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Ruins at Marcilhac, Lot. Copyright Cold Spring Press 20

Marcilhac-sur-Célé, Lot
September 2016

Bonjour  ~      Visiting the Lot département is an adventure into the past. Untouched very much by tourism and modernization, it is village after village filled with charm, Medieval homes and churches,and often amazing ruins such as this one in Marcilhac-sur-Célé, the 9th century Abbey of St-Peter.

We were among but a few visitors that day in September, and we wandered through the ruins and into the beautiful church, its walls covered in Medieval frescoes. This is a place not to be missed, and was suggested to us by our hosts at Mas de Garrigues in nearby Calvignac ~ a lovely and welcoming place to stay.   
                                                                                  ~  A bientôt

Le Pavillon de Galon vineyards

Vineyard at Le Pavillon de Galon
September 2012

Bonjour  ~  We stayed two nights at Le Pavillon de Galon in Provence, which was not nearly long enough!  Not only did we have great breakfasts on the sunny terrasse, but our room faced south overlooking their spectacular,   award-winning gardens. 

They now produce their own olive oil and wine, and their vineyards bask in the Provençal sun with the nearby Luberon mountains as a backdrop.  Great weather and lovely hosts made our time here perfect!

                                                                        ~  A bientôt

The river Yonne flowing through Auxerre. Copyright Cold Spring Press 2009-present.  All rights reserved.
Auxerre and the River Yonne
October 2009

Bonjour  ~  We looked forward to our return to the charming and historic city of Auxerre in Burgundy ~ not only for its fine churches and museums but to enjoy the calm and beauty of the gently flowing River Yonne.

With city bridges overflowing with flower boxes, boaters sailing beneath us as we crossed, and views of the surrounding Burgundian countryside for contrast, we walked for hours.  Meals taken in the old part of town were delicious, and we proved that you can 'come home again' and not be disappointed in any way ~ as long as you are returning to Auxerre.

                                                                        ~  A bientôt

Gallo-Roman Ruins at Thésée. Copyright Cold Spring Press 2009-present.  All rights reserved.

Gallo-Roman Ruins, Thésée
October 2009

Bonjour  ~      On a bright, sunny day in the Loire, we ventured out to visit  the Gallon-Roman ruins at Thésée, the most important in the département  of the Loir-et-Cher.  Courses of bricks laid in the second century AD are a testament to the skills of the stone masons of the day.

We learned that it was originally called 'Tasciaca', and the settlement was a center for ceramicists on the road between Tours and Bourges.  The village of Thésée's Musée Archéologique houses jewels, pottery and coins taken from the ruins.
                                                                        ~  A bientôt

Le Train Bleu, Gare de Lyon. Copyright Cold Spring Press 2006-present.  All rights reserved.

Le Train Bleu, Gare de Lyon, Paris
September 2006

Bonjour  ~      If you must wait for your train's departure in any of Paris' railway stations, the Gare de Lyon is the place!  You can sit on a bench and gaze up at the great Belle Epoque restaurant, Le Train Bleu.  Built in 1900 for the Universal Exhibition along with the Petit Palais, Grand Palais, Pont Alexandre III and the Gare de Lyon itself, many of its dining rooms and lounges were classed as historic monuments by André Malraux in 1972.

With its beginnings as a buffet for hungry travelers, it has evolved into a sumptuously decorated fine dining establishment that (its web site says) is a "feast for the eyes as well as the stomach".

                                                                        ~  A bientôt

Alpes, Embrun and Lac de Serre-Ponçon,  Copyright 2012-present Cold Spring Press.  All rights reserved.
Hautes-Alpes of Provence
September 2012

Bonjour  ~  It's one of several gorgeous days we've enjoyed Provence's Hautes-Alpes département ~ here we are looking across the Lac de Serre-Ponçon toward the town of Embrun on the opposite shore.  The lake is one of the largest man-made lakes in Europe and is about 20 kilometers long.

After two days and nights at the truly incredible Château de Picomtal, which has fantastic views of the lake and alps, we must depart to continue our trip north to the Rhône, but not without some very happy memories to take along. 

                                                                        ~  A bientôt

Dubonnet Sign, Lautrec. Copyright Cold Spring Press 2007-present.  All rights reserved.

Dubonnet Advertisement, Lautrec
October 2007

Bonjour  ~      We have discovered the most delightful hill village in the Tarn.  It is Lautrec, south of Albi and one hour northeast of Toulouse.  We found the perfect chambres d'hôtes facing the Place du Monument ~ a village manoir that has a classical French garden at the rear where you can sit under a grape arbor and look over the ramparts to the countryside beyond.

Also facing the Place is this very old sign, reminiscent of the Dubonnet jingle of decades past:  "Dubo....Dubon....Dubonnet". We couldn't resist taking this photo knowing that one day the sign may well be completely gone.

                                                                        ~  A bientôt

Sunset in Plagny, Canal Latéral à la Loire. Copyright Cold Spring Press 2009-present.  All rights reserved.

Sunset, Canal Latéral à la Loire, Plagny
October 2009

Bonjour  ~      We have been relaxing and enjoying a few days aboard the Alphonsia Maria péniche as it silently cruises the incredibly lovely Canal Latéral à la Loire in the départements of the Cher and Nièvre.  Our  time on the boat has been a pure delight:  lovely stateroom, excellent cuisine,   and hosts that could not be more welcoming and kind.

A photographer's dream, the cruise has offered many opportunities such as  several  watercolor sunsets ~ this one at Plagny where we docked for  the night.  We will never forget our time on the Alphonsia Maria !

                                                                        ~  A bientôt

Black Swan of Mortemart. Copyright Cold Spring Press 2011-present.  All rights reserved.

Black Swan of Mortemart
September 2011

 Bonjour  ~      We discovered the wonderful village of Mortemart - one of the Most Beautiful Villages of France - with its 16th century covered market and  beautiful old church.    The main attraction is the Château of the Dukes of Mortemart, now used for functions and exhibits.  We especially enjoyed walking behind the château around the 'moat', which is really quite a large pond with several swans.  Among them was one black swan who paddled to hide beneath some greenery at the edge of the water.  That's when we snapped this pictured of him (or her) ~ a lovely memory to take away with us.

                                                                     ~  A bientôt 

Ste Eugénie Church, Biarritz. Copyright Cold Spring Press 2005-present.  All rights reserved.

Sainte Eugénie Church, Biarritz
September 2005

Bonjour  ~      What a wonderful little city!

We're not only enjoying the lovely seaside (with magnificent views from our windows at Villa le Goëland), but the bustling streets as well ~  upscale  shops, lots of restaurants and brasseries, superb architecture (the Hôtel du  Palais was once Empress Eugénie's villa), the Casino and the fine Sainte Eugénie Church in this photo.  It's no wonder that Biarritz, with its distinct personality and great  location, was named "Queen of Beaches and the Beach of Kings".

                                                                        ~  A bientôt

Fish Downspout on Paris' Île Saint-Louis.  Copyright Cold Spring Press 2000-present.  All rights reserved.
Île Saint-Louis, Paris
September 2000

Bonjour  ~      Paris is synonymous with art, and it
isn't just found in the museums or galleries.  From fashion trends to the preservation of its rich architecture, Paris ~ and France as well ~ gives viewing pleasure at every turn.

Apparently, the practical and functional should not go unadorned either, thus this excellent example of turning a common rain down-spout into a stylized fish.   Trimmed in gold, this attraction is found on the city's famed Île Saint-Louis at the Hôtel de Lauzun, 17 quai d'Anjou and reminds us that beauty can be created in almost anything!

                                                                          ~  A bientôt

La Tour au Cognum on the River Vienne.  Copyright Cold Spring Press 2011-present.  All rights reserved.
La Tour au Cognum, Civaux
September 2011

Bonjour  ~  Driving north toward Chauvigny on the N147
along the River Vienne brought us to La Tour au Cognum near Civaux, a commune of Lussac les Châteaux.  We drove across the Vienne to a small family park to get a better photo of the château - the tower in ruins - which dates back to the 12th and 13th centuries.  The river brought the Romans here, but the region is filled with a wealth of prehistoric artifacts and evidence of the Neanderthals who preceded them.

This little detour also gave us an up close view of the Civaux Nuclear Plant,  whose towers were releasing steam into the air - it brought us back to the 21st century!

   ~  A bientôt

River Lot from Crayssac.  Copyright Cold Spring Press 2005-present.  All rights reserved.
The River Lot, Crayssac
September 2005

Bonjour  ~  After driving up a narrow and winding 
road 2.5 kilometers to an altitude of 219 meters, we reached the 'Col de Crayssac'.  Two couples, one with small children, were gazing over the rail fence at the breathtakingly beautiful Lot Valley. 

We parked and joined them to happily discover this phenomenal panoramic view of the River Lot wending its way past a patchwork quilt in shades of green.  A tour boat entered the scene from the left, and as they passed we waved to them, and they returned the greeting.   This stop was a lovely diversion and a great photo opportunity!
                                                                  ~  A bientôt

Outdoor Market, Paris.  Copyright Cold Spring Press 1993-present.  All rights reserved.
Outdoor Market, Paris
September 1993

Bonjour  ~    It isn't only in the small towns and country
villages where one can find the bounty of fresh produce and other delightful farm products at outdoor markets.  This scrumptious display of mushrooms, olives and peaches was at a lovely morning market in the heart of Paris!  Farmers and other artisans come into the city before dawn to set up their stalls and artfully display their wares.

We pointed out plums and peaches to the vendors, and they obliged us by putting our selection in little sacs for us to take on our way.  It was all we could do to resist taking a photo of every stall! 

  ~  A bientôt

Château d'Hautefort, Dordogne.  Copyright Cold Spring Press 2011-present.  All rights reserved.

Château d'Hautefort, Dordogne
September 2011

Bonjour  ~      Our drive from the Corrèze to the Dordogne took us past the amazing Château d'Hautefort, built in the 17th century on the site of a 12th century fortress.  In the 20th century, it was purchased by a Baron and Baronness who spent four decades restoring it.   The Baron died before the renovations were completed in 1968 ~ tragically, that same year, it burned to the ground!  The Baronness completely restored it again, and today it is a magnificent tribute to them and their love for this monument.  Visitors can enjoy the French, Italian, topiary and other gardens as well as visit the château itself on certain days of the year.  Don't miss it!
                                                                                              ~  A bientôt

Musée du Quai Branly 'Mur Végétal'.  Copyright Cold Spring Press 2005-present.  All rights reserved.
Musée du Quai Branly, Paris
September 2005

Bonjour  ~  Designed by Jean Nouvel, this museum
featuring the art and civilzation of Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas is scheduled to open in 2006.  It is located on the left bank of the Seine 
not far from the Eiffel Tower.

Its very unique façade is covered in 15,000 live plants of 150 different species on a vertical surface of 800 square meters and is called 'Mur Végétal'.  The plants are from Japan, China, the United States and Central Europe.  We've never seen (or imagined) anything like it!

                                                          ~  A bientôt

Musée du Petit Palais. Copyright Cold Spring Press 1991-present.  All rights reserved.
Musée du Petit Palais, Avignon
May 1991

Bonjour  ~    This view is from the promontory, Rocher
des Doms, in front of the Popes Palace.  Especially pleasant is the Musée du Petit Palais, the building in this photo, with the wide and impressive River Rhône below.  It was once a cardinal's residence but now houses 600 sculptures and some 60 paintings, including 15th century works of the 'Avignon school' and priceless 13th-16th century Italian paintings.

Across the Rhône is Villeneuve-les-Avignon, a residential area designed by Philippe-le-Bel and where, by the 14th century, cardinals lived in grand homes. 

   ~  A bientôt

Moat Gardens at Château d'Angers. Copyright Cold Spring Press 2002-present.  All rights reserved.
Gardens at Château d'Angers, Angers
May 2002

Bonjour  ~    This carefully sculpted garden reminds
us of the gardens at Château Villandry in the Loire Valley.  Here on the River Maine is the enormous Château d'Angers ~ open to the public for not only viewing the Moat Gardens like the one above, but Millefleurs tapestries, the Logis du Gouverneur and the Roi window, as well as formal gardens and Chapelle Ste-Geneviève.

We were lucky enough to arrive as a wedding party was coming out into the courtyard from the chapel, the bride's dress flowing and everyone enjoying the occasion.  We did as well!

                                                                  ~  A bientôt

Château de Biron, Dordogne. Copyright Cold Spring Press 2011-present.  All rights reserved.

Château de Biron, Biron, Dordogne
September 2011

Bonjour  ~      Seen from miles away, the massive Château de Biron is perched high upon a hill in this tiny commune - dominating it in a most pleasant way.  Open to the public, this Monument Historique dates from the 12th century and has belonged to the commune of Biron since 1978.   Visitors may choose to have a guided tour of the château or proceed on their own to explore it.  Either way, it is an enjoyable and interesting experience.

We highly recommend staying at Le Prieuré du Château de Biron a few steps from the château - a lovely bed and breakfast and an exceptional place to enjoy your time in the Dordogne.

                                                                        ~  A bientôt

Charolais Cows near Héry.  Copyright 2012-present.  Cold Spring Press.  All rights reserved.

Charolais Cows, near Héry, France
September 2012

Bonjour  ~   from Burgundy's  Yonne département.  We explored the region near Château de Resle where we have been staying ~ a fine château with great hosts ~ visited Pontigny Abbey, drove from one small village to another,  and finally took a dirt road that promised to lead to an old Roman bridge (which we did not find!).  Happily, we met these two charming locals along the road.  As before, we have always found the cows of France to be exceptionally curious and friendly, and these were no different.  They approached the wire fence to get a closer look at us and to pose most kindly for a photo!

                                                                              ~  A bientôt

Place des Cornières, Monpazier.  Copyright Cold Spring Press 2005-present.  All rights reserved.
Marketplace, Monpazier 
September 2005

Bonjour  ~  On this beautiful September day in 
the Dordogne of southwestern France we are in Monpazier, founded in 1284 by the English King Edward I.  During the reign of King Charles V of France (1366-1380), the town became French.

The bastide of Monpazier is a National Heritage Site and claims to be the best preserved bastide in the Dordogne.  Place des Cornières, the location of the market offering flowers, fresh produce, clothing and regional delicacies, is surrounded by marvelous 17th century houses, and the streets of town are on a perfect grid.
                                                                           ~  A bientôt

Cathédrale St-Front.  Copyright Cold Spring Press 1995-present.  All rights reserved.
Cathédrale St-Front, Périgueux
September 1995

Bonjour  ~ This church, originally 2 joined by the
belfry, was completed in 1173.  The controversial 1852 restoration, by architect Paul Abadie who preferred redesigning to restoring, was not well-received in the Périgord.  He even removed the Romanesque refectory.  The museum now houses those original carvings.

Byzantine inside and out, it became the model for Sacre-Coeur in Paris  ~  a commission Abadie received shortly after St-Front's completion. By the  way, the old town surrounding the cathédrale is a medieval and Renaissance treasure!

                                                                 ~  A bientôt

The River Yonne at Villeneuve s/Yonne.  Copyright Cold Spring Press 1999-present.  All rights reserved.

River Yonne at Villeneuve, Burgundy
September 1999

Bonjour  ~      We adore Burgundy!  We've had some wonderful experiences here,  and our visit to Villeneuve-sur-Yonne is certainly going to be one of the most memorable!  It's a unique and lovely small town, ideal for strolls.

We stayed a few feet from its beautiful river at Leslie Caron's auberge "La Lucarne aux Chouettes" (The Owl's Nest)  where we had a delightful room (there are only four) and dinner in her very special restaurant.  The enchantment of the River Yonne, however, is the icing on the cake.  We shall come back again!
                                                                       ~  A bientôt

Cathédrale de Notre Dame de Paris.  Copyright  Cold Spring Press 2007-present.  All rights reserved.

Cathédrale de Notre Dame de Paris
October 2007

Bonjour  ~      It's a beautiful Sunday in Paris, and we decided to attend
the International Mass.  The church was filled with tourists who were  given limited access along the side aisles, as  the center was reserved for those attending Mass which was delivered primarily in French.

This photo gives a somewhat different perspective of the cathedral which is usually photographed from the other side.  It is a beautiful sight along the River Seine, and we are sad that this is our last day in Paris.

                                                                        ~  A bientôt

Montignac and the River Vézère.  Copyright Cold Spring Press 1995-present.  All rights reserved.
Montignac on the River Vézère, Périgord
September 1995

Bonjour  ~  It's a lovely afternoon here in Montignac
following a rainy morning which was perfect weather for our going underground to see the cave paintings at Lascaux II.

Montignac is famous because the original Lascaux caves are here, discovered 55 years ago by a young man looking for his dog that had vanished down a hole!  Those caves were closed to the public in 1963 to preserve them, but Montignac still has lots of charm, and the Vézère, France's river with the 
most prehistoric sites,  is luminous in the afternoon sun.

                                                                       ~  A bientôt

Breton Thatched Cottage.  Copyright Cold Spring Press 1993-present.  All rights reserved.

Thatched Cottage, Brittany
September 2003

Bonjour  ~ Along a country road, as we headed for Rochefort-en-Terre,
we came upon this classic Breton cottage, complete with thatched roof. 

We continue to return to Brittany, enchanted by its warmth, charm and quaint villages.  The Bretons are a sturdy people and that translates into the solid little houses they have built throughout the region  ~ many displaying not only a distinct architectural style but also making very good use of the local granite.  This pretty house is most likely much larger on the inside that its modest exterior suggests ~ and we adore it!
                                                                        ~  A bientôt

Ligny-le-Châtel.  Copyright 2012-present.  Cold Spring Press.  All rights reserved.
Ligny-le-Châtel, Yonne, Burgundy
September 2012

Bonjour  ~  While exploring the countryside and towns near Château de Resle where we were staying, we came to Ligny-le-Châtel, a  pretty village on the River Serein.

Here are buildings on the edge of the river ~ the one on the right served as a lavoir, where ladies in days gone by came to wash their laundry in the river by reaching over the stone shelf which was about waist high.  Lines were provided behind them to hang items to dry ~ the back of the building is partially open to let air move through.  Today, mannequins are in place to represent the ladies at work.

                                                                  ~  A bientôt

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