January 14th, 2008


I've been to Saumur. Well, not exactly been there but passed through. On holiday in the early 1960s with my family. We were touring through the Loire valley and heading from Someplace to Someplace else and my father wasn't in the mood to stop. How can you not stop in a place like Saumur?  It has a castle on a crag. It's absolutely glorious. I've passed through a lot of places in my time but none of them haunts me like Saumur.

I'll go back there some day. Maybe not in this lifetime.

Saumur is the town where Eugenie Grandet lives. Her house nestles right under the castle crag.  Beautiful. Only no-one seems to see it (except Eugenie, briefly, when she notices some flowers on the cliff face while innocently spooning with Charles).  Is Balzac making a point here-  moral squalor= blindness to natural beauty?  I'd like to think so, but probably not- because he doesn't seem to notice the grandeur of the setting either. For him Saumur is simply Dullborough

I was thinking how odd this was and then I remembered what a spectacular city Bath is- and how you'd never guess it from reading Jane Austen or Dickens.