Caroline Mahony ’21 describes a day on the Loire.
This Friday began with our usual rendez-vous , in the parking lot of the Chateau de Tours. We hopped in our teachers’ cars and drove a little way down the road, only to pull into another parking lot, but this time a bit more upstream on the Loire. Some of my friends had brought along their host siblings for the boat ride, and we all waited patiently to depart in the boats. However, we soon realized that one of them was occupied. Near this boat, several men and women milled about with heavy duty sound equipment and serious cameras. We were soon informed that there was only one boat available to take us on the river, so we split into two groups.
My group was the first to go out on the water. The boat was wide and flat, which enabled it to glide through the shallow and clear Loire water. The sun beat down on us, and I made sure to put on my trusty bucket hat and some sunscreen (don’t worry mom). This first voyage took us to an island, where we hopped off the boat. We would wait there for it to return with the rest of our friends. By tacit agreement, we all decided to take a walk to explore our new surroundings. Swatting away annoying ‘mouches’ we made our way to the other side of the island. Naturally, everyone began skipping rocks, seeing how many skips we could get. Soon this devolved into a rock throwing competition, with a few people attempting to throw a rock as far as he or she could.
Soon enough, the other group arrived, and we began the second part of our journey by boat. Our guide pointed out features of the landscape, like a tower that used to function like a lighthouse, letting sailors know where they were on the river. He also showed us a beaver den up close. After this, the boat brought both groups back to shore. We sat at some wooden tables with tree logs for chairs. Madame Nichols, Mr. Taft, and Odile fired up the grill and made sausages and chicken for us to eat. This was accompanied by salad, potato salad, tomato salad, and of course, baguettes.
After our picnic, our group sauntered over to a guinguette, also on the bank of the Loire. Now what is a guinguette? It’s a place of good music, good food, and good times, next to the shore of the Loire. However, it was only 3:00 pm, so there weren’t many people there at the time. This allowed our group to have free rein in the place. Upon arriving, I went straight for the swings, swinging just like I was in elementary school again. Some of my friends started a game of volleyball, while others played ping pong. My first night in Tours, my host family took me to this guinguette, and it was a much different place at night. Music played loudly, couples danced on the dance floor, and food was served to all.
After our picnic, we were driven back to Tours to return to our host families and get a little rest before the Fete de la Musique, a tradition in France since 1982. Musicians of all calibers are invited to perform in the streets for all to enjoy. The Fete is always celebrated on June 21st, the summer solstice, and longest day of the year.