Today I walked down the hill to the town of Saint-Satur, which lies in to the north-east of Sancerre down the hill. After studying the map I wasn't sure if it would be a good walking route or not, or how many cars there would be. After going down a very steep side street at the end of my block (which I nearly walked right by because the road basically plunges out of sight), I ended up on a road that gently sloped down and around and had basically no cars (I was passed by two the whole time, I think). A good running spot too!
The map showed a road that branched off to the left, but when I actually came across it I saw it was a overgrown dirt path that ran along some vineyards and looked as if it could be private land.* I opted to take the longer route, and take the a left at the next intersection, but when I got there I realized the road I was on went over a bridge that went over the other road, with no way to get down, which I didn't expect at the intersection between two small roads. Learning a new area is kind of funny—from the map all these roads looked easily navigitable, but on the ground it's a different story.
I did eventually find my way down to Saint-Satur, walking through the quiet residential neighborhoods to get to the center. The main street itself (Rue de Commerce) was basically desserted, with almost no one else up and about, though cars were driving through. I get the feeling they don't get a lot of tourists here—it seems a bit run down and it's not as nice as Sancerre. The main drag of town is so narrow that two cars can't fit side by side, so instead there is a light at either end that lets only one direction of traffic go through at a time; I'd never seen that as a permanent traffic fixture before.
The Rue de Commerce also goes by a huge (by small-town standards) abbey (Abbaye Saint-Satur) built in the 14th century that sit maybe 3 feet from the main road. It doesn't look to be in great shape, and it's crazy that architecture like this is seemingly so commonplace that I had a hard time even finding information about it online.
The only place that was open was the local patisserie, so I went in to get a pastry (kind of my MO). While I was deciding what to get—no joke—two people came in and got baguettes and left. I can't get over it! People really just eat baguettes all the time over there. I myself decided on a mystery pastry, which turned out to be breakfast sausage topped with a hard-boiled egg, encased in puff pastry—delicious! I ate it while sitting in the grass on the edge of a vineyard on my walk home.
For the walk back, I took the shortcuts up the side of the hill, next to the vineyards. Right when it seemed totally isolated, I came across a bench at the end of the vineyard, which I think is a nice reminder that this route isn't abandoned after all, there are others that use these dirt paths too. At that point I was also huffing and puffing from the steep climb, so it felt a bit like a knowing gift from the people of Sancerre/Saint-Satur.
I'm sure I'll get back down to Saint-Satur again, hopefully with my better camera too.
*In America, I feel like you could get shot for trespassing, so I'm always a bit nervous about it.