Category Archives: City Breaks

Breathtaking Brittany — Multiple Posts Coming Up!

We’re on the road in Brittany right now — taking a much needed holiday. I’ll have a whole series of posts from Dinan and Morlaix and the Finistere and Quimper. From ancient towns filled with half-timbered or stone buildings to pre-historic standing stones to gothic cathedrals — this part of France is simply stunning.

Just a tease or two — so shhhh — come back soon!

Rooftop Jumble in the historic city of Quimper in the Finistere Brittany, France.

Side entry of the Cathedral in Quimper, Brittany, France.

Standing stones near Camaret-sur-Mer

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Photo Of The Day: The Tourist Train in Bayeux, Normandy, France

As I mentioned in yesterday’s photo essay, Bayeux is both charming and VERY easily walkable. But apparently some people don’t want to ramble around the cobblestone streets discovering fabbo little photo ops — or maybe they just have tired feet, eh?

The local tourism board has sorted that out then with this Tourist Train that departs from the Bayeux Cathedral and rolls you along in comfort though the streets of this very pretty town in northern France.

 

The tourist train in Bayeux, a lovely town in the Normandy region of France.

The tourist train in Bayeux, a lovely town in the Normandy region of France.


 

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Musee des Arts et Metiers in Paris – Part One

 
One of the best days out we had in Paris was at the glorious Musee des Arts et Metier. This wonderful museum opened right at the end of the 18th Century in what had been an abandoned medieval priory — Saint Martin des Champs. The museum has been expanded, most notably with a more contemporary addition in the 1990s, but the elegant old priory contains some of the most beautiful of the displays under those ornate and vaulted ceilings.

 

Musee des Arts et Metiers in Paris, France. Housed in a converted medieval priory, this is one of the landmark museums of Paris. Made famous by the novel The Da Vinci Code, it contains a Foucault pendulum.

Musee des Arts et Metiers in Paris, France. Housed in a converted medieval priory, this is one of the landmark museums of Paris. Made famous by the novel The Da Vinci Code, it contains a Foucault pendulum.


 

One example of the treasures within is the room that houses a Foucault Pendulum. I know that the former purpose of the space was reverential, but it still maintains an air of ‘sacred space’ in that hushed room with the pendulum right in the center.

 

Foucault Pendulum beneath the vaulted ceilings of the Musee des Arts et Metiers in Paris.

Foucault Pendulum beneath the vaulted ceilings of the Musee des Arts et Metiers in Paris.


 

 

The Foucault Pendulum within the Musee des Arts et Metiers in Paris.

The Foucault Pendulum within the Musee des Arts et Metiers in Paris.


 

When we were there, I noted that the glass table which has the pendulum suspended above it and the glossy flooring all around it appeared to be quite contemporary. That was a bit of a surprise. But as I was doing the research for this article, the information that I discovered explained all of that.

In 2010, the cable that held the pendulum snapped, damaging it badly and shattering the ancient marble floor beneath it. So the more contemporary appearance is a result of the reconstruction in the museum.

All of the photos above are available in my ZENFOLIO PORTFOLIO You may find them in the Portfolio tab under FRANCE — then under PARIS.

Enjoy!

 

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Toulouse Again And A Funny Street Sign

 

Falling under the ‘you couldn’t make that up’ category, here’s a photo of a street corner in Toulouse, France.

 

Street sign in Toulouse, France

Street sign in Toulouse, France


 

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Totally Terrific Toulouse — Part 2

Today’s highlights are a walk through the streets of the ‘Pink City’ of Toulouse in the Midi-Pyrenees. It was a cold and wintery 3 days there, so you’ll notice that there is very little in the way of blue skies!

Today’s post shows you a few glimpses of the Rue du Taur area with its charming pink brick buildings, narrow streets, wrought iron details, and medieval history.

The origins of the Rue du Taur are actually rather grim! This was the street where St Saturnin, first Bishop of Toulouse, was tied by the ankles to a charging bull and then dragged to his death at the instigation of the pagan priests who were headquartered at the site of the current Capitole plaza.

The basilica of St. Sernin (St. Saturnin) is the large cluster of buildings at the top of the Rue du Taur and it is all that remains of a formerly vast abbey complex.

 

UNESCO World Heritage Site Basilica of St. Sernin (St. Saturnin) in Toulouse, France.

UNESCO World Heritage Site Basilica of St. Sernin (St. Saturnin) in Toulouse, France.


 

Shoppers on Rue du Saur in Toulouse, France.

Shoppers on Rue du Saur in Toulouse, France.


 

A slight curve in a narrow road filled with soft pink-coloured brick buildings in Toulouse, France.

A slight curve in a narrow road filled with soft pink-coloured brick buildings in Toulouse, France.


 

Man sitting on a bollard in front of the Notre Dame du Taur church entry reading a guidebook.

Man sitting on a bollard in front of the Notre Dame du Taur church entry reading a guidebook.

 

Clad in a full fur coat and fur hat, a woman bustles through the shopping district on Rue du Taur in Toulouse, France.

Clad in a full fur coat and fur hat, a woman bustles through the shopping district on Rue du Taur in Toulouse, France.


 

Our journey down the Rue du Taur ends as the street opens up into the vast plaza in front of the the Capitole de Toulouse, a government and arts complex covering over 2 hectares (4.4 acres) right in the heart of Toulouse and rebuilt in the 1700s-1800s in the same spot as the original Roman Capitolium.

 

Rue du Taur terminates at the vast plaza containing the Capitole in Toulouse, France.

Rue du Taur terminates at the vast plaza containing the Capitole in Toulouse, France.

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The plaza in front of the Capitole building in Toulouse is frequently crowded with both tourists and local residents.

The plaza in front of the Capitole building in Toulouse is frequently crowded with both tourists and local residents.

 

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Totally Terrific Toulouse — Part 1

 
Stepping into the time machine a bit, here’s a bit of reporting on the lovely city of Toulouse in the Midi-Pyrenees of France. We spent several days there this year to celebrate my birthday and I thought I’d share some images from that trip over the next few posts.

The Musee des Augustins is housed in a large former Augustinian monastery built in 1309. The former home of 200 monks during the Middle Ages, this is a truly beautiful conversion of a set of buildings into museum space. Cloistered walkways surround a central courtyard and sweeping stairways take you to galleries on two levels. These contain architectural remnants dating back to medieval times, elegant sculpture, and several large rooms of paintings.

 

Entry to the Musee Des Augustins, the fine arts museum in Toulouse.

Entry to the Musee des Augustins, the fine arts museum in Toulouse.

 

Medieval tower of the former Augustinian monastery.

Medieval tower of the former Augustinian monastery.

 

The small but elegant courtyard garden of the Musee des Augustins.

The small but elegant courtyard garden of the Musee Des Augustins.

 

Cloistered walkways surround the garden courtyard.

Cloistered walkways surround the garden courtyard.

 

Historic gargoyles on display along the cloister walk.

Historic gargoyles on display along the cloister walk.

 

The wonderful collection of gargoyles seen above was salvaged from another convent/monastery from the 1300s, the Couvent des Cordeliers, prior to its destruction and preserved here in Toulouse. These gargoyles are now displayed on pedestals beneath the covered roofline of the cloister walkways.

Did you note the distinctly pinkish tones of the bricks that the monastery is constructed of? Toulouse has long been known as the ‘Pink City’ for just that reason.

Part 2 coming soon!

 

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New Book on Barcelona — Online Now!

 
I am very pleased to announce the publication of a SECOND book this week — Brief Bits Of Barcelona. This book is available for purchase in several formats — ebook for iPad, hardback, and softcover. Barcelona is one of the places in Europe that we would return to again and again, so I hope this book either encourages a trip there or brings back some of your own memories.

 

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Click LINKS BELOW to purchase

Brief Bits of Barcelona in PRINT

Brief Bits of Barcelona in EBOOK
 

I’m already working on the NEXT book, so come back soon for the launch of yet another one (and another, and another…).

 

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