Saturday, August 27, 2016

The Dark Ages Museum

Yesterday we visited the Dark Ages Museum, which had been on our list for a while. Finding the museum itself wasn't easy, especially with an outdated GPS, when all the one-way streets had changed directions since the last time it was updated.

But we finally found it after going around the ramparts of the city of Marle.

This is the church of Marle, at right.

The Dark Ages museum is the result of archaeological digs in northern France, yielding 6th and 7th century gravesites of the Franks. The museum showcases the artifacts that were found, including pots, jewelry, belts, and weapons, along with sepulchers and bones.

Outside, there is a replica of a Frankish village. It was hot, hot, hot, and we had the village all to ourselves. The boys tried their hands at blacksmithing and weaving in the different huts.

On the way back, we had to stop for the hay bales photo op.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Medieval Hilltop City of Laon

Yesterday, despite the heat, we visited the medieval city of Laon. We started with the 12th/13th century cathedral.

We saw interesting items in shops as we walked the streets of Laon.

Who knew you needed to come to a city in Picardie to find a Route 66 gas pump clock?

We weren't successful in finding the cloisters, but we did find this Templar chapel.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Hidden Gem: Prieuré de Longpré

We woke up to this floating over our neighbors' houses yesterday morning.

We were looking for gardens to visit, and remembered the Prieuré de Longpré (Longpré Priory) that isn't too far from where we live, but which we had never had the opportunity to visit before, since it's not open the entire year. Despite the forbidding-looking gate, we got out for a look, and discovered that we had to ring to be allowed in.

We did, and didn't regret it. It was quite warm the day we visited, but the gardens are beautiful, and we were given a brochure that explained the use of the different buildings (but we could only visit the inside of the church ruins and the courtyard, with one open room).

It was a beautiful place to visit; well worth it, and nearby!

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Caverne du Dragon & Vauclair Abbey

My parents arrived last week. We started our sight-seeing tour with the Caverne du Dragon, which my parents hadn't been to before. Here is what the front lines of WWI look like today.

After that, we went to nearby Vauclair Abbey where we had a picnic lunch before going on to see the abbey ruins.

On the way back, we stopped at a chapel and French military cemetery.

Friday, July 15, 2016

Driving from the Mountains to Camp via the Twilight Zone

Everything started out normally enough... cloudy day as we left the Alps.

 Drove through Grenoble. We discovered that downtown Grenoble is very pretty. The last time we drove through Grenoble, we actually drove around the outskirts of town, which are very NOT pretty.

This should have been our first indication that we might be entering the Twilight Zone or some kind of space-time continuum warp. At the time, we didn't think much of it.

But then our roads started looking like this.
And this didn't seem like "the fastest way" (per GPS) to get to camp anymore.

Not exactly a highway.

A "col" is a mountain pass. As in, the kind of roads you see the cyclists take in the Tour de France.
And we took at least five of them, if not more. As we saw the "estimated arrival time" on the GPS grow later and later, we started wondering if we were even going forward anymore.

But at last, we made it! We dropped the boys at camp, said hello to some of the directors and other staff, met some counselors, and then took off for Lyon, after a quick circle around Mont Gerbier de Jonc, near the camp.

Speaking of the Twilight Zone, I was going for a valley view here.

There are farms at the top of the mountain. We don't know if they are self-sustaining, get things delivered by helicopter, or they're just really great mountain-pass drivers.

And... back to the Twilight Zone - this is the road to the gas station.
No, really.

But finally, our never-ending trip did finally end. We made it to Lyon, where we spent the night before heading home the next day. Whew!

If you ever want to visit the Middle of Nowhere, France, we can give you directions.