Friday, September 16, 2011


Here's a little catch up with Jace post.
Toys out, boy in! Well, he's his Jamma's favorite toy. Jace in the Box!

Cans and bottles out, boy in - What do you think of that, Pappy?

Little Fishie - swimming in his pool - or drinking in his pool?

Jace after pouring a bucket of water over his own head.

Friday, September 09, 2011

Sud Ouest France Sights: Bocce, Warning, Pigeoniers, Homeless

I spotted these gentlemen playing bocce one afternoon. I think it may have been in Castelginest. It was on one of the routes we traversed frequently (even when we weren't lost.)

Took this photo in Toulouse, but it could have been anywhere (except the little bit of litter we saw - not like in the US - was mostly around larger cities.) American cigarettes, French warning.

Pigeoniers are interesting structures that dotted the landscape in our area. A lovely artist in Cordes-sur-Ciel (see post on my Letterlady's Letters blog) had done a series of drawings and paintings of them and answered many questions for me about them. Read more by clicking on highlighted words here. In the early days before chemical fertilizers, piegeons were prized for both their guano (for fertilizing crops) and as food. Farmers and landowners had sometimes ornate pigeonniers built to attract and house them. Many times they were elaborate structures whose architecture matched the main home. Some of these remain, and according to some things I have read, some have been turned into mini-rentals for travelers.

And, not to end on a sad note, but Toulouse is not immune to the big city aspect of homeless people. I snapped this photo of apparently homeless men and their dogs one day in Toulouse.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Carcassonne - Medieval Walled City in Southern France

Other than the terrifying experience of having lost my purse and a scary hour at the local gendarmes station, our visit to Carcassonne was terrific. (It also ended well, with the return of my purse, passport and all cash and cards...see yesterday's post below.)

Carcassonne is a medieval walled city - castle, ramparts, etc., etc. Verrry old, very picturesque, simply full of history - and tourist shops! I got my best meal of the trip there. No, it wasn't the wild boar or the cassoulet I bought my friends at the restaurant there when we celebrated the return of my purse. No, my best meal of the trip was a super fresh ham and emmental on buttered baguette at the patisserie just below the walled part of the city. Just delightful! 3.5 Euros. Simple can be best.

When you get to Carcassonne, before getting to the walled medieval portion, there is the working city (other than the old castle area.) In that section we toured cemetiere St. Michel. I was struck by the many ceramic flower arrangements on and around the tombs.

I devised a way to find our car if we got lost. I took photos of street signs - sort of like Hansel and Gretel's crumb trail. We didn't need them. We just returned to the car and followed our view of the castle top. Easy enough!

A good view of the medieval city from the park below its bridge.

The bridge we walked across.

A critter in the river below. Is it a muskrat?

In the little patisserie where I got the great sandwich, there were little pig pastries. I thought they were cute, but they took on new meaning after I heard the tale of Mme. Carcassonne. Some of the patisseries had elegant, intricate 'constructed' desserts, with ribbon-looking details of spun sugar. This one was no exception.

A touristy feel abounds as we approach the entrance.

Just through the archway you can see tourists lined up to get inside.

Madame Carcas, legendary namesake of Carcassonne. This statue is near the entry to the walled city. The story is that this woman held off invaders by stuffing a pig carcass with corn and wheat and throwing it into the river. The invaders, upon seeing this waste of precious grain, were sure that the town was wealthy beyond imagination and full of warriors - so they retreated. Mme. Carcas single-handedly saved the town. Read more about the legend here.

Sue and Beth headed uphill. I know the adage 'everything that goes up must come down', but how come everything seems to be uphill?

A cute little girl and her daddy. Chocolate ice cream cones are good, but messy!

Sometimes it's hard to tell. I thought this man might be a performer. I was wrong. He was simply another tourist - who probably did not appreciate my taking his photo. (If it looks like a duck, and dresses like a duck...)

Outside of the hotel near the basilica, I spied all of these happy faces.

Gargoyles on the basilica in Carcassonne.

Inside La Basilique de Saint Nazaire.

This quartet sang while we were inside.

This puppeteer was working outside the basilica when we exited. A semi-circle of children soon gathered and sat around him, but I didn't get that photo because I was distraught about the discovery of having lost my purse.

At the police station.

If you ever get to Carcassonne - this lady is an angel. Be sure to visit her shop, Aldenone.

Some views from inside the walled city.

How the view must have changed since the medieval days.

An old national route sign on a wall in the restaurant with the wild boar. -- I kid you not! Beth thought she was ordering a healthy wild mushroom dish. It was actually very tasty. I wish I'd taken a photo of Beth's face when the waiter explained what she'd actually pointing to a wild boar's furry head on the wall behind us! Total shock!