Weekly photo challenge: The sign says…

In the photo below there are two signs.  I’m guessing you can read the sign on the right, Mister Tacos Sandwicherie.  But as for the other one, since this week’s photo challenge is “The signs says…”, the photo gives me the opportunity to tell you what the sign says:

“This home was built by the Lyonnais magistrate, Claude Paterin, under the reign of François 1st.  Its name was later changed to the House of Henri IV after the monarch had a short stay here in December 1600.”

Hôtel Paterin, Lyon
Hôtel Paterin, Lyon

A bust of Henri IV sits in a niche above the sign.  However, it was not his property but a private mansion.  He stayed here for a short while after his marriage to Marie de Médicis in the Cathédrale Saint Jean, a few streets away, which was when and where they met.  The marriage produced issue, ancestors of some of the present European royal families including Prince William through his mother’s family.  But apart from this, the marriage was an unpleasant affair for Marie who shared her husband with several of his mistresses until it all ended when Henri was assassinated ten years later.

Hôtel Paterin, Lyon
Hôtel Paterin and Mister Tacos, Lyon

The house is at 4 rue Juiverie in old Lyon where most of the Renaissance buildings have been restored and receive constant attention.  Unfortunately, while someone occupies the upper floors of the building, judging by the pot plants and the open window, the Hotel Paterin has been sorely neglected on the lower levels and now houses Mister Tacos, though even this shop looks like it has closed down.  I was shocked by the two signs, visible together in one glance and disturbing enough to make me look back.

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Weekly Photo Challenge: In the Background

The photo challenge this week is to take a photo of myself, perhaps as a reflection, so that the background is more interesting than the subject.

Today I found this piece of reflective metal at the bottom of a whole-wall fresco here in Lyon, France.  So, I took the hint, took my camera and photographed myself on the street with the fresco.  My mind never quite accepted that these people were painted onto a two-dimensional surface.  Even now, looking at my photos, my eye is fooled into thinking they are real.

This mural covers the entire blind wall of the building at the corner of 49 Quai Saint-Vincent and 2 rue de la Martinière.  There are 24 historical Lyonnais characters on their balconies, going back further in time as they rise up the wall.  At ground level there are 6 contemporary personalities (not including me).  The fresco was produced in 1994/95.

La Fresque des Lyonnais
La Fresque des Lyonnais and me, street level and first floor

Here’s another view which I liked so much that I’ve attempted to blot out a nasty dark mark made by an idiot dragging a black pen or brush through all the faces.  I think I’ve improved the photo but unfortunately it’s not easy to remove the real mark from the fresco without retouching the artwork.  Isn’t it fantastic, though?  All the people to my left are painted, they don’t exist, nor does the brickwork or the doorway.

Fresque des Lyonnais et moi
La Fresque des Lyonnais et moi, street level

And one more, just because I’ve bought some important books in the bookshop, Gibert Joseph.

La Fresque des Lyonnais, bookshop on the corner
La Fresque des Lyonnais.  A painted Bernard Pivot leaving a painted bookshop, Gibert Joseph.
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Ailsa's travel photography challenge: Pathways

I’ve walked a million miles in the past few weeks, many of them on sealed surfaces and others on dirt paths.  The following photos were taken on two difficult climbs.  The first two show the path up to the Abbey of St Martin of Canigou in France;  I walked up the 3 kms and down again which was steep but not TOO harsh because the path is sealed.  But some older people in our group took the optional jeep ride which apparently is not always better;  some said they had vertigo looking at the edges.

Jeep doing 3-point turn on a hairpin bend;  straight drop down at the edge.
Jeep doing 3-point turn on a hairpin bend; at the edge, straight drop down!
Abbey of St Martin of Canigou at the top of the 3 km path
L’Abbaye de Saint Martin du Canigou at the top of the 3 km path (check out the cloud!)

This next photo was taken from half-way up a steep dirt track on my way to Cap Béar, though I never got there.  When I reached this point my heart was pounding and I was breathing heavily, absolutely alone and a wee bit scared, so I made the decision to descend.  The track is grazed out of the hillside and sometimes supported by improvised stone steps.  Very steep but not frightening for genuine hikers.  And on the subject of pathways, from up on the hill there’s a great view of the pathway to the lighthouse, that is, the jetty.

Half way up the hill on the path to Cap Béar, France;  looking over the jetty and lighthouse
Half-way up the hill on the path to Cap Béar, France; looking over the jetty and lighthouse

This post was inspired by Ailsa’s Pathways: have a look at the awesome paths she has trod.

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Weekly photo challenge: Escape

When I walked up over this hill in the early morning and looked back at the village, I was completely alone on a small part of the Mediterranean coast. No one knew where I was.

Village from top of the hill
Port-Vendres from top of the hill

Turning round to see the sea, I looked down over this cove, and, on the far side, a fort and war ruins, French and German, that remain on the cape.

Cove between Port-Vendres and Collioure, France
Cove between Port-Vendres and Collioure, France

Having escaped from civilisation for a brief hour, I walked down to take a closer look at the ruins and saw why this point had been chosen for a fort; it’s ideal for shooting and blowing up shipping way out on the horizon. No escape for them.

This is one of two arches through which cannons were pointed, with holes for thinner weapons. Unfortunately, with the arch and holes positioned as they are, it resembles a face.

Gun and cannon slots, Fort Mauresque, Vermilion Coast, France
Gun and cannon slots, Fort Mauresque, Vermilion Coast, France

It was horrible, seeing this war junk lying all along the cliff edges.

War junk, coastline between Collioure and Port-Vendres, France
War junk, coastline between Collioure and Port-Vendres, France

What struck me was the ugliness of concrete, while the nineteenth-century stone fort has that element of beauty found in stone construction all around this region, whether it be houses, barriers, walls, steps or forts. Here’s some more ugly concrete, a piece of German war litter, a base for a revolving cannon.

Base of revolving German cannon, leftover from WWII, between Collioure and Port-Vendres, France
Base of revolving German cannon, leftover from WWII, between Collioure and Port-Vendres, France

Fortunately, wars end, and life is good again.  But if you need to take a break from the troubles of ordinary peacetime life, I recommend this coastline where surprises make every day special.  I found this beautiful Bottlebrush tree, which I didn’t know grew outside of Australia,  growing on a hill with red roses, grapevines and palm trees, all overlooking the blue Mediterranean.

Bottlebrush, Mediterranean Sea
Bottlebrush, Mediterranean Sea
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Ailsa's travel photography challenge: The four elements

The four elements: earth, water, air, fire; that’s Ailsa’s photo challenge this week.

The photos below are from the Catalan coast, north and south of the French-Spanish border.

EARTH

House built onto rock, Port-Vendres, France
House built onto rock, Port-Vendres, France

Sometimes the French completely tame and reshape nature, sometimes they work around it, acknowledging its beauty. Many buildings in this region are built on rock, incorporating it into the external and even internal walls. Why remove rock when it adds to the visual appeal?

WATER

Students casting stones into the sea, Cadaqués, Spain
Students casting stones into the sea, Cadaqués, Spain

Yesterday afternoon in Cadaqués on the north-east coast of Spain, we stopped to have a cup of tea in a café. Outside, students stopped on the beach on their way home after school with the idea of dismantling the rocky beach and casting the stones into the sea, an activity which amused them greatly. I wondered whether they do this every afternoon. This is truly a watery photo because it was drizzling and had been for most of the day.

AIR

Scarf in wind
Scarf in wind

Here on the Côte Vermeille it’s OFTEN windy. Squally. Scary at night. I shut the shutters.

FIRE

Candle for my family
Candle for my family

This afternoon I lit the candle on the right for my family. The little candles that burn in churches every day are strangely warming despite the tall, open, often icy space.

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Ailsa's travel photo challenge: Beaches

Ailsa had trouble finding a free spot to park her towel on a Seattle beach this week since everyone had gone there to catch some rays. Sometimes on the beaches of south-east New South Wales we, too, have to look carefully for a nice piece of sand to plop onto without flattening the pointillist art of tiny crabs, the fine wet sand balls surrounding their homes.

Crab hole construction, south-east coast, NSW, Australia
Crab hole construction, south-east coast, NSW, Australia

This past week I found a couple of beaches here in France that were empty of people and crabs, despite lovely warm weather. I’d like to see the crabs that could roll this gravel into balls:

Small beach near Port-Vendres lighthouse, France
Small beach near Port-Vendres lighthouse, France

I was disappointed that I had to keep my shoes on, something I never do back home; it wasn’t only the gravel that bothered me (which might in fact be good for smoothing the feet), but the litter also put me off.  I’ve been told the authorities clean the beaches every day in summer, but it is yet spring…  On the other hand, it was something special to sit looking across the top of the flat Mediterranean Sea instead of down over the huge rolling waves of the Pacific Ocean.  I’ve often thought of those waves as an analogy for life, comforted by their continual rolling and crashing that no human disaster can prevent, but if I’d grown up here beside this waveless body of water, I would’ve looked at life differently.

France is beautiful, almost everywhere, but her beaches have not stolen my heart; it still belongs to the long, white, squeaky sand beaches, often deserted (except for crabs), around the Australian coastline.

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Weekly photo challenge: Pattern

The pattern straight-twisted-straight-twisted has pleased the eye for centuries. This past week I saw it in the 12th-century cloister of the cathedral of Sainte Eulalie and Sainte Julie in Elne, France:

Cloister, Ste Eulalie, Elne, France
Cloister, Ste Eulalie & Ste Julie, Elne, France

And I saw a much more recent use of this pattern on a balcony railing overlooking Port-Vendres, a bit further south:

Balcony in Port-Vendres, France
Balcony in Port-Vendres, France
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East of Málaga's photo challenge: Knobs and knockers (door furniture!)

Marianne proposes a search for interesting knobs and knockers on doors (http://eastofmalaga.net/2013/05/01/cbbh-photo-challenge-knobs-and-knockers/)

I’ve seen many in the past few days but the ones below were pretty special.

Doors, Cathédrale Sainte Eulalie et Sainte Julie, Elne, France
Doors, Cathédrale Sainte Eulalie et Sainte Julie, Elne, France
Side doors, Cathédrale Sainte Eulalie et Sainte Julie, Elne, France
See the knobs?  Side doors, Cathédrale Sainte Eulalie et Sainte Julie, Elne, France
My door handle.  It works.
My door handle. It works.
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Weekly photo challenge: From above

I’m presently staying in a French flat on the Mediterranean, at the top of 109 steps.  I’m seeing plenty From Above…

From one window I see the eight cats that live in the flat next door.  Some try to enter any window or door or hole in the wall of all the other flats.

Cat entering illegally
Cat burglar

From my porch I look down into an old lady’s courtyard where the eight cats prowl and wander and climb in and out.  Look at the wall made from whatever bits of building material were at hand!

Courtyard with 2 cats
Courtyard with two cats

From my balcony I see the old lady’s roof, beautiful terracotta tiles, each one an individual.  (The peg was dropped by an earlier tenant.)

Roof tiles below my balcony, France
Roof tiles below my balcony, France
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54 great opening lines: 47

First, in my spare room, I swivelled the bed on to a north-south axis.

The Spare Room, Helen Garner

*****

I heard this author talking about her book on radio and needed to know more.  If not for the radio interview, I wouldn’t have bought a book about life’s end.  But she was touching, leaving me wanting to find the book that day, buy it and read it.

There’ll be gaps in my posting for a while – I’ve moved, for a brief while, to France.  But I have access to shelves of books I wouldn’t normally read, and they might have some intriguing first lines!

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