Your place, or mine???

Remnants of an imperial past, Chateaux are a common site in France and central Europe.

As I said in my photo of the river Loire, the waterway is certainly an unusual confluence of two pillars of the French psyche: her regal past as a player on the world's stage, and her need for energy independence in an attempt to recapture that former glory. Here one will find breathtaking castles and fortresses, as the one above; while across the river will be two or three cooling towers of a nuclear reactor. Perhaps the plant is a fission facility; or perhaps it is the more fearsome fast breeder reactor.

All of Europe is a case study in the stresses and strains, the waxing and waning of state power and empires, and France is no exception. People forget that Napoleon once inspired as much fear, loathing and hatred in western Europe as Hitler did. But this century's World Wars sapped Europe of its intellectual, moral, political, and cultural vitality. Despite all the puffery about the Euro, it shows you the pale bankruptcy of European intellectual thought that a concept whose veracity has been repeatedly established for centuries---free trade in ideas, labor, capital and currency-- is viewed as such radical and daring gamble! In the case of France, envious for her former role as a mjor player on the world stage, she has resorted increasingly to gaining relative power by diluting and diminishing the influence of others (usually Britain and America). No other country in Europe pursues foreign policy with such exclusive regard for its own national interests, yet no country hides behind its European facade more effectively.

Heavy thoughts for a castle and a clear day in such a wonderful country as France. But your mind drifts as you tour, and occasionally dwells on grander themes as the one above. Of course this does not make such thinking correct.

In the meantime enjoy the Chateaux, which often are wineries where you can camp, stay overnight in a room, and sample the vintages. [degustation in French] 1