Archive for the ‘Médoc’ Category

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Took a day out last week to visit the town of Lesparre, primarily to the Tour de L´Honneur. The Tour is all that remains of a 12th century castle which one dominated the area and was in fact English until the year 1453, that same year of the battle of Castillon which marked the end of the 100 years war.

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Lesparre has a huge church, the church (in English) of Our Lady of the Assumption, whose tower hits the sky. Close inspection reveals part of it to be in very poor condition.

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The Tour de L´Honneur houses a nice collection of exhibits from recent and more distant times agriculture, wine making and resin collection. They also have special themed events in the grounds.

My pictures at https://1drv.ms/f/s!Am0w7qp9HCpqhJkSeNGMTu_cibOEHw

The tower is open for afternoon visits (1430 to 1830) between March and October except on Sundays and holidays. In July and August it is also open in the mornings from 1030 to 1230 except Mondays. It is closed at lunchtimes. The exhibits are labelled only in French but there is a brief guide available in other languages.

It is NOT suitable for those with mobility issues. A spiral staircase is required to reach the upper floors and the roof.

Free parking outside. For those without cars it is 5 minutes walk from Lesparre railway station (local trains from Bordeaux) which is also where local buses stop. The town centre, with all the usual amenities, is also about 5 minutes walk.

You can read about it on Wikipedia at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tour_de_l%27Honneur

Visit to Lesparre

Tagged: , , on August 16, 2018 by cubsur51

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As you may know by now, the whole area is littered with them. I took advantage of a couple of cool days to better explore two areas I had not before. The first was up on the hill behind the railway station, amid dense woodland. This was the location of an artillery observation tower and command post plus ancillary buildings. Modern building has encroached on the southern part of the site but, buried in the woods by the water tower, are the remains of several large structures. There’s a map showing them at http://www.forteresse-nord-medoc.org/bunkerologie.aspx
Not all are still there and some are too dangerous to enter, although not fenced off in any way.

To the north of town are the remains of several large complexes including radar stations, barracks and anti aircraft defences. Some of these are in remarkably good condition considering the years that have passed and the violent events that took place in April 1945.

The final liberation on April 20, 1945, was made after 7 days of fierce fighting, in which 380 French were killed and 843 wounded, 937 Germans killed and 3,300 taken prisoner.

My pictures – https://1drv.ms/f/s!Am0w7qp9HCpqhJh5fpg1FO-Q-CYe4A

Bunkers of Soulac

Tagged: , on August 13, 2018 by cubsur51

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It was extremely hot over the weekend, not the weather to be charging around on a bicycle. Just a few pictures from a couple of walks around the town.

The local bees were busy at work.

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Selfish and inconsiderate parking is not just a Portuguese thing! A busy roundabout on the edge of town. So what if the peasants have to walk into the road? Not my problem!!

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About the size of a large dinner plate. Is it poisonous? You poke it with your toe and find out!

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The beach area known as Les Cantines just to the north of Soulac. The cantines are the remains of sea defences built in the 1930’s.

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Looking south towards the buildings at the top of the beach.

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The old defences are gradually crumbling…

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… and in places the sand has covered them to some depth.

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Miscellany from around Soulac.

Tagged: , , on August 7, 2018 by cubsur51

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It is getting hot here, so yesterday I took the rented bike out for a gentle three hours around the village of Talais and the marshes by the river. I chanced upon a large area of blackberry bushes and a lot of the berries were ready to eat. And very nice they were too!

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And a short distance down the road, the vastness of Gironde estuary at low tide. This is the western side, looking north. Just visible, as a speck to the right of centre, are the cranes at the port of Le Verdon.

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Simple pleasure of a blackberry bush

Tagged: , , on August 3, 2018 by cubsur51

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Soulac-sur-mer then and now

I always find it interesting to make my own ‘then and now’ pictures, hunting down what has changed and what has not. The first one below took some doing, as the street name has changed and many of the buildings also. When the first picture was taken around 1900, the street was called Rue du Prince Noir, Black Prince street and yes it is he from English history. It is now called Rue Maréchal D’Ornano after a famous Frenchman of the late 19th century. There is now another street in town called Rue du Prince Noir. That’s actually quite strange to have a street named after him, given he wasn’t actually the nicest of people when the English ruled over Aquitaine and Gascony in his time,  the middle of the 14th century.

He has a street and a pub named after him in Lambeth, London SE1, which I knew a million years ago when I worked in that area.

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The view is towards the ‘Basilica’ church. The modern post office and town hall are beyond the tall building on the left. Almost all the old buildings on the right hand side have gone.

The second picture is Rue de la Plage, the main street through the town centre.

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I will try a couple more in a few days.

Soulac sur mer – a couple of then and now pictures

Tagged: on August 1, 2018 by cubsur51

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No lunar eclipse here, just sunset

The clouds stayed, didn’t see anything. I was still waiting when mosquitoes attacked. It’s the first time I have ever had problems with them hereabouts, but I read this morning that the ‘tiger mosquito’ species is now being recorded in the area. I can confirm that, as I also read, that their bites are more painful than those of the others.

On Friday night, the sky did clear just enough in the right direction for some sunset pictures.

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No lunar eclipse here, just sunset

Tagged: , , on July 29, 2018 by cubsur51

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The northern end of the Médoc, the Atlantic coast near Soulac-sur-mer.

Coastal erosion continues. The sea is inexorably chewing away at the sand. This campsite a little way to the south of Soulac sur mer gets a little closer to the sea every year.

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This house has been teetering on the brink for some years, but is protected from the direct assault of the waves by a huge wall of rock. It looks to have been abandoned.

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Just to the north, the sandy cliff is 50 metres or more back. Those dots in the sea are the remains of one of the many fortifications dating from the German occupation during World War Two. As you can see, they are underwater now even at low tide, showing how much land has been lost in the last 75 years. The tall building shape on the right is an apartment block built in the 1960’s, when it was about 200 metres from the sea. It is now less than 10 metres from the sea. It has been evacuated and is now serially vandalised. For unknown reasons it has not yet been demolished, but the next big storm will probably do the job for nothing!

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Large areas of mud and shingle are exposed at low tide. In some areas there is also a thick layer of a sought after blue-grey clay. I shall try to get a sample.

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The villas in the town of Soulac will last a good while yet. I have the impression that there are more and more empty every year. Since they were built perhaps 120 years ago, they have been handed down through families. I would suspect that they are too big and too costly to maintain for many people. Some are also decidedly weird. This one in particular needs only a black night, some dark clouds and bats flitting around the tower to make a very forbidding picture. Maybe also Morticia standing in the doorway.

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Morticia? Look it up! Those of us of a certain age will know what I mean. Younger ones, go back beyond the Christina Ricci movie.

This area is slowly disappearing!

Tagged: , on July 27, 2018 by cubsur51

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