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2013-10-06

Vierzon

Vierzon

Vierzon is a medium sized city on the Cher river, about 80km or so south of Orelans. it is a major rail junction and at the first glance it does not look like there is much to see here. Especially not no a Sunday afternoon, when everything is closed.

Wikipedia page for Vierzon has some useful data about history, and a map if you want it.

Hidden Gems of Vierzon

There are a few hidden gems in this city:

  • There are some old half-timbered houses
  • There is a 12 century church with some  nice looking stained glass windows. The church was locked, and it appears to be part of a circuit parish, so we could not get in, but we could see the rich light inside through the gaps in the gates.
  • There are some lovely gardens down by the river, near where an abbey used to be;
  • There are remains of multiple fortifications and city walls. here are some photos for you

Here are some of the things we have found:

Maison des Vicaires aka "Maison Jeanne D'Arc"

Maison des Vicaires aka “Maison Jeanne D’Arc”

gates of Notre-Dame

gates of Notre-Dame

Eglise Notre-Dame de Vierzon

Eglise Notre-Dame de Vierzon

half-timbered house

half-timbered house by the river

 

Note: This place definitely requires a re-visit.

2013-10-06

Limoges to Paris

Limoges

The weather turned rainy overnight and the morning was grey and foggy. We decided that Limoges can be visited another time, with allowance for visit to the porcelain museum. After a quick breakfast we headed back to the autoroute and  proceeded with our drive to Paris.  Along the way the skies cleared and the afternoon was a nice if somewhat cool day.

autoroute_01

Autoroute to Paris

autoroute_sign_02

Here there be brigands?

Along the way stopped for lunch, at a little town called Vierzon.

Paris

Navigating the Boulevard Peripherique is an experience best done in light Sunday afternoon traffic, and even then (due to roadworks and only partially viable signs) it was a bit of a work of art. However we have arrived at the Paris Charles De Gaulle airport without much incident.

2013-10-05

Carcassonne to Limoges

The Plan

We need to get from Carcassonne to Paris by evening of 6 October. Its a dive of about 800 km, but the road is littered with things we might wish to see, so we will do it in tow stages:

  • Carcassonne to Limoges on te 5th, and
  • Limoges to Paris on the 6th

Carcassonne

As we were departing Carcassonne, the rain cleared up and we managed to get a  bit of opportunity to take more photos:

carcassone_la_cite_02

Panorama of La Cite from the Aude rive valley

 

Countryside

Having left Carcassonne we drove on secondary roads towards Castlenaundry and Tuluse. The road wound itself through countryside littered with small villages and a lot of it is covered in sunflower fields.

sunflower_field

Sunflower Field

The Drive

After a stop for lunch in a small village called Bram, which also happens to be one of the 50 or so “circulade” villages we go into the autoroute towards Limoges and Paris

Limoges

Limoges greeted us with drizzle and cold wind.  Here we stop for the night and consider what we will do next.

2013-10-05

Carcassonne : The Cathar Country

Carcassonne

The site of the current medieval city has been inhabited and fortified since at least 100BC or so. Since that time it was occupied by Romans, Visigoths, (most famously) the Cathars, and after a crusade,  since 1247 – the kings of France.

Unfortunately it was raining so we are unable to give you pretty pictures of La Cite. Here is what we have

Some sights of Carcassonne

porte demnarbonne carcassonne

Potre de Narbonne – la Cite – Carcassonne

St Nazaire Basilica

St Nazaire Basilica looming in the mists

st. nazaire stained glass

St Nazaire Basilica – Stained Glass Window

st_Nazaire_gargoyle

Gargoyle of St Nazaire

 

And last but no least (with apologies for the cropping and distortions) the main gates of the Chateau Comtal:

 

castle_gates_carcassonne

Gates of Chateau Comtal in Carcassonne

 

Revisit: Required.

This place and the surrounding Cathar country definitely need a return visit.

2013-10-03

Avignion – A brief visit

Avigion

Avignon if the city of the Popes and of the Anti-popes. Need more time to explore this and do the palace of the popes full justice.

In the meantime here are some sights from the city of Avignon:

Some sights of Avignon:

jardin_des_doms_vines

Vines at back of the Jardines de Doms.

gargyle_eglise_st_agricole_avignon

Garogyle at Eglise de St Agricole

petit_palais_avignion

Petit Palais as seen from the banks of the Rhone

porte_du_rocher_avignon

Section of the old city walls, at Potre du Rocher

Le Chien du Avigion

A very well behaved and polite dog in the restaurant where we had lunch:

le_chien_de_Avignon

le chein de Avignon

2013-10-02

Vienne – A nice little surprise

Vienne

Hotel – B&B Au Bois de Massier

Today we woke up in a lovely B&B called Au Bois de Massier, in the hills above the little town of Vienne.  The  hotel deserves a separate write-up, so stay tuned for that.

Ville de Vienne

Our hosts tols us that city of Vienne has the 3rd largest concentration of monuments in Europe: Rome and Wien (Austria)  take the first and second place. It truns out that Vienne was a major Roman town (with a temple of Augustus and Livia) – a capital of a colony – and a was a a bishopric since later part of the 4th centrury. Consequently there is a number of monuments in the city, some more obvious:Our hosts claim that Vienne has the 3rd largest concentration of monuments in Europe: Rome and Wien (Austria)  take the first and second place.

temple_vienne

Temple of Augustus and Livia

orpheus_mosaic_vienne

Mosaic of Orpheus – Gallo-Roman Museum in Vienne

and some like the Cathedral of St Maurice, a place where the Pope Clement V (at instigation of King Phillip the Fair of France) presided over the  council and a tribunal of that ultimately ordered the suppression of the Templars in May of 1312:

cathedral_saint_maurice

Cathedral of St Maurice

2013-09-26

Transit Day: Thira – Athens – Geneva – Gex

Transit Day

Today, we will be in transit – flying from Thira to Geneva via Athens, and then driving to stay with some friends of ours in Gex.

More details coming soon.

2013-08-27

Paris – Day 6 – Chateau de Versailles and the palace gardens

Morning

Sleep in. Go for a walk and look in local stores.

Afternoon –

A trip to Chateau de Versailles.

Chateau Versailles

Chateau de Versailles

Versailles, built 12 miles from Paris, was the residence of Kin Louis XIV, Louis XV and Louis XVI. The first phase of building works took place between 1664 and 1710. Each king the enlarged, enhanced and re-decorated the palace.

In its original conception, Versailles served three purposes:

  1.  Get the court out of Paris, which was still a cramped medieval come renaissance walled town; and
  2. Force the nobles to attend the court at Versailles, and to maintain multiple residences, thus draining the wealth and resources and keeping the nobles busy with court intrigue and fashion close to the ears of the King and his spies, and not hatching plots far away from the courts.
  3. Drain the resources of the nobles so that the king could buy up their debts and lands.

The gardens look very pretty (hordes of tourists aside)

versaiiles_02

Chateau de Versailles – Main Axis of the Gardens

 

Evening

Nice dinner at the hotel stake house.

2013-08-26

Paris – Day 5 – Expedition by metro and on foot

Sunny again. This means we made another walking tour of Paris:

West_Rose_Windows

West Rose Window, Notre-Dame de Paris

A quick trip by metro to Hotel de Ville and then a nice tour of Ille-de-Cite, including the Notre Dame de Paris Cathedral, and a visit to the Latin quarter on the left bank of the Siene.

We has some lunch in Latin Quarter. It was much cheaper than the cafes and restaurants around the hotel and closer to city centre, and as a bonus, the guys on the left bank appear to be able to manage a good up of tea. Must be the Sorbonne education showing …

After lunch we walked over to the Pantheon. It is an impressive edifice, but I was very disappointed, because the Foucault Pendulum (which is an experiment that I used to illustrate the rotation of the earth) is down for renovation works and will not be back up for a little while (3 years).

Take a stroll from the Pantheon to the Luxembourg Palace (which used to be the residence of Marie de Medicis, mother of king Luis XIII, and now the seat of the French Senate) and the surrounding gardens.

luxembourg_palace

Luxembourg Palace

On the way back we made a loop around the Louvre. Then we took a quick trip on the Metro back to the hotel and a crash out.

2013-08-25

A rainy day in Paris.

Rainy day in Paris

A very good day to sleep in, organise a little.

In the evening, a get together with Bart, the cruise manager and listen to the initial briefing.