Saturday, November 29, 2014

Off the beaten track, watching autumn fade into winter

Two "animules" who were more than happy to pose 

Since my day off in late October when I decided to drive down a road seldom taken and drag my camera out of my purse, I have made several forays off the beaten track.

Last Sunday morning, a drive to the village recycling bin somehow led me to turn down side roads that I have never even thought of exploring in nearly 20 years of living in Gages.

The exploration was worth it if only for these two young donkeys who were sweet enough to be photogenic for me. 

A peek down a little-used railroad track

A couple times a day, a one-car regional train travels down this track on its way to and from Rodez and Sévérac-le-Château, about a 50-kilometer trip. I have seen the train go by and it is usually empty. There are quite a few buses that cover the same route, so I have often wondered how this particular train has managed to stay running when many other lines have been shut down. I have also often thought it would make a great commuter line.

So near, yet so far from my house

When I told my husband about where I had gone exploring, he said "Là, c'est un autre monde."  Standing alone in front of this vast field, it was hard to believe I was only a few kilometers away from housing-developed Gages-le-Haut, the part of Gages-Montrozier where we live.

A tree-lined trail for future exploration

There are lots of paths in Aveyron where one is not really sure whether they are made for driving or walking. I felt like driving down the rather wide, pebbled "road" on the left, but thought I might get into some sort of car-related trouble. So I refrained.

These photos were taken a week ago, and show some of the last vestiges of autumn color around our parts. 

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

TJ Tuesday 1: An agricultural tool unknown to me

Photo courtesy of Thierry Jouanneteau

I call this blog "La France Profonde," or, approximately, the heartland of France. 

But  I don't get into the heartland nearly as much as my husband, whose job leads him to visit many of Aveyron's numerous farms. 

He has travelled over backroads that I will likely never cover, and he has taken photos of places and objects that I may never see.

And he knows the name for things  that I will never be able to identify -- like this agricultural implement, for which I can't find a word in French or in English.

"Wordless Wednesdays" are nice from time to time, but I also hope to introduce "TJ Tuesdays" to share some of my husband's photos. 

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Late Autumn Stroll in Bourran, Rodez, Aveyron

Most Ruthénois would not recognize this park in the Bourran business district

We have had a return of warm weather -- to my taste, a bit too warm for November. But it did allow me to get out on a late autumn walk during one of my lunch breaks last week. 

Getting away from it all only a few blocks from my workplace

I work in Bourran, the "new" business district of Rodez. It's actually not that new anymore, as I think construction started there about 20 years ago, right before I first moved to Aveyron. But at that time, it only had a few buildings. Now it is covered with businesses and apartments, and somehow more seem to crop up all the time.

There is a little haven of peace in this area that I only discovered last spring. A bit below the hospital, somebody had the wherewithal to create a nice little park. Most of my colleagues don't even know it exists. I don't know if it has a name or even when it was built, but it is a lovely place for a picnic or just to clear one's mind.

The cathedral appears as a distant detail

This view of Rodez, taken from the park,  will surely never be used on a tourists' brochure!. But it gives an interesting perspective on a city that can't be reduced to its historic sites and the new Soulages museum.

I actually quite enjoy working in Bourran, which has quite a few decent to excellent restaurants, as well as really friendly shopkeepers.

Back to work....

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Pieces of Paris 2 -- Galerie du Jeu de Paume

A quick view of the Jeu de Paume Gallery as we were waiting in line, until our daughter bought tickets with her iPhone

Despite a lazy morning and having to leave Paris a bit after 2pm on Sunday, we were able to squeeze in an exhibit at the Galerie du Jeu de Paume. 

Looking up from the entrance hall

I'm a bit ashamed that I hadn't been there since its impressionist museum days, and downright embarrassed to admit I was only very vaguely aware of its tranformation into a contemporary art gallery (in 1991...cringe...)

Sunday gallery visitors heading down to the bookshop 

This place has definitely been done up right. It was a grey day, but the open spaces were still flooded with light. 

I like the idea of inventing the possible, but we didn't have time to go to the video area. I guess we weren't able to invent that possibility.

What we did get to see was this exhibit, now transferred to the Jeu de Paume, of the American photographer Garry Winogrand. 

The Met site for the show explains: "While Winogrand is widely considered one of the greatest photographers of the twentieth century, his overall body of work and influence on the field remain incompletely explored."

It has certainly been completely unexplored by me! I somehow had never heard of this most intriguing American photographer, and frankly didn't recognize any of his photos. But they were fascinating, depicting American life in New York, California and other regions in the 60s, 70s, and 80s.

Another exhibit, another discovery...

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Pieces of Paris 1

Paris was looking a bit on the bland side this morning, I'm afraid

One of the reasons I cast this blog aside 4 years back was that I felt my life was increasingly happening elsewhere than in Aveyron.

One of those elsewheres has been Paris.

Exquisite Sunday morning calm today near L'Eglise de la Madeleine

I started to go up, or as they say here in Aveyron, "monter à la capitale," for work in 2008. 

Just 3 or 4 times a year for meetings: sometimes with an overnight stay in a slightly ratty hotel; sometimes doing an exhausting round trip the same day, during which my biggest "Paris experience" was a quick glance of the Arc de Triomphe as I emerged from the RER, in great need of the morning's fourth coffee.  .

La grande roue, looking less than grand under grey skies
Then in autumn 2012, our eldest daughter moved there, giving me more occasions to reconnect with a place to stay, which is not to be spat upon! 

From the start of my expat experience in 1990 and until 2008, I used to sorely regret not getting to Paris that often -- maybe once every two years at best.

Since 2008, it would be safe to say I have gone up at least 25 times.

But they are always short stays, giving me the impression of experiencing Paris in bits and I did this weekend, and as I will share with you this week.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Monument aux Morts/Monument to the Dead

The Veterans' Monument -- or Monument to the Dead -- in my village

Other than the battlefields themselves, there is certainly no more sobering reminder of the great human loss that France suffered in World War One than the Monuments aux Morts that one can find in every town and village.

When the girls were younger, I used to take them to the traditional ceremony that is held around the monument on the morning of November 11th. In the mid-90s, Gages-Montrozier still had a WWI veteran who proudly attended.

At least in small towns, these ceremonies include a reading of the names of all of the dead. After each name, the attendees say "Mort pour la patrie" or "Died for his country." It is all very solemn, almost like a mass.

Then there is often some sort of gathering, for example a "vin d'honneur," or ceremonial glass of wine. This is France, after all. 

I am quite fond of our village's memorial.  The soldier is beautifully sculpted, and despite the reference to the "glorious dead," he conveys sadness and mourning rather than the glory of victory.

What is bone-chilling when visiting these monuments is how very long the WWI list is, and how many double, triple or even quadruple names you find, even in small villages.

Two "Daladoire, Falguière, Junelle"...and many more doubles.

Three "Bessière." 

Morts pour la patrie.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Intriguing finds in Gabriac, Aveyron

What is this ad for? 

Two Fridays ago, I took a much-needed day off. The weather was extraordinary, and on my way back from the market in Espalion, I took the less-travelled road home.

It's the sort of thing I used to do: get off the beaten track that, for me, consists of driving back and forth from my bedroom community to Rodez, 5 times a week for work and once or twice over the weekend.

The road less taken took me through Gabriac, a community of about 450 people that used to be a bustling crossroads town. Now it is pretty quiet; this old "Manitou" was about the only thing on the road.

Manitou -- it's a brand, but I've heard people use the word as a synonym for forklift. 

I was thinking of getting lunch, but found out that the Hôtel Bouloc, which I used to hear a lot about, is now closed -- and apparently has been for a while.

The building still proudly displays all of its "Petit Futé" recommendations, going up to about 2009, and the Petit Futé site still shows a bright, attractive establishment with a lovely pool. 

I guess Le Petit Futé needs to get back to I did that morning.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

The church of Gabriac, Aveyron

L'Eglise de Gabriac
October 31, 2014

This splendid yet little-reputed church is just miles from my house, yet I had never even noticed it. Perhaps I had never even driven past it. 

So many beautiful places so nearby; so many reasons to start this blog up again!

And so much to learn about the Blogger platform that I haven't touched for several years now!