Saturday, November 22, 2014

Tomorrow we leave Bordeaux - wish we had more time here. With 360,000 population, it has a big city feel without being big city. The inner city is designed for commuting by train and bike or by foot. Bordeaux has been pedestrianised and I can see the same theme for Melbourne in years to come. Cars are inefficient for inner city movement these days.

Scenes of Bordeaux

We booked a great apartment in the Quartier de l'Hotel de Ville with a tram stop nearby, restaurants, cafes, shopping and museums all within walking distance.
We've had the opportunity to visit a couple of those museums - The Musee d'Aquitaine (from pre-history to modern day) and Musee des Arts Decoratifs (furniture, glass, ceramics, etc).

The Musee des Arts Decoratifs

Musee d'Aquitaine

The tram took us to several of the other Quartiers of Bordeaux but our time here was not enough to truly absorb the true features of the city. You could fill a week without leaving the city and then there's the vineyards in the region. Maybe we will return one day and if we do, it will be longer than a two night stay.

Sorry of no photo captions - its all been a bit of a blur.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Bordeaux for Two Days

Yesterday we drove from the Loire to spend two days in Bordeaux. Along the way we had a lunchtime stop over at Poitiers, a place we visited a couple of years back. I knew there was a car park under the square of the Poitiers Notre Dame. Its not a difficult manoeuvre to achieve with a set of steps out of the car park and there it is. The cathedral of Poitiers is there in front of you.
Rising from the depths of the Poitiers car park, the first image that appears is the XI Cathedrale of Poitiers
Wikipedia says,
Its construction began in 1162 by Henry II of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine on the ruins of a Roman basilica, and work was well advanced by the end of the 12th century. It is the largest medieval monument in the city of Poitiers.

On our previous visit to Poitiers we were impressed with the graphics on the columns of the cathedral - we still are.

It seems that Henry II, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Richard the Lionheart and Jeanne d'Arc follow us where ever we travel in France. We've met a few historic names on this trip that we were not aware of through the regions we have travelled and architecture that we have photographed.

Stained glass depicting Jeanne d'Arc
I've depicted some close ups of the above.

After lunch, our overnight stop was with fellow Bloggers, Diane and Nigel whom we met two years ago at Odour sur Glane, a village that was raised to the grown by the Germans in WWII. Nigel has recently been taking local cooking classes and presented us with a fine main course Boeuf Bourgogne (we were impressed Nigel) which combined well with Diane's South African Butternut soup. Main course followed in the French tradition with cheeses before desert. Cognac completed the meal.

As Diane and Nigel had dental appointments in the morning, we set off early with Diane's hand drawn map to discover a new (to us) Chateau on the way to Bordeaux.

As we came over the rise to Rochefoucauld, the Chateau dominated the horizon with the city below. Unfortunately like many of France's attractions have closed during the winter season.  
We find the truck drivers in France very well behaved. In Australia, trucks are not speed limited to 90 kmh nor are they kept to the slow lane therefore clogging the faster traffic.
Our hotel in Bordeaux is near an underground car park. We thought it would be safer than this above ground car park.
After a big morning of driving to Bordeaux, we were very impressed with our next two nights accommodation.

We just returned from dinner tonight as we post and look forward to seeing more of Bordeaux tomorrow. From what we have seen in the last eight hours, we are most impressed of what the city has to offer in the way of food, wine and shopping. 

Monday, November 17, 2014

A Troglodyte Farm - Not Far From Saumur

Saumur's Chateau rises above the city below.

We stayed at the IBIS hotel opposite Saumur Gare - the station. It doesn’t sound so glamorous but IBIS are comfortable and we have never had reason to complain. Yes, and they have great WIFI.

We visited Saumur several years back when we first stayed at Chinon. It was when Sue wanted to visit Cadre Noir, the French equitation school where we enjoined an afternoon training session. Saumur like most Loire cities has its own Chateau but some of the great delights come from outside the city, mostly no more than 20 kms away. In our case, we wanted to visit the Troglodyte village (farm) of Rochemenier outside of Doue-la-Fontaine. The Dordogne region of France is littered with such communities however this one was different. Most are built into the side of cliffs where this one is in an excavation pit.

The Troglodyte village of Rochemenier had its beginnings from the 13th century and was inhabited into the early 1900s.
As we walked towards the Troglodyte village we passed the church and there to the left of us was a deep depression in the ground. As we walked down, we saw a small what was a small farming community that was inhabited and developed over several centuries. The area takes in two Troglodyte farms.

These rooms below the surface consisted of Bedrooms, a dining room and even a village hall. There were barns, wine cellars a sheep pen and all the equipment associated with the farming community over the years.

The farm is open to the public with a numbered walking path. The leaflet in English explains the life and times of this underground community very well.
A photo from the 1900s showing what it was like then.
You can almost imagine that people were actually still be living here.

The community bar
Add caption

Underground hallways lead from room to room.

Above ground is the rebuilt village church. The original was burnt down during the 16th century wars of religion. During that time, the Troglodytes built an underground church where they worshiped. It is directly below the above ground church of today.
A photo from the very late 1800s???

I've just discovered that our recharger on the laptop has died so we may have to post on the iPad in future. meaning less photos.