A fence around the top Mont-Blanc
The phenomena is well known. Climbing the Mont-Blanc is like being in a traffic jam. 25,000 people try to every year.
It's enough now, says the mair of Chamonix-Mont-Blanc in L'Express. Most of the climbers do not show any respect for the environment. They think it's normal to leave their garbage in nature. And with new tourist floodsfrom Russia, China and India coming up, it's going to get worse.
So, he wants to limit the the numbers by a reservation system. Further more, every climber must be accompanied by a certified guide: If such a system is possible in the Himalaya and the United States, why not in France?.''
Posted by Peter at 07:12 AM [5 reactions]
Just ring before visiting the maker of the bells
Those who have been in the mountains can dream the sound of cow bells. In Nay, a tiny village at the feet of the Pyrenees, Jean Daban doesn't have to dream. He makes them every day again, just like his ancestors did starting in 1795. Bells for sheep or horses are no problem either.
In modern days, you may order the bells online. What the website doesn't tell, is that Jean happily shows his workshop and tells about his craft. They told so in the local tourist office, which is not to find on the Internet, but in a remarkable renaissance house at the Place de la Republique.
Jean recieves guests on Saturday afternoon and Monday after. But please, make a call first, because he welcomes you on appointment only. The number: 00 33 - (0)5 59 61 00 41.
Posted by Peter at 07:12 AM [What do you think?]
Sailing without waves
You like to sail on the wind, but you hate the waves? You're one of those they invented sandyachting for. For about 22 euro you can have a 2 hour stage in Le Touquet, Dunkerque, Berck or Marck, enough to learn to drive yourself.
But hey, you want to see how much fun sandyachting can be first. You're most welcome in Le Touquet, where the world championships sandyachting 2006 will be held from september 23 till september 27.
Posted by Peter at 07:11 AM [What do you think?]
Curious for a crocodile belly
Crocodiles do have an odd habit: they never lay on their backs. So, the usual zoo visitor only gets a look at one side of the prehistoric animal.
Not so at the crodile farm in Pierrelatte (Drome). What's kind of usual in a zoo sea aquarium, is applied here under a crocodile cage: a tunnel constructed of glass. Now we may finally admire the beauty of a crocodile belly.
By the way, don't expect much action in Pierrelatte. Most of the time, the animals lay lazy on their bellies. They only move (fast) when they get their food.
But hey, there's more then just crocodiles. Since a few days, they even have giant water lillies. the leaves, some of them two meters wide, can easily carry a child.
Posted by Peter at 07:22 AM [What do you think?]
Another special bridge, in Rouen this time
They're doing it again, the Eiffel people who got their name from the man that build the famous tower.After the Millau Bridge they're now building another special bridge. A new bridge over the Seine in Rouen will be Europes largest elevator bridge, as Le Moniteur reports. France 3 shows how the part that will be lifted is placed (1300 tons) width millimeter accuracy.
The new bridge is meant to be used by log-distance traffic on north-south trajects. It will be opened in 2008.
Posted by Peter at 07:16 AM [What do you think?]
'You don't put Flipper in a delphinarium'
The safari park Planète Sauvage near Nantes will be extended with Europes largest delphinarium. At least, that's what the park wants. Lots of groups fight the plans, claiming the mammals should not live in captivity. They're supported by a remarkable man, as Libération reports: Ric o'Barry, the man who trained dolphins for the famous Flipper tv-series. ,,The dolphins will suffer. No concrete box is big enough to house them,'' he states.
Fact is, the sea is the natural environment of dolphins. Now you may spot them there. Cote d'Azur based companies like Peche au gros and ActiLoisirs offer dolphin sapharis. If you're willing to spend a day and a few hundred euro, you may even swim between Flipper and his mates.
If you find them, that is. From the stats on the Actiloisirs website, we deduce lots of excursions were carried out without finding dolphins. Sometimes potfish or finfish pass by. Again, you must be lucky. But hey, this is nature, not a delphinarium.
Posted by Peter at 07:10 AM [1 reaction]
Sailing on canals only allowed in groups
For the time being, sailing on French canals is only allowed in groups. That is, you may sail without the company of other ships, but at the many locks you will have to wait till others arrive. The French channel-authority VNF has decided only groups of boats will be locked through.
TV-station France 3 reports this is necessary because of the continuing dryness. The water level in most canals is very, very low. The French have special lakes to supply the channels with water, but these lakes are nearly empty.
In many canals the draught is restricted. The canal-harbour of Epinal can not be reached at all.
Posted by Peter at 07:15 AM [What do you think?]
Eurodisney isn't (always) a fairy-tale
Eurodisney isn't always a fairy-tale. For instance, since sunday the parks 45 photographers are on strike for better wages. The CDTF Union says their wages are just at the social minimum, sometimes even lower, reports Nouvel Observateur. According to Le Figaro, social conflicts are mounting up at Eurodisney.
Meanwhile, the union has another problem with Eurodisney. The Molly Brown, something like an old Missisippi boat that used to sail Lake Frontierland, suffered from a fire last year. According to the CDTF, the boat is rotting at the Quay of Being Forgotten ever since. Rapair is more important then the boat alone, the union claims: ,,Exploitation of the entire park is the only guarantee for a goof future.''
Posted by Peter at 07:16 AM [3 reactions]
Handicapped on the beach: ask for a tiralo and a handiplagiste
So, walking is hard but you want to enoy the beach and the sea? No problem in France.
Lots of beaches are labeled Handiplage. On these beaches you mostly find adapted toilets and special 'roads' for wheelchairs. Now you're on the beach, but you want to get into the sea. Still no problem. The French invented the tiralo, a special wheelchair on very thick tires. It's pulled into the water and you may easily get out of it to swim in the waves. Nobody to pull it or to have an eye on you while you're bathing? Just ask for a handiplagiste. This volonteer is not only a well trained swimmer, he (or she) also learns how handle all kinds of handicaps.
Posted by Peter at 07:15 AM [3 reactions]
A living castle in the Loire area
Plenty of castles en palaces along the Loire river, that's not the problem. As the competition is heavy, many of them offer special things, like a perfume or an angling museum. But most of tbem have one thing in common: you're welcome to watch and admire, but certainly not to touch anything.
Not so in the château de la Ferté-Saint-Auban. This castle may be small compared to famous names like Chambord, Sully and Amboise. The owner, Jaques Guyot, kindly invites you to play billiards or to sit down in the antique chairs.
By the way: in the gardens of the castle a railway station from 1930 has been rebuild. A steam locomotive and two wagons are added. Of course you're welcome to sit in them. Just don't expect the train to move.
Posted by Peter at 07:16 AM [What do you think?]
Crisis: lavender is dying in the Provence
The Provence area is famous for its fields filled with lavender. At least, it still is. The well scenting plant is disappearing fast, if we may believe lavender farmers. They're crying out loud about the health of the lavender. The past dry years weren't good at all to the bushes. The severe last winter was bad for the lavender, as was the following dryness in spring in summer. Above all that, a disease kills lots of plants, taking profit of the weak condition of the lavender. It is said half of all lavender bushes has died already.
Now of course farmers may plant new bushes, but it takes three years before they've grown enough to give a good harvest. Meanwhile, the farmers ask for support from Paris and Brussels.
Posted by Peter at 07:16 AM [1 reaction]
The trail of Henri Matisse
Those wanting to follow the trail of painter Henri Matisse, prepare for a long journey (even without his foreign trips).
He was born up north in the tiny village of Cateau-Cambrésis, not far from Cambrai. Until then, this village was only known for a treaty that (way back in 1559) made an end to a 60-year lasting struggles between France and Spain. This treaty turned out to be so bad for France, the French hardly ever mention it. The status of being the native city of Henri Matisse is much more important to the village. Matisse himself happily agreed with the use of his name as a marketing tool, offering the village a museum with his own work.
By then, he had long left Cateau-Cambrésis. For a long time he lived in Paris. He studied at the national school of fine arts. This school is still to find in an old wing of the Louvre Palace. Later, he became one great name of Fauvism, an art group that used expressive colours to show freedom. It was inspirited by Van Gogh and followed by Cobra.
In 1917, Matisse moved to Collioure at the Cote d’Azur, a place he had already visited lots of times. Lots of artists would follow him. A museum for fine arts and a fauvism-trail still remember those days.
A few years later he moved to Nice, where he would live till he died in 1954. The local tourist office is very happy to show where he hang around. No surprise: Nice has a Matisse Museum too.
Posted by Peter at 07:22 AM [What do you think?]
Bombayses de Lille
So you've had a great party? The one problem with great parties is you want more of them.
So, the city of Lille really enjoyed being the European Cultutural Capital in 2004. Sad enough, in 2005 the city found the party was over.
Now, they're planning to organize a huge festival every two years, at least until the year 3000.
This series of events starts this year, october 14th, being dedicated to India. First, there will be a long, carnavalesque party parade, followed by three months loaded with exhibitions, theatre, musi, refurbishing of the streets and new surprising activities in empty indrustial buildings.
By the way, in Lille they are already planning the 2008 festival. It will be dedicated to Eastern Europe.
Posted by Peter at 07:20 AM [What do you think?]
The Notre Dame in Paris to find at Square John-Paul II
The famous Notre Dame in Paris is to find at Square John-Paul II from september third. The mair of Paris will rename the square in front of the church, watched by catholic dignataries.
However, according to Le Figaro the church will not speed up the process of beatification of the popular Polish pope, who died last year.
Lots of catholics feel this should be done inmediately. Among them, some nuns in the Paris Chapel of Our Lady of the Miraculous Medal. The pope visited this place at Rue du Bac, where Mary should have occurred in 1830, when he was just elected in 1980.
Posted by Peter at 07:13 AM [What do you think?]
Painter Vincent van Gogh made the Dutch famous for eating potatoes, but it were the French who made the potato popular. Pharmacist Parmentier, who worked for Louis XVI, fought against the prejudice that the potato would be poisonous. He planted potatoes around Paris and used the army to guard them. Now the people started to believe something so heavily protected should be worth a lot.
Nowadays, there's not a lot left to remember Parmentier. A mall tomb at the Père Lachaise graveyard, a subway-station with his name, that's about it.
However, on a French menu you may still find a hachis Parmentier: mashed potatoes with onions and minced meat from the oven.
Supertoinnette gives the full story about the potato and lots of recipes.
Posted by Peter at 08:00 AM [What do you think?]
The other miracle of Lourdes
Lourdes will allways be associated with the occurrances of Mary. However, Lourdes wouldn't be Lourdes without another miracle long ago.
Coming to Lourdes, you will see an old castle on top of rock. It doesn't take lots of imagination to realize in earlier days this was a vestige hard to take. Charles the Great tried it with a siege way back in 768, when the rock was occupied by Moors. When an eagle dropt a fish from heaven, their leader Mirat sent it to Charles to show he had enough food. The king of the Francs on the other hand proposed Mirat to surrender, not to him but to the queen of heaven.
Miracle #1: Mirat agreed and layd down his weapons.
Miracle #2: Mirat confessed to christianity and took the name of Lorus. This name was given to the village too and during aged changed into Lourdes.
Whatever part ofthis legend is true, fact is you may now visit the castle in peace. In it, you will even find some roman parts. The castel is now the home of a regional museum.
Posted by Peter at 07:14 AM [What do you think?]