Believe in the sound of aum
So, you're enjoying the friendly mountains around Castellane. Suddenly, you spot some grotesque staues. Jesus, twenty meters high, stares right in the eyes of Buddha, equally high. There are more statues like these ones. Welcome to the world of the late mister Hamsah Manarah who was given the birthname of Gilbert Bourdin by his catholic parents.
Bourdin did at least one thing in the Christian tradition: he followed the order of the apostle Paul to research everything and keep the good things. Fact is he went all over the world and studied all kinds of religions. According to his followers, he also kept the good things. He did even more. He picked the good things and assembled them to his own religion, The Universal Religion of the unity of Faces of God. It's called Aumism, after the universal sound aum.
Bourdin build a holy city, Mandarom, near Castellane. Some 50 monks still live there, studying all kinds of religions.
According to a research commission of the French parliament, Bourdins religion is a dangerous sect. Admitted, Bourdin gave reason for this statement. He declared himself some kind of super Messias...
But on many points, the Aumism doesn't look like a sect at al. True, they don't agree with the parliamentary report, but the denials don't go with the usual hell- and doom-wwarnings. Further more, unlike real sects, the aumists are very open. Everybody is welcome to visit Mandarom. You don't have to acknowledge Bourdin as the Messias, as long as long for harmony and fellowship on this earth.
There are some rumours His Holyness should have committed sex crimes, but he's never convicted. One last point: the huge statues. a href="http://www.cesnur.org/testi/Aumist.htm" target="_blank">It is said the Paris Match Magazine once exclaimed: ,,Bourdin may not touched women, he is guilty of raping a mountain for sure.''
Posted by Peter at 07:11 AM [3 reactions]
T-shirt forbidden, animation also banned after bus strike
The Pardon company, producing t-shirts, loves a joke, especially when it's good for free publicity. They got the publicity after opebning a shop in Marseille earlier this year.
Before the opening, Pardon-employees found lots of troubles as a result of a 46 day strike at city bus company, RTM. So, at the grand opening they introduced a t-shirt with a joke. It showed the RTM logo with the letters RTM saying "Retarde Tout Marseille" (Delays all Marseille).
Funny, lots of customers said. Not funny, RTM said. It found a judge to forbid the shirts. In a reaction, Pardon put an animation on its website. Visitors see a RTM-bus with the announcement 'En grève' (on strike) crashing into a bunch of waiting passengers. According to Le Monde, RTM didn't find this funny either. So, they found a judge and had it prohibited. Just curious what Pardon is going to do next...
Posted by Peter at 07:08 AM [5 reactions]
We're going to get help...
Everybody knows: when hiking in the mountains, you should be careful. Weather changes any minute, to mention just one of the many dangers. This is even more a fact on Corsica, that's surrounded by the sea. Nevertheless, we (nearly) all go without checking the weather forecasts.
Three French, who went for a picknick in the woods near Patrimonio sunday morning, do know better now. One of them is still missing, the href="http://tf1.lci.fr/infos/france/faits-divers/0,,3334958,00-corse-deux-trois-promeneurs-retrouves-.html" target="_blank">TF1 tv-station reports.
They were surprised by storm and lost their way as a result of storm damage. One of them could not go on and was left by the other two. Those two wanted to get help. Only after two days and (cold) nights they found other people, but then they weren't able to tell where they had left their friend. Unfortunately, heavy fog made searching the woods nearly impossible.
Update september 29: the Nouvel Observateur reports the missing woman has been found dead yesterday.
Posted by Peter at 07:07 AM [2 reactions]
Those disgusting Gaulish were somewhere else
Those who read the all the famous Asterix books do know: the ancient Romans were dumb brute soldiers. Gaulish are friendly, brave warriors, the last of them resisting the Romans somewhere in Normandy. Apart from the fact the Romans had a different opinion about themselves and the Gallic, at least one point is mistaken: the last Gallic to resist Julius Ceasar were not found in Normandy.
Some archeologists claim they lived at the pittoresque village of Uzerche (Limousin).
Others say the last ones weren't even to find in France; this Gallic tribd lived on the other side of the Alps, in Italy. Romans were strong far away from home, but close to Rome revolting tribes made the situation instable. This only changed when Ceasars nephew Octave, the later emperor Augustus sieged over the Gaulish.
Just north of Monaco there is still a monument, built by order of the Roman senate, to commemorate this fact and the unity of the empire. On this Trophee des Alpes at La Turbie, the names of all the besieged mountaintribes are mentioned. Among them: ,,the disgusting Gallic.''
Long after the Romans vanished, the 50 meters high monument was turned into a castle. The building was destructed however by Louis XIV, who refused to give it to the king of the Savoie. Only a part of the antique Trophee was strong enough to resist this 'Gallic' violence.
Posted by Peter at 07:15 AM [What do you think?]
France, the American way
Of course, you may visit France just to discover, uh, France. However, that's rather predictable. You may also visit France to discover the United States. Visiting Disneyland Paris, if you're ready to wait for all these spectacular attractions.
A surprising way to discover the States in France is to find in the Cevennes area. Randals Ranch is an american farm with cows and buffalos on 300 hectares, where cowboys care for the cattle. They have demonstrations of their American traditions, hoping to attract tourists.
Now who just wants to see American buffalo without the other American stuff, has more options. There are at least 25 breeding stations, for exemple in Seine Maritime, the Limousin, the Haute-Saône, the Jura, the Perigord and the Ariège.
They all want to tell you beautiful stories about their imposing animals. The same for the Domaine du Haut-Torenc. However, there are two things different over here. First: the buffalos are not American, but of an european species. Second: the Americans will be served as meat for people, whereas the Europeans are re-introduced in nature.
Posted by Peter at 07:07 AM [What do you think?]
Cheap fuel in your holiday area
This site already mentioned every month the average fuel prices in France. From now on, you can search for the cheapest fuel in your holiday area directly from this site. On the Oh, oh, on the road page, just choose your county (departement). You will be directed to the right page at Zagaz. Please be aware, Zavaz means gasoil by the words gas and gas+, gpl stands for liquid car gas.
Don't know the name of the county? The first to digits of your hotel or camping postal code form the number of your departement.
Posted by Peter at 11:16 PM [What do you think?]
Liquid gas for cars: no more searching
In the Netherlands, Denmark and Italy, lots of people use liquid gas (called LPG or gpl in French) as fuel for their cars. When they leave for a foreign country, they take a list with gas stations with them.
On French Gas Stations Directory you'll find this list and the prices these stations charge. Now if you own a laptop, you could find a fuel station or a Macdo for your internet connection and search this site. If you do not have a laptop, you could go to an internet café.
But hey, we do live in the year 2006. That's why the directory also offers software to use on your tomtom, your garmin or your pda with gps. It shows the gas stations on the map, with todays prices. Of course, you may compare prices to.
BTW: more and more huge supermarkets are selling liquid gas for cars too, these days. as with normal fuel, they're very cheap.
Posted by Peter at 07:10 AM [9 reactions]
A church looking Moorish
The village is so small you would easily drive by. At first sight, the church isn't much to go for either. However, in these days of tension between the islamitic and the western world, take a break in l'Hôpital-Saint-Blaise with its 77 residents. Their church, a roman one built in the 12th century, has lots of moorish influences. In fact, for that reason the Unesco declared it World Cultural Heritage.
There are the thick walls with the tiny, heavily decorated windows to start with. But above all, there is the modest towers with eight corners. These are the ones you see in Spanish Cordòba...
By the way, this church is in fact a raminant of much larger building, that served as a hospital. It was used to take care for pilgrims, travelling to Saint-Jacques-de-Compostella.
Nowadays, the church is equiped for modern tourisme. Visitors can get headsets for an eight minutes guided tour guided tour. They're available in English and dutch, among other languages. For groups of ten persons minimum they will even have you enjoy a sound-and-light-eevnt, if you're willing to pay. This event also comes in several languages.
Posted by Peter at 07:15 AM [What do you think?]
Wine farmers in Bordeaux not happy with good harvest
The harvest of grapes in the Bordeaux area, that starts tomorrow, promises to be very good. Now according to Le Figaro that's bad news for the wine farmers. They still have lots of unsold wine from last year and even from 2004 in stock.
The problem of unsold wine is so big, a perfect Saint-Emilion is sold in the huge supermarkets at 6 euro per bottle, per maxi-bottle of 1.5 liters that is. ,,At these price levels, one can hardly imagine what an ordinary Bordaeaux should cost,'' a farmer complains.
Is it all bad then in the Bordeaux area? No, it isn't. Four women in the Médoc are leading their chateaux in a new, refreshing way, making good profits. They even welcome tourists during the busy harvest season, just because this is the best period to visit a wine farm.
Posted by Peter at 07:10 AM [2 reactions]
Take a pair of old shoes with you
Do you happen to be in France on september 30? then please take a pair of old shoes with you. Why? Well, just to pile them up with others to form a pyramid of shoes. This event takes place in 39 cities, from Lille to Perpignan and from Quimper to Strassbourg.
This event, that goes with music and street theatre, is a playful, but meaningful protest against the use of landmines. Now, the organizing association Handicap Intern ational doesn't complain about war or the use of weapons in general.
However, armies do not clean up battlegrounds when tyhey leave. Sometimes, milions of sharp landmines are left. The victims or innocent people, most of the time playing kids who don't even know what a landmine is. Until it's too late...
Posted by Peter at 07:16 AM [What do you think?]
Surfing on one leg???
A little while ago, we mentioned the lots of possibilities for the disabled at French beaches. Now, some handicapperd people don't want to just swim a bit. They want the fun everybody else can have.
Well, they can! In the past ten years French surfers have developed special material, enabling thisabled to surf: handisurf!
Special boards give far better stability. Even people who find it difficult to walk may ride the waves. And oh yes, they will fall. Like everybody else.
Over twenty surf schools welcome handicapped people now.
However, there's not a lot of information about handisurf on the Internet. But, the Seignosse surf school offers a documentary with teachers, disabled and their families. According to an instructor, teaching disabled how to surf is a mad mans job: ,,A wave is chaos. It's just not logical to bring a handicapperd person in such a situation.'' But hey, that's exactly why they want it...
Posted by Peter at 07:08 AM [What do you think?]