23/04/2018

Necro- and Metropolis

The day began going back in time by visiting the most celebre cemetery in Paris: Cimetière de Père-Lachaise, – probably the most visited in world.
This necropolis covers a huge area and is fully booked with tombs and mausoleums of all imaginable kinds. Many famous people have found their final resting place here; we saw but only a few.
Eva next to the tomb of Fryderyk Franciszek Chopin. His bones rest here but his heart is buried in the Holy Cross Church in Warsaw.


One has the right to be buried in Père-Lachaise if one dies in Paris,
or lived here – but space is limited and there is a long waiting list.

The family dog may not be buried here as well, but it sure is keeping watch over its long gone master.

A large section is dedicated to memorials for the thousands of French citizens killed during the many wars and revolutions that Paris has endured.

This wall witnessed the last 150 Communards being shot by the French Army in the evening of May 28, 1871, during the final hours of the revolution known as the Paris Commune.

This 21-year-old journalist, Victor Noir, was shot and killed in January 1870 by Prince Pierre-Napoléon Bonaparte. You may notice that certain areas (shoe tip, fly and mouth) of the bronze figure are rather well polished. If you are interested in reading about this strange necro-romantique case, click here: http://parisisinvisible.blogspot.fr/2012/03/strange-journey-of-victor-noir.html

Cremated Parisians can rent a tiny 1-room box for the urn, – apparently with no waiting list.

A somewhat saddening sight: Discarded wreaths and bouquets
next to the crematorium.
- – o O o – -

After a good homemade lunch in a nearby park with live birds, dogs and people, we Metro-ed to the museum for the artist Aristide Maillol, mostly known for his fine sculptures of nude women.


While heading home from Maillol we saw this Danish contribution
to the French minds.
So much more quality valeur than this Danish contribution
to the French palates:

Paris loves its image as the "City of love" but the city authority doesn't appreciate the rapidly increasing number of key-less padlocks on certain pedestrian bridges. Paris officials have, so far, removed 45 tons of love-locks from the rails of the bridges.
With this blue-haired blue-lipped Notre-Dame de Paris
today's sojourn ends. 

22/04/2018

Springtime in Paris

Faced by the ever increasing strikes among French railway employees and Air France pilots we decided to beat the crowd – and thus arrived one day before schedule in Paris. It is springtime here but temps are like in August. Today's max was 28°C and very humid.
Took the train from CDG to the city centre.
 We have established a "bridgehead" in # 8 Passage Choiseul, a small but appropriate flat in one of Paris' covered shopping arcades from the Belle Epoque 125 years ago.
Passage Choiseul. – The first top row windows to the right belong to "our" flat.
The Passage is in the 2nd Arrondissement quite close to the Opera and within easy walking or Metro-ing to most other things.
We shopped in the local Monoprix supermarket –
– and snacked some French products –
– before we took a stroll to the Paris Opera (aka Palais Garnier).
However, the walk was cut short because it suddenly rained and we had left the umbrellas in the flat. On the way back the most romantique springtime footware for a three-legged lady insisted on being admired, – and I just couldn't resist.

Tomorrow, we'll don our less fancy shoes and head out along the streets as explorateurs.

23/09/2017

Souillac – finale

This last day of biking in the Dordogne region began quite misty.
We departed Vitrac at mid morning and enjoyed the autumn landscapes along the north bank of the river.
Soon we reached the Château de Montfort which, during its 900 years, has witnessed a long series of battles and sieges. First, it was taken and razed to the ground by Simon de Montfort in 1214. Then rebuilt, but again destroyed during the Hundred Years' War, under Louis XI of France and under Henri IV of France.
The whimsically looking castle is perched right on the edge of the precipice above the Dordogne.
Farther on, we were fortunate to have a piste cyclable at our disposal – but only for a couple of km.
We crossed the Dordogne once again and could ascertain the claim that this river is the cleanest of all the big rivers in France.
The clean river seen from above
The next castle on our route was Château de Fénelon, a formidable feudal fortress from the 14th century. François de Salignac de la Mothe Fénelon (1651-1715) was probably the most famous owner of the castle. He was bringing up the future Louis 16 and was also an archbishop, a philosopher and an intellectual heralding the period of Enlightenment.
The last 10 km of our biking holiday we travelled in a flat and fertile area on the south bank of the Dordogne through extensive walnut plantations, fields of sunflowers and maïs plants with cobs ready for harvest.
Then we entered the Occitanie region and said goodbye to Dordogne, crossed over and reached our destination: Souillac.
We got installed in a good room in Le Pavillon Saint Martin next to the ancient belfry ...
The Grimbergen beer has been brewed by the monks in the abbey (just around the corner) since 1128, – and it's a great beer!
... and sat down in the nearest bar with two glasses of local beer to celebrate the happy end of two great weeks on wheels in the Périgord and the Dordogne regions. 
- – o 0 o – -
Thanks for following this travel blog.
The blog will become alive again when we engage in our next adventures.

21/09/2017

Domme

Today has been hot and sunny, a true late summer day in the Dordogne valley.
We decided to bike up the bastide town of Domme, an easy 5 km from our hotel in Vitrac.
Domme is perched on a 200 m high rocky outcrop overlooking the Dordogne river.
Thursday is market day, so the town was extra busy.
The sausage stand attracted my attention with a lot a homemade specialities, including those made with meat from rabbits, bulls, kangaroos, ostriches, and donkeys (the latter with the strongest taste of them all, according to the sausage man).
We strolled around in the well-kept and lovely town, had some coffee and walnut cakes, and were ready for a siesta – like everybody else – in the warm and quiet noon hour.
The ruin of the Domme castle with the still intact prison towers is one of the attractions of Domme. 
It was here in the two towers that many members of the famous order "Knights Templar" were kept prisoners after the French King Philip IV had them arrested at their strongholds on Friday 13th October 1307 (by the Julian calendar used at that time).
The knights were tortured until "confessing" heresy and other abominable crimes. Therefore, they all faced the ultimate punishment and were executed on the central square of Domme.
It is widely believed that that unfortunate event on Friday the 13th has lead to the superstition that Friday the 13th is the worst combination of all and, therefore, a truly unlucky day.

Well, those are bygone times, so we released the bike brakes and zipped down to the hotel at the valley bottom, where it was time to take a dip or two in the big warm pool.
After the dip we dried ourselves in the sun.

Tomorrow will be our last day on bikes. 
Time sure flies when you're having fun.

20/09/2017

Vitrac

Another very cool night followed by thick morning fog that eventually cleared away around 11 am. We spent most of the morning hours visiting our neighbour in Les Eyzies: Musée National de la Préhistoire.
The museum focussed on Cro-Magnon tools and tool making as well as the fauna in this Vézère valley around 20,000 years ago.
Unfortunately, the displays were mostly catering to flint nerds and profs interested in the minute details of the making of tools. 
The numerous flint and bone fragments didn't have a great appeal to the ordinary visitor.
A few displays dealt with the mega-fauna of the period, like this whole specimen of a Wooly Rhinoceros that once fell into a tar pit and thereby was preserved. The sketch in the background is a contemporary piece of art from one of the local caves.
The exhibited examples of carved sculptures made by Cro-Magnons were very fascinating. Here is a Steppe Bison ...
... and here three horses.
We said goodbye to the lovely town of Les Eyzies and headed towards the southeast. Our next destination was the village of Vitrac on the northern bank of the Dordogne river.
After a pleasant 35-km ride we arrived at Hôtel Plaisance where we are now. The weather is absolute marvelous and the insects are all busy in the flowers of the hotel garden.
Here is a friendly but parasitic wasp enjoying the late afternoon sunshine.

In 45 minutes we will proceed to the restaurant and have yet another delightful French dinner.
Bon appétit !