Wednesday 30 October 2013

Farewell to Caylus. I'm sad to be leaving as it was
facinating to live in a medieval village and house
for two months. The view of the village and lake
from a hike lookout. This post is just random shots
from Caylus and surrounding area.

Reflection of the Chateau Tower in the Lake.

An extremely weathered STOP sign in Caylus. I think it
suits the town. It was on a back road rarely used.
 Unusual they aren't in French.

Bleeding hearts grow wild everywhere and there
is something about the light in southern France that
makes the blues, violets and purples just glow.

Love those hose down pay toilettes.  I visited the town
Montauban, about one hour away and the bus
cost 17 Euros round trip. Yikes.

A tiny 13th C church perched on a hilltop overlooking the
Bonnette River Valley and surrounding farmland.  It
is a few kilometres from Caylus.
View from the church across the valley to surrounding
 hills. Very lush and beautiful vegetation.

The bar in the Caylus Square "Le Lagardere"
...the hub of socializing.  Good quiche too.

 The aperitif every afternoon after a long one hour
walk/hike.  I was becoming a regular. 

I want one of those above my door!  Such lovely
details that make the houses so magical.

Another car event in the village square.  This time it
was French classics.  Really amazing designs and colours.
These folks were really having fun.  They walk around town,
have some wine and food at the cafe and roll on down
the road to the next village.

Chrysanthemums are everywhere. These are grown and sold
for November 1st, 'The Day of the Dead', so people can
place them on the graves of their loved ones.   It really
brightened up the main street of town. 

On one of our daily hikes/walks, Sue and I
found a little waterfall.

Morning cafe creme at the other bar/cafe in town
on the main street. One of the important rituals of the day. 

Grete, Sue and I at a cafe in Albi before we went to
the Toulouse Lautrec Museum.  There is a parrot sitting
behind me who mades sounds like a champagne bottle opening.
The server was a real character and put this bottle on
our table for the photo op.

View of Caylus from a hike we often took.  My house was
SW of the tower, second house down.  The tower is apparently
full of bats.

Front door lock at Drawinternational.  Each door had
a unique and heavy duty locking mechanism.  The key
to this door is huge.

One of the many mossy passageways in Caylus.

Wednesday 23 October 2013

Cordes Sur Ciel 

We hiked up to the top of the hill to the old city of Cordes
Sur Ciel.  It was build by the Count of Toulouse in 1222 during
the Crusades.  A great example of Gothic architecture and is a walled
city.  It is a thriving tourist city, with lots of specialty boutiques, arty 
shops and great restaurants.  Most were closed when we were
there because the season is over.

View of the surrounding farm lands.

A shop that specialized in the blue dye known as 'dyers woad (wood)'.
From the plant Isatis Tinctoria grown in the area, the leaves are crushed 
to extract this beautiful lavender/blue colour that you see
everywhere in France.  Now I understand.  The chemical extracted is
indigo, but in a low concentration.  Dye merchants in the area around
Toulouse became very wealthy in medieval times until it was eventually
replaced by the stronger indigo traded from the East.

A small starter plant.

You can see the gates of the city.  All the cobble stones
and architecture is beautifully maintained.

Some idiot in a smallish SUV trying to negotiate a 
narrow winding pathway that was built for donkeys and 

Sue and Greta

Albi Cathedral and to the right, the Chateau that is now the
Toulouse Lautrec Museum.  

Formal gardens at the Toulouse Lautrec Museum.  You can
see it sits on the banks of the River Tarn. Stunning.

Henri Toulouse Lautrec

Born to aristocratic parents, decedents of the Count
of Toulouse and Lautrec.  He had a genetic disease 
caused by inbreeding (his parents were first cousins) 
where his legs were very weak and did not grow, resulting 
 in him being less than five feet tall.  He broke both legs as 
a boy and walked with a cane.  He was drawn (ha ha) to the 
wild side of life and lived among the prostitutes of Paris, 
who became the subjects of his entire body of art work. 
He had an amazing ability to capture the quirky characteristics
 of his subjects. He died at 36 of alcoholism and syphilis leaving 
behind a huge collection of work....he was very prolific.  Love 
this picture of him painting himself.

Painting of ladies waiting for clients, looking
resigned and bored.

Toulouse Lautrec was also famous for
his posters.  Timing was right for his work
and the printing press.

The Albi Cathedral was first built as a fortress in 1271 and
was under construction for over 200 years.  It claims to be
the largest brick building in the world.  A good example of
southern Gothic Architecture.  In 2010 it was made a UNESCO 
Heritage Site.  The interior is very elaborate in contrast to
the exterior.

Interior of the Albi Cathedral.  Mind boggelingly? beautiful.
Can you imagine being there when the pipe organ is playing?
A prayer chair!  

Beautiful woodwork and paintings on all the walls. 

Looking to the back of the Cathedral.

Tuesday 8 October 2013

The Cave of Pech-Merle
The dotted horse panel, approximately 25,000 years old, framed by
 six negative hands.  They are 1.60 metres long by 0.90 metres high.

I spent Monday at Pech-Merle Caves and it was the most amazing 
site.  I'm sure one of the wonders of the world.  It is one of the
few prehistoric cave painting sites in France which still remains open
to the public.  Extending for more than one mile from the entrance
are the caverns with paintings dating back to 25,000 BC.  This area
once had a great river flowing through it, cutting underground 
channels which were later used by humans. The caves are
a labyrinth of galleries stacked one on top of another on three levels.
The top two levels are open to the public for viewing.  You have to
go on a guided tour and no photographs are possible, so these images 
have been downloaded from the net, but I saw them all in the caves.

Graceful drawings.
Horse, bison + mammoth executed in charcoal.
Dated 16,000 years ago

Negative hands made with red ochre.

Wounded man.


St. Cirq Lapopie
 After visiting the Pech-Merle Caves, we went to seewhat has been voted the 'most beautiful' village in France.
 St. Cirq Lapopie overlooks the Sagne River valley, perched
100 metres on the hillside.  It was built up for defence in
medieval times. Now there is a population of only 207 and
the whole village is very tastefully geared to tourism. All
buildings have been properly restored. 

Soaking up the sun after hours in the caves.

Notice the angled addition on the roof?  It is a pigeonnier.
People used to keep pigeons in these towers for a food source.
The basements of some homes had livestock, so you had dinner
either in the basement or on the roof.

The old entrance gateway to the village is on the left of the picture.

Medieval style picnic table top!

So beautiful.  The whole village is like a museum.

Looking over the fertile valley and Sagne River with the cathedral 
hanging on the edge of the cliff. Absolutely stunning scenery.

My fellow Artist in Residence friend Sue Walsh from Beacon, New York.
Andre Breton, the founder of Surrealism, used to live here and that
is his house is in the background.  The big rectangular tower on it's roof is
a pigeonnier. 

Courtyard of Breton's house.  He apparently spent summers in 
St. Cirq.

Thank you Andre!