Just words

I jotted down what I saw as we travelled from Nantes to Paris. Green and gold were the predominant colours. Lots of trees grew along the roadside and divided pasture and there were large areas of forest.

The golden fields (feel a song coming on?) were dotted with large round bales. In others, harvesters were busy. This area is known as the granary of France.

There were herds of cattle – never more than about forty beasts – and mainly Charolais – the white cattle, but also brown and white or black and white or even brown-red like Scandinavian cattle. There were calves in some herds. I saw some sheep, some goats and some horses.

There were extensive maize (or corn, as in corn-on-the-cob, but could have been the similar one grown for animal feed) crops and some fields of sunflowers. The only irrigation I saw was on maize crops. In each case there was a large hose reel with a single jet of water arcing out across the field.

On the roadside I could see broom, yarrow, ragwort, blackberry, fluffy grasses and ferns or bracken. At one point there were bulrushes in a ditch. There were feathery purple flowers and smaller purple flowers which looked like a kind of heather.

I wasn’t sure what all of the trees were but I did identify some poplars, pines and eucalyptus. Sometimes there was ivy growing up the trunks of trees and clumps of mistletoe in the tops. Other trees were clearly plantations with straight rows. Later, I identified willow, rowan and buddleia and what looked like a macrocarpa hedge.

The farmhouses were stone and grey, white or cream, with slate roofs. There were stone and corrugated iron farm buildings, often open-sided and I could see hay bales or animals inside. Sometimes there were large metal silos. Newer houses were cream with orange roofs.

There were fruit trees from time to time, in long rows and covered with nets.

The land was undulating so you could see for miles across fields and forested valleys to towns on a hill, with a church spire in the middle.

I was on the lookout for Chartres Cathedral and was rewarded by the sight of its twin spires, blue-grey on the horizon. The highway curved west and suddenly, in a break in the trees, there it was, its green roof clearly visible.

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