Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Festival of the Loire

Orleans would be an interesting place for an overnight stop at any time with its spectacular floodlit cathedral dominating the central square.

But our hotel receptionist had promised us an "animation" down by the river and we were curious to see what this could be. Making our way down to the bridge over the River Loire from the cathedral we noticed first of all that the road leading from the bridge along the river bank was barrierd off to traffic and then followed the crowds towards the lights and the music coming from further along the river. We had stumbled upon the "Festival of the Loire"

The river bank was lined with a succession of stalls selling local food and drink or advertising local businesses and attractions and punctuated with a stages upon which a variety of musical acts from folk to mostly jazz and rock were performing. This amazing "samovar" was in use dispensing cups of mint tea!

Moored on the river itself were over 200 boats, mostly modern replicas of the traditional trading boats of the Loire valley but which now functioned as pleasure boats for their owners.

The traditional trading boat of the Loire was, apparently, a short but wide flat-bottomed craft with a central mast carrying a sail, but quite how authentic the "garden shed" constructions that now serve as accommodation are I have no idea.

Out on the river itself was moored a line of replica craft in trading condition "loaded" with bales of wool, sacks of grain and, of course, barrels of wine - these being their traditional cargoes. Unfortunately they were moored too far out on the river for a photo.

The whole event, which takes place each year, is a sort of combination of the Braunston Working Boat Gathering, a trade fair and a local food festival and to come across it as unexpectedly as we did made a great start to a holiday - even one which wasn't supposed to be about boating!

1 comment:

Captain Ahab said...

Its amazing how a "not boating holiday" can contain so much waterborne interest. I could say that you should get out a bit more - but you have! Have a great break.