15 March 2010



Le Grand-Pressigny is a few kilometres away from the town of Descartes, the birthplace of René Descartes. We go there regularly each time we are chez nous as it has some shops and facilities that we don't have in our village. Including two large supermarkets, our Notaire (luckily we haven't needed him since we bought the house) a market on Sunday mornings, a nice creperie where we sometimes have lunch, a good DIY shop and a fabulous park. It also has a wool shop where I have been able to get knitting needles when I arrive on holiday to find I have brought the wrong size for the project I am starting. (I confess to having the world's largest collection of half-knitted jumpers.)

The Sunday market is a good size. Comme d'habitude, the main street is closed to accommodate all the stalls and finding a parking place can be a bit of a scramble. We usually park well away from the throng, avoiding the pushing and shoving and the lurching onto pavements. I have observed that parking in France is a specialist skill, one that I don't have. In summer when everyone is desperately searching for that illusive patch of shade, it becomes quite fraught. We would rather walk a few more yards than risk any confrontation.

There are all the stalls you would expect. The crimplene cardigans and elastic waisted skirts, the Moroccan leather belts and tapestry bags, the knee-length socks and cheap gaudy jewellery. On the positive side, there are also a good cheese stall, hot food stalls, excellent vegetable stalls, wine stalls, the sausage man and, very attractive to us now we have somewhere to put them, two plant sellers.

The whole place has the classic bustling atmosphere of the French market. The locals meet and exchange bisous and gossip whilst the tourists amble along and absorb the sights and smells. There are lots of English voices to be heard as Descartes is a popular place for UK tourists staying in an abundance of gites around the town and in nearby villages. It's the plant sales that differentiate the gite-renting visitor from the resident or maison secondaire-owner, like us. We all need to ponder over what to have for dinner but you can't take geraniums home on Ryanair. For so many years we hung our noses over plants, pots and pans at French markets, wishing we had somewhere to buy them for. Now we do.

Down by the river there is a beautiful park. We stumbled upon it one day when exploring the old part of town and looking for the Descartes museum (which is still on our to-do list). That was in July 2008. It was hot and sunny, the flower beds were glorious and apart from a young woman sitting on a bench in the shade reading a book, we were the only people there. We were amazed. It was so beautiful, so neat and tidy, the gravel paths freshly raked, no litter anywhere to be seen and so tranquil. What a great facility for the citizens of Descartes to have.

We have been back to the park several times, to see it in different seasons and admire the landscaping which seems to take on a new theme each year. We have never seen more than a handful of other people there.


  1. Oh I wish I'd known about the park when we spent a week staying in a gite just outside Descartes. My m-i-l went to the Descartes museum incidentally and thought it was one of the best she had ever been to.

    As for parking on market day - we have our market here on a Tuesday and it really is the best day to avoid town if you can help it. The police just turn a blind eye to all the regulations that are broken.

  2. I've had my eye on a hydrangea I can't buy in the US, but even though this plant is permitted, I decided not to bring one home from France. We know fruitgrowers who had to destroy acres of trees because of a plum pox virus that hitched a ride on imported plants.

    I envy you the chance to grow all the great plants you can buy in England and France.

  3. Not sure if you were avec Lulu or sans Lulu on your trips to the park Jean, but if you enter from the old town by the church you will perhaps have noticed a 'no dogs allowed sign', but should you enter from the other side, near to the farm animals and swimming pool, all appears to be ok! Bizarre

  4. Great info and photographs Jean. We've never been to Decartes but we will certainly be visiting when we are next in Le Petit-Pressigny.

  5. Hi Jean
    I am beginning to understand why you love the area so much.

    We'll have to visit these places in years to come.

  6. Jean,
    I know you like bikes, well the motorized type. I have friends who are doing a ride from Melbourne to Perth on their ex-police Beemers.
    You might like to follow their travels.
    Log in on the above link or thru my blog.

  7. Je blog que donc je suis!

    Smashing post.

    Mad x

  8. Thanks for the tip! We've been to 'Richelieu' but never to 'Descartes'! Time to meet the great man (and his town)!

  9. Jean, I like the new header. Lulu looks so cute and blends in so well :)