Friday, 20 May 2011

...into Eleanor territory

Hello again,
Is France the most impossibly beautiful country?


Charles IV charged his chief minister Sully to redress the depredation to the forests of the 100 years war and it was him we can apparently thank for the beautiful avenues of Lime trees that now jump out and bang into cars on roads often only meant for the speed and traffic of a horse and cart.

The town architecture in the areas south of Poitiers suggests more wealth from better soil… and notwithstanding the bloody religious clashes of the C17th (ta, for that Marie de Medici and various Huguenot stirrers) a settled prosperity.

 Bourg Archamboult, making a transition from defensive habitation to something a little bit more Rapunzel.... (round the corner rom the troglodytes digs.)

And a evening wander around the immediate vicinity of Moustiers to a farm that is being renovated

Montmorillon known for its paper-making..and all things 

...and a riot of colour I didn't quite expect the extent of at Poitiers... fun times for the C11th... 

allegedly, Eleanor liked to party and this is her bailiwick.

With a C7-8th Baptristry/Chapel thrown in. 
Beautifully deft calligraphic drawing and a rather kindly Christ Pancrator showing, I think more a Roman than Byzantine influence.

After the confrontational, "you'll-do-as-your-told-or I'll-chop-you-off-at-the-knees", doctrinal thuggery of the Albi Cathedral's architecture, these are a pure delight was this C16th choir stall at the village of Mortemart with what was under the seats being vey funny as well.
I was also interested in what seemed to be a queue of saints, (Joan, Tony and Cath) waiting to be seated.

Apologies to St Joan of Arc... it was her feast day after all.

Oradour-sur-Glane was a relatively contemporary and nasty bit of destruction from 1944 .... the church being a very moving space. 
Much as Pompeii, a brooding place in its sense of untimely and unexpected demise.

Villandry where an appreciation of formal gardens begins...("..... it's the scale that's been missing", opines Mrs Wombat, and starts to get excited by realising the aesthetic value of hedges other than as demarcation lines) ......a gorgeous relaxing place.

As was Anzy-le-Rideau a beautiful little river segment

Angouleme Cathedral

... closed it seems, for "exceptional" circumstances.... 
 ...which may or may not have had something to do with a scandal relating to the Cathedrals' sextant and a facebook affaire, noted in a local scandal/gossip mag on a news-stand.

The femme in distress here looks like she might sound a bit like Lena Lamont from "Singin' in the Rain"... Aahh, Georgie, Oohh, Georgie.

Bientot petals.... more in a bit about: French lunchtime, roadsigns: the lack of and/or weirdness of placement, on being "Chateaued", tourist dress and behaviour and copping a good dose Haute Bourgeouisie.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Faith in Stone

G’day, you two….
Shane in Provence

Our epistles from the south have become infrequent as, our internet is only reliably supplied by McDonalds;A funny episode today was using the 30 min free wi-fi from a tourist information centre and trying to check some sites for messages etc only to have access to three banned because of content!  One of these sites was facebook!!

La Roque-sur-Ceze

A very pretty town 25 k nw of Avignon… has a lovely narrow bridge named after Charles Martel
(whose reputation was mightily enhanced  in the (C9-10th) after thumping some touristy Moors from Spain in a battle near Poitiers and effectively ending their holiday incursion/raids into France. 
Apparently latter day French Muslims want to build a Mosque on or near said battle site…. !!
Charles Martel Bridge

Had a little trip to Orange and paid exorbitantly to see “the best Roman Ampitheatre in Europe”…..( dunno what the Italians think of that claim….)  only to see lots of people reading, listening and not looking at anything in particular.

Ampitheatre Orange

And on to Silvacane Abbey; a blissful harmony of stone, proportion and light. 
The acoustics in the refractory were fan-bloody-tastic
“C” counted four reverberations on my Dominus Vobiscum… Tony and Chris would love it.
 It did make me wonder as to whether the monk reading the texts during meal-times chanted in time to the chewing or was it vice-versa?

Thoronet Abbey followed, a long drive but in the end worth it… this place had an exquisite sense of architectural rightness. Everything seemed to be an extension of the quality in Silvacane, more austere perhaps but extremely moving.

Le Thoronet

We travelled back through a thunderstorm. Semi-trailers, thunder and lightning, 130 km/h muck, spray and zippy little French cars….interesting, Petals.


Also to St.Cannat… C and H  know all about that place….

Friday, 6 May 2011

Lyon Roars

Bonjour Petals,

Lyon is being presented by Clare, the Lyonaisse bouchon and McDonalds free internet….(great free internet, horrible coffee!)

This city has around half the inhabitants of Melbourne and a public transport system that is 10 times better.
Although generally it’s a trifle more crowded than this image suggests.

A wonderful range of architecture from Gallo-Roman to contemporary except for the “blanc-mange” of Fourviere basilica …
…even ran into some old acquaintances who looked a bit out of place spruiking for o/s trips.

Market, Croix Rousse

Weather has been too good… unseasonably warm as this Lyonnais sign attests but excellent for Market day at Croix Rousse and walking along the Saone

and wandering through the Traboule area

and the Musee de Beaux Arts

St. Maurice-de-Gourdans,
St. Maurice-de-Gourdans,

First trip in car to test the water…. Beautiful little Romanesque church, St. Maurice-de-Gourdans, very moving frescoes and simply elegant, spiritual
architecture which is why “Fourviere” looks so excessive.


Then on to Perouges “a-most-beautiful-village-in–France” .. 

Eglise, Perouges

We’ve had a fun dinner with Clare’s friends and particularly Anne and Bernard who have been such kindly assistance to her.
This first week has been pretty full-on and wombies legs are mere stumps after 18 hours walking in the first two days (if you please????)
I can say with some authority that that is no way to tackle jet-lag!
We are finding our feet so to speak, adapting to circumstance and finding a balance between what was planned and what is possible realistically

so will leave you lot with a pic of Lou XIV, always in the clouds…