Mar 31, 2017

Shield Your Family: Gueule d'Amour


The Chateau Fontaine-Henry is really into their family crests, and a visit there gets me thinking: What would our family crest be? The tradition of blazons -- heraldry, shields, crests, coats of arms -- goes back to medieval ages, and possibly beyond. Each color, symbol, and even sometimes the shape has meaning. It's like a language you just haven't learned.

Mar 24, 2017

Curiosity (Almost) Killed the Castle: Le Bajocasse


This is really part 3 of a series on superlative castles: deepest moat (Breze), tallest castle (Brissac), and now the tallest roof in France at Fontaine-Henry. It doesn't seem like it would be a real statistic, but when you see the building, you'll understand. It's like a Mansard roof on steroids. The roof takes up half the building, height-wise. It's not the only charming thing about this castle, which is called a Normand "jewel". And yes, curiosity almost killed this castle.


Mar 17, 2017

Hot Tin Roof: Tomme de Carayac


The city of Paris has asked for its rooftops to be considered a Unesco World Heritage site. And why not? They certainly are something special. Between the Mansard roofs, the tin roofs, the orange chimneys/vents, the dormer windows, the slate tiles, and the oddball shapes and angles, it's hard to mistake this cityscape for anywhere but Paris.

Mar 10, 2017

All Aboard the Bike Train: Brie à la Truffe


Instead of dismantling those old train tracks, why not put them to good use? Thanks to an amazingly vast train network -- and one that has been consistently modernized -- there are old tracks around France that have been turned into Vélorail ("vélo" meaning "bike"). Ours departs from the Pont de Coudray in the Calvados area of Normandy and arrives at the Pont de Brie.

Mar 3, 2017

The Shiny Belly of Paris: Peralous


This is what Les Halles used to be: a market with every food of the season brought into the heart of Paris sold to a seething mass of humanity. Emile Zola famously described is as the belly of Paris, because it was know for all the dirt and vermin that come with a huge old market, and all the vice and crime that come with seething masses of humanity. Zola did not, evidently, have high regard for bellies.

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