Thursday, May 24, 2007

Le Pique-nique at Conflans

We had May 1st (yes, I am a month behind in blogging) off and we took the opportunity to have a pique-nique (it's pronounced the same) at the medieval village, Conflans.

This is a view from below.

At the entrance of Conflans.

Our picnic spread: Egg salad sandwiches, carrot sticks, watermelon, chips, and cookies.
All our kids could think about, though, was the "Special" Coke.
"Special" because they rarely get it.

A nice posed picture.

It was a beautiful day.
The grapevines were blooming.

A view of the town across the river.

Our "stairstep" children

Nice view of the game.
The end.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Haunted House Revisited

We were walking past the house recently and guess what we saw?

No, not the rose bushes blooming...

The shutters were open and the orange colors you see.... are chairs!


Someone is sleeping in the backyard.

Which makes us think two things.


Someone might be fixing the place up



Someone doesn't want to sleep in the house!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

One Cute House

Normally, I wouldn't be attracted to a pink and purple house, but I think I could live in this one. Who wouldn't want a turret on their house?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Haunted House

I have often wondered, as I walked along this road toward the language school...

what kind of stories this old gate would tell, if only it could?

This old house is the only one I've seen in the neighborhood that is in such disrepair.

It's in a prime location to downtown shops and restaurants.
Just blocks from the train station.

It has beautiful architecture and details you could never find
on a contemporary home built today.

It even has a guest house on the property.

So, why would someone just let it go like this?

The rumor is...

it's haunted.

Why would someone let a valuable property go
just because someone else might say it's haunted?

Well, the story is, that it was occupied by the Nazi's during World War II.
I assume that means it was stolen and it makes me wonder if it was owned by Jewish people prior. But I don't know those details. I do know that there were Jewish people living in this town at the time of the occupation because there is a plaque about two Jewish students who were taken from a school here and shipped to concentration camps.

Which is why I wonder about it every time I pass by.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Where's the beach? (Day 3)

Day three we woke up in Aix-en-Provence.

It only makes sense since that's where we went to bed.

What could possibly capture the attention of three boys like this?

No surprise there. Especially since they haven't seen a TV since they were in Scotland. Nothing like Scooby Doo in Italian to keep children occupied.

Then we went to visit a school Mr. French was interested in.

Then we left.

That's pretty much all we did in Aix. It's a shame but we just didn't have time for more, since this was our last day and we still wanted to see the coast and the Mediterranean Sea.

Then we ate at McDonalds. Again. (we were too ashamed to take pictures again.)

Driving to the coast.

Mr. French took all these pictures.

Searching for treasures.

J contemplating the water. I was surprised, but my fearless 2 year old was a little afraid of the water at first.

Not for long though. You may be wondering why we weren't wearing swimming clothes. First, it was still pretty cold. Secondly, I had decided that changing into swimming trunks would just encourage them to get wet, because you see, that's not the point of going to the beach in the spring. No, the point was just to see it and walk around and enjoy just the aura of beachness that is, well, the beach.

What was I smoking when I came up with that plan?

Like that was ever going to happen.

But I enjoyed myself anyway. :) (Notice how C has his wet shorts hiked up to keep them from getting wet. Seems like the same kind of logic I had going on with the whole don't-bring-swim-clothes-to-the-beach-and-they-

A parting shot of the beach.

This is the first picture Mr. F tried to get...

and this is the last.
You can see why we don't spend money on professional photography anymore.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Where's the trip? (Day 2b)

Back to Aigues-Mortes and the Tour de Constance.

This was probably the least planned part of our trip. No, wait. Going to the beach the next day was also not well planned. This is how it usually goes for us, anyway.

This is a shot on our way up the street, heading towards the tower. There are little businesses and homes all along the way. It's hard to picture, and I have more shots coming up, but imagine a 13th century wall surrounding a little "modern" town. I say "modern" because everyone has indoor plumbing and electricity and cars etc. but they're still living in houses that are much older than they are.

This was my favorite doorway. It was a little bed and breakfast place. (Something to think about when you go!) I loved the colors especially, but the whole effect was very appealing to me.

Here's a picture of the wall next to the tower.

And here is a picture of me changing J's diaper. (I had to put that in.) As an aside, when we got home and saw the pictures, I asked Mr. French why he took a picture of me changing a diaper. He said it just seemed apropos. It was probably some guard's post hundreds of years ago and here we are changing a diaper.

I also loved this little restaurant and we didn't even eat there. It didn't open until later anyway. I just like the shutters and the tables and chairs and the little potted trees...I said to Mr. F that I wondered if we could recreate this in our next place. He said, "Would you really want that many tables? Seems like too many." Uh, yeah.

The boy's running into the tower over the bridge that goes over a green moat!

This is the ceiling in the first "room".

This will give you a better idea of what you're really looking at. The second room housed the women Huguenot prisoners. Notice how thick the walls are! In the center of each level's floor is a round opening. Now, it is securely covered with a plexi-glass-like covering, but on the second floor there was a large stone that seemed like it could fit over it. I'm not exactly sure what it was used for. At the very bottom of the tower you can see a much smaller room with only one opening. It was at one time (I forget the year) used as a "dungeon" for some soldiers someone wanted to get rid of. They found the bones later.

Here's a model picture of the walled city.

This is the small tower on the very top of the tower which is completely open to the elements.
As you can see...

Nice. More great pictures for the "newsletter".

Great view though.

This looks like some sort of miniature town, doesn't it? I can't believe people get to live in a medieval village. In. Real. Life.

Another view, just to the right of the last one.

We don't have a panoramic option on our camera, but we've still giving you the panoramic view! Free!

Then it's down the long winding stairs to the second room. (We took the elevator up to the top first.)

J looking down at the beautiful green water below. This was actually first used as a prison for men (not originally-in the very beginning it was just used as a fortress and housed artillery and whatever else fortresses are used for. It was used as a prison for the Huguenots around 300 years later in the 1690s.) but when all 38 or so of them escaped after spending months cutting through one iron rod and then climbing down with a rope made from clothing and swimming through the beautiful green moat. (I don't know if it was green back then though.) So their reward was to make it into a women's only prison. Then they either killed or enslaved the men on galley ships.

A view of one of the windows. There was a fire place in the room, but the windows were just covered in iron bars, so the wind whipped through. The day we visited was a fairly nice day with sunshine, but the wind was cool and we could really feel it standing in there.

Some of the signs, relaying the dates and history.

A record of the last remaining prisoners, but by no means all of them. The most famous prisoner was the young 19 year old Marie Durand. It is said that when she was brought here she breathed hope into the many that had already been in for years. She was a newlywed of a few months when she and her husband were arrested. Her father had been arrested a few months prior and she never saw him or her husband again. She stayed in this prison for 38 years. Almost her whole life. A most remarkable story of faith and perseverance.

She is the one who carved this: R E G I S T E R in the stone. It means RESIST!

But we just couldn't resist this:

C'est Bon!