Archive for the South Central France Category

Awaken to Le Puy, France

Posted in French Affair, French Travel, South Central France with tags , , , , , , , on December 2, 2010 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour mes amis,

My apologies for being away a little too long. How I have missed you! I’ve been stuck in a cataclysmic episode of The Unexpected- hence ‘my french awakening’ absence has stung my heart and I’ve had to wait for that poignant moment of bliss when someone or something rips the stinger out as quickly as it came. The time has arrived and I sit happier than ever to be writing to you again. So, how are you?

My mind wonders as to when I have experienced The Unexpected before in such earth shattering doses and I instantly recall Le Puy.

Let me fill you in …

Le Puy en Velay is a wonderful French village smack bang in the very heart of the Auvergne region of central France and full of surprises. Firstly, it’s nestled amongst dramatic landform-hilly with high volcanic protrusions reaching to the skies. South of Lyon, (about a hundred and twenty km in fact) Le Puy is a pilgrimage site on the way to Santiago de Compostela, under the protection of Unesco World Heritage and The Virgin Mary (Notre Dame de France). It is she in all her bronzed regalia, made entirely from the melting of Russian canons of the Crimean War, which is the first sight you see when you encroach upon the village. She reigns in gigantic proportions from one of the highest pinnacles of volcanic rock.

There she is in the background…

On another, you will notice the unexpectedly small yet thoughtful tenth century chapel of St Michel’s perched on top.

The walk directly up the steep volcanic plug is not for the faint hearted nor anyone suffering acrophobia but the view at the summit is worth it…

Come inside St Michel’s for some quiet contemplation and steady those wobbly legs…

On your descent…

Mingle amongst the finest lace makers of France…

and the very friendly shop keepers…

Get lost in a maze of historic streets…

and relish in surprising sights of delightfully delicious Le Puy…

amongst hidden treasures like fabulous vintage book shops and card makers who have stood the test of time.

But the most unexpected thing of all is what happens inside the Cathedral of Notre Dame on Mount Corneille where the ancient statue of the Black Madonna is housed. Many pilgrims and ordinary folk have been cured throughout history here. Fascinating don’t you think?

Le Puy is old and experienced and miracles are worth believing in.

We can choose how to react when The Unexpected rears its ugly head in our lives from time to time. It can bring upset and change or you can choose to see something else entirely.

I choose joy. Visit Le Puy. It will prove me right.

Au revoir,

Best Wishes, Therese Waddell

copyright@2010 Therese Waddell

Advertisements

Awaken To Historic Avignon

Posted in French Affair, French Music, French Travel, South Central France, South of France with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on June 17, 2010 by Therese Waddell

Bonjour mes amis,

When in the south of France, staying in or around beautiful Avignon is a must. You’ll be very impressed by this city, which is only two hours and forty minutes by high speed TGV from Paris (to the new ultramodern Avignon Gare TGV) or thirty minutes from Arles.

There’s so much to see and do here. Include in your itinerary, the World Heritage Site, Palais des Papes ( The Palace of The Popes). This fourteenth century massive stone structure, Gothic in style, has assured the safety of seven Popes who have resided there over time…

On entry, a very friendly Swiss Guard may insist upon having his photo taken …

And once you’re inside, you can peruse the maze of solid archways leading to inner courtyards and beautifully adorned frecso walls…

If you’re lucky enough to be in Avignon this July, take part in the Avignon Festival in and around the Palais des Popes-but book you’re seats early because this fabulous non profit making event attracts  up to 150,000 revellers of theatre, dance and music to the city to watch wonderful street performances and productions of sheer joy.

The artistic programme and full information for the Avignon 2010 Festival can be found at:

http://www.festival-avignon.com/en/Prog

If you miss the event there’s always next time. Meanwhile, buskers enliven the ancient streets of the walled city and will leave you wandering for more.

My french awakening was amused to come across unexpected pleasures like detailed trompe l’oeil paintings on buildings…

And intricate architectural embellishments of a fascinating history..

Avignon is enriched with abundant Museums, shops, a fabulous Les Halles marketplace and galleries and plenty of space to get about by car, bike or even tourist ‘train’- the latter can take you to popular sites to walk the remains of the famous Pont d’Avignon Bridge over the Rhone river for instance…

and be reminded of the little French children’s song, “Sur le Pont d’Avignon’…

On the bridge, step inside the tiny chapel of Saint Benezet…

where legend has it that Benezet (or Benedict) a young shepherd, was instructed by an angel to build the bridge and was given the power to lift enormous stones. The people of Avignon were so impressed that they helped construction and although Benezet died before it was completed, but not without founding The Friars of The Bridge Order of monks.

Great things happen in Avignon. Trust me.

Au Revoir,

Best Wishes, Therese Waddell

copyright@2010 Therese Waddell