Part 1: France and England

Happy 2015! It’s been a few weeks but I’m back! I’ve been on some wonderful adventures in France and England. I’ll be spending the next few days or so discussing my travels.

First, Bordeaux. We went to wine country in France. It’s one of the top five largest cities in France. It’s got very pretty sections like these castle buildings scattered throughout, a river walk that is simply magical. But it also has some brutalist architecture that astonishes me in its ugliness. I didn’t think something so ugly could be found in France. But if you stick to the center, you can pretty much get around it.

Bordeaux isn’t my favorite city in France. In fact, I’m not terribly fond of it. Partly, because I’ve had health issues every time I go. So that doesn’t endear me to the city. I also feel that it has all the disadvantages of Paris without quite as much advantages. But I did enjoy myself overall.

We did venture to the Bordeaux Cathedral, a wonderful edifice of Gothic architecture. Absolutely stunning. It has wonderfully bright rose windows and some elegantly painted chapels within. Outside, there was a magnificent Christmas tree that added to the entire ensemble. We also climbed the bell tower nearby and got a magnificent view of the rooftops. Our general rule is that if we see a tower, we climb it. You get the sense of accomplishment for having climbed it and a lovely view of the surroundings.

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View of Bordeaux from bell tower

 

At the foot of the cathedral, there was an ice skating rink. Naturally, we went skating, which was a lot of fun. It was a small rink so it was a bit chaotic. It was simply marvelous to have the wind rush through your hair as you stare up at this medieval cathedral.

We only ventured to one museum during our visit: The Museum of Aquitaine. It’s a museum of the region. It starts off in the prehistoric age with various tools. It even had a replica of a wall from Lascaux caves (which is relatively close by). It moves on to a wonderful room of Roman artifacts. They have astonishing mosaic floors surrounded by statues. There also have some fairly impressive bronzes. The medieval section is lovely with the skeleton of a rose window. And there is a replica of the tombstone of Eleanor of Aquitaine (she is buried in Northern France).

Rose window skeleton
Rose window skeleton

They recently renovated the top floor to cover the Enlightenment, slavery, up to the present day. I think it dealt with slavery in a fascinating way; something that hadn’t really been done elsewhere. It had several rooms on the topic including one with testimony from former slaves talking about the various aspects of life. It talked about the places the people were taken from and even showed some wonderful art pieces from those areas. It was not a mere blip in the museum; they wanted to tackle it head on. Kudos to them.

We also stumbled upon an entire circus in a tent in a local park but the circus wasn’t due to start until January 10th. However, a local church held a mass in the tent on Christmas Eve.

We also found two of these castle buildings. They seemed almost like gates without surrounding walls. We dubbed one the gate of Eleanor (since it mentioned her in a plaque at its feet).

Castle building of Bordeaux
Castle building of Bordeaux

Tomorrow, we’ll talk of St. Emilion, Castellón, and Bergerac!

That’s all!

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