Day 1 & 2: Cat(har)s

So we went on a last minute holiday, entirely defined by the location of the rental holiday home we would be able to find just a few days before our departure. The requirements were simple: affordable house, no apartment or hotel and preferably not in a holiday park, and with a pool. Our initial plan was to go either to the Provence or to Italy but we ended up in a cabin in the woods, somewhere in the centre of an imaginary triangle drawn between Cahors, Toulouse and Albi. Three years ago we went on a boat trip with relatives on the Lot, which is about 50 km to the North, a few years ago to the Dordogne which is more to the West and I’d been in the region of Carcassonne a couple times before but this was unknown territory of the Languedoc, with lots of remnants of Templars and the Albigensian crusade. Our base camp was located at the outskirts of a small village near the borders of the Aveyron. Yes, we went to France, after they’d beaten us in the World Cup. Treason!

After the touristic mayhem of Saint-Cirq-Lapopie and Fontaine-de-Vaucluse the area seemed almost devoid of tourists. Once there were Cathars here, and boy, did we see a cats. Usually the French countryside is overrun with loose dogs, but here there were endless amounts of cats lying around. I seem to have photographed more cats than churches.

Yes, I am going to show some holiday pictures, ha ha ha ha.  Hopefully you find them interesting. Thematically arranged, not chronologically. I may have messed a few up, as I don’t always remember where I took the pictures (and will rely on Google sometimes).

Location: France. Region: the Midi-Pyrénées aka  Occitania. It is greener and more humid than the Provence We had plenty of rain and thunderstorms (in the evenings and during the night luckily). The days were hot, and the nights were cool. And, as with any damp region near a river, plenty of mosquitos. Every day we visited a couple villages, some of them part of the Bastides Albigeoises (info can be found on the www, not going to bore you with this). Very medieval, very clean, and almost devoid of tourists (hurray). Fairytale villages fit for Hobbits. The busiest places we went to were Saint-Antonin (but it was market day) and Cordes (but compared to Saint-Cirq it was nothing). Jesus was everywhere but there are also plenty of artists and artisans around, and a few art galleries and museums.

First we had to drive there, though, overcoming the following obstacles:

French traffic and the Seine (every time we go to or via Paris I try to photograph the Eiffel tower, nb)

Low tunnels

Purgatory aka French toilets (this was before I used it)

It was more modern than usual but also more disgusting than usual. It looks like some torture device.

The Ibis

Arrival time for the house was Saturday but we left on Friday, keeping the French national holiday and resulting traffic in mind. We often book at an Ibis because it is not too expensive and they’re all more or less the same so you know what to expect. The only affordable room along the way was in the Ibis Budget in Châteaudun, to the West of Orléans. There were some rooms available in the Formula1 near Orléans but after reading the reviews we changed our mind. The Ibis hotels are usually located in the local business park or similar. This one was next to the Intermarché (a large supermarket) and a couple restaurants which was convenient as we were hungry. The room was basic but ok. We’d booked breakfast as well as not to lose time in the morning,. Usually the Ibis breakfasts are acceptable, but this one stank.. The room was dirty, there was barely any bread, no yoghurt, barely any cutlery or plates, the coffee was tepid and the viennoiseries were stale. After reading some review afterwards, it seems like this is not unusual. (The receptionist had to take care of the breakfast room as well, and he couldn’t handle both jobs equally well, obviously). Plus there are always the shameless people who stack their plates with everything  in sight and then don’t eat it, like an annoying family just before us.

You have been warned.

That’s it for now.



Paris I

Long time no write so update required. RL tasks away from home and events kept interfering, not to mention the sheer  endless stream of GDPR e-mails and phone calls that had to be dealt with.  Apart from those things, there was also an art school ‘field trip’ weekend and the last rush to complete assignments. Next on my list list will be updating the pages of this site.

In the mean time, here are some pictures of our art school ‘field trip’ to Paris a couple weekends ago. No time for shopping, just plenty of museums. We had to travel ultra light so I did not take the camera, and instead used my phone.

Day 1:

Strange rabbity art piece at the entrance of the Paris Nord train station.

The bombastic mausoleum with Napoleon’s tomb. We didn’t go in. 

We had a quick lunch in a park near Napoleon’s tomb. After an airport style security check by armed soldiers we were let into the park. Almost immediately after we sat down on one of the garden benches to eat our packed sandwiches an opportunistic one legged pigeon hopped over. We fed it bread and croissants. Probably not very good for the bird nutritionally speaking, but it seemed happy anyway.

After lunch we visited the Rodin museum and its gardens.

The entrance to the museum

Gates of Hell, quite appropriate description of the museum that day. Hot and crowded.

The man in the mirror

The hallway.

Pardon me but your nails are in my neck.

The head of Anna de Noailles (sculpted one, not her real head, obviously)

Study for John the Baptist

More loose parts of John the Baptist. 

The gardens, view from the rear. (HA HA HA so funny euuaahmmm)

Our next stop was the Orangerie. There are two parts to this museum: two large oval rooms with Monet’s water lilies and regular museum rooms with mostly 19th/20th century paintings by Renoir, Matisse,  etc. Lots of naked women. On the paintings, not in the halls.

We had to cross the Seine to go the the Orangerie.

To give you an idea what the lilies in the oval rooms look like. I somehow managed to crop out the crowds.

This painting by Matisse can also be seen at the Orangerie

Our last stop for the day was the Orsay museum. Staff made a whole fuss about entrance times, security check, rucksacks etc, so in the end we had about 15 minutes for a visit all in all. I only had time to take a quick snap of this Bouguereau painting of Dante and Virgil in Hell on my way out. Here you can see a good example of the saying: “Hell is where my hat is.” In general I do not particularly like Bouguereau’s paintings but this one is a bit more interesting. The picture here says nothing about the size. The painting is huge (281×225 according to Wikipedia).

This concluded out museum visits of day one. Day two is for the next post.



Styx and Stones


Gnome chair in the park at the Brasserie d’Achouffe

Dit weekend waren we op het jaarlijkse (schoon)familieweekend in de Ardennnen, meer bepaald in een vakantiehuis in de buurt van Achouffe (postnummer 6666), en dus niet ver van de Brasserie d’Achouffe. Het weer was zoals gewoonlijk variabel maar we hebben toch elke dag een mooie wandeling in het bos kunnen maken. Zaterdag deden we er eentje die vertrok aan de brouwerij. We hebben daar zelfs echte Chouffekabouters bij de vijver gezien. Allee, verklede mensen eigenlijk. De stoel hierboven is niet klein maar juist heel groot, zodat je je een kabouter voelt als je erop zit.

Here is where the beer is

Ik wandel graag in het bos. Krijg ik altijd inspiratie van.

De herfst is ondertussen wel begonnen. In het bos stonden zelfs kabouterhuisjes.

Beaver dam

Er moeten daar veel bevers zitten want we hebben een hoop dammen gezien en een grote burcht.

Le Herou. View of the Ourthe

Zondag hebben we een kortere maar spectaculairdere wandeling gedaan bij de rotsen van de Ourthe. Je had er een mooi uitzicht over de vallei. Je kunt er kajakken, rotsklimmen en abseilen maar dat hebben we allemaal niet gedaan. Het weer was er niet naar.

Use the chain to go up or down

In het gastenboek van ons verblijf hadden vooral kinderen de pagina’s volgeschreven. Vooral over hoe leuk de grote tuin was, en hoe ze in het beekje onderaan de tuin hadden gespeeld en geplonsd. Een paar mensen hadden tekeningen in het boek gemaakt van de tuin en het landschap, in balpen en zelfs in inkt.

Maar eentje was toch een buitenbeentje:

Lol. Een gamertje  met veel fantasie waarschijnlijk? Het was maar een klein beekje en Charon heb ik er ook niet gezien.