Dozens of caves
This is Rue Bretonneau, one of the main thoroughfares in and out of Amboise and one which I avoid like the plague. It’s a narrow road with bottlenecks where only one vehicle can get through. Vehicles exiting Amboise southwards have priority over those entering which means you can get stuck for quite a while if you’re behind someone who didn’t have the benefit of a Parisian driving apprenticeship like I did.
Parisian driving is like most French driving with a lot more aggression, speed and ego involved. Back in my early twenties I used to go out drinking in Paris with a Franco-American called Phil. He lived near the Champs Elysées and to demonstrate how French roundabouts worked he liked nothing better than to drive us onto the mega Arc de Triomphe roundabout at about 130km/h. Then, he’d screech to a near stop, poke his way out of the mess in the middle and then zoom out on the other side. It was okay to be drunk in control of a motor vehicle back in those days apparently or so he told me.
Then of course there was the fabulous périphérique to negotiate. Similarly, the principle is to drive on very very fast, because you are allowed to, and then tailgate as much as is possible, cut people up and change lanes a maximum number of times before exiting leaving burning tread marks behind you and an erect middle finger on the hand sticking out the window. Loved it.
Back to Rue Bretonneau, it could be a million miles from Paris. Walking up I was struck by how most of the houses were derelict and most of the caves on both sides looked abandoned. The street is in a gully overlooked on either side by high walls and there are dozens of caves all along it. The few houses there are weird constructions seemingly built up and added to over the years until now nobody lives there any more. It must be quite dank and dark in the houses and the noise of traffic reverberating down the gully must be awful.
This place looks abandoned and yet the green sign you can just see against the red brickwork being eaten by ivy actually flashes on and off. The sign says « Pompes Funèbres » and is pointing to the right. After the building is a small road lined with yew trees leading to the cemetery and, of course, the undertakers. I can only think they must have some weird sort of sense of humour.
At the top of the street there is the now defunct Antoine Courtois Gaudet Trumpet Factory. I only know there was a trumpet factory here because one of the dads at school got sacked from it.
Sorry about the picture. Here is a lovely russet – copper coloured tree at the fifteen minute point to make up for it:
Oh, and number 75. I can’t resist it. It has poppies growing in front of it in the middle of October.
An old gent was looking down at me from his garden as I took the picture. He waved at me cheerfully.