Sunday, May 25, 2014

Fortresses, Peugeots and Cherries

May 20th
Today we left the Loire River behind and climbed into more forest and mountainous terrain. We were looking forward to seeing the huge fortifications at Besacon which is located on the Doubs River. The river makes a big U and the city is protected on three sides by water and on the fourth side by the La Citadelle. In addition there are seven smaller fortresses surrounding the city and significant walls too. A true example of mideval defenses at their best.

Yes, we did visit some churches too, but lets focus on La Citadelle.
On the way to the fortress we passed by Victor Hugo's home, which is now a museum.  This is where he wrote "Les Miserables".
And we also passed some very old Roman columns standing tall.  
Just up from the ruins we came across this gate, one of many to get to the fortress proper.
After climbing up and up and up, we get to the first ramparts and main gate.
Through the main gate takes you to a long bridge over a ravine.
Today they have baboons roaming around at the bottom of the ravine.
Over the bridge and through another gate takes you to the inside where it is filled with military barracks and all that would be needed to withstand a prolonged seige.
They build this well that goes down more than 450 feet. The round tread mill to the left  was used to lift the water from the well. Two men, sort of like human rats, would walk up the treadmill to winch the water up.
As you can see the walls drop almost straight down to the river.
In mideval times there would be no trees along the slope to the river so that no one could sneak up on them.
Little hamlet across the river.
La Citadelle as seen from the river.
 Peugeot country
Not far from Besacon is the Peugeot factory and this gas station near the plant shows off the then and now.
A fine 1923 Peugeot. At least they would have no problem locating the spare tire at the bottom of the trunk. They probably had to use it more often than we do today.
 And I like the controls - only two knob on the console.
We have fond memories of Colmar from when we lived in Germany not too far from here. My most vivid memory was the incredible cherries bought at the open air market. Unfortunately cherries are still a few weeks away from being ripe. The town is just as "romantic" as it was a long time ago. 

Colmar has done a fabulous job of retaining the old half-timbered building style within the old city. 

Lane after lane of beautiful homes and shops.

Probably the finest examples of this style of architecture in all of Europe.
An intimate little place to eat down this narrow little passage way.
Sigh … I have refrained from saying anything about Blanka's penchant for looking at shoes in every city we have visited, but I can't let this go any longer. Fortunately for me, she has only looked and gasped at the price of some of them.  And how can anyone walk in some of them? Especially on the cobble stone side walks.
Churches in this part of France are built with this lovely colored local sandstone.
It gives them such a warm inviting look.

It was fun just sitting down and enjoying the town, absorbing the atmosphere and remembering the fun we had here with George and Pam some 30 years ago.
Evening brings us to Basel, Switzerland!