Au Revoir…Until We Meet Again

May 28, 2019

Our last full day of the trip and Paris. Of course because we didn’t need to drag everything from city to village to town, we did a little shopping in the morning. I had been urging Suzanne to buy some clothes, because most of them looked like they would fit her. Today was the day!

After our little spree, we walked up to the Musee Orsay. We were caught in a Paris deluge and fled to a deep doorway. After it cleared up we continued passing art supply stores, antique stores, and galleries. I had to take a picture of this amazing chest covered in amber. Don’t even want to know what they were asking for it and the other larger piece covered in turquoise.

Once we got to the museum we parted ways. Suzanne headed back to the hotel and a certain bookshop, and I headed into the museum.

I wandered into a special exhibit called Black models: from Gericault to Matisse. I though I’d spend a little time, but ended up spending almost 2 hours.

The intention was not to create an exhibition on the representations of black people as a social group but more to raise the question of “model”, which can be understood as both, the model represented by the artist and as the bearer of values.

In the 19th century artists were caught up in the era’s contradictions towards slavery. They were witnesses to a very long and tumultuous processs leading to abolition that passed by a first decree granting emancipated slaves from the French colonies, full French citizenship without distinction on the grounds of colour .

One of the ambitions of the exhibit was to find the identities of the models that have remained anonymous for so long. The above sculpture was created by Jean-Baptist’s Carpeaux in 1869, representing slavery of the Negresse.

This incredible bust was executed by Charles Cordier in 1867. It was part of a series of sculptures he produced for the L’Exposition Universelle de Paris in 1867.

One of the most well known professional models of the 19th century was Joseph, below. He was originally from Santo Domingo and was part of an acrobat troupe. He was spotted by the artist Gericault who used him as a studio model. Thereafter he was a well-appreciated figure in artistic circles. His case of being so well known in the era was the exception.

This painting above is by Francois-Auguste Biard. It is called Proclamation of the Abolition of Slavery in the French Colonies.

Ira Aldridge the model in the photo above, had moved from New York to London in order to become a successful Shakespearean actor, in 1833 he became the first black actor to perform the role of Othello. He was a free-born black American very vocal about slavery and was used in this painting by John Simpson to portray the dignity and hope of the enslaved.

Elvire Van Hyfte was born in the Belgian Congo, studied Philosophy at the University of Louvain before marrying a Belgian lawyer and businessman. She settled in Nice in the 1940’s. She became acquainted with a good friend of Matisse, as well as Louis Aragon and Elsa Triolet. She was a regular visitor to Matisse’s home and posed for several drawings and paintings. When the Congo achieved independence in 1962, Elvire Van de Hytle returned to Katanga, attended university and married a French diplomat.

Alexander Dumas, author of the Three Musketeers was at first ridiculed in caricature by some in France until he became an international success. Once he had received acclaim his portraits showed him as a light skinned man, the symbol of respectability.

A section of the exhibit dealt with Black models of the 19th century that were usually depicted as servants or slaves.

‘Olympia’ one of Manet’s most famous and infamous paintings created a furor when first exhibited in Paris. Viewers were so shocked that they had to be restrained from destroying the painting. The subject matter of Olympia, most probably a courtesan and her maid proffering flower’s sent by an unknown admirer. The maid shows a certain independence with a dignified bearing and questioning glance. Olympia is boldly nude, looking the artist in the eye, not the idealized or mythical woman usually depicted at that time.

This painting was so admired by other artists, that many created their own versions of the same subject matter.

This sculpture called, ‘I Like Olympia in Black’ is by Larry Riviera. The painting above the sculpture is by Cezanne and is called, ‘A Modern Olympia”.

This painting is Bazille’s, ‘Young Woman with Peonies’ 1870. The flower-seller is a black Parisian, who’s neither a slave or in servitude.

The exhibit covered the art and posters from the jazz scene and Black entertainers from the early 19th century.

Below is ‘Joueur De Banjo’, 1895 by Pierre Bonnard.

This is the Josephine Baker that worked with the French resistance during WWII and was one of the few women given a medal for her wartime work by Charles DeGaulle.

After finishing up in this special exhibit, I took a quick swing through the permanent collection on the main floor, then dashed up to the Impressionists.

Had to take a photo of this white French cow. Suzanne and I saw them all over the country and took quite a liking to them.

I was more interested in this photo of a rather grim Napoleon after reading of his decision to reinstitute slavery in French colonies to increase profits.

This huge sculpture, ‘La Danse’ was originally created for the facade of l’Opera in 1869, by Jean-Baptist Carpeaux. It was widely criticized as obscene.

As you can see from the featured photo and this one, the Orsay clock gives a unique view of Paris, with the Louvre prominent.

Pushing onward it was getting later in the day, so I did a whirlwind tour of the Impressionists.

A huge painting by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, ‘La Danse Au Moulin Rouge’. Monet’s water lilies are below.

Degas’s ‘Little Dancer’ was criticized as too realistic by the Impressionists. There is actually a book about the little dancer, age 14 that reveals much about Parisian life in the 19th century. Most of the dancers were from the poorest families, where there were very few respectable career options open to girls.

County Dance and City Dance by Pierre August’s Renoir.

Paul Cezanne painting, Bathers from 1890.

The Circus by Georges Seurat, 1891.

It was a zoo in the Impressionists, so I left at about 4:40 to walk back to meet Suzanne. Unfortunately I only made it a block, the next 3 blocks (very large blocks) were closed with yellow tape by a fairly significant police presence. There was a bridge, so I crossed over the Seine to the Louvre to follow the river until I could cross back over to the other side where our hotel was located. Definitely a longer walk than I was looking for. We went out for a quick last dinner in Paris, as our packing had to be done and we had an early morning to catch our flight home. I added it up and we have walked about 128 miles on this trip according to my Fitbit. I think we are going to have to rest up when we get home.

It’s been a great trip, so until the next one….

I Know The Spell For Ascending To The Sky

May 27, 2019

Exhibition of artifacts from the tomb of Pharaoh Tutankhamun. I bought tickets for us months ago at home. This will be the last time the artifacts leave Eygpt and some of them have never been out of the country before.

Tutankhamun was a Pharoh of the 18th dynasty and ruled from 1332-1323 BC. Tutankhamun means the “Living Image of Aten”. As he is commonly known King Tut ascended the throne when he was 9 years old.

The tomb was discovered in 1922 by Howard Carter during an expedition funded by Lord Carnarvon.

Furniture for a boy king. The pharaoh was the son of Re and the earthly form of Horus. He was a semi-divine being, the mediator between the gods and the people. Tutankhamun ruled during a stretch when Egypt enjoyed its status as the most powerful country in the world.

Upon his death the Priests prepared his passage through the Netherworld by packing his tomb with everything he would need on the journey and, later, in the afterlife. The afterlife was just like Egypt, only even more perfect. To get there, the deceased first had to pass through the 12 gates of the Netherworld, a place swirling with danger and forces that could be controlled only by magic. To enter, the deceased had to know and speak the names of the guardians of the gates.

These containers were filled with meat for King Tut’s journey. Each person’s passage through the Netherworld was unique with different spells determining his or her passageway.

This miniature ivory game board shows Tutankhamun and Ankhesenamun, his consort and half sister, playing Senet. Tutankhamun lived a luxurious life. The contents of his tomb were a link to the world he was leaving. There were more than 50 boxes and chests with filled with beautiful items.

The wooden Traveling Chest was filled with glass vessels, incense, ostrich feathers, and other ritual objects for the Opening of the Mouth ceremony.

The Calcite Vase on the stand, belonged to Tutankhamun and Ankhesenamun. Although the two shared a father, Ankhesenamun’s mother was Queen Nefertiti, renowned for her beauty. The spouted Faience Heset Vase with Domed Lid is shaped like the hieroglyph heset,”to praise”. This vase is the type used during the Opening of the Mouth ceremony.

The hieroglyphs carved in ivory and ebony on the lid of this case spell out Tutankhamun’s birth name. It is likely that Tutankhamun could read and write , but literacy was restricted to an educated few.

Every evening, Re’s solar boat fell below the horizon and the land was blanketed in 12 hours of darkness. The sun god spent the night crossing the Netherworld to rejoin the solar boat on its eastern shore. Tutankhamun accompanied Re through the Netherworld. To help light his way, his tomb was equipped with torches that would illuminate the darkness and ward off evil.

Spell, 151

Book of the Dead- I am he who catches the sand to choke the hidden place, I drive off him who would oppose himself to the torch of the necropolis.

The word for spell meant “utterance”. The written word carried authority but to make spells effective, words had to be spoken out loud. Magic was as essential to Egyptian life as air, water or food.

This gilded wooden and Ivory pen case inlaid with glass, would have been used by Tutankhamun to store reed pens.

This gilded wooden bed is covered with gold leaf. Carved on the footboard are Bes, guardian of newborns, and the hippopotamus-faced Taweret, who both provide protection.

There were 53 boats found in the tomb. Tutankhamun travelled throughout Egypt on a boat similar to this model. Lacking a mast, sail and rigging, it was probably powered by rowers.

The Ba and the Ka- The soul took the form of the ba, depicted as a bird with the deceased’s head. By day, it could leave the tomb to fly, invisible, to the land of the living. Each night, it returned to be reunited with the mummy where the ka resided, his life force, his spirit and very essence.

The inscription on the stick of this fan, says that Tutankhamun hunted ostriches in the desert near Heliopolis and he provided the feathers for this fan.

Spell 125

Book of the Dead- Come then and step through this gate of the Two Maats, for you know us.

This fan originally held 30 ostrich feathers that could create a gentle breeze. Maat, daughter of Re and goddess of universal order, wore a headdress with an ostrich feather, which is also the hieroglyph for maat, or universal order.

On this fan the king is depicted at a royal ostrich hunt in the eastern desert. Tutankhamun stands triumphantly atop a chariot pulled by running horses, his bow aimed expertly at an ostrich, he is the tamer of nature. It is the King’s responsibility to defeat the evil forces of nature.

To defeat and control the supernatural demons and evil forces of the Netherworld, the tomb had to have an arsenal of weapons. Maces, such as the one on the left were time honored weapon’s by the Kings of Egypt.

About 30 compound bows, 100’s of arrows and shields were all supplied to allow Tutankhamun to pass through the Netherworld.

The panther symbolized the Netherworld and the night sky. Tutankhamun is wearing the tall crown of Upper Egypt. The pharaoh was king of the whole country, unifying the Upper and Lower Egypt. He was known as the “Lord of the Two Lands”.

Here is a gilded wooden figure of Tutankhamun wearing the tall crown of Lower Egypt. In this depiction Tutankhamun is Horus, son of Osiris, skillfully balancing on a Skiff throwing a harpoon at a Hippopotamus that represented the evil Seth, who was too dangerous to show.

This gilded wooden statue of the King wearing the White Crown shows Tutankhamun confidently making his way through the Netherworld.

The Book of the Dead was a collection of almost 200 spells gathered over centuries from the earliest days of Egyptian civilization. It was called the “book for coming forth by day” because it provided the deceased with a roadmap through the Netherworld to the afterlife.

Also in the tomb were many protector gods, such as these statues. There were also workers to provide food and tools in the afterlife.

These two were Herwer (father of Horus) on the left and Duamutef (a son of Horus).

This is a statue of Ptah. The three hieroglyphs on his scepter are: ankh (life), the djed pillar (stability), and the ‘Was’ sign (sovereignty).

Osiris Story- Orisis the son of Geb (earth) and Nut (Sky), became the first pharaoh of Egypt. His jealous brother Seth murdered him, cut up his body, scattered the pieces throughout the land and declared himself king. Osiris’s sister Isis, who was also his wife, gathered Osiris’s body. She and her sister bandaged the pieces together, Isis used magic to restore the dead king to life. When Osiris’s son, Horus fought against Seth, Osiris remained as ruler of the Netherworld and Horus became king of earth. Each pharaoh became the earthly incarnation of Horus.

The protection against supernatural forces provided by amulet and magic spells, and the support and intervention of the gods, has allowed Tutankhamun to pass safely through the Netherworld. Before he can finally leave it behind, his ka and ba must be successfully reunited. Only then can Tutankhamun evade death and be reborn in the afterlife. This photo is of the guardian statue of the Ka of the King wearing the Nemes headcloth.

Below is a gold inlaid Canopic Coffinette of Tutankhamun. The king’s viscera were protected by the four sons of Horus, each paired with a canopic goddess. Imseti and Isis guarded the liver. If you look closely at the coffenette you can see hieroglyphs on the interior.

Chests of ritual and symbolic jewelry also were found in the tomb. You can see the prevalence of scarab’s and birds.

The sun god took different forms, a man, a falcon, a ram, a man with the head of a falcon or ram. At dawn, he took the form of a scarab beetle. Every evening at dusk, scarab beetles disappear underground only to reappear at daybreak pushing a large ball of dung. In a similar gesture, each morning the scarab god Re-Khepri reappears rolling the solar disc of the sun over the horizon.

The carved mummy wrappings and bands on the figure below and the lion head and feet on the bed all provide protection from supernatural forces.

This is a large Flail and Copper Crook of Tutankhamun inlaid with gold, glass and Carnelian.

Tutankhamun’s wishing cup in the form of an open Lotus and two buds or Heh, god of eternity, on each handle, the wishing cup is a powerful symbol of rebirth and eternal life.

Here is a layout of the tomb, front left is the Treasury, behind it to the right is the Burial Chamber, rear left is the Antechamber, right rear is the annex with the entrance to the left.

Gilded wooden statue shrine with scenes of Tutankhamun and Ankhesenamun.

As Carter and Carnarvon first entered the antechamber, their torch revealed an Aladdin’s Cave of gold and alabaster treasures arranged chaotically against the walls.

The light danced across the tall guardian statues, ornate couches, alabaster vases, beautiful golden inlaid throne and “……a shrine-shaped box entirely cased with thick gold sheet, and on the gold, in delicate low relief there were a series of little panels, depicting in delightfully naive fashion, a number of episodes in the daily life of king and queen.

Carter oversaw the removal, recording and packing of the 5,398 objects from the tomb and their transportation to Cairo’s Egyptian Museum.

After having a 40 minute/25 Euro taxi ride to the Grande Hall Villette to see this incredible exhibit, we decided to risk the Paris Metro back to our hotel. With the help of an extremely kind man at the ticket counter, we managed to make it back without incident for 3.90 Euros and in 15 minutes.

Au revoir!

Much Better….

May 26, 2019

I know I was a little out of sorts yesterday from all the challenges and travel time. But after 11 hours of sleep, a trip record, we felt renewed and went downstairs for breakfast. The hotel is looking much cuter today and the dining room/bar is a hoot. I was sitting facing away from Notre Dame, but could see it as clear as day, in the other direction, in what I thought was my window, but it was a cleverly placed mirror on the side of the window enclosure. No wonder those people walking and buses passing kept disappearing. I took a while to catch on, as I wasn’t quite awake. Suzanne was quite amused that I thought there was a black hole outside the hotel. You’ll notice in the photo of the dining room/bar that there appear to be two sets of side by side windows, but one of the windows is in the mirror. There is actually only one window. Those Parisian tricksters!

Here is our little hallway, we are in 25.

We have decided to take the Batobus, a hop-on, hop-off water tour on the Seine. We stayed on past the Jardini des Plantes, past the Louvre and got off at the Eiffel Tower.

I loved the live aboard barges on the Seine.

La Conciergerie is a palace of Gothic architecture. It was rebuilt in the 14th century by Philip IV.

Built for the 1889 World’s Fair, the Eiffel Tower has become a symbol of Paris.

We decided to walk across the bridge to Avenue Des Champs Élysées and the Arc de Triomphe. Suzanne had her map out and said we only had to go straight up the street. Of course the straight up was literally 73 steps (yes we counted) up.

We were rewarded with a lovely garden that the neighborhood people were enjoying.

On our way we saw some familiar names and beautiful buildings.

We stopped at the Publicis drugstore. It is much more than it’s name implies. Yes there were drug store sundries, also a bookstore, a liquor store, deli, bakery and much more. I recognized the Piertre Hermé Macaron store. I’d read it was one of the best in France, so we of course had to buy a few to try out.

These are just some of your typical 3 and 4.5 liter bottles of Vodka.

A line to get into Louis Vuitton, seriously?

I don’t know how many hotel rooms there are in Paris, but I think they are all full. So, many people, like Venice you could get away on the side streets.

This beautiful little balcony was part of the view when we stopped for lunch.

No we didn’t climb to the top, but we could see the tiny little people up there. The Arc de Triomphe is so much bigger then I imagined it to be from pictures, truly massive, it is one of the largest triumphal arches in the world. It was built in 1806 to celebrate Napoleon Bonaparte’s victory in Austerlitz. Beneath the vault is the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

We started down the Avenue Des Champs Élysées and after walking a while decided to sit in a little park. I was admiring this beautiful gate when five police vans showed up in front of us and men with submachine guns started getting out. We decided to move on, as Suzanne assumed they knew something we didn’t.

We turned right at the Grand Palace, across from the Petit Palace and walked across the Alexander III Bridge.

The photo above is of the corner of the Grand Palace and the photo below is of the Grand Palace roof from the bridge.

Below are two photos of the Petit Palace.

Back down to the river, we caught our water bus back to the area of our hotel. It was a long day and we only ventured out again for a quick dinner.

Au revoir! It’s a big day tomorrow…

The City of Lights

May 25, 2019

Everything got off to a good start this morning, we were on the road by 9:30 am. Our train didn’t leave Dijon until 12:01 pm, so we had plenty of time to fill the tank on the car, drop it off and make our train.

We had a journey through Dijon to the train station, Babette really got confused then we pulled off for gas and had us going in all directions, but the right one. We were over an hour early to the station, so had some cappuccinos and waited for our platform to be posted. Once we made it to the correct platform we were confronted with about 20 stairs up to the tracks; always fun with a backpack, purse and 35 lb. suitcase. Fortunately a young man came to our rescue after the first pathetic 6 or 7 steps. Suzanne reminded me that in A Streetcar Named Desire, Blanche Dubois said, “I have always depended on the kindness of strangers”, so true for us today. None of the cars were marked on the exterior, so it was a race to find carriage 12. By the time we got there most of the luggage space was taken. A nice man rearranged all the bags, so Suzanne could fit hers in. I found a vacant seat for mine. After all his help, we discovered he and his son were sitting in our seats. So we took the empty seats behind them and had just started to relax when we were informed that we had to move for the seats ticket holders. We rode to Paris on opposite ends of the carriage. I had a nice nap and watched the pastoral countryside roll by.

I think birds must have dropped mustard seed over most of France. Every field seems to have some, not sure if these cows actually eat it.

We arrived in Paris, we have been seeing military with their submachine guns at the ready. We caught a cab and shot to our hotel in a major downpour. The hotel is in a super location. It is tiny with halls just wide enough for a suitcase. Suzanne and I took turns taking the little elevator to our floor with our luggage. I think the hotel was decorated by someone on LSD. We have fake stone patterned carpet, cowhide patterned wallpaper, wood paneling, fake beams and an Art Deco wall above the bed, all in a 12′ x13′ room with 2 TV’s, a desk and twin beds. I’m thinking garret, so Parisian. It’s clean and the people have been really nice. This is so weird after having just come from a meticulously authentic country home with huge rooms.

We were famished. It was about 2 pm by the time we dumped everything in our room. We are in tourist central and right across the river from Notre Dame Cathedral. There are restaurants everywhere. We picked one that played the same Michael Jackson song every 10 minutes, while some of the staff tried to sing along. We only hoped the the food was better than the singing, it was. Pizza and salad hit the spot.

We debated on what to do after lunch and decided to walk around Notre Dame Cathedral. The weather was vacillating between pouring rain with wind and sunshine.

The 500 firemen fighting the April 15th fire were able to save the stain glass windows, facade, towers, walls, buttresses, and the great organ (8,000 pipes), which had some water damage. The cathedral is owned by the state and they self insure. However, if any of the contractor’s working on the renovation at the time of the fire are found to be responsible their insurance will have to pick up the cost. French President Macron vowed the cathedral would be rebuilt in 5 years. An international architectural competition was announced to redesign the spire and roof that were lost. A new law was immediately drawn up exempting the cathedral from existing heritage laws and procedures. They are looking at all possibilities even contemporary ones. Notre Dame may look very different when repairs are completed, much to the horror of heritage experts.

That’s all we had in us. It is a shock having come from Burgundy countryside to Paris with it’s hordes of tourists, traffic and density. We are adjusting.

Au revoir….until tomorrow!

Gone Fishing Again…

May 24, 2019

Suzanne and I took a day off, we are resting up for tomorrow’s travel marathon. We lounged around the house, had a croissant with almond paste for breakfast, ate lunch in, read books and discussed our upcoming travel day. We only ventured out for dinner at a wonderful, but modest restaurant, La Goutte D’Or. Asparagus with morel mushrooms in a cream sauce, seared tuna with foie gras and wild asparagus, and mini crepes filled with pineapple cream and served with homemade strawberry sorbet. This was a fantastic meal, a good bye to Burgundy, our car and the winding down of the trip. On to Paris tomorrow….

This isn’t the best photo, but I wanted you to see the wild asparagus, it was so good.

The sun was going down as we left the restaurant. It’s staying light until about 9:30 pm.

Here are some photos that didn’t get posted the last couple days. An FYI, several of the cavern photos posted yesterday were Suzanne’s.

The photo of the house below was taken on our walk around Bèze.

The photo above is one of my favorite photos of the Bèze River yesterday. It shows the lushness of the area.

The military were in town yesterday. I read that they train in the caverns, along with the police and firemen. I’m not sure what you train for in caves, but it was interesting.

On our way to Bèze we saw a lake with all these little sail boats. We pulled off the highway and hiked up to see what was going on….sailing lessons were in progress, with men yelling instructions and all the little sailboats performing maneuvers.

This is an ancient Penaisot wash house that was built along the river.

Here are a few more photos of artwork from the Musee des Beaux in Beaune.

So, Au revoir…… tomorrow it’s a drive to Dijon, train to Paris and taxi to hotel. There will be much to report.

Mustard Fields Forever….

May 23, 2019

We’re a bit slow today, but we finally got on the road late morning. Driving through the Dijon area, we were amazed by the huge, rolling hills of mustard (featured photo). In our area of Meursault its endless fields of grape vines. Unfortunately, Babette had us on the Autoroute (freeway, autobahn, etc.) and we weren’t able to get many photos. Most of the Autoroutes are toll roads with the speed limit usually about 130 K/h or a little less than 81M/h. Here is the tree arbor we drive through almost everyday. It looks so much better in the sun. Suzanne took this great photo while I drove (see rule #2).

The vineyards workers were out in force today.

We were heading to the little village of Bèze, northeast of Dijon. On our way we passed through the village of Tanay and saw this grand chateau.

Besides being a lovely village, Bèze has an underground Grotto that was used in Medieval times as refuge during seven separate attacks by the Vikings, Visigoth, and other raiders. Since the Grotte de la Cretanne caverns are a continuous 12 degrees Centigrade (53.6 F), they were also used for perishable food storage. In the 1970’s the presence of another cavern was detected by airflow, it took 10 years to cut through to find the cavern and another river. This underground network of rivers wells up through 2 separate sumps creating the Bèze River which is 10 meters wide (33 feet) with an average annual flow of 4 cubic meters/second (140 cu ft/s)*.

In the photo below is where the water surfaces to create the Bèze River. It’s called the Resurgence.

You can see the water welling up in the dark area below.

Suzanne and I signed up to take a walk and boat trip through the caverns at 2 pm. In the meantime we took a walk along the river, through the village and to a little cafe for lunch.

We finished up a delicious lunch of local trout, vegetables and a fig tart, along with a glass of the regional wine.

We hiked back to take our tour of the Grotto. We were happy we had brought our coats, not only to keep us warm, but to keep us dry from all the dripping water. The photo below is of one of the first formations we saw. There are several layers of galleries through the limestone strata. There are also a number to chimney’s, the highest being 30 meters (98.5 feet) that goes through to the surface.

These formations are called the Bèze andouilles or Bèze noodles.

In the winter the caverns are closed, as the water flow rises to the ceiling. The water is now several meters deep, but is so clear that it’s like looking through aqua glass. The boat we took is pulled along on a rope system so as not to contaminate the water with motor oil or gasoline. The water throughout the system is potable and the village works hard to keep it that way.

The domed shaped Stalagmite is estimated to be three million years old.

Here you can see the strata in the limestone. There have been many fossils found in the caverns. Below our intrepid guide is hauling us through the water in a shallow draft boat.

The ceiling was so low in sections that I had to walk bent almost in half to keep from hitting my head. The strata of rock have created unusually flat ceilings in parts of the caverns.

The photo above is the 30 meter chimney that runs to the surface.

We had a very enjoyable and interesting day. Our drive home was about an hour and we popped by the bakery and store for supplies to eat in tonight.

A couple photos close to Meursault on the drive home. Au revoir, until tomorrow!

Return to Beaune

May 22, 2019

Because today was a market day and because most everything was closed when we were there on Monday, and because it’s very close-by, Suzanne and I decided to drive back to Beaune for a re-do.

We found parking right away, very near the center. We started out walking the wrong direction, but were quickly straightened out by a friendly English speaking passerby.

Even though we’ve been to several markets, it’s always fun to look at all the vibrant food and French wares on display. This market had several linen and spice vendors, plus a truffle stall.

They had black and white truffles, whole, in salt, pieces and paste. Since we are so close to Dijon, there were plenty of mustards offered too.

Once we’d finished ogling everything in the little market, we started off to the Musée des Beaux Arts. On our way we passed through a little alley that had this appealing garden with two statues.

The museum was fairly small, but had some very fine paintings, most by local artists, but they had one Rubens.

Two of the artists that were born in Beaune, were Hippolyte Michaud and Felix Ziem.

This is a Hippolyte Michaud painting. The actual canvas was probably 4′ x 6′.

Velours who was a Flemish painter, called these paintings, The Allegory of the Four Elements.

Ziem was a painter of the Barbizon school. The Barbizon school was active from 1830-1870. The most prominent features of this school were tonal qualities, color, loose brushwork and softness of form*.

After the museum we were ready for a little window shopping. Loved this shop with their pig display. They appeared to sell all things pork, including the artful pates in the window.

Suzanne was thinking about some items she saw in a shop window on Monday. So we hiked around until we found the shop. While Suzanne was looking at the wares, I was admiring the resident geriatric dog and his princely bed.

They have pretty wild glasses frames here. We enjoyed looking at some of the more flamboyant examples.

And of course the sweet shops called to us. We succumbed to 1/2 dozen cookies and some more chocolate covered almonds.

Our two hour parking spot was out of time, so we went to move the car to a new spot. One of the things I like about parking here is that if there is a spot open across the street and you can quickly get into it, it’s perfectly legal. Driving is fairly straightforward here with no U turns in the intersections or middle of the block. Driver’s generally are fast, but mostly courteous, of course there are exceptions.

On our way back to the center we saw a sign for the Wine Museum, we had to go. The museum consisted mostly of huge old grape presses with different methods of applying pressure. The press below (featured photo) used a rope system, that was wound on the spindle to the right, lowering the press into the grapes.

I couldn’t figure out how this ginormous press worked. I’ll let you work it out. Hint, it has to do with the wooden screw to the right, that’s as far as I got. Yes, genius I know….

Famished from our exploration, we went back to the restaurant Les Chebaliers for some Rose Champagne, soup, fish and chips and apple tart. Very good food and we’ve had our big meal of the day.

Back to the car for the trip home. We didn’t have Babette programmed immediately, so I just followed signs and we got a lovely drive through the village of Pommard and the vineyards all the way home. Au revoir…

*art history, Wikipedia

A Reconnoiter, Then to Châteauneuf-en-Auxois

May 21, 2019

Suzanne and I thought it would be a good idea to reconnoiter the train station and auto drop in Dijon. We have to leave the car and catch a train on Saturday with not much time to spare. Unfortunately our clarity on which train station was the correct one was somewhat lacking. We had the pleasure of a circuitous trip through the center of Dijon to the right station. The good news was that the auto drop is right in the station, very clearly marked. Part of the reason we decided to do this today is that Dijon is fairly close to our target destination, Châteauneuf-en-Auxois, touted as one of the most beautiful villages in France.

Once she got us out of the city, Babette was bent on a scenic drive on the back roads. This is some of the best weather we’ve had and it was a perfect day for a drive through beautiful countryside.

We had our windows down to let in the fresh warm air, the birds were singing and there was no one in sight…..Idyllic!

The village lived up to it’s reputation with history, charm and character. The Château de Châteauneuf was very interesting and has fantastic views of the valley.

The main gate to the château is on the left with one of the defensive towers just to the gates right. There originally was a mote that is now planted with grass.

The Château is a fortress situated on a rocky outcrop 475 meters above the surrounding plain*. The Castle was built in 1132 by Jean de Chaudenay for his son Jehan. The son took possession in 1175 and became Jean I de Châteauneuf. Facing the threat of the Hundred Year’s War, the lords of Châteauneuf then built the fortifications. After nine generations in the castle, the reign of the Châteauneufs ended when in 1456 the last heiress, Catherine de Châteauneuf, was burnt alive for poisoning her second husband, Jacques d’Haussonville. The castle has passed through several families and additions since and was eventually donated to Burgundy. All of the crests and royal symbols were destroyed during the French Revolution.

Photos above are the staircase tower added by owner Philippe Pot, La grande salon with it’s massive fireplace and decorative painting, the second floor (here called the 1st floor) bedrooms, tapestry and salon.

After viewing the castle we took a walk around the village. There were several little restaurants in the village and we had a wonderful lunch sitting in the sun first thing. We were starved after driving in circles around Dijon for an hour.

A herd of home made pigs outside this little garden shop.

The larger white spots are cattle and the smaller ones are sheep.

On our walk about the village we ran into an older gentleman who appeared to be putting out his garbage. He started talking to us and quickly discerned that we are English speaking, so he said, “How do you do?” And we said, “Very well thank you. How do you do?” He said, “Good” and that was pretty much the end of the conversation. He had exhausted his English and our French is a handful of words and phrases. It is frustrating to be able to converse so little sometimes, especially with such kind and friendly people.

After our circuit of the village we headed home to Meursault with Babette taking us on country roads the entire route. We passed through at least four little villages on our way. Once back we walked up to the grocery store for provisions to eat in tonight. Then we walked to the bakery and bought two individual quiches, mushroom and spinach to share with our vegetable soup.

Au revoir….on to the next adventure tomorrow.

*Wikipedia on history.

The Ancient City of Beaune

May 20, 2010

The drive to Beaune is through field after field of grape vines, along with this beautiful arbor of trees. Suzanne took the photo, as rule number 2 is, Maxine can NEVER take photos while driving.

In Beaune about half the battlements, ramparts, and moat still remain from the pre-Roman, Roman, medieval and renaissance periods. Beaune is also one of the main wine centers in France. The annual wine auction of the Hospices of Beaune is the primary wine auction in France*.

As you can see we had threatening weather and low temperatures in the 50’s. The hotel in the photo below dates to 1443.

Because it is Monday most of the shops were closed, which may have saved us as there were some very nice window displays. Beaune is full of antique shops and we passed several rare book shops.

Of course we had to visit the church. It had some beautiful stained glass windows.

Right next door to the church was a familiar name over a wine tasting shop.

We stopped for lunch at about 1:30 pm and had a lovely fixed price, three course lunch. This will be our main meal of the day. It started with a bowl of purée of vegetable soup, fish and chips and a berry tart for dessert. We also had a glass of delicious Rose Brut champagne. We just haven’t been doing justice to the wine here, so thought we’d indulge at lunch.

Notice the scooped shape of the French fries, it makes it so much easier to hold sauce and the fries seemed crisper. We may be back for more!

We walked through a little park, with carousel and sculpture.

Beaune is has a very charming and quaint historic center with lots of flowers and convoluted streets with lovely old buildings.

The streets were so convoluted that we couldn’t remember how to get to the car park. We stopped in a tourist center because we thought looking at one of their maps might help, but we ended up using my App. We remembered the name of a spot near the parking lot and finally made our way there.

While we were in the tourist center we saw this old grape press and watched a large format video about the wine growing region of Burgundy in the Côte d’Or.

On our drive home we stopped to take a closer look at the vines and Suzanne took a photo. They are just leafing out and it was interesting to see how old the plant looked and how severely they were pruned back. See featured photo.

Au revoir, until tomorrow.

* Wikipedia for Beaune History.

At Home in Meursault

May 19, 2019

After yesterday we were very tired and in need of clean clothes. Never left the village and hardly left the house. We did laundry, I drank endless cups of tea and read my book.

Our car is parked to the left next to what we think is another house, but nobody is there. My bedroom is over the little gray shed in the front right and our fireplace room is behind the gray door in the middle. The adjoining attached house to the right is a separate residence and we have a courtyard behind the fireplace room that is overlooked by a glassed in artist’s atelier.

The house dates back to the 18th century and is called, La Madison Des E’toiles. It was given this name because of the amazing view of the stars from the courtyard on a clear night. The house previously belonged to a wine maker that used the barn to crush and ferment his grapes. After the wine was barreled it was stored in a cellar beneath the house. There are little limestone paths in the garden where the winery workers were required to walk. They weren’t allowed to walk on the grass or in the gardens.These paths are the only ones left from that time in the village.

After the winery closed the house was left to a local businessman, who gave it to his two children. A bitter feud broke out between the children resulting in the house being divided in two, with this portion the larger part with the garden. The other part of the house and original front facade faces the street behind us.

The house has been renovated by the new owners and they have been thoughtful in leaving many of the original features intact. Below is the fireplace room, which was added onto the house at some point. It is the coziest room in the house and where Suzanne and I camp out.

The little town of Meursault is very attractive and is situated on a prehistoric settlement. According to a florist in Lyon, Meursault was one of the wars (resistance?) centers during WWII. Most of the Burgundy region was initially in a free zone of France during WWII*.

The florist was very friendly and held our arms after talking about the war. It seems some people haven’t forgotten Americas support of the resistance, de Gaulle and the liberation of France.

Just a few pictures of the town of 1487 people. The Town Hall is first and the vineyards growing right in town are second. The featured photo is of our neighbors front bay window. This is probably one of the most prosperous villages we’ve seen. Meursault is one of the famous wine making regions of Burgundy. It’s known for it’s white wines, green-gold, clear and bright buttery Chardonnay and a few hectares producing Pinot Noirs*.

We ordered a small dinner tonight, I had Tuna Tartar and a Caesar Salad and Suzanne had Onion soup and a Caesar Salad. The first course was fabulous, but our Caesar salad’s came loaded with cubed Chicken. The menu hadn’t said anything about chicken and when we asked the server (owner?) she said that all Caesar Salad came with chicken, it was what a Caesar salad was. The salad really consisted of mostly chicken and the server’s dog that hangs out at the restaurant ate very well tonight, as we picked all the chicken out. Always surprises, but it left us with room for a chocolate dessert.

Au revoir, tomorrow we are off to Beaune (Boone)

*Wikipedia on France and WWII

* Beaune tourism on wine