Sunday, 27 November 2011

Avallon - Strolls Around a Pretty Town

Lillian :  Avallon is a really pretty town ... a lovely place to explore.

Audrey :  This photo is from just in front of  L’église Saint-Lazare - lots of really old buildings.

Lillian :  In the background - the Clock Tower & Bell Tower behind it, they were built between 1456 & 1459.  The building in the centre is the House of the Lords Domecy - it was built in the 15thC and has recently been repaired.                     In 2007 it did look rather crumbly.

Audrey :  The Clock Tower has an arch - you walk right through it from the main shopping street.  The Tourist Office is the half-timbered 15thC building on the left  ...  and then you come to the wonderful statue of a Frog. 

I gave the Frog a kiss but it didn't turn into a statue of a Prince.

Lillian :  These beautiful tiles are on the floor of the foyer in the Tourist Office.

 And this mosaic is from Roman times - it is in the Musee Avallonaise which is well worth a visit.

Audrey : The people of Avallon display a quirky sense of humour ...  a fallen stone gets a painted face ... the facade of a house gets a sweet squirrel over the door ...


Audrey :  And there are lots of cats in Avallon - 
Cat in an Attic Window
Pretending to be a tiger in the jungle

Another Cat in another window
Let Me Out!

Lillian :  All that exploring does get rather tiring - we had a sit-down on the doorstep of an old house ...

You were feeling quite tired Audrey.
Double Rhubarb - rhubarb tart and rhubarb glacée
 Audrey : Yes but I felt much better after we had a lovely lunch in the garden at Tearoom Dame Jeanne

Lillian :  The next day we explored some of the parks and jardins.  The massive War Memorial (by Pierre Vigouroux) is at the end of this park - facing L'église Saint-Martin-du-Bourg. 
Just outside the walls - under the Tour Gauchard is the Square Houdaille
And in the centre of town is Place Vauban with the statue of the Marquis - it is by Bertholdi who also created the Statue of Liberty.
 Audrey : It was spring and the gardens were full of flowers - 
Audrey in the Buttercups Ranunculus repens
Lillian and Purple Tulips
In a patch of Bluebells Hyacinthoides non-scripta
Audrey :  You were wearing your new black dress Lillian.
Lillian in her new Little Black Dress

And a Little Blackbird - he sang so beautifully.

Spring-time in Avallon

Friday, 11 November 2011

Avallon - Walls & Towers / Remparts & Bastions

Lillian :  Avallon is a hilltop town with ancient walls & watchtowers & gates - "perhaps 50% of the town's original circle of fortifications are still intact."

A Promenade in Avallon
Audrey : Gates and Tour Gauchard - 1438 ... on the other side of that tour (or tower) is a wonderful Promenade.  So we did - promenade that is.
Lillian :   And over on the other side of those gates - Remparts and the Bastion de la Petite Porte ...

Audrey : When we returned  - this lovely old car was parked there.

Now isn't that just about perfect!

Lillian : It is a Citroen - probably a 1950 Citroen Traction 11BL.  You simply have to love a car with curves!

And of course, that's the Tour Gauchard again.

Audrey : And again - with you wearing your brand new LBD Lillian.

Lillian :  Oh - that's my Paris dress.  Très chic?   But let's have another look at Tower Gauchard - built in 1438.

Audrey : 1438 is such a long long time ago but I rather fancy that Rapunzel lived in a tower just like this one.


Lillian :  Let's see some more towers ...

I'm not sure but I think the tower on the left is called Tour du Chapitre - the one on the right is the Tour de l'Escharguet  (Cowherd's Tower) and yes, it was used to lodge the town's cowherd.  In 1522 the town surgeon, brought in to look after plague victims, was lodged there.
Audrey :  Oh - they locked the doctor in the tower so he couldn't run away?
Lillian :  Perhaps.  Of course our people had visited Avallon before - in December 2007 and they kept saying how different the light was, how all the colours were different ...  We were there in the spring-time and their previous visit was in winter.
Spring-time and the Tour de l'Escharguet
Tour de l'Escharguet in the winter light - Dec 2007

Audrey : Hmm that looks rather cold.  I'm glad we went in the Spring, when the weather was warmer.
Lillian : Spring-time means flowers;  there are lots of plants growing in and on the Remparts (ramparts or walls) many of them were in flower...

Lillian :  The yellow flowers are Wallflowers

Audrey :  Yes Lillian - they are growing on the walls ...   

Lillian :  Which could be why they are known as Wallflowers - possibly Cheiranthus cheiri.  The French call these flowers giroflée or revenell.
Here are some ferns, mosss, lichen, succulents ... all growing in the walls

Audrey : Even the rocks were pretty - lots of salmon and coral pinks.
Lillian :   That's the local granite - Avallon is on top of a granite hill.

Audrey :  All those Remparts must take a lot of maintenance  ...

but we had a giggle at the Warning Sign underneath

Lillian :  D'eboulement does sound (to an English speaker) like a nasty form of torture - it translates to 'land-slip'.

Now let's look at the Bastions because they are all slightly different,

This one is known as Eperon Gally - built in 1591.

Bastion de la porte auxerroise (1590-91)
Bastion de Baudelaine 1404 - 1590  Église St Lazare in the background

Audrey : And finally another pair of photos to show the contrast between the seasons.  These were both taken in the lane-way behind the Bastion de la Petite Porte.  Laneway, rempart, bastion and a little building with a gambrel roof.

Spring 2011
Winter 2007

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Avallon - Carnavallon

Lillian :  It was completely by accident that we were in Avallon on the weekend of their spring Carnival
Audrey : Called ..... .....   CarnAvallon!
Lillian :  The main events were on the Sunday afternoon (it was the week before Easter) when everyone converged on Place Vauban, Avallon's central square.

 Audrey : And they had a Confetti War!  The children were having a lovely time throwing confetti everywhere - it was great fun.

Lillian :  There was a hint of traditional Carnival topsy-turvy-dom about the Confetti War.  Carnival being the one time a year when a society's rules of polite behaviour were abandoned with class & hierarchy turned up-side down - briefly.  Mostly it was the children throwing the confetti and they were taking great delight in showering confetti on the adults - their parents, the obvious tourists, the policeman ... and everyone was taking being confetti'ed in great good humour.

Audrey : Everyone and their dogs ended up with confetti everywhere !


Lillian : Then there was the parade - which started with even more confetti!

Audrey :  First time I've seen a leaf-blower being put to good use!
Lillian :  The local folkloric group Le R'Gipiau wearing traditional costumes, some playing small accordians ...

then they danced - 
  Our stylist was fascinated by those wooden clogs and the thick woolen socks -

Lillian : There were floats ... my favourite was this wonderful kingfisher.  Probably a Common Kingfisher, Alcedo atthis, which is found in France. 
Audrey : My favourite float was the Ratatouille one.

Lillian : There were bands - and they were good! 
Lillian : These trumpeters had a bit of a musical duel.
Audrey : And there were lots of people wearing costumes - the Sun(flower) Kin

lots of Courtiers 


I doubt they had foil balloons of motor-cyclists in the 18thC.

Audrey : Some fairy-tale people  

and performers from the Circus - he was very bwave wasn't he Lillian?

Lillian : Well yes.  Just after we took that photo his horse got spooked and he very nearly fell!

Lillian : Vauban looking down at all the people.

Audrey : Perhaps he wanted to come down and join in all the fun - who was Vauban?
Lillian Marquis de Vauban was born near Avallon - he was a military engineer in the time of Louis XIV.

Audrey : This little girl gave our stylist an idea ...

Audrey :  In Australia we call it Fairy Floss, in America it is Cotton Candy but the French call it barbe à papa.
 Which translates literally as 
Father's Beard  tee hee
Lillian :  The aftermath of the Confetti War ... it was Everywhere!