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The French Cycling Bicycle Gourmet - French Country Travel Life Film Maker and Author. Your non-snobby Gourmet Guide to food, wine travel and Lifestyle Adventure!

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Live French Saints – Part Three


Ruined Beauty - Limited Edition Photographic Art by Christopher Strong



Authors Note : Although I can’t promisePART ONE  and/or TWO  could add to your enjoyment/interest/understanding of  this missive.


While DA BG’S “raison d’etre is always to film his memorable meetings with marvellous people(like the Toussaints) – this voyage he was also on a photographic mission. The subject: Ruined Chateaus.

When this become common knowledge, Marie-Andre offered to tour me around the ones she knew. Several of which were not on my pre-tour research radar.

And so, since Bernard was off to play golf(active retirement, remember?) I was willingly kidnapped.( After all, how can you refuse your hostess?)

What impressed me most that day were not the chateaus.  But the attitude of Marie Andre. She was never bored or fidgety while I trolled for photo opps.  Happily doing her own thing, enjoying the scenery AND pointing out possible points of view overlooked by the exotic stranger from the far away lands. Contrast this to one of my ex -girlfriends who always brought a book along on our wilderness walks!

After several marvy Chateau gems, Marie Andre suggested lunch. (my arm twisted again!) Happily our “petite resto” had an outdoor terrace.  The deserted kind.  Perfect for  a weary, hungry photographic team.

On the route home, we scooped up some REALLY fresh butter and milk from a local farmer. One of the great joys of country life. Food treated with respect – not chemicals. (interesting concept -wot?)

The fact that Marie Andre’s enthusiasum for my “pile of ancient stones” project had not waned, came when I discovered what appeared on the internet to be the Mother of all ruined chateaus. It was a decent train ride away. Outside of a major city. When I announced my intention  to add this jewel to my photographic crown, Marie Andre ‘phoned a pal in that town, who then offered to treat me to a resturant meal and, more importantly, a bed. High Cotton! No long train ride TWICE on the day!

That was the good news. The bad, was the Chateau. It was a total LLLLLLLOSER! Bearing almost NO resemblance to it’s internet counterpart. And to add insult to photographic injury, surrounded by a high wire fence. WHY? Who would want to go on anyway?

But that wasn’t the worst of the bad. The worst was that I would have to, and did do the long train ride twice on the same day. Because my hostess -to -be was not off work until 7pm, and it was now barely noon. With (now) no other reason to be here, and facing 6 hours of nothing, I decided to return to villa Toussaint.

Bad decision. I never met my gracious hostess-to-be. Who that night, dined alone.

As Mr. Sinatra warbled : “Regrets…..I’ve had a few.”

Part Four -Next Time.


What are ya thinkin’?




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31 Responses to “Live French Saints – Part Three”

  1. marion wilson says:

    as other have commented…..that first photo is incredible! is it some special kind of black and white?…i ask becasue i’ve never seen anything like it before.

  2. sven olmquist says:

    marion…the photo you’re referring to is is an infa-red image. taken with a special type of film that’s sensitive to heat as well as light.

  3. marion wilson says:

    thanks sven….what is this film called exactly?…and where can i get it?

  4. sven olmquist says:

    marion……several companies make infared film. (Kodak being probably the most well know and widely used.) However, infared film is a tricky devil. it must be loaded and unload in complete darkness. and requires a specialized lab to process it.

  5. marion wilson says:

    wow sven..sounds like a lot of hassle! any other way to get the effect of DA BG’s photo?

  6. sven olmquist says:

    marion..in a word “yes.” but it’s expensive. around $275 to have the filter inside your camera that normally blocks infa-red radiation removed.

  7. hugo benson says:

    absolutely right sven….but marion ..if you contact your local camera club..you just might find a “mr d.i.y.” who can do the job for a beer and a pat on the back.

  8. marion wilson says:

    thanks hugo….i’ll give it a shot!

  9. barry mcmaster says:

    Awesome intro photo? by DA BG we assume?

  10. dani ashford says:

    a correct assumption barry!…and if you click “images” at the top of the page you’ll see a whole lot more!

  11. garth branster says:

    BG – I hear ya!..i’m also a photographer and my girlfriend ansolutely brings a book along!

  12. jack aubrey says:

    marie andre is obviously a total gem. forget luck o’ the irish. Luck o’ DA BG much more potent!

  13. geri walters says:

    you got that right Jack. the world needs more like her!

  14. norm flockhart says:

    good to know that even DA BG has a regret now and then.

  15. ed mason says:

    sure norm…..but probably way fewer than the rest of us…wouldn’t ya think?

  16. norm flockhart says:

    good point ed.

  17. bill righter says:

    count me as another reader waiting to see the chateau series that this post includes. very powerful image.

  18. lima karras says:

    about missing the dinner date…..without a few regrets…..how would we ever make better decisions the next time?

  19. lima – you’ve got a point there. a bittersweet one – but a point nevertheless.(lol)

  20. if there are other photographers (other than me) reading this – i’m sure they’ll now be looking for a guide/assistant with at least SOME of the qualities of marie andre.

  21. ben down says:

    hey bg – after reading the other comments here – looks like you’re going to treat us to an “all Bg’s photos” post

  22. judy greaves says:

    hey ben – you got my vote on that!

  23. hilda brenner says:

    sorry to hear about the loser chateau…i feel your pain (lol!)

  24. trenton jerney says:

    i hear ya hilda….but remember there’s another loser here..
    the woman who was waiting to take da bg to dinner….and home!

  25. gerry granders says:

    i don’t know really what the odds are…..but by any standards marie andre is one in a million.

  26. pami kulhane says:

    vittoria….so together the toussaints are “two in a million?”

  27. vittoria grassi says:

    absolutely pami!

  28. dave emmerson says:

    really enjoying this series!

  29. alice mortenson says:

    i’m with you dave….please don’t let it end!!!

  30. karvin brewster says:

    perhaps in the near future you’ll treat us to a post with nothing but youir excellent photographs?

  31. carla stavers says:

    hold that thought karvin!…you got company!!!

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