Carcassonne

May 2015.

If you visit France, you will certainly visit one or two châteaux.  I do not know many châteaux  there are in France . I remember asking the question to a French person but I  do not recall if I got an answer on it.  So this is something to try to figure out !

On that day,  we went to see the castle of Carassonne.  The city is famous for the medieval fortress restored by the theorist and architect  Eugène Viollet-le-Duc  in 1853 and added to the UNESCO  list of   World Heritage Sites  in 1997.

The medieval citadel at Carcassonne,  known as “La Cité”, dominates Languedoc’s tourism map. It is huge and completely over-the-top, encompassing no less than 53 towers, strung together by two enormous concentric walls, surrounded by a moat, and punctuated here and there by heavy barbicans, portcullis and draw-bridges.

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But who is Carassonne ? We had a guided tour with  a young woman who knew very well to explain the story. I wished I remember all what she said  but it was more than a year ago!!!  So I will  use google  to tell you  part of the story :

“The legend takes place in the 8th century, during the wars between Christians and Muslims in the southwest of Europe. The siege lasted for five years. Early in the sixth year, food and water were running out. Lady Carcas made an inventory of all remaining reserves. The villagers brought her a pig and a sack of wheat. She then had the idea to feed the wheat to the pig and then throw it from the highest tower of the city walls.  Charlemagne  lifted the siege, believing that the city had enough food to the point of wasting pigs fed with wheat. Overjoyed by the success of her plan, Lady Carcas decided to sound all the bells in the city. One of Charlemagne’s men then exclaimed: “Carcas sonne!” (which means “Carcas sounds”). Hence the name of the city. At the entrance of the drawbridge, a replica of Lady Carcas’s bust welcomes visitors.”

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Within these fairy-tale fortifications sits a basilica (church). The Basilica of Saints  Nazarius and Celsus  ( Basilique des Saints Nazaire et Celse) is a romanesque-gothic minor basilica. And of course, we went inside !

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We admired   beautiful stained-glass .

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We were also treated by a group of men singing.  They were also selling their CD. We took the time to listen  . It was cool in the basilica and we were  enjoying it.

A good day trip from for us.  Carcasonne is about 100km from Toulouse . It was  a fantastic  day.  A  day you know you’ll never forget !

thanks for reading and  if you leave a comment, I really appreciate it. MERCI

 

 

 

 

 

Toulouse

May  2015. We left Bordeaux and traveled  by train to Toulouse. My friend was waiting for us and soon after our lunch  we discovered the city. So many interesting places to see. It was great weather and good time to share with our friends. The first photo shows you  Place du Capitole  (top left)and  other places in the city.

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We visited The Basilica Saint-Sernin. Constructed in the  Romanesque style between about 1080 and 1120, with construction continuing thereafter. Saint-Sernin is the largest remaining Romanesque building in Europe, if not the world.

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The Cathedral St-Etienne. The irregular west front exists because the cathedral consists of two incomplete churches, the first dating from the early 13th century, which includes the  rose window  from 1230.

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Here is a view from the side of the building.

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We also  went to The Jacobin convent. The Dominicans—known as Jacobins in French because their convent in  Paris  was affiliated with the church of St-Jacques—have a long history in  Toulouse . The first monastery was founded in the 13th century.

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It is interesting how I see more Churches, Basilica, Cathedral while traveling than  when I am at home.  I will  tour the beautiful churches we have here in Vancouver area when I will decide to be a tourist in my own city.  There would be lots of places I never been although I have been living in Vancouver for 27 years !

Toulouse is a brick and stone city nicknamed “La Ville Rose”.  We had so much to learn and so much to see.

Pastel -fabulous plant -that gave blue to all Europe 400 years ago, made Toulouse flourish and enriched the region in the sixteenth century.  Isatis Tinctoria.  Long important as a source of blue dye, it has been cultivated throughout Europe, especially in Western and southern Europe, since ancient times. In medieval times there were important woad-growing regions in England, Germany and France. Towns such as Toulouse  became prosperous . Woad was eventually replaced by the stronger indigo and, in the early 20th century, both woad and indigo were replaced by synthetic indigos.

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It would be impossible to show you all we did in a busy afternoon  but of course, with a few photos you can imagine easily that this was a really nice visit. On my next post , we will be going on a field trip from Toulouse to visit a very famous castle.

Thanks for reading . MERCI beaucoup !

 

 

 

 

 

 

St-Emilion (France)

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May 2015

With our friends we drove from Bordeaux to  Saint-Émilion. A beautiful medieval village in the heart of one of Bordeaux’s most  famous vineyard regions. Saint-Émilion’s history goes back to prehistoric  times and is an UNESCO  World Heritage Site  with fascinating Romanesque  churches and ruins  stretching all along steep and narrow streets. Just wandering in the village was interesting.

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It was nice to visit  as  the village was not  crowded with tourists.

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Up we went again to admire the view. 118 steps of the Kings’s Tower built during the XIII century .

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We had lunch on the main plaza …

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and  we enjoyed tasting wine from the area…

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What a beautiful day it was. I know you would also enjoy it . Thanks for reading my travel story. More to come  and this time we are going in a different area of France where another friend had planned many visits .

Bordeaux

May 2015

We  only had two days in Bordeaux. We met a friend and we walked around the city.     It is a very pleasant city with many great architectural sights. We crossed  the Pont de pierre. We climbed the tower Pey Berland beside the Cathedral Saint-André.  We admired the wonderful fountain called the Monument aux Girondins in Place des Quinconces. It was nice to see Opera House at night. So much history  here again…

The Pont de pierre, or “Stone Bridge” in English, is a bridge in Bordeaux, which connects the left bank of the Garonne River to the right bank quartier de la Bastide.   Its construction took place during the  Bourbon Restoration , from 1819 to 1822.

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The fountain of the “daughters of Zeus” : Aglaé, Euphrosyne and Thalie.

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When we were up the tower  Pey Berland, we enjoyed the view of the city and the Cathedral.

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And here is the Roman Catholic cathedral, seat of the Archbishop of Bordeaux-Bazas. The cathedral was consecrated by Pope Urban II in 1096.

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The Place des Quinconces is one of the largest city squares in Europe. It was laid out in 1820 on the site of Château Trompette, intended to prevent rebellion against the city. The principal monument was erected between 1894 and 1902 in memory of the  Girondists  who fell victim of the  Reign of Terror  during the French Revolution . It is composed of a large pedestal framed with two basins, decorated with bronze horses and troops, and surmounted by a large column with a statue on top that represents the spirit of liberty.

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Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux was  first inaugurated on 17 April 1780.

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Our hotel was well located on rue Esprit des Lois. From there we walked to a restaurant and had a delicious green dinner.

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We had plans  for the next day so we didn’t stay up too late. You will see what happened  in my next post !

I hope this short visit in Bordeaux via my post was enjoyable for you as much as it was for me and my husband .  Thanks for reading.  Always happy to read your comment.

Bassin d’Arcachon/ Arcachon Bay ( France)

May 2015

After Paris and a ride on the TGV. We arrived in Bordeaux and then changed train. Again we were lucky to meet with a friend living in this area we were about to spend 5 days . Everyday, we visited some interesting places. Who said being on holiday is relaxing ? She wanted us to see it all.  I don’t mind because most of the time I have good energy and I want to see as much as possible.

Arcachon Bay is a bay of the Atlantic Ocean on the southwest coast of France, situated between the Côte d’Argent and the Côte des Landes, in the region of Aquitaine. The bay covers an area of 150 km² at high tide and 40 km² at low tide

I will show a few photos . Let start with the Great  Dune of Pyla.   The tallest sand dune in Europe. After climbing the stairs , you can enjoy the view…

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My friend had a surprise for us. She had been asking a friend to give us an airplane ride all over the  Bay area. It was fantastic! A  private tour – 30 minutes  to admire the beautiful scenery. Taking photos was a bit of a challenge because the reflections on the window. i was the lucky one as I was sitting in front with the pilot. My husband and my friend were behind. I think it was the fist time I flew in a small plane like that.

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Nearly in the middle of the bay is a very particular island: L’île aux Oiseaux (Isle of the Birds).

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Another day, another adventure . Friday Market  is a fun day. So much good food.  Local food. Cheese, olives, nuts… fruits and vegetables.

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Then, visiting the town of Arcachon  with its nice looking houses – a type of Victorian architecture- was also great.

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Here is the windmill in Vensac.  From the 1800’s and  still producing flour. It turns 200 days and get almost 10,000 visitors each year.

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We  went on a boat to visit the lighthouse of Cordouan. The lighthouse is located 7 km off the shore and is the oldest in France. 311 steps to the top .  67.5 meters high.

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Another day, we watched  men playing “pétanque”. They take it very seriously but they didn’t mind that I took a few shots of them. Maybe they thought I was going to send my photos to the local newspaper !!

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A stroll  along the water. It must be low tide.

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Are you thirsty ?   Here is a happy man  that has something for you.

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What a wonderful time we had .It allowed us to leave this area of France  with great memories. We had other  places to go.   I will continue to tell the story of my travel in France. Next post. We are going to Bordeaux.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Paris

Let’s get in a time capsule and go back to  May 2015.

It was my third visit in Paris but the last one was in 1992 so it was really great to go back . This time , my husband was with me. I always said we would go together because  I  speak French  fluently and It would make it easier for him  !

I  have already did a post on my time in Paris but as it was the first step of our time in Europe.  I feel I need to start here  as I never finished the story of that trip !

https://france55.wordpress.com/2015/07/14/lets-go-to-paris/

I was lucky to have a friend who lives in the outskirt of Paris. She picked up us at  CDG airport and we spent 2 full days with her . We walked a lot.  This is the only way to see as much as possible and get a  true feeling of this wonderful city.  Walking along the Seine River, into the Jardins des Tuileries, les Champs d’Elysées, climbing Arc-de-Triomphe.  All that on Day 1.

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The next day , we went to Montmartre. It was  a nice sunny Sunday and  the Basilica was full.  We also walked in the area of the Marais. It is where my friend twisted her ankle . She had to go to emergency!  Not much fun  but things happen for a reason I suppose. A  year later, I know she has fully recovered .

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We still had time to visit more of Paris on our own . We even didn’t plan to see any museums like Le Louvre. We stayed in a small hotel in the 15th arrondissement and we walked some more. Jardins du Luxembourg. Quartier Latin.  We went up the Eiffel Tower and  walked on rue Cler. According to Rick Steves, there are no better place than this street to learn the fine art of living Parisian-style. We also had time to visit Cathedral Notre-Dame and have a beer while watching people walking in the rain .

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After 4 days in Paris, our trip was just starting . We were going to take the TGV and  visit another area of France.  Visit another friend also . I will tell more in another post.

Thank you for visiting my blog or following me. I enjoy sharing my story with all of you.

 

Leavenworth

DSC00113Leavenworth is an interesting village in Washington State.  It is a Bavarian  town nested in the Cascade Mountain Range. It was a logging town on the verge of extinction and now it is a very popular touristic destination.  2 millions people come here every year !

We arrived in Leavenworth early enough in the afternoon to walk through the town and admire the Bavarian architecture of the buildings. It is quite amazing to see.  For a moment you can easily forget your are in USA.

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There are many shops where you can find special items like nutcrackers, cuckoo-clocks, beer steins, music boxes and holidays decorations. You can do wine tasting , eat cheese or chocolate… It is a little paradise.

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I can just imagine the ambiance of the place  when they have special celebrations. They have many festivals throughout the year including Oktoberfest and the magical weekends of Christmas Lightning.

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After sleeping in Leavenworth we walked some more in the town and I took more photos. We realized that most stores only open at 10 or 11 AM. It was really quiet  especially because it was  Thursday  morning but I am sure the weekend are very busy.

It was really nice to visit Leavenworth. Thanks for visiting my blog.  Next post will be from our trip to Europe ( spring 2015).