
    You can't even get a decent foto!

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  5. Pauline: Wasn't he travelling with Edith Wharton in her Rolls Royce? I seem to remember him complaining about the imperious way she insisted he check out hotels ahead of time to see if they met her standards, and they were always more expensive than he could really afford.

    Tim: I don't know. One of them is one of the nicest of all the panels.

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  6. I absolutely love your series on these panels, partly because I remember them, partly because I used to live in the area, and partly because your approach to it all is fascinating! Carry on!

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  7. Betty: I'm glad you are enjoying the series. It will be nice when they are restored.

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