Wednesday, 12 November 2014

A cattle-themed late October walk near Massignac

There was a lot of information provided on signboards along this walk, so I considered splitting it into two blogs for 2 reasons.  Firstly, because a single blog might be too long and secondly, our slow internet connection can't cope with too many photos!  However, I decided that it would spoil the story, so here it is, all in one post. Hopefully it will be of special interest to my French readers, as the signs are understandably French!  I am going to ask Nigel to do a little translation here so my English followers can get the gist of the story.

We started walking from Massignac,  which I have written about Here , Here and Here.  On a lovely sunny and calm day, we arrived at a southern point of the artificial lake named Lac de Mas-Chaban.

Footbridge sited to assist ramblers on  walks around the lake

Where you are welcomed to the start of the "Path of the Cow's Meadow" following the story of la Vache (the cow), in particular, the Limousine breed. The signs are designed as a source of learning, particularly, for the many parties of children who are brought here on school trips.

Sign 1 reads "Good day, I am the beautiful Limousine. Not those which come out of car factories!" and more description extolling the virtues of the breed! The yellow line on the little map marks the pathway of 3,5 km around this part of the lake.

" In times past, my ancestors returned to numerous heavy tasks around the farm" The breed was praised as light, docile, speedy and powerful and over time was selectively bred from the best examples, as cross-breeding was found to be unsuccessful.

"In 1770, there was a meat shortage in Paris and the authorities asked the local offices if they could count on the Limousines to provision the capital after Easter" 

"Bocage means countryside where the fields and meadows are surrounded by trees and hedges." This arrangement provided an essential component in the raising of these cattle.

The gravel pathway winds its way around the perimeter of the lake.

A board about the setting down of genealogical principles for breeding Limousine cattle in the "Herd Book", written in the penultimate decade of the 19th century.

The younger cattle are fed on mother's milk and grass, then slaughtered for veal at around 8-10 months.

Others are weaned and fattened with cereals and sold at around 10-15 months. The meat is young but already mature and tasty.

The male cattle (Limousin - with no "e") are fattened and slaughtered at about 18 months to provide very high quality meat, renowned in the butchery industry.

A board about regulation of the industry and establishment of benchmark labelling for high quality meat production.

We stopped to watch a grey heron fly overhead.

A little game for the childrens' entertainment on the lines of the Rubik cube, where they must correctly match the fore and hind parts of four different breeds of cow farmed locally, with their middles.

The cow as a subject in various forms of human endeavour, literature, poetry, strip cartoons, cinema, song and advertising being listed here.

Small plaques showing Apis, an Egyptian god with a cow's head, cows featured in 17,000 year old Dordogne rock paintings and lastly a Greek scene with a mature Limousin bull.

Nearly back to where we started!

Returning to Massignac and features (above and below) outside a local shop.



Many small villages have such helpful map boards to inform walkers and ramblers of suggested routes, of varying lengths, in the area.


My daily diary can be seen HERE

See also My Life Before Charente (updated 30 October 2014) 
Sorry about the long delay in posts on the above but I will endeavour to keep it up to date more often!

Thursday, 23 October 2014

The Marais in Paris - Along the Rue François Miron in September

Francois Miron lived in the late 16th and early 17th centuries; he was both a magistrate and, which meant he was a king's agent, managing the affairs of such businesses as wheat-measurers and tavern keepers, amongst others! So he got a street named after him!

Rue François Miron, in the Marais area of the 4th arrondissement, starts at Place Gervais where the St-Gervais-et-St-Protais Church stands. 

The church appears to be one of the oldest in Paris and is mentioned as early as the 4th century. The present church is recorded as being built over a period of many years! It was started, in the Gothic style, in 1494, the chapels of the apse were finished in 1530 and the transept in 1578. The doorway of the church was built in the classical style in 1616–1620 by Claude Monnard. 

The street  is also home to two of the oldest medieval houses of Paris, at numbers 11 and 13 (see below), dating probably from the 14th century.
On 29 March 1918, a German  artillery shell  fell on the church, killing 88 people and wounding 68 others; the roof fell in as a result of the explosion, which happened while a Good Friday service was in progress. This was the worst single incident involving a loss of civilian lives during the German bombardment of Paris in 1918.

The inside of the church; the windows and roof have been restored, with stunning results.

I took many photos, the best of which I hope I have chosen  for you to see




The rear side of the church 

Numbers 11 and 13 Rue Francois Miron, two of the last 14th century houses in Paris. These gabled houses are narrow, with only two windows per floor. Their sides are built out on corbelling at the first floor level, their facades end with triangular pediments and are topped with steeply pitched roofs that allow rainwater to drain down the sides of the buildings. These houses are easily recognisable, thanks to their half-timbering which was uncovered, relatively recently - during restoration work in the 1960’s!


The sign outside the houses for those who enjoy reading the history in French.

Yet another interesting doorway on the corner of Rue François Miron.


My daily diary can be seen HERE

See also My Life Before Charente (updated 16 October 2014) 
Sorry about the long delay in posts on the above but I will endeavour to keep it up to date more often!



Monday, 13 October 2014

The Charente International Rally at Angouleme.

The "Circuit des Remparts" is a day of classic car races held around the old town streets in Angouleme on a Sunday in late September, as part of an annual three day event celebrating the automobile. Cars come from the UK and other European countries as well as France.

It is preceded by a ‘Concours d’Elegance’ (classic cars shown and judged for their condition) on the Friday night, followed on  Saturday by the Charente International Rally. The exact rally route is only released a couple of days before the event, but generally consists of two loops, morning and afternoon, around the beautiful surrounding countryside, stopping for lunch this year at the chateau at Chalais, south of Angouleme, before making their way back to the town in late afternoon. We went to watch them returning to the Champ de Mars, a large central square in the town centre. We had thought about going to the Sunday races, but as we were leaving for Paris on Monday morning (more photos to follow), we decided against it!  Sorry, more photos than my usual posts, but I did not want to split this up.

The finish ramp in the Champ de Mars, waiting for the cars to arrive, and before the crowds got there!

Angouleme wall paintings


and more;  There are many cartoons and trompe l'oeil painted on blank walls around the city, which enliven the environment. Angouleme has become the centre of the comic strip industry since the early 70's, when a group of enthusiasts held an exhibition celebrating the "bande dessinee", as comic strips are named here. The town has no connection with the art at all, except that once it was renowned for the production of paper! The exhibition, held every year, became bigger and bigger and it continues to flourish.


A view of city spires and townscape, while waiting for the cars to arrive.

 Alpine Renault, probably from the late 60's - one of many in the event.

Alvis - a fine British coach-built car,  once made in Coventry. This one from the 60's. Car production ceased in 1967, but attempts have recently been made to revive the marque.


A Bentley, a Continental probably....


and the unmistakable swooping back!

Peugeot 402 Special Sport Roadster, one of only 53 built in 1938. If genuine, it's worth hundreds of thousands of Euro!!!....

with another uniquely shaped back.

No rally would be complete in France without a 2CV!

A somewhat unusual Citroen 11 Limousine, a huge car.

 Citroen DS

and a Citroen Light 15, front wheel drive and well ahead of its time!

 Matra Bonnet Djet

An unknown MG model!

Porsche 911E

'Rochdale Olympic';the bodies were mainly fibreglass and the cars manufactured at Rochdale near Manchester in the UK, hence the name!

Lotus Elise,not sure which variant!

Fiat 500

Renault 750

Triumph TR3

Also see my daily diary HERE

See also My Life Before Charente (updated 16 October 2014)