La Belle Époque 1871 – 1914… on the street where I live

Recently, I offered a post on the street where I live. As I went through some older photos, later, I found two that I had made off old postcards, on the same street more than a century ago. I thought perhaps some of you would enjoy seeing them.

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If I am correct, my home should be just past that group of people seen exiting, or perhaps entering, a house mid-way on the left.  While the foot bridge has a set of steps in each direction, the other side is not visible from this view. It is the second set of steps that appear further back that exist today as you can see if you check out the post of 5 August 2018. Inbetween the sets of stairs, you can see the old pump which still exists, and works, though rarely used.   

If you look closely at the road, you can see some tracks for the old train that used to come through the village. A neighbor has just informed me that a small steam train ran from Portel des Corbières to Tuchan until the 1930’s. At different points it would connect and one could get into Narbonne which had a large number of trains that could take you to many destinations. 

Some of the houses have interesting patterns on their walls which have long been covered up by renderings. Those patterns would be consistent with the era  As you can see it is winter time as the trees are bare and the people at the top of the staircase appear to be bundled up against the cold weather.

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From this second photo you can see there was an épicerie (grocery) just next to where the café was located at that point in time.  No doubt you could stop in and pick up a fresh baugette with ham and or cheese and a thick spread of butter and wash it down with a glass of wine or beer. That is not where it was when I moved here over a decade ago nor where it is now located at the other end of the village. You get a look at the foot bridge that is no longer there, What you don’t see is that there was attached an outdoor toilet, how appropriate across from where everyone is eating and drinking.  The café in this photo had been altered by its owners years later and for many years served as the village pharmacy. At some time after WWI, a number of balconies where added including the old pharmacy as you can compare if you look at the post referred to earlier. https://foundinfrance.wordpress.com/2018/08/05/on-the-street-where-i-live-a-challenge/

I can see, to the left, how high the wall along the river used to be. It has been lowered some years ago. As you can see, the wall is higher than most of the people near it. I am barely five feet tall myself and the wall now, in some areas, is little higher than my waist. Before you ask, nothing around here is level so we shall move on.  It appears to be Spring or possibly early Summer as the trees are quite filled out with leaves and some of the citizens are in shirt sleeves. As you can see, everyone is glad of the opportunity to socialize with their neighbors on a beautiful day as the sunlight filters through the trees. I find it fascinating that in these photos could be former owners of my own home.

Perhaps I can find more such photos and if so, I shall share them here on the blog.

 

Bisous,

Léa

Brittany, Dinan and The Sculptured Rocks

I love Paris but if you haven’t explored beyond it, you miss so much.

Have Bag, Will Travel

Dinan Brittany France

We had enjoyed two good days in Dinard and St Malo but the next morning it was time to move on.  We woke earlier than planned on account of some seagulls flying past our window and screeching so loud it was as though it was a fleet of police patrol cars driving by on the way to attend an incident with emergency sirens blaring.

Before travel I always carry out careful research but sometimes something just crops up while you are away.  At a shop in Dinard I was looking at postcards and came across one for the nearby town of Dinan and it looked exactly like the sort of place that we should visit.  Kim was elsewhere in the shop and spotted exactly the same thing at exactly the same time.  Simultaneously we said “come and look at this, I think we should go here” and we decided there…

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Monastère Saint-Paul-de-Mausole and The Dutchman

 

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I had been most anxious to visit this museum/hospital, for some time. When Rita said she wanted to visit the cave projection show, previous post, the plan for her most recent visit took shape. A quiet intuitive individual, I had a feeling that the walls may talk. They do whisper if one is silent and willing to hear.

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Was it wishful thinking or simply artistic license that Van Gogh applied his brushes to create a much more sumptious version of his true quarters? Patients rooms were not decorated with art work and this special guest had access to another room within the hospital for a studio and much of his work was completed on the hospital grounds. Alas, there is no access to his atelier which leads this visitor to believe there is really no trace of it or that it is in the part of the hospital that is still active as a Psychiatric Hospital. 

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Haunted with thoughts of suicide, Van Gogh chose a voluntary admission to the hospital at Saint Remy on 8 May 1889. He would stay there for a year and during this time would restle with bouts of deep depression. During his stay from May 1889-May 1890, he was most prolific in his work and produced a total of 142 pieces including Starry Night, Sunflowers, Irises, and a self-portrait that says so much about the man. If you have a favorite (that is a tough one) you can check to see if it was painted during his time at the hospital at the following site:   http://vggallery.com/painting/by_period/st_remy.htm

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The view from his window of some of the terraced gardens.

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Our visit took place in late October so instead of the stunning flowers that would appear in Spring, we had the lovely colors of autumn. Van Gogh took his inspiration from nature so saw the beauty in all that it offered. 

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Up the steps and just past the chapel, you will find the entrance to where Van Gogh’s room is. While there are other rooms here that once housed patients, those were not open. However, the salle de bains and the kitchen were housed there and I hope you find those photos as interesting as I do.

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The salle de bains (bathroom) is situated directly across the hallway from the entry door to the chambre de Van Gogh. 

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The kitchen, no longer in use, is maintained as it was during the time of Van Gogh.

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An inner courtyard that still had some blooms.

If you enjoyed this at all, I do hope you will check out the book LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT A MAN I KNEW by Susan Fletcher. She weaves a beautiful story about Van Gogh and some of the people who actually resided at the hospital at that time. 

On one side of the property we discovered an ancient site for both Greek and Roman villages. There was so much to see there, I fear that it may take more than one post to share some of its secrets. Like here, my camera just gets carried away…

Bisous,

Léa

 

Antonio Machado 1875 – 1939

“My soul is not asleep. It is awake, wide awake. It neither sleeps nor dreams, but watches, its eyes wide open, far off things, and listens at the shores of the great silence.” – Antonio Machado

“Travelers, there is no path. Paths are made by walking.” – Antonio Machado

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While visiting Collioure, a strikingly beautiful beach village, several years ago with a friend, we ventured into the cemetery. On that first visit, I became quite curious as there were a large crowd of people surrounding one of the graves. The group stayed for quite some time and it seemed that it was a pilgrimage. After they moved on, I was able to take a look and unfortunately nothing more having my camera out of commission at the time. When my friend returned to France this time and suggested a visit to Collioure, I checked out my camera and prepared for capturing these photos. 

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While this group of four is a much smaller gathering than what I witnessed the last time I was here, there seems to be a steady stream of those coming to honor the great poet. It would have been lovely to have a closer shot but I did not want to intrude.

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As you can see, to the right of the headstone is a mailbox for those who want to leave a message. Those tiny white stones which appear to be scattered are actually placed as remembrances from those who come to pay their respects. Most have messages on them. Some simply have a date or initials. If you look back at the first photo in this post you can see some of those stones more clearly.

THE WIND, ONE BRILLIANT DAY

 “The wind, one brilliant day, called                                                                                                to my soul with the odor of jasmine.

‘In return for the odor of my jasmine                                                                                                 I’d like the odor of all your roses.’

‘I have no roses; all the flowers                                                                                                           in my garden are dead.’

‘Well then, I’ll take the withered petals and the yellow leaves                                                  and the waters of the fountain.’

the wind left. And I wept. And I said to myself:                                                                          ‘What have you done with the garden that was entrusted to you?’

– Antonio Machado

Born in Seville, the young Antonio moved with his family to Madrid in 1883 where he and his brother, Manuel, joined the Free Educational Institution. This was where Antonio discovered his passion for literature. At the age of seventeen, he lost his father and took on a series of jobs including acting. At the dawning of the new century, he joined his brother in Paris. Manuel already had gained employment as a translator. In Paris, Antonio encountered Jean Moréas and Paul Fort and other contemporary figures in the literary world including Oscar Wilde. Such connections supported his decision that he too would be a poet.Antonio’s first poems were published in a literary journal, Electra, in 1901 and followed two years later by his first collection in 1903, Soledades. A second edition was published in 1907.

Antonio was offered a teaching position, French, in Soria and there he met Leonor Izquierdo Cuevas. He married Miss Cuevas in 1909 when he was 34 years old and the young lady was fifteen. Three years later they returned to Paris. Unfortunately, Leonor developed tuberculosis and returned to Spain where she died on 1 August, 1912. Antonio was devastated by his loss and shortly after the publication of Campos de Castilla, he left Soria for good. His next home was in Baeza, in Andalusia. He published a new edition of Campos de Castilla in 1916 in which he included poems on the death of his wife.

Machado taught French in Segovia from 1919 to 1931 and this allowed him to live closer to his brother who was in Madrid. The closeness allowed them to collaborate writing a number of successful plays. Antonio also enjoyed a romance with Pilar Valderrama, a married woman who he later writes of in later poems using the name, Guiomar.

While still in Segovia, he declares the Republic using the Republican flag which he raises on the town’s hall to the accompaniment of the French National Anthem, La Marseillaise.  His philosophical leanings and moral declarations become increasingly clear in a series he published on the eve of the Spanish Civil War using the pseudonyms, Able Martin and Juan de Mairena. Machado was in Madrid when the war broke out and he was separated from his brother, a separation that would last for the rest of their lives.

His writing continued but made clear his sympathies were with the Republican Party. Machado, brothers José, Joaquim and their mother, were evacuated to Valencia then later to Barcelona.When the Second Spanish Republic fell, they were forced to escape into France where they found themselves in Collioure. He died on 22 February, 1939. He was buried there in Collioure. His mother died shortly after and is also buried nearby.  

If this is your introduction to Antonio Machado, I do hope you will explore his work and enjoy it as much as I have enjoyed sharing it with you.

 

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Bisous,

 

Léa

 

14 Juillet, 2017

“I know a freedom, and that is the freedom of the spirit.”                                                    – Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

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Preparation – before the crowd

It isn’t just about setting up and serving on the day. The Durban mon village Association has put in considerable time choosing a menu, the music, and the myriad of other considerations required to make this a memorable event. Just prior to the day, I witnessed several villagers creating the new countertop you see in the above photo. 

Celebrants begin arriving at about 7:00 in the evening and staking out where they want to sit, speaking with friends and taking a beverage from this willing crew.

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The food begins! Bread, water, wine and such have been put in place and now the servers bring the first course. A half melon into which they will pour Muscat, a sweet, pale golden, wine. Though it is lovely, I opt for plain melon as I don’t have a sweet tooth. 

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A young couple with their three year old daughter join our table as the melon is being served. The young lady and her mom pass on the wine but watch her appreciate the melon as only a child can do.

 

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Curried Coconut Chicken and Rice, it was delicious!

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À votre santé!

 As always, a good time was had by all. The DJ, sometimes a band or more, and the music and dancing go on will into the night. Even the smallest children, barely walking, are out dancing with parents, and grandparents.  The French truly wrote the book on celebrating life. 

Bisous,

Lèa

Camp Joffre: “The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking.” – Albert Einstein

La belle France. Yet even the most beautiful of gardens has both thorns and weeds. The group Eurocultures invited me to visit Camp Rivesaltes otherwise known as Camp Joffre where we would visit a memorial to some of its darker past. A very short distance from the beautiful waters of the Mediterranean, and just the other side of the tracks, lies the remnants of a concentration camp.

For over five years I have tried to share with you some of the beauty in my chosen home. However, this scar must not be glossed over nor forgotten.

 

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Dedication of museum by Manuel Valls 2015
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Inside the new museum

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Reisepass

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La Fuente Family

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A starving child 1941
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Tools?

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Belongs confiscated along with hopes and dreams…

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Testimony to man’s inhumanity to man.

Though the walls are crumbling and little remains of the buildings, many artifacts are carefully preserved in the new climate protected museum.

Rivesaltes Internment Camp – Camp Joffre opened in 1938 and was not to close its doors until 1970. For nearly five years, I have shared with you the beauty, serenity and the joy of La belle France. Yet this beautiful Country has had much pain, cruelty and suffering inflicted on it and its people. Many of those coming through this camp did not originate in France but may have spent their final days here.

 

Bisous,

Lea