Tag: Tourism

Day 4: Montricoux – Cows, Cats and some Mussels

We went on foot and saw some kamikaze birds in the street  (French people drive like crazy in general. A few seconds later two cars came speeding round the corner and the first one made an emergency stop so the second driver almost collided with him. An argument ensued. The birds escaped unharmed.)

On day 4 we paid an extensive visit to the village of our base camp.  In 2015 there were 1183 inhabitants in Montricoux according to Wiki so as you can guess from these numbers, the village is small but it is very picturesque and quiet. It was a cloudy day around noon so all the shops were closed (siesta hours) and there were hardly any people around. The tourist office consisted of two tables with leaflets and a phone and a set of keys. From this evidence I deducted that a live person is manning the office and that there weren’t many thieves or tourists in the area (despite the warning on the church door claiming the contrary).

According to the guide there is only one must see monument in the village: the castle in which the musée Marcel Lenoir is housed. I will write a separate post about this.

First of all we had a peek around in the church, Saint Pierre de Montricoux. Most French churches are very dark inside so the quality of the pictures is not great.

The square with the austere medieval church. Note the large crowds of tourists.

A statue of Joan of Arc, who is also present in some other churches we visited.

The inside of the church with – amazingly – an other visitor apart from us

One of those creepy glass coffin saint thingies

Skulls on old grave stones

After the visit to the museum around the corner we continued our stroll through the village.

La vache qui rit above a door. The cow is the trademark red cow of a brand of molten cheese, but I assume also a reference to Lenoir (see above) who painted a still life with a box of the famous triangular cheese packets.

Rue de Templiers or Templar Street, but the Templars disappeared a long time ago

There are four cats in this picture. Good luck finding them.

[Solution: cat in flower pot on the left; red cat in the middle and mother cat and kitten on the right]

Potted cat

When we saw a poster for a “Big food market with musical animation”, we made a note in our agenda:

Visions of a lively market with folk musicians and stalls with lots of fresh bread, olives, savoury quiches, cheeses, etc appeared before our eyes. Alas, when the time came, it was raining heavily. So we had to be patient.

Luckily after an hour it stopped raining and we marched towards the village, ravenous like templars and ready to attack the food. When we got there, it was suspiciously quiet in the centre of the village. No location was indicated on the poster but we assumed it would be on the terrace near the river so onwards we marched.

When we finally got there, we saw this:

What? Where was that big food market? All we saw were a couple table with local people eating moules frites. (reminding us of our traditional local “mossel soupers”). There was a small buvette, i.e. a stall where you could buy a drink, and a wagon where moules frites, paella or chicken wings could be ordered. This is France!

The musical animation was a recording. We walked around, not sure what we’d do, and got stared at as if we were curious aliens so we retreated hastily.

Ok, back to the house it was. Luckily we had a plan B and food in the house.

Au revoir!

Day 3: Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val – Rats, Cats and a Serpent

We arrived on Saturday the 14th, the French national holiday, just in time to watch the match for 3rd and 4th place in of the World Cup 2018, not that I am much of a soccer fan. After the match we had a quick swim and ate dinner.  The crickets were very loud. In the evening there were some fireworks for the French national holiday but due to the trees there wasn’t much to be seen.

The next day our first mission was to find food so we went shopping in the supermarket near Négrepelisse. Most supermarkets are open on Sunday mornings. After a light brunch we drove to Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val. It was market day, so quite busy but manageable. Stalls offered the usual French fare: lots of pork charcuterie (not a fan), goat’s cheese (not a fan) and other cheeses (Cantal yum), vegetables and fruits, olives and garlic and artisanal products such as goat’s milk soap made locally (or in China if we have to believe a documentary we saw on French tv about common French summer tourist scams). Not sure who Saint Antonin is but the streets were lovely. I didn’t take pictures of the market, mostly for privacy reasons.

Note: any people you will see in the pictures in this and coming posts are not us but random passers-by. If it is you and you do not want to be here, let me know and I’ll remove you.

Houses at the banks of the Aveyron

On the bridge from the car park towards the centre

Some “couleur locale”

Not sure if this studio is still in business. The pictures were very faded.

Bilingual street signs

Au Lion D’Or, an inn from the 13th century


Adam, Eve and the Serpent on the Old Town Hall

This grumpy cat is not the Guardian of Eden but of a medieval garden. It hissed at us when we tried to pass.

Here Eleven is symbolised by a rat with bags of money, how appropriate, lol. (inside joke)

Another cat, not so menacing this time

In several village we encounterd these book swapping “libraries”, mostly full of French paperbacks, sometimes in other languages.

And this is the last picture of Saint-Antonin.

When we got back we watched the final match of the World Cup. The village we stayed in seemed almost deserted most of the times but that evening there was much rejoicing in the distance. No cars were torched in this neighbourhood as far as I know.

Au revoir.


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 II

Inside the Paris metro

Day 2.

On day two of our Paris field trip we visited the Picasso museum and the Fondation Vuitton.

Some impressions of the Picasso museum:

The hallway of the museum

A Picasso painting.

A watercolour of musketeers by Picasso. 

A typical cubist painting

The visit was concluded with a drink on the rooftop terrace.

After that we went back to the metro for the next leg of our Tour de Paris.

Small piece of street art at the bottom of a building.

One of the remaining old metro entrances

Our next stop was the Fondation Vuitton. The building was designed by Frank Gehry. It was nearly brand new so I’d never been there before, opposed to the other museums we visited. It looks expensive so it’s probably wiser to change vareers and start making suitcases. Inside there were no handbags, just monumental contemporary art.

The building has an intricate lay-out, resembling a ship or an old airplane. There is a small exhibition about the design and building of this museum inside as well.

If you haven’t seen he Eiffel tower, you haven’t been in Paris

The art collection is spread out over different smaller “galleries” (or rooms if you want).

Monumental kawaii art by Japanese artist Murakami

Another painting by Murakami

More monumental art: a replica of the feet of Michelangelo’s David by an other artist whose name I forgot. The 3D printed kittens are not a replica of a Michelangelo. 

Giant inflatable Felix the cat by yet another artist whose name I forgot.

After this we took the shuttle back via the Champs Elysées and the Arc de Triomphe. Very cliché. Just a quick break near the Centre Pompidou and then it was time to catch the train back home.

Over and done.

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.



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