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The circus came to town.

In France, Médoc on August 10, 2016 by cubsur51 Tagged:

The circus was in town last weekend. A traditional travelling circus, with big top, clowns, acrobats, jugglers and a small menagerie of performing animals. I have to say that the animals weren’t much to look at!

On the morning of the first day, the creatures were let out for some air and for the passers-by to examine. Well, not the lions! There were a couple of manky looking camels, a llama , a goat and some of those ponies that cannot see where they are going. I am not entirely certain what excitement a goat brings to a circus performance!

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Pony

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Three rather indolent lions were let out into an open air cage, where they managed a couple of big yawns and a few scratches, then settled down as all cats do to flick their tails from time to time while feigning disinterest in everything around them.

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A big notice on the side of the cage said that these lionesses were born and raised in captivity and know nothing of the wild. Still have big teeth and claws though!

There was also a rather impressive Scania tractor unit among the many vehicles.

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Coming to the end of my stay in the Médoc

In France, Médoc on August 8, 2016 by cubsur51 Tagged:

8th August, a grey and overcast day  here in Soulac, very humid and a threat of some rain perhaps. A  big contrast to yesterday, when it was sunny and 29C, although rather windy.

There was plenty going on, it being the annual blessing of the sea, music events, a parachute display and more.

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Crowds gather at the top of the beach

Various religious figures and civic leaders intone solemn speeches above the beach. They send a wreath to be rowed out to the waiting boats. Meanwhile, the skydivers come down onto the beach. No I do  not know what this has to do with the sea!

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Skydiver landing Sollac sur mer beach

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A small flotilla of boats receives a wreath rowed out to them.

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The beach was very busy on a bright and sunny day.

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There was even a fly-past of sorts

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Soulac sur mer town hall – Mairie.

The town hall looking suitably elegant in the afternoon sunshine.

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Some more pictures from around Bordeaux

In Bordeaux, France on August 4, 2016 by cubsur51 Tagged: ,

It’s a filthy, horrible, rainy day here in Aquitaine. Here are few more pictures from recent days.

The Cité du vin in Bordeaux
A closer picture. This weird building is open to the public, people were happily eating and drinking in the various upper floors. It’s located on the banks of the Gironde river by the Pont Chaban-Delmas, thus easily accessible from anywhere in the city by tram or bus.

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Bordeaux Cité du vin

The memorial outside the former U-boat base. The inscription reads (my translation!) :

To the memory of the thousands of Spanish Republican exiles who, between 1941 and 1943, took part under Nazi control in the construction of the Bordeaux submarine base in particular those who perished through fatigue, drowning or who were entombed in the deep foundations.

And also to the other forced labourers of several nationalities who worked in this hellish workplace, a place of suffering and sacrifice.

(No proof exists of anyone actually being buried in the foundations, many sources think of this as ‘urban myth’, but we shall never know.)

The Spanish Republicans were those who fled that country after their side’s defeat in 1939 by Franco’s Nationalist forces at the end of the Spanish civil war. As communists, they were not not well thought of and were rounded up as forced labour.

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Bordeaux submarine base memorial

One of the docks inside the vast cavern of the submarine base.  It is now a large pigeon loft!

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Bordeaux submarine base interior

An admonition from 73 years ago. Do not put anything here!

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Bordeaux submarine base notice

The tidal docks (Bassins a Flot) and their associated railways and industries were abandoned as commercial enterprises in the 1980’s, but much of the equipment was never recovered. I spotted this point (switch) lever just sitting there on a scrap of land between a car wash and McDonald’s. Valuable as scrap metal as are the rusting tracks.

The whole area is now the subject of a huge regeneration and rebuilding programme which will run for around 15 years. A new maritime museum is included, due to open in 2018.

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It is still raining hard!!

 

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Some pictures from Bordeaux

In Bordeaux, France on August 3, 2016 by cubsur51 Tagged: ,

Just a selection of five from a couple of recent days out. More soon perhaps.

I didn’t think this was the 1311 to Soulac-sur-mer! Three carriages from the Orient Express are currently based in Bordeaux. For just €530, you can have a three hour train ride and a gourmet dinner in these restored 1920’s vehicles.

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Orient Express in Bordeaux

The roof of Bordeaux’s main station, the Gare St Jean, is being renovated. Any scaffolders among you will appreciate the complexity of this construction. It’s several hundred feet long (the length of a 15 car train), six platforms wide and I think is almost art!

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In town on 2nd August was the cruise ship Sirena. Originally named Ocean Princess, this  completely refurbished ship carries 700 passengers and 400 crew. It weighs just over 30,000 tons, is 181 metres long and reaches 42 metres above sea level. The Pont Chaban-Delmas has to be lifted to allow the ship and others like it to dock in the city centre.

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Staying with the nautical theme, Bordeaux is the location of one of the massive World War 2 German U-Boat bases. Built between 1941 and 1943, this colossal structure resisted all attempts to destroy it by bombing. In one botched raid, several hundred local civilians were killed. Part of the building can be visited, free of charge, in the afternoons except Mondays. Some additional information at http://invisiblebordeaux.blogspot.fr/2011/12/la-base-sous-marine-ghostly-ww2-u-boat.html and as that article says, the coming redevelopment of the former docklands may see some changes, but no-one expects demolition to be one of them!

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Bordeaux U Boat base

Finally, one for the ‘how the hell…’ department. These disused grain silos must be 30 or 40 metres tall, if not more. Did someone abseil down from the top to make their mark?  How did they get up there in the first place? These are in the Bacalan area of the city, not far from the old docks.

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Grain silo graffiti

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Something at last Bordeaux and Plassac visit

In Bordeaux, France on August 1, 2016 by cubsur51 Tagged: ,

Wifi and internet fixed it seems, so I have been able to finish reviewing the pictures I took last week. The first few pictures are of Bordeaux trams, boring for some I know, but I did manage to get a couple of shots of two of the city’s most prominent landmarks from afar.

The bulk of the pictures are from my trip to the Gallo-Roman villa site at Plassac, about 30km north of Bordeaux.

Recently restored and re-opened to the public, the little museum and site offers a glimpse of how the other half lived during the Roman period in France. The villa dates from the 2nd century AD with the last known occupant being documented in 610AD. After that, the villa fell into disuse, was demolished and forgotten until recent times.

The site is on the right bank of the Gironde river, which was wider then than it is now. The area around Plassac was (and still is) an important wine producing area. No doubt some rich Roman set himself up there, to be followed by many others over a 400 year period.

A modern church stands beside the site. One of the more macabre discoveries during the excavations was an early Christian grave cut unknowingly into a mosaic floor. When they found it, the skeleton was still inside.

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Mosaic at Plassac with grave

Although the site is basically only at ground level, the plan of the complex is well preserved as are the water pipes and channels, drains and the two underfloor central heating systems. Aquitaine can be quite cold and damp in winter and no doubt the owners liked and could afford a few home comforts. The remains of a large dining room with ‘picture window’ overlooking the river further attest to that.

The picture album is at https://1drv.ms/f/s!Am0w7qp9HCpqgqVq9RVVOgh6w-ytow

The site can be visited only with a guide. Tours are usually only in French but the staff are happy to answer questions in English. I understand that if pre booked as a group, the tours can be in English.

They show two short videos at the museum, prior to the tour. One shows how they glued the fragile mosaics to a giant carpet like material, rolled the whole lot up and took them away for restoration. A couple of years ago they were brought back and unrolled, where they can be seen today.

Access by car is easy. Head for the village of Plassac, the museum and site are next to the village church, the spire of which can be seen for miles. For those without cars, Transgironde bus number 201 stops at ‘La Poste’ – the village post office – which is 3 or 4 minutes walk. Those buses start from the Bordeaux Buttiniere tram stop in the suburbs, which is why I was there. Villa website with opening times and contact details is http://plassac.gironde.fr/pagesEditos.asp?IDPAGE=82

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Given up on recent photos!

In Computers and Internet, France on July 30, 2016 by cubsur51

The public wifi where I am staying is so slow and erratic that I have just about given up editing photos. It has taken me over an hour just to caption FOUR of mine stored on line while I was in Bordeaux.

Even this small post took  five attempts and 15 minutes to load!!!

I am not paying 6 cents per Mb using my roaming tariff!

Unless I can find a solution there won’t be much new until I return home on 15th August,

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Summer in Médoc

In France on July 26, 2016 by cubsur51 Tagged: ,

I have arrived for my annual visit to the seaside resort of Soulac sur Mer. It is humid and partly cloudy, 27C. The tide was out yesterday  afternoon so I was able to get some good views of the vast beach.

Soulac beach at low tide looking north

Soulac beach at low tide looking north

Soulac beach at low tide looking south

Soulac beach at low tide looking south

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Residence Signal

The views are rather spoiled by this derelict apartment block. It is still awaiting demolition some two years after the residents were forcibly evacuated when coastal erosion was seemed to have rendered the building too dangerous.

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Soulac beach at low tide

To the right of the umbrella can be seen one of the shallow lagoons that forms at low tide. At present this is only a foot (25cm) deep but when the tide comes in, and it does so very quickly, this will soon be four feet (100cm) deep and with fast flowing water. In effect, the tide is coming in behind you. The beach guards keep a close watch for people, especially children, who may be marooned on one of the sandbanks.

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Soulac beach lagoon

This picture, taken a few minutes later, shows how large they become.

 

 

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