Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Wordless Wednesday 46

(Photo courtesy of Thierry Jouanneteau. Click on it to enlarge.)

Sunday, January 25, 2009

The calm after the storm

(All photos by Thierry Jouanneteau. Click on them to enlarge.)

I imagine everybody in the expat blogging circles is posting about the storm that hit France yesterday. Here in our part of Aveyron, we experienced a mix of rain, flooding and windstorms followed by a blizzard, leaving in their wake surreal scenes like the one above.

The French media says that 1.7 million homes lost power during yesterday's storm. All trains in and out of Rodez were cancelled. Here in Aveyron, the papers say the lights went out in 17,000 homes at about 6pm yesterday. I noticed the lights flicker at precisely that time...there but for the grace of God...

My husband and I actually had braved the elements Saturday afternoon and gone into Rodez, not really knowing that roof tiles and even major hunks of scaffolding from the cathedral were flying around the city. The BBC reports:

"Another reader, Simon Ritchie, witnessed the damage wrought by the storm in the French town of Rodez.

'This morning, I awoke to the sound of very strong winds and lashing rain or hail,' he said.

'I looked out of my kitchen's skylight window to see scaffolding and sheets or corrugated iron blowing of the adjacent cathedral. One such sheet blew about 50 yards from the tower and landed on a car below, smashing it in completely.'

'People were screaming on the street below, and bits of masonry and scaffolding continued to fall,' he added.

We drove home from town in blizzard conditions, still with no real knowledge of everything that had been happening on le piton, as the town center of Rodez is called.

This morning, things looked so peaceful in our area that no one would have suspected that snow had been whipping vertically against village homes and buildings throughout the previous afternoon.

We didn't get the worst of this storm. We were lucky.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

When the Ship Comes In, Part 2

Well over two months ago, I held my breath and published my last post before the election: When the Ship Comes In. It consisted of nothing more than the first part of the lyrics to the famous Bob Dylan song.

Never had a song spoken out to me more; I had listened to it over and over for days before the election, and it is the one my daughter and I chose to blare out of the car as we triumphantly drove into Rodez the morning after, honking our horn and each raising an arm through the car window into the pouring rain.

At the time I didn't dare post the rest of the lyrics. First, it seemed so appropriate to finish with the line "the whole wide world is watchin'." Second, victory was not certain, and although the whole song uses the future tense, I couldn't quite bear to go so far as "you'll be conquered."

Of course Obama, in his laudable "let's work together" mentality, is certainly a better person than I am, for I cannot shake my rage over what Americans have gone through the past eight years. In spite of all the joy and hope in the USA now, I cannot forget that there were-- and still are -- foes.

And we finally beat them.

Oh the foes will rise
With the sleep still in their eyes
And they'll jerk from their beds and think they're dreamin'.
But they'll pinch themselves and squeal
And know that it's for real,
The hour when the ship comes in.
Then they'll raise their hands,
Sayin' we'll meet all your demands,
But we'll shout from the bow your days are numbered.
And like Pharaoh's tribe,
They'll be drownded in the tide,
And like Goliath, they'll be conquered.
(Extract from "When the Ship Comes In" by Bob Dylan)

Découvrez Bob Dylan!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Wordless Wednesday 44

(Photo courtesy of Thierry Jouanneteau)

Saturday, January 10, 2009

L'hiver à la Gare de Rodez

It was freezing and snowy all over France last week -- even on the Riviera, where snowfall in Provence and the Marseille region stranded thousands of travellers and commuters.

Here in Rodez, we got only a few centimeters of the white stuff on Wednesday, but they came at the worst possible time -- between five and seven pm, right as employees were leaving work AND as alarmed shoppers, who had come into Rodez for the first day of the official winter sales, decided to flee the town center.

That evening, it took me an hour and twenty minutes to do my usual twenty-minute commute, but at least I didn't end up in a field as I had a few years back when the area was struck by an evening snowstorm.

The next day, I didn't have class, so I decided not to risk early morning driving and to go into work a little late -- at least in daylight hours. Since I was in no rush, I stopped to take a few shots of the ever-fascinating Rodez train station.

This is one of my favorite places in Rodez. I hope it will never be subject to a smart modern renovation.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Going, going...Le Grand LeClerc

Yesterday, after an outing to Rodez on a brilliantly sunny afternoon, my husband came home and told me "I took some great pictures that you'll want to use on your blog."

Without missing a beat, I guessed that they would be of the Rodez area's latest destruction site: the old LeClerc hypermarket.

Weird minds think alike, I guess. I couldn't have been happier had he brought home his usual photos of pastoral peace, or crazy countryside scenes.

I myself had almost stopped to shoot several times, as I drive by the demolition scene almost daily. But I hadn't quite dared get up close and personal. In fact, the old parking garage kind of scared me even when it was still in use:

Le Grand LeClerc,
as the locals called it, must have seemed grand indeed when it was built, perhaps in the 1970s. The architecture below is the result of a renovation done in the past ten years, but somehow even the new look didn't cut it:

By the way, neither of us know what that tree is doing there, so don't bother to ask.

And yes, as you can see, tagging and graffiti strike abandoned sites even here in the heart of La France Profonde.

Now grocery shoppers flock to
le Nouveau LeClerc, complete with a mini-mall, a Flunch, and a fitness center.

But apparently the old site still welcomes us, at least for a few more days:

In its own way:

(All photos courtesy of Thierry Jouanneteau. Click on them to enlarge.)