Beach Living

This and that on the beach.

FullSizeRender[1] - Copy (2)
Probably a weed but I will call it beach flowers.

IMG_0505[1]
I don’t think this dog was particularly friendly but was looking for other dogs. At least he didn’t bark.

IMG_0532[1]
Another great sunset.

IMG_0538[1]
I love sand made smooth by the wind and beach fences.

IMG_0539[1]
A hollyhock against the blue sky. We have had a run of windy, gray days so this was a pleasure.

IMG_0547[1]
I’m not sure if the rest of this area has this type of architecture but I sure do like it. There are many similar in our village with a steepled roof, lacy decorations and the pointed feature at the top.

FullSizeRender[1] - Copy (640x514)
This lady laid out in the sun for at least four hours. I’m amazed by people who can do this. After a really horrible sun burn in college I learned I don’t have the skin to do this. It seems like I should be a person who hates the beach. I don’t like to be in the sun for long periods, I spend a fortune on sun screen, I won’t get in the water after seeing jelly fish the size of hubcaps on the beach, I don’t like wind of which there is a lot if you live by the ocean, I don’t like sand in my shoes-the feel of it or when it is tracked into our place-and yet I love it here watching the tides come and go, the blue skies and clouds and sunsets, the people watching, walks with interesting things to see-I love these. I pushed Maurice to get a place on a beach. It’s been mostly fun.

The Unexplored

We have a friend who was on a group tour composed of French tourists somewhere in the Middle East. Our friend was talking to a couple and asked them where in France they lived and they told her Paris and a place on the Atlantic Coast near La Rochelle that she wouldn’t have heard of and she said, “It wouldn’t be Chatelaillon, would it?” They were really shocked because she was right. She sent us their names and contact information and we met and have had several meals with them. The husband is especially interesting. He has worked all over the world and has lots of fascinating stories. He and his wife explore this area when they are here much more than we have. He is always telling us of interesting places to visit around here. One of these was a quarry, called la Pierre de Crazannes, near a village called Crazannes less than an hour from our place. People have been getting stone from here for centuries. It is especially popular because it is pure limestone without fossils in it which is what those doing sculptures want and many builders. Since the advent of cement in 1948 the quarry shut down but they have a little museum there and take you on a tour to see it all. It was very fascinating.

IMG_0624[1]
When you drive up into the parking lot there are a bunch of huge sculpted statues which are done by resident artists. We saw them chiseling away while there.

IMG_0629[1]
The entrance to the trail leading to the quarry.

IMG_0632[1]
A look at some of the huge blocks of stone left. They did it the old fashioned way, chisel groves in the shape they wanted, put in dry wedges, put linen on top and pour on water. As the wedges expanded, the stone would fall out of its place in the wall, be put on a wagon pulled by six oxen where the stone would be moved to the nearby Charentes River. It was hard labor and the average age expectancy was 52 years. Boys started working there when they were nine moving rubble and were doing work by the time they were 16. It paid more than farming. Also, many men went blind working on the white limestone in the sun for years.

IMG_0641[1] - Copy (2)
The workers could only go down 18 meters as water was reached being near the river. It was a very tropical place as you can see-ferns all over the place.
We went for lunch to a nearby city called St Jean d’Angely where there was a church on the Camino de Santiago, the path followed by pilgrims walking through France to Spain.

IMG_0652[1]
Here is what is left of an old abbey.

FullSizeRender[1]
Inside the church that is there now. Such a pretty floor.

A Bit About Nantes

As I said in an earlier post, I knew nothing about Nantes except its name on a highway sign. Like many places in France, it turned out to have a beautiful old section with pedestrian zones and very little traffic. You have to have a code to get your car into the area. Some of Nantes was destroyed by bombing in WWII but it has been beautifully restored. It was delightful to walk around.

FullSizeRender[1] - Copy (4)
This beautiful passage, an early mall, was built in 1894. It’s recently been restored and is just lovely.

IMG_0940[1]
We passed this beautiful church while walking.

FullSizeRender[1] - Copy (5)
This fitting angel mosaic graffiti was on the side of the church.

FullSizeRender[1] - Copy (6)
A butcher shop had these delightful animals on the outside all with wigs.

IMG_0959[1]
This was above a barber shop, the type that puts zig-zags onto the closely shaven heads of men. Made me laugh.

IMG_0952[1]
Inside the beautiful Nantes Cathedral. This was on the tomb of the Duke of Brittany and his wife, the parents of Ann of Brittany who is highly regarded there. She was central to getting Brittany joined with France back in the 1400’s.

IMG_0825[1]
The theater on the gorgeous Place Graslin.

IMG_0962[1]
Look how lovely the lights are at night.

Jules Verne and Leonardo

I was watching the morning news show a while ago and they showed a giant spider, about two stories high, coming down the street of a French city. I was intrigued and when I heard that this event took place in Nantes, a city about two hours away from us, I did some research and found we could see same spider and an enormous elephant as well. These creatures are at a place, an old abandoned ship yard, called Les Machines de l’Ile. The creator says these creations are a combination of Jules Verne and the mechanical drawings of Leonardo di Vinci. The place is enormous and you can see other creations, a workshop and, of course, the spider and the elephant. For four days in July the spider actually walked around Nantes, but we missed that.

IMG_0884[1]
I’m not a fan of spiders but this was fascinating.

IMG_0891[1]
There were lots of people underneath the body of the spider, eight of which worked the legs. The whole thing was actually attached to a big tractor like machine at the rear.

IMG_0899[1]
“Poison” was sprayed as it passes by. There was interesting music playing too, kind of grand and creepy.

IMG_0845[1]
Here’s the elephant. As you can see, people can ride it, which we did. It was much more exciting from the ground watching it as it moved and sprayed water from the trunk. It was a slow ride up on top but fun to see the expressions of people down below.

IMG_0973[1]
The view of the head from behind while taking the ride. The elephant also did a trumpeting sound as it started. It scared a little girl beside us.

FullSizeRender[1] - Copy (3)
Another view. It is made of lots of metal and wood and the ears were leather.

IMG_0906[1]
There was also a three story carrousel made of sea creatures. This was the crab at the first level. Very like creatures in Jules Verne stories. Great place for the young and the young at heart.

Videos I did while there:

la Cigale

Have you ever heard of a city in France called Nantes? I hadn’t either until we got our beach place here on the Atlantic coast and then I would see directional signs for Nantes as we drove here and there. I saw something on the morning news-which I am posting about next-and wanted to see it in person so off we went. It’s two hours from our place. The old section of Nantes limits the amount of traffic in the old section and we had to have a code to enter to get our car up to our hotel to park. Our hotel turned out to be really great-the Oceania-on a gorgeous square and we happened upon la Cigale when it was time for lunch just a few steps from our hotel. The food was okay but the interior was fabulous. I’m a huge fan of Art Nouveau and this was built in 1895 right when it was becoming popular.

IMG_0799[1]
The view from our hotel view. That’s a theatre to the right.

FullSizeRender[2]
One of the ceilings.

IMG_0812[1]
The view into the dining room.

IMG_0811[1]
Lots of stained glass.

FullSizeRender[1] - Copy (2)
Over the door into the kitchen.

IMG_0820[1]
I liked this portrait of a lady.

IMG_0822[1]
The symbol of the bistro. This place would have been torn down if it hadn’t been registered as a historic site.

Beach Life

I’m back! Had some major hack problems but I think my son has fixed it all for me, bless his heart.

So, we made it back to our place at the beach and beach life continued.

IMG_0469[1]
We had sunsets when there were gray skies which seem to have been in abundance lately.

FullSizeRender[2]
Every year our village has a fete with a different theme. Last year it was about Nursery Tales and characters. This year it was about Celtic life. There were all sorts of exhibits on the street and bagpipes and dancers in kilts everywhere.

FullSizeRender[1]
A scene from Brittany all set up. I loved it.

FullSizeRender[1] - Copy
All posed for photos.

IMG_0501[1]
My view from my couch that evening. Beach life can be pretty great.