Tag: Travel

Day 7: Albi

It’s too hot to paint, even for drawing almost. The past few days I’ve been working in my sketchbook, studies for the things I am working on or will start to work on next month. It’s too hot for Caravaggio as well, so that’s for next week. Today I went to pick up a Greek dude I bought in an auction but that’s also for another time. No WIP today, let’s first finish off the last two travel posts. I’ve switched day 6 and 7 around.

On Thursday we went to Albi, known for its ridiculously big brick cathedral. It’s too hot to write large amounts of text, so mostly images hereafter.

I gave up counting the bricks

I wonder how they painted that ceiling.

Looks a bit condescending, this angel

Nothing more uplifting on your wall than a giant apocalypse

Pool party medieval style

There’s people who cuddle cats and there are those other people

Rosy cheeked angel

Saint Cecilia, patron saint of the cathedral, with some relics

Not sure what this is and what happened down there

Monster, no longer in the closet

Lady in the portal with some graffiti on her feet. I was going to write a whole rant about how people have no respect for monument nowadays until I noticed the dates on the scribblings.

There is so much love for you in my heart. Wait, I’ll tear it out, so I can show you.

See you laters, alligators

And sorry, Jesus

Day 5 (II): Penne – Masons & Mouse traps

After our visit to Cordes (see earlier post), we drove on to Penne, another small medieval village. The sight of the castle perched on the rock above the village is quite spectacular.

Again, the streets were narrow and steep so we left the car in the car park and climbed up towards the castle. Along the way we passed the St. Catherine church so we took a peek inside. Per usual, a very dark and medieval looking interior, almost a castle in itself.

The entrance to the church, photobombed by an unknown man.

The church interior

A dramatic head of Jesus and other religious paraphernalia, behind bars in one of the side chapels

Another head, this time above a door

Creative ash tray

Doll’s head in a mouse trap, quirky decoration on the door of a house, mostly interesting because I didn’t know there was a brand of mouse traps called Lucifer. 

Local hero Le terrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrible, some kind of activist and anarchist from what I gather (correct me if I’m wrong)

After paying the entrance fee (6 euros pp) we climbed even higher up towards the castle itself.

Info panel

As you can see, the castle is quite kaputt so it’s being restored

Taking a dump, medieval style

Hey, look who we got here: great great great great… uncle Charlemagne! (there is a saying all Europeans descend from Charlemagne – explains my carrot nose)

The medieval builders are part of the entertainment. They’re busy chiseling perfectly rectangular stones into less perfectly rectangular stones to repair walls.

Life before Fortnite

And with one last view of the castle, this post comes to an end:

Day 5 (I): Cordes-sur-Ciel – Cats are not dolls


On day 5 of our stay in the Tarn et Garonne, we visited Cordes-sur-Ciel. Cordes is a fortified medieval village and was the most important must see of the area according to the travel guides we took along. The village lies high up on a hill and reminded me of St.Cirq-Lapopie but it was much much quieter down here.

Driving through the village is not allowed (and not possible anyway) so we left the car in a car park at the bottom of the hill and climbed up towards the skies.

Main street with all sorts of small artisan shops

Banners in the main street

Passageways underneath houses

Panoramic view from the terrace at the highest point of the village

A house. Zoom in on the balcony now.

Meal or murder? Fairly spooky inn sign.

Mannequins in a window, slightly creepy.

Picturesque street

A curious grotesque

If animals could read…

Shop in the main square, selling all kinds of lecterns and personalised medieval style books and manuscripts. Bit kitsch, ok, ok.

A bad case of pareidolia. I see a surprised face in this. Do you?

Decorative shutter clamp

Time to visit the church:

John the Baptist in a golden fleece. There were many gold painted statues in the churches we visited. They do like bling over here.

Modern painting of Jesus, signed M. Masquin. I have never seen so many Jesuses in one week, nb.

Stained glass window with Saint Sebastian

Then it was time to cuddle the cats:

This pretty cat was not very friendly. When a little girl tried to stroke it, the cat slapped her hand.

This cat was friendly and when I stroked it, it started purring.

But we were not alone. We were being watched by a hidden cat:

After my daily cat cuddles it was time to head on to our next destination, but that is for a new post.


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.



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