Lost In Limoges

From the sheep-dotted pastures of France's underpopulated Southwest, Limoges rises in all its grey glory. The city's claim to fame: fine porcelain. The half-timbered houses of the Medieval center are surrounded by strip malls and McDo. Land-hungry Brits descend with flailing pocketbooks (thanks, RyanAir). The weather is remarkably cool year-round. Sure, I live on rue de Nice, but this is NOT the Cote d'Azur. Welcome to Limoges, "the middle of nowhere"-- or as Pierre says "everywhere"-- France.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

The Medieval Bridge in Cahors

New Year's Day. Nothing could be finer than witnessing the mist rising from the River Lot around the tall towers of the Pont Valentré. Quite the sight to behold. Cahors, capital of the Quercy region south of Limoges, is surrounded on three sides by the bending river, a protected peninsula of sorts. Its fabulous, fortified Medieval bridge stands in testament to the bellicose days of old.

So what if it was raining. And all the town's restaurants were closed for the holiday. (I managed to scrounge up some cheese and semi-stale bread for a makeshift picnic.) I was in history-nerd full form, scoping out the small cross-like slats in the stone parapets and imagining the town's defenders shooting flaming arrows (and worse) from above.

And then I forced us to walk the extra 300 meters to the Fontaine des Chartreux, the 2,000-year old fountain which is a pathetic example of Gallo-Roman glory if there ever was one. (Apparently, that dirty pool used to be the spot for worship of Divona, and archaeologists have uncovered a bunch of Roman coins that were tossed in the water as offerings back during the time of Christ.) The pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela passes above in the green hills, overlooking the town and its 14th century bridge.


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