Archive for March 26th, 2019

March 26, 2019

Lisle sur Tarn, dyers, wines, and chocolates!

Let’s continue our ride thru the southwest or sud ouest of France. Like I have said,the region is full of amazing small towns all with a rich history on its own,and worth your layover I am sure.

I am going to talk a bit about Lisle-sur-Tarn, of course ,it is in the Tarn department no 81, region of  Occitanie. Halfway between Toulouse and closer to Gaillac, as it is ,also, in its wine region.  It is a bastide or fortified town of the 12C  ,around 1229, easily reachable by the road A68 or the D988 (old N88). Parking is easy at the rue Saint Louis next to the plaza and tourist office turn left into rue porte peyrole and right on Les Promenades, free parking!  The bus system is still the Tarn bus system, that serves the main towns in the area, webpage http://tarnbus.tarn.fr/ , and the train station is the TER Occitanie webpage at  https://www.ter.sncf.com/occitanie/gares/87615310/Lisle-sur-Tarn/prochains-departs

It is on the road to Santiago de Compostela or St James in Galicia,Spain. It is best known for its dyer’s woad or blue taint on textiles and the Gaillac wine appellation.  Today only the wineries remains, and they are very good, especially the one at Tecou, a coop now group under Vinovalie ;that serves folks from Gaillac, Montans, Lisle sur Tarn, Graulhet, etc. webpage  http://www.vinovalie.com/caves?page=1

Just to say my dear late wife Martine father’s side come from this area and still cousins at Montans, Graulhet, and Gaillac. Her late father  Pierre was born in Lavaur.

The best way to see Lisle sur Tarn is on foot, see its quaint medieval cobblestone streets with four squares with fortified doors on each entrance, and a central plaza ,the biggest in the south west for a fortified town or bastide. The front facades of the houses in the plaza are in red brick or in columns pylons style. The main plaza or place aux couverts,( also known as place Paul Saissac), is completely covered so shaded with a nice fountain in the middle call the Griffoul typical of many in the area, this fountain was offered to the town by  Jeanne de Toulouse (daughter of count Raimond VII) and her husband Alphonse de Poitiers (brother of king Louis IX or Saint Louis). Going around in the same plaza is the Hôtel de Ville or mayors’ office from the 18C. Just by going thru the plaza and going out at the right hand side upon arrival by car as above parking, you go thru an arch door and into the Church Notre Dame de la Jonquière ,gothic art built between the 13C and the 14C .

lisle-sur-tarn

lisle sur tarn

Again by the beforemention parking Les Promenades you will see a pigeonniers or pigeon tower of the 13C  recently renovated. And the only harbor on the river Tarn of the bastides of the southwest! port de lisle sur tarn. For the nature lovers there is the lake or Le Lac Bellevue, located at the entrance of the town direction Gaillac with many outdoors activities including fishing!

lisle-sur-tarn

Other nice things to see and do here is the Musée Raymond Lafage, 10 rue Victor Maziés, it recount the engravings, and drawing of this local artist born here in 1656 and died in 1684 at Lyon , very well known  his work is found in many buildings and museums in France but also in Europe, United States even with individual collectionists. The other museum is the best reason other than wine to come here, Le Musée Art de Chocolat is right in the place aux couverts closest to rue Saint Louis upon entering into the town’s center.  The tour is given showing all the major production areas of  cacao, the making of it, the shipping, and of course very good portions of tastings of the end result chocolate from Ecuador, Ivory Coast, Dominican Republic, etc etc etc, just a mouthful, do come over, these are the creation of  maître chocolatier Michel Thomaso-Defos  that makes recreation of figures and places with chocolate done by painter and sculptor Casimir Ferrer ,and sculptors Marie-Madeleine Gautier and  Marta Solsona.

lisle-sur-tarn

The wines that are my personal choice and family from this region are Chateau Clement Termes, Chateau Lastours, and Chateau de Saurs. webpages chronologically are http://www.clement-termes.com/ ; http://www.chateau-lastours-gaillac.com/ ; http://www.chateau-de-saurs.com/ : wonderful over the years ,you wont go wrong find them in your area or better come on over !

We have refreshments at the main plaza in town, place aux couverts with O’Centre , 11 Place Paul Saissac;  internet and sports TV Screens available as well as Salsa dancing lessons in 1st floor!!

You can see a bit more of Lisle-sur-Tarn in the region of regional tourism office Vignobles et Bastideshttps://www.tourisme-vignoble-bastides.com/en/place-lisle-sur-tarn

In addition the Tarn department tourist site is at  https://www.tourisme-tarn.com/uk/things-to-do/unmissable-attractions/towns-villages-bastides/

And the region of Occitanie tourist office at https://www.tourism-occitanie.co.uk/

Hope you enjoy the ride, it is wonderful in Lisle sur Tarn and the Sud Ouest (southwest) of France. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

 

 

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March 26, 2019

Rabastens, cathar and wine country the Tarn

We are in the area of the south west or Sud Ouest of my belle France, waving our way thru wonderful country.  Here again wine and cathar history mingle, the cathars are gone but the wine remains in the appellation of Gaillac. This is a repost from 2015 , the birth region of my dear late wife Martine, late father Pierre.

Lets talk a bit about Rabastens, yes, it is in the Tarn department no 81 in the region of Occitanie.  It sits half way between Toulouse and Gaillac on the D988 or old N88 road, easily done and parking by the long promenade in city center close to Hotel de Ville.  You can use the fast A68 to the village of Coufouleux ,exit or sortie 7 on road D12 ,where the train station is before entering Rabastens, only 800 meters (2640 ft) from city center.  The train station is at gare de Rabastens-Coufouleux , which is a close village of Rabastens.  The webpage for the TER Occitanie  https://www.ter.sncf.com/occitanie/gares/87615328/Rabastens-Couffouleux/prochains-departs . The bus system is the TarnBus, and it covers the town bus No 702 from Albi or Gaillac, with webpage  http://tarnbus.tarn.fr/

It is an old town as such in the area, been inhabited by Visigoths from which it takes its “ens”. The Cathar or Albigeois was big here as the city was considered a center of heresy!  By the treaty of Paris of 1229 the city is forced to destroyed its religious buildings. The war of the Hundred years by 1337 does a lot of damage and many perished under it force, by 1450 the end of the war, the new discovery of pastel or the teint in textiles gave the city a new birth, but then again the war of Religion of 1561 the city is a center of protestanism and suffer heavy damages.  The peace in 1563 does not stop here what is started in Paris with the massacre of St Barthelomy.  Finally the cave or cellars of wine in 1953 gives the wine back to the city and its a source of prosperous times still today.

rabastens

Some of the things to see and do here are the Hôtel de Ville or mayors’ office an old prayer house and tower of the 16C; and the Museum or musée du pays Rabastinois house in the mansion or hôtel particulier of the 17C, it contains collections of archeology, art and local history, and exhibitions of ancient and contemporary art, the webpage in the region’s webpage in French https://musees-occitanie.fr/musees/musee-du-pays-rabastinois/  info Hôtel de la Fite, 2 rue Amédée Clausade . Open tuesdays to fridays from 10h -12h and 14h-18h, saturdays,sundays and holidays from 15h -18h. Closed in December and January.

Rabastens

The must church in town and listed on the route to Santiago or the road to St James de Compostela is Notre Dame du Bourg, it has wonderful stained glass paintings showing the religious life real or legendary of  James the Mayor or St James. The oldest part dates from the 13C completely done in red brick.  There is the official site here: http://rabastens-notredamedubourg.fr/

rabastens

You have a wonderful district or quartier du Bourg with old quaint medieval streets looking into the river Tarn,especially rue Gouzy, a lovely red brick bridge, and the gorgeous ramparts that show the fortifications of old at quai des remparts, and the district or quartier du Chateau; the oldest in town, limits of the quai des rempartsquai de la Libération ,and quai du descargadou. This is a great town to walk its ramparts and medieval streets especially in spring time. Lovely.

rabastens hotel particulier rue du pont de Plo cc

For shopping the best is the winery at 33 rue d’Albi, its actually a cooperative where many small winegrowers (about 150) pull their resources to make a delicious wine, well known in France. The Cave de Rabastens, lovely appellation Gaillac from indigenous grapes of the region like the Mauzac for whites. See the webpage of the union of cooperatives Vinovalie here: http://www.vinovalie.com/caves

rabastens

The tourist page for the town of Rabastens is at https://www.tourisme-vignoble-bastides.com/en/towns-villages/rabastens

Again the tourist office for the department 81 Tarn is at https://www.tourisme-tarn.com/uk/things-to-do/unmissable-attractions/towns-villages-bastides/

And the region Occitanie tourist office is at  https://www.tourism-occitanie.co.uk/eglise-notre-dame-du-bourg/rabastens

Have a wonderful trip in a gorgeous country of the Tarn, and of course pretty Rabastens!!

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

 

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March 26, 2019

The battlefields in France of WWI

Dates come and go and come and we sometimes find no time to write about certain dear things to us. This is the case of the efffort of many for a free Europe/World. I am particularly thankful to the Americans ,who I am and active voter from France on all elections. I like to pay tribute to those who fought and or died for our freedom from all Nations in this humble post. I have visited these places one time or another.

Suresnes

I married a French women from the Battlefields of the Marne, Monument Americain or American Monument on the Route de Varennes near Meaux, today , there is a wonderful WWI museum there that you all should visit.  Museum of the Great War, Webpage here :Museum of the Great War or WWI in Meaux

meaux

meaux

The Battle of the Somme in WWI was a huge battlefront of 750 kms (about 465 miles) including two periods. Since September 1914 the course to the sea around the monuments of Ovilliers, Guillemont, and Flers. And then a north south line along the villages of Beaumont-Hamel, Thiepval, La Boisselle, Fricourt, Maricourt, Curlu, Dompierre, Fay, Chaulnes, and Maucourt.

It then , came again in June 1916 in the second Battle of the Somme, from Beaumont-Hamel and Bapaume to the north to Chilly,Chaulnes to the south; here the British and French fought side by side until a line at Maricourt. The battle involves about a million men and 200 000 horses as the official encounter began on June 24.  By July 2nd the losses were big already 58K men of which 22K killed especially by the British, their biggest losses up to that point in any war. Total by the December 1916 the losses were big, 1,2Million men out of combat for a total of 3M; the British advance only 12 kms the French 5-8kms alone the line.  Here too it talks about the great British offensive of Yprés from June to October 1917, the battle of Cambrai in November (first using tanks), and the tragic offensive of the French at Chemin des Dames.  1918, mark the commandement unique of the allied army to Marichal Foch March 26 at Doullens, the offensive by the Australians at Villers-Bretonneux, the American monument at Cantigny, monument to the 2nd division Australians at Peronne and the Canadian memorial at Le Quesnel, all evoke the counteroffensive that led to the armistice of November 11 at Compiegne.

You should visit the Historial de la Grande Guerre at Peronne: Historial museum of the Great War at Peronne

peronne

You can see the Cross to the 16st Irish division at Guillemont and Ginchy with Irish Treffles  for heroic action on September 3 and 9 1916. Also, remembering all the Irish who lost their lives in WWI.  At Longueval,  and the taking of Bois Delville by the South Africans  on July 15-20 1916. at specific Longueval, we honor also the New Zealanders that took bravery here on September 15 1916 taking objective near Flers the wood of Fourcaux, or high wood done by the 47th London division of New Zealand! You can see the South African memorial of Bois Delville with 63 hectares land of South Africa from 1920. Behind you will find a museum too with a replica of Fort du Cap. The New Zealanders have their memorial with a cross of the 12th battalion of Gloucestershire and the cementary of Caterpillar Valley, Scottish monument of the 1th Cameron Highlanders, 1st Black Watch, and the 47th division with a Cairn of 192 stones coming from Scotland to honor the 192 who felled here from the 9th battalion Highland light Infantry (Glasgow highlanders) and the London cementary.

le quesnoy

The Canadians are here too, Memorial Canadien on the road D929 to the right hand side in granite stone toward the village of Courcelette, took part here September 3 to November 18 1916. Losing 24K of their sons. You have the memorial to Newfoundlanders  with 16 hectares done in 1925, you can see while getting there on the road a statue of a Caribou ,their mascot in bronce.  You can see at La Boiselle the Lochnagar Crater of 100 meters in diameter around here you saw the 34th Division of Scottish and Irish, there is a monument with a bas-relief in Bronce of Saint George attacking a dragon, cross of Saint Andrew(Scottish), and a large celtic harp(Irish) with inscription engrave in the stone relating to this battle of July 1,1916.

The great battles around Albert,  with great efforts by the British , the town was destroyed 90% and the town reconstructed with the help of the city of Birmingham in England. You can see the wonderful Basilique Notre Dame de Brebiéres, and not to miss the museum ,Musée Somme 1916Museum of the Somme 1916 at Albert

albert

You drive around the area and can visit the Monument to the American and French nurses at Chaulnes, a gift from the USA and France Red Cross; at Lihons on August 21 1916 died in combat after volunteering to fight the nephew of Napoléon Ier Marshal Murat, a prince, you can see it on the road entering Lihons coming from Vermandovillers there is a small route on the left after the town cemetery. See the wonderful Arc de Triomphe at Proyart , a huge memorial for a small town donated by a rich Champagne men who lost his only son in the war.  You can see the old train line that supplies the front lines, the P’tit Train de la Haute-Somme; and now its a tourist attraction at Eclusier-Vaux for the little train ride and a trains museum. More here: Little Train ride appeva site

On May 28 1918 ,just when the French retreat from the Chemin des Dames and losing Soissons, the Americans land and engage for the first time in the front of Cantigny, and they take the town on May 31.  The American who lost their lives here are buried at the huge American cementary of the Somme in Bony, not far from the imposing memorial of Bellicourt on the road N44, it has a chapel, secretary office, and welcome center. It is honoring of the Big Red One Division on the borders of the town in the road D26 direction Montdidier.(not far from the A16 direction Amiens.

At Villers-Bretonneux, you have the Australian Memorial on the road D23 direction Fouilloy/Corbie, two huge white towers with an even bigger one in the middle and the names of the dead written on it. It opened in 1938 and here it is held every year the ANZAC Day celebration. They were 331K volunteers from a population of 4,9M and casualties of  58500 men including 16000 dead. See ,also at the Le Hamel the Parc Memorial Australien built by Australia in August 7,1998; free to all with trenches intact.  It is here too in July 4 1918 Australian and American troops fought alongside with infantry, artillery, aviation, tanks, and paratroopers to begin the modern war tactics… More here: Museum Franco-Australian at Villers-Bretonneux

From the above webpage see more into ,visit the Thiepval Memorial to the Missing, where over 72,000 men with no known grave are remembered. Climb to the top of the Newfoundland Caribou Memorial at Beaumont-Hamel for a moving view of the former battlefield.  See the enormous Lochnagar mine crater at La Boisselle, created at the beginning of the Battle of the Somme, on 1 July at 7h28 (7:28 am). Explore Delville Wood and the South African Memorial at Longueval, a former battleground today at peace. Take part in the moving ANZAC Day Dawn Service on 25 April at Villers-Bretonneux.  Participate with the commemorations of the Battle of the Somme at various sites of remembrance on 1 July.

Today, you can pay tribute to these great men in various cemetaries all over France,these are: The French are care by the Ministry of Defense and in the Somme there are 20 national cementaries.  More here Memories of men French Defense site can be in English

and for those seeking a love one,  this place can help: Memories of men French Defense ministry to search names can be in English

A site in French of many of them from many mostly Commonwealth nations here: Picardie 1418 on battlefields and men of WWI

The Commonwealth War Graves Commission takes care of the dead from the areas known as the Commonwealth UK, it takes care of 410 cementaries in the Somme along ; more here: Commonwealth War Graves Commission

From the USA, it is the American Battles Monuments Commission, who handles and maintain them, here is their webpage: ABMC cimenteries and memorials

In addition footnote information, for the Australians the most memorable places other than Villers-Bretonneux are Amiens, Corbie Plateau, Le Hamel, Albert, Poziéres, Sailly-le-Sec and Peronne.

Towns in general of WWI history and conflict are Doullens, hall of the sole command, Froissy, petit train de la haute somme, Thiepval, memorial Franco-Britanique, La Boiselle, Beaumont-Hamel, Rancourt, Longueval, Albert, Chaulnes,Cantigny,Lihons, Aveluy, Soyécourt, Frisé, Eclusier-Vaux, Maricourt, Feuilléres, Bouchavesnes-Bergen, Flaucourt, Courcelette, Martinpuich, Mametz,Fay,Moislans, Corbie, and Montauban-de-Picardie.

And of course, there are many others like Vimy, the Indian Memorial at Neuve-Chapelle, Notre-Dame de Lorette monument in Ablain-St-Nazaire, National Museum of Franco-American cooperation at Blérancourt, the Clairiére de l’Armistice at Compiegne, the Memory of Walls Museum at Verneuil-en-Halate, Caverne de Dragons and Chemin des Dames near Laon, Second battle of the Marne Memorial and Dormans Ossuary at Dormans, Navarin Ossuary at Souain, The First battle of the Marne memorial at Mondement, Vauquois Hill near Fleury, The world peace center at Verdun, as well as the Verdun Memorial, Douaumont Ossuary and Vaux fort.

For me including those of WWII as well is the American Cementary of Suresnes (dept 92 Hauts de Seine just outside Paris), And , also, the Lafayette Escadrile located inside the gates of Domaine National de Sainte-Cloud, (dept 92 Hauts de Seine as well)  of where I have been the most and event took visiting friends there. The  ABMC site has more info.

Rememberance is to honor them, never forget. As I see many who likes to come to cemeteries for the rich and famous, why not come to these ones, the feeling is much better and the experience unique!

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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