Sunday, December 11, 2011

Montauban France (in Tarn-et-Garonne department of Midi-Pyrénées region)

Although our new-found friends had advised us that there was nothing to see there, we went to Montauban France anyway. It is the birthplace of Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, and is home to Musee d'Ingres. We found Montauban to be a lovely city, though we probably only saw a very small portion of it. The shopping area had nicely patterned brick streets and lovely little shops. Unfortunately, we got about the worst meal (especially considering the cost) of our trip at a hotel restaurant in the shopping area we visited there. Darn shame too, because other restaurant menu boards and plates looked like they had really good fare - probably why they were so crowded! This one cost more and wasn't good. (Several menu boards throughout the region were highlighted in an earlier post on my letterlady's letters blog.)

Here are a few snapshots of Montauban.

I spied a pair of shoes drying on a clothesline on a porch. (Can you see them?) The shadow-image of the shutters demonstrates that the shutters on homes in France are not merely decorative, but are decidedly useful.

In one of the two ancient cathedrals we visited in Montauban I took this photo of a hand-lettered prayer (Our Father.)

The flower market was quite lovely.

Beautiful scene from the bridge. Note the flowers. In most places I've visited in Europe there are many public floral plantings, which really add a lot to the travel experience, and I'm sure to everyday life there.

On the bridge and near one cathedral, the rock sidewalks were laid in for art's sake. Lovely touch!

It was lunchtime while we were there, so streets were fairly deserted - and most shops were closed. (A money saving tactic on our part?)

A shop window display.

We toured Musee d'Ingres, and two huge old cathedrals - one of which seemed especially active, despite a plethora of pigeon feathers on the floors near the entrances. The museum is located in a building which was once the residence of the bishops of Montauban. Most of the structure is of the 17th century, but some portions are much older, notably an underground chamber known as the Hall of the Black Prince (Salle du Prince Noir). There are many fragments of carved lettering and other relics of ancient times in the chamber. During World War II, a secret chamber behind a wine cellar in the chamber served as one of the temporary storage places for daVinci's Mona Lisa, which had been removed from the Louvre for safekeeping.

As a calligrapher, the lettering in a place always intrigues me. Here are some photos of centuries old lettering fragments in La Salle du Prince Noir. The chamber was dim, and my photos are not the best, but you can see the samples are very different from one another in style.

Due to a little mishap, we met a very nice young man at a service station in Montauban. I was able to polish up my French a bit with the two of us speaking our respective 'pigeon' languages to each other. It worked! His English was better than fair, and my French was getting slightly better than when I'd arrived in France, and our smiles helped a lot too. We met a few really nice people during our travels and they helped make the trip memorable.

1 comment:

Dee Day said...

Thanks for sharing your images from France. The images and your photography are very inspiring. Love it!