Death and Doors in Paris

On my last day in Paris, the only thing left on my ‘doables’ list was the Cimetiere Du Pere-Lachaise which is on the edge of town in the 20th Androssiment.  This cemetery is where many notable writers, musicians, and persons of the arts are buried.  I was on a quest to see where Jim Morrison, of The Doors music group from the 60s, was buried.  Just one of those things which some people would never even think of doing nor be remotely interested.

It was in 1968 when I saw Jim Morrison and The Doors in concert at an outdoor concert south of San Francisco. A few of us piled into Donnie’s VW bus and made the drive. Sue had a crush on Donnie and I was with Donnie’s friend, Peter, who would, unbeknownst to me at the time, become the father of my first-born child. A ‘love-child’ is what some would say; my son is what I say. 20130509-092008.jpg

Anyway, back to Paris.  These are some photos I took from the bus.IMG_7178 It wasn’t until later that I saw the little boy peering from the window; my eye had only caught the animal heads attached to female bodies which I thought was a bit weird.

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What’s this? Who knows…

In Rick Steves’ Paris handbook, he suggests taking the #69 bus which can be caught over on the Louvre side of the bridges, aka the Right Bank. It was easy to find the bus stop and a pleasant ride through an area of Paris I wouldn’t have seen otherwise. Several quaint neighborhoods, vegetable stands, and monuments which, unfortunately, meant nothing to me since I no inkling to the monument’s significance. Ignorance is not bliss; I actually do like to know what I’m seeing.  Guess this is a time when a guide on an organized tour would be helpful.  Other than for tips such as these, I stay clear of those tours.  Most of the time, I am a very independent traveler.  Maybe too independent at times as I know I miss a lot, but I also gain an extraordinary amount of insight into a country just by wandering and accidentally finding nooks and crannies I would have missed if I had been on a tour bus.  Different strokes for different folks, as they say.

Just inside the gates of the cemetery there was a booth where I picked up two sheets of paper filled with names, numbers, and maps with instructions in French. The cemetery is huge and trying to figure out the locations of the cemetery plots was challenging. I did what I could and asked people directions when it looked like they knew where they were going and that they maybe spoke English.  Unfortunately, for me, I didn’t read this list very thoroughly otherwise I would have also looked for Isadora Duncan while looking for Jim Morrison.

Entry to cemetery IMG_7185 IMG_7186 IMG_7187 Tree growing from grave There is something very creepy about a tree growing out of a tomb. IMG_7189  Someone’s little Scotty is perched on top of their tomb giving a little whimsy to the somber nature of a cemetery.

Marcel Proust 1871-1922 IMG_7192

Marcel Proust is in 30/Div. 85. It was not easy to find the divisions even with the sporadic signs.

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IMG_7198 IMG_7199 IMG_7201 There were beautiful intricate tombs here; so many doors to death. It was a great cemetery but there were many hills and switchbacks. Getting lost was easy. IMG_7202 IMG_7204 IMG_7205

Seeing this view of the acreage was one of my “OMG, you’ve got to be kidding.” moments.

Chopin was well-loved with all the flowers beside his tomb below. Chopin IMG_7208 There was this interesting totem pole-type headstone with inscriptions (I couldn’t read) which I’m curious about, as well. .

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The Division marker for the area of Jim Morrison’s grave.

James Douglas Morrison, 1943-1971, Kata Tom Aimona Batoy IMG_7211 IMG_7212 IMG_7213 Jim Morrison's grave in Paris IMG_7215 Jim R.I.P. 15-2-13 Mourners to Jim Morrison's grave in Paris

Several more Morrison mourners appeared during the short time I was taking photos.

Following is an excerpt from one of Rick Steves’ guides: “Enclosed by a massive wall and lined with 5,000 trees, the peaceful, car-free lanes and dirt paths of Père Lachaise cemetery (Cimetière du Père Lachaise) encourage parklike meandering. Named for Father (Père) La Chaise, whose job was listening to Louis XIV’s sins, the cemetery is relatively new, having opened in 1804 to accommodate Paris’ expansion. Today, this city of the dead (pop. 70,000) still accepts new residents, but real estate prices are very high. The 100-acre cemetery is big and confusing, with thousands of graves and tombs crammed every which way, and only a few pedestrian pathways to navigate by.

The maps available from any of the nearby florists help guide your way. But better still, take my tour and save lots of time as you play grave-hunt with the cemetery’s other visitors. This walk takes you on a one-way tour between two convenient Métro/bus stops (Gambetta and Père Lachaise), connecting a handful of graves from some of this necropolis’ best-known residents.

Jim Morrison (1943–1971) An American rock star has perhaps the most visited tomb in the cemetery. An iconic, funky bust of the rocker, which was stolen by fans, was replaced with a more toned-down headstone. Even so, his faithful still gather here at all hours. The headstone’s Greek inscription reads: “To the spirit (or demon) within.” Graffiti-ing nearby tombs, fans write: “You still Light My Fire” (referring to Jim’s biggest hit), “Ring my bell at the Dead Rock Star Hotel,” and “Mister Mojo Risin'” (referring to the legend that Jim faked his death and still lives today, age 66). Jim Morrison — singer for the popular rock band The Doors (named for the “Doors of Perception” they aimed to open) — arrived in Paris in the winter of 1971. He was famous; notorious for his erotic onstage antics; alcoholic; and burned-out. Paris was to be his chance to leave celebrity behind, get healthy, and get serious as a writer.

Living under an assumed name in a nondescript sublet apartment near place Bastille (head west down rue St. Antoine, and turn left to 17 rue Beautrellis), he spent his days as a carefree artist. He scribbled in notebooks at Le Café de Flore and Les Deux Magots, watched the sun set from the steps of Sacré-Cœur, visited Baudelaire’s house, and jammed with street musicians. He drank a lot, took other drugs, gained weight, and his health declined. In the wee hours of July 3, he died in his bathtub at age 27, officially of a heart attack, but likely from an overdose. (Any police investigation was thwarted by Morrison’s social circle of heroin users, leading to wild rumors surrounding his death.)

Jim’s friends approached Père Lachaise Cemetery about burying the famous rock star there, in accordance with his wishes. The director refused to admit him, until they mentioned that Jim was a writer. ‘A writer?’ he said, and found a spot.

‘This is the end, my only friend, the end.’ — Jim Morrison”

by Rick Steves

Leaving the cemetery from Morrison’s grave was easy, especially in comparison to the hour and a half it took to walk there. After stopping for lunch, I took the Metro subway (for the first time while in Paris) to get back to my hotel.  Although it was somewhat confusing, the women in the information booths at both stations were very helpful, so it wasn’t as hard as I had conjured up in my mind.  Most things are easier than what we imagine, aren’t they?  We can work our minds up into such tizzies, at least I can, thinking of all the “what if” scenarios, when it would be much less stressful to flow with it and “Just Do It.”

That’s how I feel about travel. Be prepared, of course, but don’t over think it; just do it.  Get your passport.  Make the reservation. Do some homework.  Pack your suitcase.  And just go.  Easy.

One of my new cousins wrote recently saying his wife (whom I think may have never left the county she was born in) was amazed by my courage to travel alone.  I told him I wasn’t courageous, it was all a matter of determination and paying attention to what you’re doing so you get on the right flights/trains/buses and get to the right place.  The rest is pretty easy.

Do your homework and have information at your fingertips, or at least know where to get the information.  Be informed.  Travel smart.  You can’t be too shy, and if you are, you need to get over it.  Pronto.

Join frequent flyer programs.  If you use credit cards, use the ones that give you miles on your favorite airline. Sign up for surveys that give you frequent flyer miles, too.  I’ve earned hundreds of miles doing silly time-waster surveys.  Those miles add up.

Say you CAN, rather than you CAN’T.   Believe in your own ability to get around on your own, or, travel with someone you know and whom you get along with very, very well.  Someone who doesn’t nitpick and complain.  Someone with a sense of humor. Do a test run with that person.

Or, go solo.  Just do it.  You will learn more about yourself and about the world than you can imagine.  And, you will feel good that you managed a trip well and have lifelong memories. It’s an accomplishment to make you proud of yourself and instill confidence whether you are 23 or 63.

Make online or hard copy albums and/or photo books of your adventures so that when you are old you can easily reminisce and be reminded of your lifetime of travels.

The end of my 3 weeks of traveling throughout England and France arrived and I was actually looking forward to being home again.  That is until I book the next journey.  It takes me about 6 weeks of being back home before I get itchy feet again.  What’s Bali like, I wonder?  Are there really rats running around everywhere?  Should I go back to Costa Rica? When is the next trip with my son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughter?  Where shall we go?

Travel is the journey into ourselves; the world opens its doors to our life lessons only if we are open to listening to those whispers in our ears.  No learning=no growth.

Jim Morrison sings, “People are strange, when you’re a stranger…”  We are all so very different and interesting.  Yet we are the same, really, and there are no strangers.  A smile, or even tears, are common denominators in every language.  Walk through the door and travel.

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Speeding up the Pace in Paris

Map in hand, it was time to ramp up my speed seeing Paris before flying home on Monday. Cluny, Louvre, and the Eiffel Tower were on my list, and since it was Saturday, it might be crowded. Being March, perhaps it would be less busy with tourists.

Ending up back on St. Germaine I actually went into a Starbucks which, in my real world, I rarely do. I would rather patronize small business owners than major corporations. So since I had to get a move on and didn’t have time to tarry, I grabbed a cup to go and started walking to find the Cluny, a medieval museum.

Not wanting to waste time being lost,  I paid close attention to where I was going.  However, instead of being lost, I wasted time taking photos of store windows, storefronts, buildings, street signs, etc. Photographing everything in sight appears (no pun intended) to be an addiction for which, in my case, there is no cure.  Which reminds me of a story of walking with a friend in Venice who left me ‘in the dust’ when I was pausing and taking photos, as we walked back to the apartment where we rented rooms from her friends, several years ago.

I had recently been diagnosed with the autoimmune thyroid disease called Graves Disease, and had not yet been diagnosed with another bothersome disease called Fibromyalgia. My meds weren’t properly adjusted yet so being stressed out elevated my hormone levels amplifying my frustration at being lost, abandoned, and exhausted for a couple of hours all the while trying to find the apartment.  This was the only time I have ever felt so close to tears from being lost when traveling.  I kept going in circles and seeing the same North African guys selling scarves near a bridge.  This girl went through life always in a hurry so I still think if she had just slowed down a little, while walking with me, would have been kinder.  Yet its events like this which tell you who your friends really are….or aren’t.  Traveling with others can be difficult, especially if you don’t know them well, or, if you’re lucky, it can be memorable – in a good way.  But, I digress….

IMG_6843 Boutique hotel - good reviews - pricey

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Slowing down when traveling lets you see places like this shop with all the different dolls in the windows.  Is it a ‘doll hospital’, I wondered.  And in a real estate office, there is a listing for a studio apartment for sale at “only” 640,000€ or $843,456. Yikes. Paris is far from being inexpensive.  And in a recent article it said this is a great city to retire, which I believe would be true, but I presume that means for people who have suitable incomes affording them the ability to live a comfortable lifestyle.

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I came across this building with a number of kids, looking like students, out in front. Later I learned it was the College of France, established in 1530 by King Francis I of France. The college leans toward Humanist inspiration, as an alternative to the Sorbonne, to promote disciplines such as Hebrew, Greek, and Mathmatics. The motto is “Docet Omnia” which translates to “It teaches everything.” “Not preconceived notions but the idea of free thought.” (Quote by Maurice Merleau-Ponty.) There are no degrees distributed here and, if you’re interested, they have podcasts available.

Across the street from the College of France is a wide street (see photo with red awnings) called the Sorbonne Square (Place de la Sorbonne) which looked like a great place for lunch or a coffee. The Sorbonne is one of the first universities in the world and is in the 5th Arrondissement of Paris, also known as the Latin Quarter.

From the Sorbonne’s website:

THE UNIVERSITY
Paris Sorbonne University is the main inheritor of the old Sorbonne, which dates back to the 13th century. It was one of the first universities in the world.

The biggest complex in France, dedicated to Literature, Languages, Civilizations, Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, is located on the original medieval foundations, and now extends to the Latin Quarter and to other areas in Paris.

The University has two characteristics : rich culture and tradition, with top-quality researchers, and therefore an excellent scientific reputation shown through publications and international exchanges; its concern to constantly adapt to present day social and technological changes and to encourage as many students as possible to study at Paris-Sorbonne while preparing for their future careers. The Sorbonne incites its students to think freely, to construct their own judgment, so that they can become responsible and inventive citizens who can promote dignity and peace culture.

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According to the map, it looked like I was getting close to the Cluny. I am always so proud of myself when I actually find the place I am looking for while travelling in a foreign city. As I walked along the side of the Sorbonne, I could see a medieval-looking building ahead and was very pleased to find out it was the Cluny.

The Cluny is a Gothic building with vines, turrets, gargoyles and dormers with seashell motifs. It was originally the mansion of a wealthy 15th century abbot, built on top of and next to the ruins of a Roman bath. By 1515, it was the residence of Mary Tudor, widow of Louis XII and daughter of Henry VII. After Alexandre du Sommerard died in 1842, the government bought the building and his collection of medieval artworks. The tapestry of the Lady and the Unicorn is the most acclaimed tapestries of their kind. These were discovered only a century ago in Limousin’s Chateau de Boussac. The five floor to ceiling wall tapestries tell the story of the five senses with the unicorn a focal figure in the company of “The Lady.” These were beautiful and housed in a room with special low lighting and temperature to preserve the tapestries.

Other exhibits range from Flemish to 14th century Sienese John the Baptist, sculptures, statues from Sainte-Chapelle (1243-48); 12th-13th century crosses, chalices, manuscripts, carvings, vestments, leatherwork, jewelry, and coins; a 13th century Adam; and recently discovered heads and fragments of statues from Notre-Damn de Paris. Also stained glass and some of the earliest panes of painted glass.

The admission price was reasonable; the line was short. I felt like a kid in a candy store looking around at the building, the exhibits, the beauty of the tapestries.

Following are just images of this cool museum for those of you going to Paris and may want to check it out. And for those of you who may never get to Paris, enjoy the viewing of The Lady and the Unicorn and so much more.

Cluny Museum

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Before continuing on to the Louvre, I sat in the courtyard of the Cluny and watched a grandmother show her grandchildren how to play chess using the life-size set.  The children were darling.

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After leaving Cluny, I found a Vietnamese restaurant close by for lunch. Soup and a chocolate dessert. Just enough to warm a girl’s heart on a brisk and chilly March day. When paying for the meal, this was another one of the rare times my debit card would not work in Europe. But the woman behind the counter put my card in a plastic baggie, smoothed it out, and ran the card through the machine again which actually made it work. Interesting technique.

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IMG_6978 IMG_6979 Lunch at 3 IMG_6981 Restaurant Laperouse - George Sand and Victor Hugo used to hang out here IMG_6985 IMG_6986 IMG_6987 IMG_6988 IMG_6989 IMG_6991 IMG_6992

Heading over the river again, and not knowing of the short-cut at the time, I walked the long block next to the Seine taking some photos of the exterior of this very large building which seemed to go on and on. It was 4:30 p.m. and time was tight to get inside the museum before it closed.

IMG_6993 IMG_6994 The Louvre stretches on forever... Louvre Walking into the Louvre courtyard (the long way around) IMG_6999 IMG_7000 IMG_7001 Across from the Louvre pyramid IMG_7003 IMG_7004

But I made it, along with several other people, inside to see the museum for 45 very short minutes. I sprinted through as many exhibits as I could but certain rooms, such as Napoleon’s, were closing as I got to their doorway. I managed to see the Mona Lisa and Venus de Milo, though. Plus I saw some wonderful statutes, amazing paintings, and, yes, I thought it was very cool that I could take as many photos as I pleased.

View out of pyramid in Louvre from escalator Angel buns in the Louvre IMG_7007 Man in the Shadows of Antiquity IMG_7011 IMG_7012 IMG_7013 IMG_7014 IMG_7015 IMG_7017 Ceiling in Louvre IMG_7020 DaVinci - St. John the Baptiste IMG_7022 Ouch IMG_7024 IMG_7025 There she is IMG_7029 IMG_7030 IMG_7031 Oops. IMG_7034 IMG_7038 IMG_7039 IMG_7040 Osiris Ex Antinoo (and Vivian) View from window of Louvre Raphael - Ceiling IMG_7045 The Headless One at the top of the stairs in the Louvre Ceililng in the Louvre IMG_7048 End of the day, time to go home View from a windowin the Louvre Venus de Milo Venus de Milo IMG_7054 IMG_7056 La Pailas de Velletri La Pailas de Velletri IMG_7059 IMG_7060 IMG_7061 IMG_7062 IMG_7063 IMG_7064 Diane IMG_7066 IMG_7068 Centaure IMG_7071 Hermaphrodite IMG_7073 Nymphe IMG_7075 IMG_7076 IMG_7084

I  sprinted through almost empty corridors of  The Louvre in a silence I bet most people don’t experience in this massive and popular museum. Even though I wasn’t able to see so many of the exhibits, I did enjoy the fact I was able to see so much without having to tiptoe to peer over other people’s shoulders. I had Venus de Milo all to myself (she is thought to be Aphrodite – Goddess of Love and Beauty – and from between 130-100 BC.) There were not many people around the Mona Lisa, either.  My near-solitude even made me fantasize what it would be like to be locked inside this place for the night.  I would love that!

It was time to get over to the Eiffel Tower so I could see it light up at 7:00 p.m. but I certainly had no intention of walking there. I asked one cabbie how much to the Eiffel and he quoted me 25 euros. I think not. Then I saw this guy with a funny black and white checkered bicycle cab. He quoted 15 euros and I went for it. I knew this would be a one of a kind experience. A bit like when I rode a horse and buggy around the pyramids in Cairo. And, the ‘driver’ was a sweetheart. He said he was from Greece and that I should go there sometime. Apparently he comes to Paris every few years, works hard riding his buggy around, and then goes back home to Greece until it’s time to head back to Paris to make some more money. He would stop and point out sights like the Champs-Elysees (which I knew would be the only time I’d see it on this trip), and Napoleon’s tomb housed behind a bridge with gold posts and entombed in a building with a gold dome looking more like a state capital building in the states rather than a tomb.

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IMG_7121 IMG_7120 IMG_7119 IMG_7123 IMG_7108 IMG_7110 IMG_7118 IMG_7114 IMG_7092 IMG_7095 IMG_7097 Leaviing the Louvre

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The line for tickets to go up to the top of the Eiffel Tower was too long and it just wasn’t important enough to me to wait. So I bought a snack and sat talking with a guy who was a counselor on a field trip with a school from San Diego.

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It was a bit of a walk from one end of the plaza to the other but fun to people watch along the way.  There was romance in the air as I saw many couples strolling hand-in-hand.

One drawback to solo travel is asking strangers to photograph you although everyone I have ever asked has always been so incredibly kind and willing.  However, things happen like the top of the Eiffel Tower gets cut off in your photo. Nonetheless, at least it documents that I was actually there.

At 7:00 p.m. the tower lit up and then every hour there is a light show of sparkling white lights racing up and down the tower. After watching awhile, I decided to start making my way back to the hotel. By now it was 8 p.m. and dark. I had walked all the way to the other end of where I came in so this was a new road and one which seemed a bit less traveled. I tried to flag down a cab whenever I would see one but not one stopped. I walked and walked. Then I thought that if I was mugged, I should take a couple of photos of where I was walking so I would know where to tell the police it happened.

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Weird thoughts cross the mind on dark Parisian streets when you have no clue where you are. Finally I got to a wide boulevard and saw a young couple walking. I asked them where we were and which direction was the West Bank. This was very poor planning on my part. First, I have night blindness so I couldn’t read my map and my little flashlight broke back in England so that wasn’t an option. I told this couple how cabs weren’t stopping for me and the young woman said they pick and choose their customers. Great. That did not give me a lot of confidence since no one had stopped so far. Using her iPhone’s mapping app, she figured out where I should catch a bus to get to my hotel.  The bus stop was right across the street so I walked over and stood next to the shelter.  However, I kept trying with the cabs, too. Finally a cabbie stopped and I got to the Hotel Bonaparte tired but unscathed.

Walking from the Eiffel Tower

The next day the plan was to go to the cemetery and look for Jim Morrison’s grave. I have always been curious what it would be like to visit this old Paris cemetery.  My last day in Paris, and in Europe, was one night’s sleep away.

I See London, I See France, I See Life and Take a Chance

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We arrived at the Liverpool John Lennon airport with time to spare so while John and Denise were dealing with parking their car, I changed my £ to € and then totally missed the Ryan Air baggage check-in until I was halfway up the escalator. Getting off the escalator, I couldn’t find the elevator, so went up another level . I was nervous by then that I would now have to go down 3 flights of stairs with my luggage, until I walked around a corner, where I thought there should be an elevator shaft (no signs), and found the elevator door. This is when I know I’m tired.

The flight to Limoges was packed. Apparently many British folks have bought homes in this part of France due to the affordability factor as well as the ease of travel with inexpensive direct flights on Ryan Air from Manchester to Limoges. It was an uneventful and quick flight over the English Channel.

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You know that saying how sometimes we are our own worse enemy? I do not always listen to my gut feelings, which is another way to say, “Listen to your intuition.” Many times I don’t trust my intuition and instead think it’s fear taking over. As recent as last November, my feeling was to cancel a trip to Mexico, but I went anyway. Probably could have lived without that experience as the heat was too extreme and I wasn’t staying anywhere with a pool on site or a good swimming beach. So, we live and maybe we learn, and maybe we don’t.

Ever since I was diagnosed a little over two years ago, with both a lifelong disease and a chronic illness, I still tend to push my limits until I melt into a puddle of pain and exhaustion. I think just one more step, one more mile, one more flight of stairs, then I’ll stop and rest. You know, the old adage of “What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger.” Idioto.

When I received and accepted this gracious invitation to visit J and D’s cottage in the Limosin area of France for a few days, it seemed like a great opportunity to see their place and an area of France I hadn’t been to, and, since I was there, I could also do a solo trip to Paris afterwards (which would be my first time in Paris). What my intuition had told me before even leaving the USA, was to go home from Manchester. But, I had to see whatever the experience had to offer.

On our first morning we were off to a village market day which was held only once a month at this time of year, and we hit it at the right time. All the market folks were totally warm and friendly, unlike the image people may have of the French. We also stopped at memorials from WWII along the way and in other various places during these four days. This area is teeming with history of espionage, heroic acts of courage, and memorials to the slain men and women who fought for their country.

At the market there were fish in a tank on the back of a truck, a beautiful young French boy in his father’s food truck eating a croissant whose smile I just missed on camera, cheese shaped into hearts, snails tucked into various concoctions (which I am sure, for the escargot connoisseur, were delicious), cooked sausages, beautiful garlic, and pointy-breasted aprons blowing in the breeze. This was the small village feel which I love to experience when traveling. It’s real and there is no pretense.

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I had asked if I could take this woman’s photo; I think she was telling me to buy one of her sausages, while I’m at it. (I didn’t.)

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A number of Dutch folks have bought places in the Limousin area, hence the wooden clogs.

We spent time on another day in the medieval town of “Uzerche which is called ‘The Pearl of the Limousin’ because of the picturesque setting. It was a center of influence and an important crossroads fortress under Pepin the Short, as well as the seat of a powerful abbey and later a Seneschal. This legacy means that Uzerche features castles, hotels, and other buildings marked by turrets that were built by uzerchoise nobility. ” (Wikipedia)

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We had espresso in a café with this poster.

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An art installation with the ‘metal man’ crouching at the top of this waterway.

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John and Denise wait patiently for me to finish meandering and shooting photos.

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When I saw the door to this crypt, I thought for sure the door would be locked…it wasn’t. I called out to J and D to come join me in a new adventure.

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John found a light switch!

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We were walking back in time to the 11th century.

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I loved this sculpture of the girl with her apple in the church courtyard.

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The River Vezere

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Check out the construction of this wall and the three

wooden beams built into the rockery to support the building on the

other side.

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On the right of this lovely doorway

was an off white panel of ugly apartment doorbell buttons.

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Off to Rapunzel’s tower with sweeping views. This was built in 1954 as a cross between a water tower and on a lark. I’ve read that you can go to the reception desk at the hotel across the way for the key and then climb the sturdy spiral staircase to the top for even more expansive views of the Limousin area.

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Marcel Champeix was active in the Resistance during WWII; he died in Limoges.

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Masseret Tower. The Hotel de la Tour is right across the quiet road in this former hilltop marketplace. (Reviews are good and rates are great.)

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We went to a grocery store where I was drawn to take photos of quail eggs and orange soup.

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On our last day we went to Eymoutiers. Because I did not have Internet access during these 4 days, I felt a bit untethered which is not necessarily a good thing for two reasons, 1) cut off from my family and friends, and 2) I couldn’t easily look up a place and research its history. As I am writing these posts, after-the-fact, I am learning about where we went.

For instance, this village of Eymoutiers is known for the tanning trade from the 16-18th century and the tanners were known as “skin-peelers.” There were as many as 20 tanneries along the banks of the river.

Back in the 7th century there was a hermit who lived here. When he was a boy, he lived in Scotland and was born to a royal family. Legend has it that he fell asleep on a beach, in a raft, surrounded by friends, when a huge wave washed the boy out to sea (Atlantic) where he drifted for 3 days praying for divine intervention. It is told that an island appeared, rising from the sea, and he was saved. Later, someone convinced him to move to this area of France and some cleric convinced him to become a hermit which led him to live in a small cell in the forest. He is called St. Psalmodias because it is said he was well-known for singing psalms all the time. He also performed miracles (in order to be a saint, that is a requirement) such as giving sight to a blind woman, rescued a man swallowed by a snake, and after a wolf killed his donkey, he made the wolf carry his burdens. Oh my!

Inside the church, there are wooden sculptures on the walls which are quite unique to the time period along with lovely stained glass. The town has an annual festival called “The Earth Blowers” which looks like fun and totally transforms this town. When I saw the town it was in the very early spring, and very cold, and from what I’ve seen online, the town certainly becomes colorful and crowded in the summer.

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The next day it was time to say “Au Revoir” to my gracious hosts: my cousin John, and his wife, Denise. They were headed back to England and I was getting on a train to Paris. Man-oh-man, I was tired but I had to do this. Four more days to go before I head home to my own bed. But first, it was one more step, one more hill, and several more miles to experience the City of Light. Ooo-la-la!!