A Travellerspoint blog

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Bordeaux


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Bordeaux

While Freiburg was bright and multi-coloured, Bordeaux is a study in understated elegance. At first glance when you look at the buildings you see gray stone (or beige if it's been cleaned) and iron balcony railings. Nothing really catches your eye. When you look further, you see the elegance and symmetry of the design. Here are a few examples that caught my eye.

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Churches

Bordeaux also was quite rich and it shows in their public buildings. The Cathedral St. Andre is a beautiful church with a fantastic flying buttresses and a separate stand alone bell tower. (The ground there is not firm and can not support the weight of the tower and the church. This picture is from Basilique St. Michel which also has a separate tower.)

Here is another church with beautiful sculptures on it.
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Favourite #1

I have a few favourite buildings, The first one is typical of much of Bordeaux because it has naked women on it. But you will notice here that the women are holding up the building. They are beautiful and are doing all the work!!
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Favourite #2

The second is the Grosse Cloche tower.

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Place de la Bourse

The third is the Place de la Bourse. It is a big U shaped building with symmetric wings. Here are close ups of the 2 wings and the fountain in front. Notice in the relief sculpture on the pediment, the woman is chasing away some bad person.

As nice as this fountain is, it is nothing compared to the fountains at the Monument aux Girondins, which you can see in my next post.

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Posted by tedvanrossum 12:35 Archived in France Comments (0)

Lourdes


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Some people's pilgrimage ends at Lourdes, but mine starts here. I picked up my trusty steed "Juke Nisan" and headed out on the highway to Lourdes. It is a skittish little beast with 6 speeds (plus a hidden reverse) and a diesel engine; and after cutting off an angry motorcyclist, we finally developed a mutual accord. There is a lot to get used to with a new travel companion; how the gears work, and especially the side view mirrors (boy are things a lot closer than they look in these side view mirrors!). The GPS is also different, but I think I have it all calibrated now. It was helpful that I took the toll road just outside of Bordeaux for about 200 KM; the traffic was very light, and I can see why... it cost 27 Euros! Oh well, no fancy supper tonight.

Though it started out sunny and warm in Bordeaux, I arrived at Lourdes in the rain. The Pyrenees were misted over and the streets were wet. My hotel is a converted convent and the accommodation is very spartan, but perfect for a pilgrim.

You can see by the pictures that they sell the Virgin Mary well. Thoes bottles are for the holy water from the grotto, and the statues are to help you remember your experience. This street leads directly to the Basilica and the grotto.

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The Sanctuary

The Sanctuary Area is quite large, and though I didn't explore all of it I was impressed that some of the decoration had a modern feel.
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Grotto

The side complex here is where the pilgrims fill their water bottles... it is well organized with lots of taps (no need to scrabble for water in the grotto). Next we come to the grotto itself, there was a long line to eat in, even in the rain. Finally you could buy a candle for 3 Euros and have your prayers and petitions continue while you are gone.
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The reason I came here is because I am stricken with a terminal illness called "Old Age", and the doctors have given me only 20 years to live. I thought I may prevail on the Virgin Mary for a cure. I lined up and drank some of the holy water, ... but somehow I'm still afflicteed. Maybe it was because it was raining and the miraculous water was diluted too much...oh well, I'll just have to come back another time when it is dryer.

Posted by tedvanrossum 23:15 Archived in France Comments (0)

Carcassonne Castle


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Carcassonne Castle

My trusty steed Juke Nissan brought me from Lourdes to the Carcassonne Castle unscathed and I immediately began exploring this wonderful domain. As you can see by the sky, it was a wonderful and DRY day. This is the type of sky I imagined (and hoped) the south of France would have. I must admit, it alone made me smile!
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UNESCO World heritage site

This Unesco World heritage site is situated on a hill and has a commanding view of the valley below....It first started out as a Roman Fort in the 4th century AD. Since then it was fought over and populated by Visigoths, Saracens and finally the Franks.

The entrance was full of tourists as was the whole castle since it is filled with shops and restaurants. My first desire was to see the view of the surroundings from the ramparts.
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Couples

Everybody seemed to be in couples, and I missed having someone to share the experience, ... but I guess that this blog is a way of doing that, not as good as the real thing, but it will have to do.
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Interior Village

I wanted to tour the castle Keep, but it was closed, the workers were on strike, so I walked the streets in the walled city.
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Sculpture

The sculpture you see here is from a hotel just across from the castle. I thought Carcassonne was only about the castle, but this sculpture indicates that there is something else happening here...
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Posted by tedvanrossum 12:35 Archived in France Comments (0)

Carcassonne City


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Carcassonne City

As I was coming back from the laundromat, I came across Square Gambetta, just across the street from the Museum of Fine Art. This square had a wonderful mix of sculptures, some of children others of nude women in dramatic poses ... Of course I couldn't resist sharing them.

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Posted by tedvanrossum 13:25 Archived in France Comments (0)

Arles: Looking for Van Gogh

Arles

When I think of Arles, I think of Van Gogh and his painting "Cafe Terrace at Night", and that was what I was hoping to find... I did find some of that here, but not too much. Here is a shaded park with some old men playing petanque. I also found a lot of typical Mediterranean houses and sidewalk caf├ęs.

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Ruins

I also found some Roman ruins and restoration. The Roman Amphitheater has been renovated to be both a ruin and a working theatre; the Roman Coliseum also is still in use.

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Where is Vincent?

Nowhere in all this did I find Vincent! Outside of a few place names, he was nowhere to be found. Even the Vincent Van Gogh Foundation was closed for repair... It is as though they disowned him and he moved out.

What I did find was the JARDIN D'ETE and 2 marvelous sculptures. The first is a tragic scene of a woman lamenting her dead children (my interpretation, there were no places or signs on it). I was moved by her expression, and her pose. The second was in another section; here we see a man in a semi-athletic pose... and yes, we see his uncircumcised penis... finally equal treatment for the sexes...

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Where is Arles Going?

The Rhone River here is quite wide and the banks we'll maintained. I saw 3 River Cruise boats docked there and there seems to be a strong tourist industry here... but, the "Pont aux Lion" is in poor repair. So what is Arles betting it's future on? I'll show you in my next post.

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Posted by tedvanrossum 23:15 Archived in France Comments (1)

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