For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move. ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON

Monday, 24 October 2011

Berlioz And Jongkind

Bidding goodbye to Roland and Elizabeth, I regained the Way - which headed first through woods then along country roads. Suddenly out of the mist came a procession of grey-clad nuns, their leader carrying a large cross. It was surreal - like a scene from some Bunuel film. I greeted them, and they smiled timidly, but said not a word. Perhaps they were a little shy of talking to a tall, unshaven stranger? In the fog I must have seemed like a startling apparition to them. Later someone told me that they were completely lost! I wonder if they had been trying to get to Rome which, according to this sign, was only 0.2 km away...


By noon the sun was blazing down again, and I had a beer in the attractive, typically French commune of Le Grand Lemps. It was market day and the streets bustled with life. I love French markets, so I spent quite a long time there soaking up the atmosphere and buying some bits and pieces for lunch. At a cheese stall I pointed to a small round of local cheese. 'I'll take that one,' I said. The stall owner - a bohemian-looking girl with nose studs and long, braided hair - asked if I was a pilgrim. When I said yes, she insisted I took the cheese without payment...

This sign on the road out of Le Grand Lemps reminded me that the famous composer Hector Berlioz was born in La Côte-St-André, my day's destination...


This is the approach to La Côte-St-André. You turn left at the castle on the hill and approach the town through a maze of stone staircases and alleyways and these formal gardens until you emerge at an old, timber-framed market hall...


This lovely hotel, the Hôtel de France, was beyond my budget, so I stayed at the cheaper, delightfully eccentric, pilgrim-friendly Hôtel de l'Europe instead...


La Côte-St-André was the home of Dutch painter Johan Jongkind. He died here and lies buried in the cemetery. Jongkind was a forerunner of Impressionism and influenced Claude Monet...

8 comments:

Ruth said...

You mean you didn't stop over in Rome??

The nuns remind me of the three nuns in wooden clogs Fermor encountered just before leaving Holland.

These recollections of yours are heavenly.

The Weaver of Grass said...

Why does French scenery look so much more inviting than the British equivalent? Is it just the sun or something more?

The Solitary Walker said...

Every travelogue has to have a nun encounter, Ruth. It's obligatory.

It's an indefinable je-ne-sais-quoi, Weaver Pat.

George said...

A veritable feast of pleasures that one so often finds in rural France. Love the story about the young woman who honored your pilgrim status by insisting that you take the round of cheese without paying for it. We always remember the unexpected kindnesses of strangers.

The Solitary Walker said...

I so agree with you, George. These 'kindnesses of strangers' really do touch my heart.

Friko said...

The things you learn when you are reading blogs and others have done all the hard work for you.

Those nuns, perhaps they weren't allowed to speak to men.

Suman said...

Another impressive combo of pictures and description. Loved the little cheese story too, so very heartwarming.

The Solitary Walker said...

Thanks, Friko and Suman.