https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kxRGJZydZwc There’s a lot of “hidden” or “lost” history in the deep heart of France. (Did you know, for example, that Clermont-Ferrand – in fact, much of the Auvergne – was ruled for 100 years by a Visigoth king who established his court at Toulouse? ) Today’s destination, the archeological site at Corent, gives us a glimpse into the far reaches of the Iron Age, when the Gauls dominated this part of France – although you’ll need to use a lot of imagination to put the picture together.
Today we are in the little village of St. Saturnin. It’s not always easy for a modern imagination to take in a place like this. St. Saturnin is technically in the “urban area” just 10 miles south of Clermont-Ferrand, but it feels much more isolated. We’re in the Park of the Volcanoes in the wildest region of France, and this is a village with a population that never rose above 1,500. You have to put your imagination into overdrive to picture the spectacle that must have played out in these winding narrow streets when this little town played host to some of the kingdom’s most famous (and notorious) figures. How did they get here? Since at least the 900s A.D., […]
I’ve come to Bourbon-l’Archambault on a market day, which means there’s not a parking place left in town and traffic stops completely while people weave around the cars to cross the street. In fact, I came here to see the Chateau de Billy, the town’s most prominent feature. But it’s quickly clear that the Chateau is in its own separate little village, although effectively merged with Bourbon-l’Archambault. And it’s quickly clear, too, that there’s much more than I’d imagined to this community in the Haut-Allier region of the Auvergne. It all starts with the water – hot and full of minerals, bubbling up at a constant 1310 Farenheit (550 Celsius) from underground volcanic sources at several points. Archeologists here have […]
Whether you’re in Paris or driving through a small town in the deep heart of France, you may wonder about the big gap in the history that’s still visible. There are spectacular Roman ruins, then a jump forward to medieval buildings everywhere, but almost no evidence that anything happened in between; you know there were people living there in the 3rd and 5th and 8th centuries, but it’s as if they never built anything. Today’s post is about someone who lived in that era. (Historians these days are reluctant to use the old term “Dark Ages” because it sounds pejorative and civilization was in a high state of evolution during the period – but as far as the blanks spots […]
It’s that time of year for Americans – the big surge of patriotic celebrations, grilling in the backyard, and summer vacations! As always, it’s a good time for those of us with an affinity for France and the French to remind ourselves that we likely would not have won our independence without the massive support of France in those earliest days of our Republic.Again this year on July 4th, many of us are feeling a little tense and unsettled by the state of our political life – and it would be easy to think that the cloth of civility and civic virtues written into our founding documents is unraveling. Seen from inside the 24-hour news cycle, it’s easy to believe […]