I spent a drizzly Sunday afternoon in Cosne sur Loire last weekend. (is it Thursday already? where did the week go?) Looking through my photos today, I realise I didn't take a single one of the town. There weren't any really interesting perspectives, and the light was poor, and, well, it was just so much like so many other small French towns. If I were to mix up my Small French Town photos instead of classing them neatly into folders, I'd never be able to tell them apart.
A stroll around town looking for a room for the night revealed five hotels, two of which seemed deserted, one wasn't open Sundays (???), one was full, and the last one, the one right across from the train station and over the inevitable near-station bar, had a room. A surprisingly nice room, considering, though I didn't score a bathtub. I didn't even have neighbors.
After another stroll around town looking for a picnic lunch to take away pretty much did it for the town. The Grand Chateau advertised on the map was meerly a large wall around a crowded parking lot, with a bit of city hall attached in a 19th century addition, so off I went up the hiking and mountain bike trail that follows the Loire upstream for several miles. One of the houses overlooking the river. There's a whole string of these mansions with their enormous yards. Most of them put up a great hedge along the bottom fence for a bit more privacy. Nobody much was out in the sporadic drizzle except for the birds. Woodpeckers, herons, coots, swans, songbirds, all along the waterfront. And crows. France is a country of crows. Contentious. Building their condominiums with a view. Repositioning themselves in the trees. Cawing, cawing, cawing.
I eventually came to the railroad bridge across the river. Unused by trains these days, it's now part of a rail-bike route that goes 20 km or so.
Here's the railbike contraption. All the bicycle seats are stored in a neighboring shed, awaiting The Season when families will reserve their places and go cycling up and down the railway. It still being March, nobody was out and I had the bridge to myself.
At the turnaround point for the short version of the hiking loop is St Bridget's chapel. Locked up tight. It must be awfully dim inside, because there aren't any more windows on the far side than there are on this side. That's dark.
My feet declared themselves not up for the long version (it is a biking trail; the long version is pretty long), so I took the short way back to town.
The angels on one of the churches in town hold a miniature version of the church, which I thought was kind of fun. Locked up tight like St Bridget's, alas. Unusually, all three of the historical monument churches were locked.
Duck on one of the canals channelling water through the town to the Loire.
That canal opens up into a sort of kayak playground, where today a youth competition was in its final stages. Kids as young as 8 or 9 were negotiating the complicated course, cheered on by family and friends from the banks and the bridge.
Back at the station I bought my ticket to Paris for my Monday meeting, then hung out at the hotel for a rest and a shower. Around 7 I went out for another stroll, thinking that the light from across the river in the west might give me at last a nice panoramic of the town. So I crossed the bridge, but the clouds were uncooperative and there was ugly scaffolding in unfortunate spots and it just wasn't pretty.
Strolling around town there weren't many places open for dinner. I thought I might be dining on oreos from the station vending machine when at last I found an open restaurant. They were serving a fairly classic french menu, nothing fancy, from which I ordered the goat cheese salad, steak with pepper sauce, and crème brulée. The salad did not bode well for the rest of the meal - sad greens topped with a multitude of bacon pieces that would have been ok if not nearly raw, goat cheese on toast (burnt), the whole thing drowned in bottled dressing. The main dish, however, was quite tasty. A small steak but I didn't need more, not overcooked, delightfully peppery sauce, with super-garlic wild mushrooms (I like garlic), green beans, and potato gratinée. None of it fresh but the steak, I'm sure, but I'm easy to please with garlic and potatos.
Anyway, on a Sunday evening with only me and a pair of friends for customers, is our chef restauranteur really properly serving the whole menu? There's rabbit and lamb and salmon and chicken available in various forms, a whole battery of starters, a big list of desserts - how do you keep a restaurant open if you have all that, fresh, at your fingertips for just three plates at highly reasonable prices?
I was just happy my host was even open, the alternative being takeout pizza, or machine food at the station.
And that was it for Cosne. Next adventure next weekend, destination as yet undecided.