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  • De captivants à banals, les articles et photographies de “The Baguette” sont une tentative de publier un journal de ma vie dans la Manche et de proposer un forum de discussion pour tout ce qui touche à la Normandie.
  • De captivants à banals, les articles et photographies de “The Baguette” sont une tentative de publier un journal de ma vie dans la Manche et de proposer un forum de discussion pour tout ce qui touche à la Normandie.

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November 2 2012 6 02 /11 /November /2012 15:25

http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8196/8147836596_2631eb1882_b.jpgThe Petit train de la Rhune is a cog railway at the western end of the Pyrenees.  It links the Col de Saint-Ignace, some 10 km to the east of Saint-Jean-de-Luz, to the summit of the La Rhune Mountain.  Located opposite the station of the cog train is a chapel dedicated to Saint Ignatius.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8473/8147834876_0cfb340ce0_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8467/8147801269_25f813c3de_b.jpgThis beautiful chapel with white walls and red roof tiles and red window frames is traditional Basque style.  Inside, one can see a beautiful wooden ceiling painted in blue and grey.  On a dark wooden altar rests a polychrome wooden statue of St. Ignatius.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8472/8147836110_9d880257a4_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8056/8147835556_149b4e5296_b.jpgI was fortunate to arrive just before the train began operations for the day.  I got a great position in line and managed to take the first trip to the summit.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8045/8147800793_7c0e84ab88_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8463/8147831046_1c8cb800c3_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8466/8147830120_bcfb8a43de_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8465/8147796533_269af7f595_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8328/8147796143_4831347c27_b.jpgAlthough the summit lies on the border between France and Spain, the railway lies entirely within the French departement of Pyrénées-Atlantiques.  The idea of building a railway to the summit of La Rhune was first proposed in 1908, and a law passed in 1912 entrusted the construction and operation to the département.  Work started on the construction of the line in 1912, but was suspended during World War I.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8186/8147799799_89be3777e1_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8468/8147799243_bb8742b4d9_b.jpgThe line opened on June 30, 1924.  In a referendum in 1978, the population of the nearby village of Sare rejected a proposal to build a road to the summit of the Rhune, thus enabling the railway to survive.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8334/8147800193_c49deccfd3_b.jpgThe railway line is 4.2 km long and goes to the mountain station at 905 meters above sea level.  At a rate of about 9 km per hour, it takes the train approximately 35 minutes to reach the top.  Trains consist of a four-wheeled electric locomotive that pushes two coaches up the mountain, and leads them back down again.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8053/8147798581_180c27676a_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8336/8147800411_ccffffc43b_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8185/8147798909_031fe909ca_b.jpgFrom the summit there are extraordinary views over the Bay of Biscay on one side, the Forest of the Landes, the Basque Pyrénées and, southwards, the Bidossoa Valley.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8335/8147831320_e9093db3a3_b.jpgJust in front of the relay tower is a monument recalling the Empress Eugénie’s ascent in 1852.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8045/8147797455_f8e8d370b8_b.jpgAfter I came down from the mountain, it was time for lunch and I decided to eat nearby in the pretty mountain village of Ascain.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8474/8147828596_4a1b08943a_b.jpgIt is characterized by its pelota court, traditional Basque houses and its 17th century church dedicated to Our Lady of the Assumption.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8473/8147795791_bb0613b020_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8194/8147828300_0234a191f8_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8193/8147827092_0053b95053_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8474/8147794279_4c78cb04d2_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8473/8147794617_f18865222a_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8466/8147826300_2c89bcc485_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8474/8147825830_5479c06069_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8196/8147826654_b799d8d6c3_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8471/8147825540_b850bacca6_b.jpgIt has three tiered galleries inside, an organ and a spectacular altar on raised stiars.  Along the walls of the church are several wooden statues in polychrome as well as the remains of a 17th century crucifix.  The exterior of the church is preceded by a massive belfry-porch.  In front of L'Atelier Gourmand, the restaurant where I ate is the traditional pelota court.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8467/8147722813_bbca0dc02b_b.jpgPelota refers to any number of traditional Basque ball games that are played by hand or with a racket against a wall.  For lunch, I had the boudin noir with rice and my friend had the ratatouille.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8476/8147824820_139884eb60_b.jpgFor dessert, we both had a Basque cheese called Ossau-iraty served with cherry preserves.  Yummy ! http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8184/8147825084_2ae7d38a72_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8190/8147824348_b4a1e5c85b_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8184/8147790935_ff0b753147_b.jpg

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Published by The Baguette - in Cultural Heritage
November 2 2012 6 02 /11 /November /2012 11:14

http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8468/8147790279_a49cd8363e_b.jpgThe neo-Gothic-style château was built by architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc at the request of Antoine d'Abbadie d'Arrrast, between 1864 and 1879.  Antoine d’Abbadie, member of the Academy of Sciences, was an astronomer, explorer, anthropologist and linguist who dreamed of a castle observatory built in the Gothic style where his passions for Asian, African and Christian cultures could mingle.  Abbadie’s travels throughout the world especially Ethiopia and Egypt influenced much of the interior decoration of the château.  Sadly, this is one destination where photos of the interior are strictly forbidden.  That’s a shame because the inside of the château is so beautiful.  Some photos can be found HERE.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8055/8147789785_df8e13f24a_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8047/8147789131_7e0c5dd3fb_b.jpgThe château consists of four main parts: the library, the observatory, the chapel and finally, living quarters.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8053/8147820428_8403602d71_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8334/8147786271_06d8aa284c_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8189/8147786743_33a3f84f67_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8193/8147785509_e3d84028bc_b.jpgCarved from local limestone, the crocodiles which fiercely protect the entrance to the château are symbolic of Abbadie’s voyage to Abyssinia.  Other emblematic and symbolic animals represented throughout the architecture and are a part of the 19th century taste for Orientalism include: elephants, monkeys, snakes, dogs, birds and snails as well as the occasional gargoyle.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8047/8147788633_ce86487539_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8475/8147787973_917d46bcdb_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8054/8147785893_a9342e3134_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8051/8147785111_ae8fedc818_b.jpgBattlements, towers and keep make the building look like a medieval castle.  Abbadie, a passionate astronomer, built an observatory in his castle.  It is the last room created at the end of the construction of the castle in 1879.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8465/8147787713_9be6e97510_b.jpgIn his will, Abbadie asked that scientific research continue in his observatory and that a priest provide religious services for the villagers.  In 1897, with the death of Antoine d'Abbadie, the château was bequeathed to the Academy of Sciences, who continued to use the observatory until 1975 and now maintain the residence as a historical monument and tourist site.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8467/8147821480_27017a9ac8_b.jpgThe park is adorned with palm trees and the landscape enjoys views on the ocean, the beautiful Corniche Basque and La Rhune.http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8183/8147784663_9a5a104a76_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8323/8147318202_50359b5ecd_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8463/8147283161_2bbb3455e3_b.jpg

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Published by The Baguette - in Architecture
November 1 2012 5 01 /11 /November /2012 12:03

http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8051/8112555066_3689ef6450_b.jpgThe seaside resort of Arcachon is built on a lagoon and is quite famous for its oyster farms.  For decades the town’s winter resort was the favorite haunt of celebrities from Alexandre Dumas to Jean Cocteau and Marilyn Monroe.  In 1841, a new branch line extended the railway from Bordeaux to La Teste, a favourite bathing place for holiday makers from the big city.  In 1845, a deep-water landing stage was constructed five kilometres north of La Teste and the two towns were linked by a road across the salt marshes.  Villas were subsequently built along the road, and Arcachon was born.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8473/8112559360_36550c04aa_b.jpgIn 1852, the Pereire brothers, Émile and Isaac, founded a railway company, Compagnie des Chemins de Fer du Midi, and took over the Bordeaux-La Teste line which they extended to Arcachon.  At the beginning of the 1860s, they purchased forest land from the State.  To make the line profitable, they started building facilities to attract clients—a beautiful railway station, a Chinese-style dining room, a luxury hotel, a Moorish casino and several mansions.  The plans for the first buildings were mainly the work of Paul Régnault assisted by the young Gustave Eiffel.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8463/8112557474_d6a27bdc47_b.jpgAlready a summer resort popular for sea bathing, the town also became a winter resort in 1866, attracting tuberculosis patients.  It was not until after 1935 that Arcachon became a popular seaside and tourist resort as well as a health resort.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8050/8112547835_8fd53cdbb2_b.jpgThe Summer Resort and the pleasant promenade shaded by slender tamarix trees overlooks Arcachon’s fine, sandy beaches.  It stretches along the seafront between Jetée de la Chapelle and Jetée d’Eyrac, attracting tourists to its terrace cafés and sumptuous villas.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8189/8112545415_e009f1fa8b_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8334/8112555268_8be592732c_b.jpgA nice place to have a lunch of moules frites our homemade paella is the Restaurant Le Cap along the Jetée Moulleau with its exceptional views overlooking the lagoon.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8332/8112557688_4ee5002b79_b.jpgOne of the most elegant buildings along the shoreline is the neo-Renaissance Château Deganne, which also houses the famous Casino.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8335/8141578901_2984d4288f_b.jpgAnother Arcachon landmark is the Croix des Marins which was erected on this site in 1722.  It blew down during a storm and was replaced in 1855 along the jetty.  The jetty offers a general view of the resort and the lagoon.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8049/8112548595_cea6aa18ca_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8188/8112558570_94dd7873d7_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8044/8112548905_db99cbe94a_b.jpgThe Winter Resort, further inland and more sheltered from the sea breezes, is a quiet, pine-shaded area whose broad avenues are lined with handsome late 19th century and early 20th century villas.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8324/8112552640_d222863ea6_b.jpgAnother beautiful building in Arcachon is the recently renovated Hôtel de Ville which was built under the direction of Julien Dmokowsky in 1858.  The green expanse of the Parc Mauresque lying above the town center makes it Arcachon’s most peaceful district.  The park offers an excellent view of the town and the Arcachon lagoon especially from the top of the Observatoire Sainte-Cécile.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8325/8112556452_54bb493a5b_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8323/8141599509_4dba10ee47_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8185/8112547379_e98b8e8df8_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8052/8112556182_2791ac94f2_b.jpgThis metal-framed observatory by Gustave Eiffel can be reached by a metal footbridge over allée Pasteur.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8329/8112556986_90529c6922_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8047/8141610732_59bc850437_b.jpgThe Église Notre Dame is a 19th century church which includes the Chapelle des Marins, adorned with numerous model boats which were given in thanksgiving for ships that were rescued from danger at sea.  One of the most interesting things that I witnessed while in Arcachon was the annual commemoration of the end of World War II in Europe.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8195/8112549671_6f7029ee4c_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8054/8112558844_619068943e_b.jpgThe ceremony took place in front of the monument to the dead of Arcachon, erected in 1922 by the sculptor Alexandre Maspoli.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8190/8144232105_ac71459175_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8192/8112543683_e2d5fffe07_b.jpgI stayed the night in Arcachon at the Residence l’Aquarium which was actually a large apartment with three large rooms including a kitchen and living room.  It was quite elegant and I would highly recommend it as a place to stay for a week or so during the summer.  Nearby in the neighborhood of Moulleau is the church of Notre-Dame des Passes.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8052/8112555868_2c33466471_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8330/8141592700_1ac174734d_b.jpgThis church was once the chapel of a Dominican convent built in 1863 in the Greek Orthodox style by architect Michel-Louis Garros.  Inside, to the right of the altar is a 19th century statue called La Vierge de l'Avent, one of only three statues in France depicting the Virgin Mary pregnant with child.http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8330/8112555576_3d9278e6b8_b.jpg  

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Published by The Baguette - in Cultural Heritage
November 1 2012 5 01 /11 /November /2012 08:07

http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8196/8141521947_0ace42bb84_b.jpgSixty kilometres south of Bordeaux is the Dune du Pilat.  At 114 meters, the highest sand dune in Europe, it is 2.7 kilometers long and 500 meters wide.  The west face slopes gently towards the Atlantic rollers, whereas the hollowed landward side to the east drops to the pines below.  It is a popular tourist attraction within the Bassin d’Arcachon with over a million visitors each year.http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8183/8112554424_fff3a9b760_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8336/8112544827_e93fc48f3d_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8336/8112553990_0880152b89_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8469/8112553758_f1d941cbaa_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8327/8112553538_c6ee808a69_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8334/8112544019_16e010d451_b.jpg

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Published by The Baguette - in Nature
October 31 2012 4 31 /10 /October /2012 14:08

http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8056/8112612722_ac4f0b396e_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8184/8112619112_9c116b0cb1_b.jpgSt-Jean-de-Luz, the most Basque of the towns lying north of the Spanish border, offers many wonderful attractions including its picturesque fishing port, sandy beaches, the church of St-Jean-Baptiste, Maison Louis XIV and the imposing Maison de l'Infante (aka Maison Joanoenea). With whaling a thing of the past, local fishermen nowadays rely on hauls of sardines, anchovies and especially tuna fish for their livelihood. The Maison de l'Infante seems to be guarding the boats in the harbor. http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8326/8112606599_ce2f472d18_b.jpgThis elegant building in the Louis XIII style, constructed of brick and stone with Italian-style galleries overlooking the port, belonged to the rich Haraneder family. The Infanta of Spain, Maria Theresa stayed here with her future mother-in-law, Anne of Austria before her marriage to Louis XIV. This outstanding historical event connected with St-Jean-de-Luz was provided for in the Treaty of the Pyrénées which was signed to end the 1635 to 1659 war between France and Spain and required the monarch to marry the Infanta of Spain. Maria Theresa was forced to renounce her claim to the Spanish throne, in return for a monetary settlement as part of her dowry. Louis XIII arrived in St-Jean-de-Luz on May 8, 1660 and was lodged, together with the royal retinue, in the house which was built and owned by ship-owner Lohobiague in 1643. http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8332/8112616478_25a88a4dd6_b.jpgThe house, which now serves as the town hall, is an imposing building beside the port, with the façade facing the town distinguished by corbelled turrets at the corners. http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8051/8112606909_1c14907271_b.jpgThe south-facing, arcaded gallery offers splendid views of the Basque Pyrénées. The wedding between the two royals took place in the église St-Jean-Baptiste. http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8044/8112603737_d1ebd38125_b.jpgIt is the largest and most famous of all the Basque churches in France. It was founded in the 15th century and was being enlarged at the time of Louis XIV's wedding. http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8184/8112615038_7388497f0a_b.jpgThe bricked-up doorway through which the royal couple left can be seen just inside the main entrance on the south side. Externally, the architecture is sober, even severe, with high walls and small windows. http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8044/8112604055_962d708219_b.jpgA vaulted passageway tunnels beneath the massive tower. A fine wrought-iron stairway leads to the galleries. The sumptuous, largely 17th century interior presents a striking contrast to the church's exterior. http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8193/8112615292_ba1640cc80_b.jpgThree tiers of oak galleries, (five on the end wall) surround the broad, single nave; these, traditionally, are reserved for men. The vaulted roof above the nave is lined with remarkable painted panels. http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8044/8112606005_831bc9ac40_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8190/8112605661_f835d6e208_b.jpgThe dazzling old altarpiece dates from 1670. Amid the columns and entablatures that divide it into three levels, shallow niches hold statues of the Apostles, angels and local saints. http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8467/8112615534_0e218005d0_b.jpgThe grand organ carved out of chestnut dates from 1659 and was created by master organ builder Brunel Gérard. http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8191/8112603493_c0de349995_b.jpgAlong the promenade which follows the curve of the beach are spectacular Basque-style homes and buildings. http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8056/8112613162_9f365f8d1b_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8471/8112613456_2157367352_b.jpgCiboure is, like its neighbor, St-Jean-de-Luz a pretty town with many buildings in the traditional Basque style. The 16th century église Saint-Vincent de Ciboure has an octagonal tower, Basque galleries and a Baroque altarpiece. http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8055/8112608719_cd9580a09e_b.jpgCiboure's growth during the early 1500s led to the construction of the church in 1575. The building was extended in 1696 by the addition of an apse, two side chapels and bell tower. The octagonal bell tower dating from the 16th century is the most significant aspect of its architecture. http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8055/8112618512_d389450cab_b.jpgThe reasons for choosing this form are unknown but this original tower is unlike any other in the Basque Country. http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8043/8112618270_fc11feeed3_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8474/8112617904_92de37de30_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8053/8112617626_b9ae307fe3_b.jpgThe interior dates from the 17th century and has a magnificent Baroque altarpiece, many wall paintings and the three rows of wooden balconies which are a common feature of Basque churches. http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8472/8112617322_620ceed389_b.jpgAn inscription above the baptismal font recounts that composer Maurice Ravel was baptized in this church on March 13, 1875. During the Revolution, the building was used as a military hospital and had to be restored in the 19th century. The main entrance, dating from 1579, is a monumental entrance with Renaissance arches and fluted columns with Ionic capitals. The main square in front of the church is dominated by a stone cross placed there in 1760. This square once served as a cemetery until the cholera epidemic of 1856. It is now paved with old tombstones, the oldest dating back to the early 17th century. http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8050/8112619400_b2801619dd_b.jpgBeside the port which is shared with its neighbor city of St-Jean-de-Luz is the house where Maurice Ravel was born in 1875. http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8195/8147823750_f8bf242775_b.jpgIn the 16th century, Henri IV wanted build a fortress to protect Saint-Jean-de-Luz and the surrounding cities from Spanish invasions. Conflicts of interest between the municipalities delayed the project until Louis XIII finally got things under way with Fort Socoa.  It is interesting to note that the Spanish invaded Saint-Jean-de-Luz during the construction of the fort in 1636.  They then continued the work, renaming the citadel "Fort of Castile."  However, they were driven back a year later and the work was finally completed by the French under the direction of Vauban who also improved access to the fort and built a seawall to further protect the harbor.

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Published by The Baguette - in Cultural Heritage
October 27 2012 7 27 /10 /October /2012 12:50
http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8476/8112623104_58b19ced3b_b.jpgBiarritz lies on the border of the Basque Country and is the most fashionable and most frequented seaside resort in southwest France. At the beginning of the 19th century, Biarritz was but a small, whale-fishing harbor. The people of Bayonne, when they started coming here to enjoy the sea, made the 5 km journey on donkeys or mules. http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8188/8112612519_4cda8f8944_b.jpgThen Spanish nobility from the far side of the border discovered its charms, and from 1838 onwards, the Countess of Montijo and her daughter Eugénie came each year. When Eugénie became Empress of France she persuaded her husband, Napoleon III, to accompany her on the annual visit to the Basque coast and he too became captivated by the area. http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8049/8112622824_d60823d428_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8046/8112621366_7529c601bb_b.jpgBiarritz owes much of its charm to its elegant promenades which follow the contours of the cliffs, over the rocks and along the tree main beaches, which have become an international meeting place for surfers and ordinary sun bathers alike. http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8044/8112622270_0e27a1617b_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8055/8112611605_47d5366333_b.jpgThe Grande Plage is the largest and most fashionable of Biarritz's beaches. In former times, only the most daring of bathers would swim here, which led to its nickname of Plage des Fous (Madman's Beach). http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8190/8112623344_e4b6d9be8d_b.jpgAt one end of the beach is le phare de la pointe Saint-Martin, a lighthouse that was built in 1834 and one of the most recognizable structures of the Bay of Biscay. http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8050/8112613597_8d24b80ca5_b.jpgThere are many wonderful villas in Biarritz which were built in the eclectic style of the 1850s. http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8476/8112620752_0feae0defd_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8046/8112621066_4b9b206d63_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8463/8112620494_f4ff7d74aa_b.jpgThe Rocher de la Vierge, crowned with a statue of the Virgin Mary, is Biarritz's main landmark. It is surrounded by reefs and joined to the shore by a footbridge, made impassable in rough weather by the breaking waves. It was Napoleon III who had the idea of hollowing out the rock and linking it to the cliff by a wooden bridge. This has since been replaced by a metal one built by Gustave Eiffel. http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8193/8112611941_8743499957_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8333/8112610235_9f74e0c556_b.jpgL'église Sainte-Eugénie was built between 1898 and 1903 and named after the Empress Eugénie. It dominates the hillside which overlooks the fishing port. http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8475/8112609907_ce838d33c3_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8194/8112619688_e26e782e31_b.jpgThe stained glass windows were designed by Luc-Olivier Merson and installed in 1903. The Russian Orthodox church was built in 1892, the year of the alliance between France and Russia. http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8056/8112614197_9cbbcd81f3_b.jpgIt used to be frequented by Russians who spent their holidays in Biarritz, many of whom were famous. Sadly, it was closed when I was there but I read that the interior is decorated with icons from St-Petersburg. http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8476/8112614517_6663086911_b.jpgNearby is La Villa Eugénie, which was the scene of Napoleon III's love affair with the Empress Eugénie and became the majestic Hôtel du Palais in 1893. http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8476/8112613899_caa22fe556_b.jpgIt is a five star hotel with over 150 rooms and stunning views over the Grande Plage.http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8053/8112624846_dfbe6c4ee7_b.jpg
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Published by The Baguette - in Cultural Heritage
October 27 2012 7 27 /10 /October /2012 07:03

It’s been quite awhile since my last posting but I thought I would finally get around to posting the photos I took in weeks prior to walking the Camino de Santiago.  Before my start in St-Jean-Pied-de-Port, I visited several places along the Atlantic coast including Bordeaux, Bayonne, Biarritz and St-Jean-de-Luz, all lively and picturesque towns located within the famous Basque region.  On May 8th I was in Bayonne.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8183/8112622257_44e083d99b_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8189/8112625110_584f1a6c81_b.jpgThe River Nive divides Bayonne into Grand Bayonne and Petit Bayonne, with five bridges between the two, both quarters still backed by Vauban's walls.  We parked our car across the river near the Church of Saint Andrew.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8467/8112632510_668292e207_b.jpgL'église St-André is actually a 19th century construction and is the result of a donation made by a Bayonne resident to the city in order to finance its construction.  Its appearance is influenced by the Gothic style in use during the 13th century.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8470/8112622001_ae738ce94e_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8050/8112625368_5ef866e84d_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8189/8112615663_797d2e3364_b.jpgThe houses lining the Nive are examples of Basque architecture, with half-timbering and shutters in the national colors of red and green.  The busy Place de la Liberté is a square at the western end of Pont Mayou, the bridge which crosses the River Neve at the northern end of the old town.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8050/8112621727_33ec0af5a8_b.jpgThe town hall, the local administrative offices and the theatre, all under the same roof, stand at one end of the square.  The town’s motto nunquam polluta (never spoiled) is engraved on the marble paving in front of the National Theater.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8191/8112621451_06857fd47d_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8055/8112631170_60b6525e56_b.jpgThis is one of the typical, narrow streets in the district of Grand Bayonne with the twin towers of Cathédrale Sainte-Marie in the distance.  The charming pedestrian precinct is lined with low arcades, beneath which famous pastry shops and confectioners tempt passers-by with mouth watering displays of chocolates.  The art of chocolate making was brought to Bayonne in the 17th century by Jews whose ancestors had been banished from Spain and Portugal.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8473/8112630942_ef6a47bdb9_b.jpgThe Cathédrale Sainte-Marie de Bayonne was previously occupied by a Romanesque cathedral that was destroyed by two fires in 1258 and 1310.  Construction of the present cathedral began in the 13th century and was completed at the beginning of the 17th, except for the two spires which were not finished until the 19th century.  The structure has been much restored and refurbished, notably by Émile Boeswillwald, architect to the French government in the 19th century, and a pupil of Eugène Viollet-le-Duc.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8464/8112630054_22c8ee4331_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8332/8112620683_c58bce1b13_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8469/8112630360_e49963e512_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8323/8112619921_ecc0c24fea_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8326/8112628642_07eccb0536_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8187/8112619381_b1530555e2_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8186/8112629530_8d1b68cb9b_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8327/8112618489_d1e560ef1a_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8331/8112628092_eb8dda82d3_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8183/8112628926_96c1edfeac_b.jpgThe cathedral is noted for its charming cloisters which are decorated with a number of funerary monuments.  The cathedral stands on the Pilgrimage Way of Santiago de Compostela.  A 13th century sculpted knocker, known as the sanctuary ring, is fixed to the north door, leading to the transept.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8053/8112617927_388088ecf0_b.jpgAny fugitive criminal who seized the knocker was assured the sanctuary within the church.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8054/8112627508_84c38b9442_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8048/8112617341_fab0eefdb1_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8055/8112616973_d74cac17aa_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8463/8112616649_c487a46ced_b.jpgA beautiful walk is assured along the ramparts of the city which extend from the 16th century Chateau Vieux (Old Castle) to the Porte d’Espagna.  For lunch, we ate at a charming restaurant in the center of town where we had the plât du jour of ham cutlets and cooked wheat.  It was delicious but way too much food for me.http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8053/8112626302_b995631614_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8468/8112625974_5d0c8a4059_b.jpg

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Published by The Baguette - in Cultural Heritage
October 17 2012 4 17 /10 /October /2012 16:04

http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8190/8112557357_8f09fdb259_b.jpgPerhaps the best way to eat chestnuts is to eat them fresh out of the oven.  Roasting them over an open fire just doesn’t seem to be as easy as it sounds.  The first thing one needs to do is to preheat the oven to 180°C (350° F).  Use a sharp paring knife to (carefully) score a deep X in the shell.  Put the nuts on a baking sheep and put them in the oven for 20 - 25 minutes, until the shell starts to curl open.  Once they can be handled comfortably, peel away both the hard and outer shell and the papery inner shell.  The remaining flesh can be eaten as is and is a welcome treat this time of year.  After a week or so after falling from the tree, the nuts begin to shrink and begin to spoil if they are not eaten right away.  Since I had about a kilogram of chestnuts and couldn’t fathom eating all of them in a week, the next best option was to make my own crème de marrons, a recipe that takes quite a bit of work but yields unspeakably good results.  Here in France, few people make their own crème de marrons because it can easily be found already prepared in cans in the grocery store.  Last weekend I made my own using the following recipe:

1.5 kg chestnuts

700 g sugar

2 cas (tbs) vanilla

water

pinch of salt

http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8323/8112556589_fa25dfe335_b.jpgBoil the chestnuts in for approximately 30 minutes to soften the skin.  Then, using a sharp knife, remove the skin and place the crumbled flesh in large bowl.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8468/8112565700_3cf19f8fd4_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8328/8112555445_2081174186_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8336/8112555199_8f1b66517c_b.jpgAfter cleaning up your mess it is time to purée the nuts by using a food mill.  If you don’t have a food mill, a food processor will work as well.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8184/8112554997_721a9d3302_b.jpgThe result is a finely crumbled bowl of chestnut purée.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8056/8112555943_85f2b27d13_b.jpgWeigh the chestnut purée, put it back into the pan, and add an equal weight of sugar. For every 1 kg of sweetened purée, add 100 ml water (or for every 16 oz add 3.25 fluid oz).  Add about two spoonfuls of vanilla to the pot, along with a pinch of salt. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook over low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon or heatproof rubber spatula, until it has thickened so that it starts to pull away from the pan as you stir. http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8046/8112555705_2c02f61b59_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8190/8112563902_85bab0c0ef_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8195/8112564140_b465218b2b_b.jpgBe sure to keep your spoon going along the bottom of the pan to prevent scorching.  Do this for approximately 20 minutes.  Once the mixture has cooled it can be placed into jars or plastic Tupperware and kept for several weeks in the refrigerator or up to a year in the freezer.

So what does one do with crème de marrons?  It can be served simply with fromage blanc, as a filling for crêpes, or added to whipped cream or crème pâtissiere to fill a classic bûche de Noël or other cake. Stir some into an ice cream base or use it in a pear tart. You could also, of course, give it away. Here are the results from a muffin recipe:  It is absolutely delicious. 

300gr de farine

2 oeufs

100gr de beurre (fondu)

100gr de sucre blanc

100gr de sucre roux

20cl de crème liquide

200gr de creme de marron

1/2 sachet de levure

Mélanger le tout, remplir les moules et cuire 180°c 35 minutes.http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8328/8113908500_08e0642db0_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8052/8113915428_c27bd0b0bd_b.jpgBe careful not to overfill your molds like I did.  My muffins turned out fantastic but they were so big they merged into one another in the tray.  Lesson learned !http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8331/8113903207_d4a7868a0f_b.jpg

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Published by The Baguette - in Happy Things
October 4 2012 5 04 /10 /October /2012 12:55

http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8178/8053200401_0387ed07e9_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8317/8053200255_9616baab0d_b.jpgAfter another beautiful day at sea, we reached our final destination, Venice, Italy where we stayed for three days at a bed and breakfast along the Grand Canal near Rialto Bridge.  Venice was truly stunning !  I was amazed at how much I was able to see in so short a time.  Using the water taxi to get everywhere, I was able to visit several islands in the lagoon including Murano which is famous for its glass-making.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8454/8053206272_d8213239a8_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8172/8053200003_2c25631ce4_b.jpgThis was the view from our terrace at the bed and breakfast.  It's the Ca' d'Oro or Palazzo Santa Sofia along the Grand Canal.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8042/8053206024_3649f842e2_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8179/8053205882_7d72fd0c4e_b.jpgThis is a photo of the Rialto Bed and Breakfast where we stayed.  Our terrace was at the top of the smaller building.  We had a nice suite on the top floor of the B&B with access to a kitchen and sitting room.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8174/8053199587_f4fc7f0b22_b.jpgRestaurant prices along the Grand Canal were outrageous !  The first meal we had in Venice was a lunch consisting of two plates of pasta, one salad and two small glasses of wine.   Total price: Euro 65,00 !!!  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8171/8053199451_f67e9da3bc_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8172/8053205348_624e63a638_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8460/8053205218_5c45c26c2e_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8462/8053198967_3f7a8c0dca_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8035/8053198833_44f35d34b2_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8178/8053204818_c4905ccc8a_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8458/8053198565_2c91ac9a12_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8171/8053198421_bb6ef6f1c3_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8451/8053204438_56656af684_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8462/8053198159_b0ea1c96a5_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8310/8053198025_24f949f41a_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8176/8053204056_95fa128c37_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8178/8053197771_8fabfb7813_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8176/8053197619_5baf55842f_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8174/8053197463_ffaf7491bf_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8449/8053203464_0de6594273_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8029/8053203294_1ed5afac7a_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8177/8053203152_226a623308_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8172/8053196825_1dcca7de23_b.jpgThe only part of Venice that was truly OVER-crowded was the Plaza San Marco.  Thousands and thousands of tourists were in the square waiting in lines to get into the Ducal Palace and the Basilica.  I didn't understand why everyone was standing on raised platforms in front of the Basilica.  Later on, I spoke to a German tourist who told me that the platforms are there to keep tourists' feet dry when the tide comes in.  Although we didn't experiece any flooding while we were in the plaza, we did see water covering many walkways along the Grand Canal and near the lagoon.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8182/8053196689_043c86a01f_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8035/8053196553_a25bda9807_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8179/8053196425_010c537f4f_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8315/8053196301_04c65c3061_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8452/8053196153_248965cbc8_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8451/8053202210_9efcf5ab75_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8182/8053202106_30f53847f8_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8459/8053195765_d3697f4ddd_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8458/8053195639_9cac02cf17_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8312/8053195483_374fb844ce_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8042/8053195373_7e64261edb_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8450/8053195201_f60838cd86_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8452/8053195099_b49583d717_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8461/8053194997_675630e1c6_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8311/8053194865_4a420e1624_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8314/8053200886_a0555bc461_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8173/8053194607_bfb549a86d_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8321/8053200576_2655d1dcfa_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8455/8053200472_c93a507116_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8451/8053194201_a9f9cd8696_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8036/8053200238_575ba269db_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8314/8053200078_3534efe6e0_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8040/8053193789_65f5ffe9ac_b.jpg

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Published by The Baguette - in Architecture
October 4 2012 5 04 /10 /October /2012 12:34

http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8039/8053210190_c193ae7b59_b.jpgAnother beautiful day at sea before arrival in the fortified city of Dubrovnik, Croatia.  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8311/8053204083_31db4bc56a_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8178/8053204005_9e60d9f403_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8041/8053209946_908e1409e7_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8312/8053209792_8afb48666c_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8458/8053209688_176eca8361_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8037/8053203571_1bf1a7ffa4_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8455/8053203451_506f71a362_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8316/8053203307_0a0853590e_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8178/8053203159_f4520a75dd_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8451/8053203013_9e2e18f24d_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8452/8053208886_5375f553d9_b.jpgDubrovnik, Croatia  http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8035/8053208740_50e7ce3261_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8316/8053208582_7674cdcbe6_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8316/8053202465_7d7f7ff548_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8172/8053202281_8feefde9b1_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8175/8053202087_33daef8afc_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8036/8053201933_c4401d27e6_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8030/8053201783_f1d07d587a_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8035/8053201615_56e0455bbf_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8314/8053207608_03f1160216_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8033/8053201379_a5af257061_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8317/8053201181_eb44f0731c_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8453/8053201015_f1aa8d5159_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8031/8053200827_bcfa306007_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8177/8053206662_a2190524d6_b.jpghttp://farm9.staticflickr.com/8317/8053200661_4539950820_b.jpgDubrovnik, Croatia

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Published by The Baguette - in Architecture