Michel Braibant Museum/ Conservatory of Book Arts & Crafts

“Until I feared to lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.”  – Harper Lee

“A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies… the man who never reads lives but one.” – Georger R.R. Martin

“You don’t have to burn books to destroy a culture. Just get people to stop reading them.” – Ray Bradbury

 

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Le musée

 

 

When my friend Yvonne pops over from London, we often find ourselves off to explore. This particular adventure was back to Montolieu – Village du Livre (Village of Books).

While I could spend endless days in the beautiful village of books, we had a limited amount of time this trip and the museum was the focus of this trip. If you would like to see more of the village, I recommend checking out my post of 12/12/2011. Or best of all, visit Montolieu yourself!

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Located in Montagne Noir (Black Mountains) this small village (pop: 1,400) has 23 bookshops. Each Autumn, they host an ancient book festival. Naturally, as one might expect, such a village is popular with artists and there are a number of small galleries.

Le musée traces the history of print from Pictographs to the Alphabet, from Clay to Paper and the invention of Typography (1454), Linotype (1884), Monotype (1887), Stanhope Press (early 19th century) and so much more.

30,000 BCE: Pictographs are pictures and symbols and represent the first written forms. Concepts are represented by figures and scenes.

4,000 BCE: Ideograms/ideographs are a logographic writing system in which graphic symbols are used to represent words. They originated in Egypt and China where ideograms evolved into its current stylised script system.

1,300 BCE: The Phoenicians invent and disseminate the first alphabet. A limited number of letters that they allowed for the formation of sounds.

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1,000 BCE: The Greeks adopt the Phoenician alphabet that they then adapt to their language by introducing vowels.

700 BCE: The Latin or Roman alphabet appears as an adaption of the Etruscan alphabet which had been borrowed from Greek colonists in Italy. Today, the Latin alphabet is the most widely used in the world.

The earliest materials for writing were stones, shells, wood and even tortoiseshells.

4,000BCE: Mesopotamian clay and the tool used was the “calame” or reed stylus.

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3,000 BCE: Egyptian papyrus, a plant found along the banks of the Nile. The “calame” or stylus is made from a blend of soot and resin.

200 BCE: Parchment, is animal skin (goat, calf, sheep…) which has been specially prepared for writing. The writing tool of tis period is a goose feather quill. Ink is made from a compound of vegetable and mineral pigments with egg white as a binding agent.

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105 CE: Paper was invented in China by Ts’ai Lun. It was made from vegetable fibre which was reduced to a paste. The process stayed a secret until 751 CE and later introduced in Europe by the Arabs.

Middle Ages: The majority of the population was illiterate and books were rare and precious objects. Therefore, the thoughts they contained were not widely known. In monasteries, monks copied and recopied  the manuscripts with each copy errors

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compounded and diminished the original meaning of the text.

1454 Invention of Typography:

The German metal-worker/inventor, Johann Gutenberg combined lead, antimony and tin creating an alloy which could be used repeatedly. Gutenberg is generally credited with perfecting metal moveable type.

Linotype: Invented by Ottmar Mergenthaler in 1884 and

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produced solid lines of text case from rows of matrices. The line-composing operation was accomplished by means of a keyboard similar to that of a typewriter. However, it was much faster than hand-set typesetting and permitted the wide circulation of printed material. It was primarily used for the composition of newspapers.

Monotype: Another type of hot metal composition which appeared in 1887.

Stanhope Press: This press appears at the beginning of the 19th century, and consists of a massive cast-iron frame. It replaces wood presses, but

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impressions are still made page by page and inking remains manual.

Plate Press: This press appears in the middle of the 19th century and increases the speed at which printed matter can be produced. The carriage is flat and pedal-driven and rubber ink rollers. It is fed manually.

Heidelberg Press: Appears in the early 20th century. With its high speed cylinder press and an automatic feeding and placing device which pivoting racks pick

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up the paper by the use of suction to the entire surface.

Nebiolo Cylinder Press: First appears in the 1940’s. The base is no longer vertical and fixed, but horizontal and mobile. Print form moves under the cylinder to which the paper is attached.

Lithography: Makes its appearance in the late 18th century  and gives birth to Offset in the 20th century. This method is based on the chemical repellence of oil and water.

Massicot: This cutting device was perfected by Claude Massicot and allows for clean cuts for reams of paper.

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As you might easily imagine, there is much more to see in this museum than can be covered here in a single post.  If you plan to visit the south of France, a trip to Montolieu is well worth the visit.

Bisous,

Léa

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Bookpress
Bookpress
Alphabet
Alphabet
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Making art accessible to the masses

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Carcassonne: La Cité – Part 1

The origins of Carcassonne are traced back to the 4th C BC.

In the 2nd Century BC it served as a strategic outpost fortified by the Romans, who gave it the name Carcassonne. The Visigoths succeeded the Romans and overran Gaul in the 5th C AD. When they converted to Christianity, it became a diocese. In the 8th Century the fortress fell to the Franks who later defended the city against attacks from the Saracens.

The Emperor Charlemagne besieged the town in 795, and was held by Dame Carcass, a Saracen princess. After a five year siege, the only food left was one little pig and a bag of corn. Dame Carcass gave the bag of corn to the pig and sent it out to the ramparts. Charlemagne raised the siege, since he thought there was enough food even to feed a small pig. Before the Emperor left, Dame Carcass rang out the bells making them sound the word Carcassonne.

In 1209, Crusades from the north came down the Rhone valley to stamp out the heretic Cathars.
The Viscount
Raymond Roger Trencavel publicly offered protection to all those being hounded by the northern invaders.

After sacking Beziers, the crusading army besieged Carcassonne. Despite the leadership of a youngl Trencavel, in his early 20’s, the town was forced to surrender after only two weeks through lack of water.

The Army council appointed Simon de Montfort, Viscount of Carcassonne in place of Trencavel.
River Aude
Within a year Trencavel was found dead in the tower where he was being held prisoner.

In 1240 Trencavel’s son tried in vain to recapture Carcassonne by siege. Although his mines and missile breached the walls, he was forced to retreat by the royal army.

St Louis IX had the small towns around the ramparts razed and the town’s inhabitants paid for their rebellion with seven years in exile. Upon their return they were permitted to build a town on the opposite side of the river Aude- the present Ville Basse. The walled city was repaired and reinforced. When finished, it was so well fortified it was regarded as impregnable.

Successive kings reinforced Carcassonne because of its strategic importance close to the border with Catalonia. However, in 1659, the Treaty of the Pyrenees restored the region of Roussillon to France. The new border was now 200kms away, The city of Perpignan now guarded the frontier. Carcassonne’s military importance dwindled and was eventually abandoned and left to decay.
La Cité
When I first visited France in the spring of 2006, I spent a week in La Cité staying at the hostel and exploring the area. Before arriving, I began reading the book Labyrinth by Kate Mosse. Her descriptions of the area were so vivid and I felt I had stepped into the pages of the book.
Bisous,
Léa

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 have 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 nearly eight 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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Belongings 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. 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. With the rise of fascism rampant in numerous parts of the world, I felt it imperative to reblog this post.

 

Bisous,

Lea

 

LE CHOEUR de L’AUDE

Le Choeur 2

The Choir of the Aude

Created in 2016 by choristers from the departmental choir of Aude, it is composed of about sixty singers and choir directors, from different choirs of the department.

 

The Choir of the Aude benefits from a high-level training, combining the discovery of new repertoires and the interpretation of works The Choir of Aude

 Classic or traditional. It is brilliantly directed by William Hedley, a choral conductor whose reputation is second to none.

For this season 2018/2019, the Choir of Aude has chosen in collaboration with Martine Laure, professor at the Conservatory of Carcassonne to present young pianists of his students, who will express themselves as soloists or accompanies.
They will amaze you with their talent.

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A very nice program around the works of Berlioz, Borodin, Chopin, Dvorak, Faure, Janacek, Rachmaninoff, Turina, and Vaughan Williams. Within the first ten minutes of the doors being opened, they began searching for more chairs and my photos were limited as there was no space to maneuver. 

Participation au chapeau (Donations accepted)

My sincere appreciation to my neighbors, Francine, and Françoise, for the invitation to join them for this event. 

 

Bisous,

Léa

 

Notre Dame de Paris – Notre Drame / Our Lady of Paris – Our Drama

During the night, the face of The City of Lights was changed. For much of the world, Notre Dame symbolizes Paris and indeed, France. As my home is located on the Mediterranean, I relied on the photos in my local morning journal (newspaper). 

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Like many, I had been forwarned last night by the internet. But seeing what is available on my computer or television cannot compare to the stunned faces I encountered this morning. One neighbor retired barber, extended a near usual morning greeting. However, today, his cheeks were streaked with tears.  While this is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this marks a National, European and even World Wide loss. Without a doubt, she has been one of the top visited locations in France. 

Having lived here for nearly twelve years, I’ve witnessed loss and mourning in my village. This is different. It is a loss shared by the entire nation and beyond. 

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Television, radio and the internet will be filled with photos and stories for some time. No doubt, efforts will be made to restore the cathedral as close as possible to its former glory. Lost art and relics have left a space for new treasures that will try to capture some of her past and a glance toward the future. 

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While the nation is grateful for what was spared and the fact there was no loss of life, there is also the deep sadness for what is gone.

Bisous,

Léa

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