It’s easy enough, when you’re bouncing around the deep heart of France, to experience this remarkable country in fragments, to imagine each castle and medieval abbey and little village existing in deep isolation, each tucked in its own private corner and invisible to the rest of the world. It’s easy to experience the country as Graham Robb describes it in The Discovery of France (one of my all-time favorite history books): After the Revolution, almost a third of the population (about ten million people) lived in isolated farms and cottages or in hamlets with fewer than thirty-five inhabitants and often no more than eight. […] Many recruits from the Dordogne in 1830 were unable to give their recruiting sergeant their […]
Almost every town you visit in your travel around western Europe will have some kind of prominent religious building in the center of the city. But it can be difficult sometimes to figure out what you’re looking at, at least according to the taxonomy of the Catholic church. Is it a cathedral? Or a basilica? Just a regular “church”? Or something more exotic like an abbatiale, a collegiale, or a chapelle? Here’s a quick guide with some examples drawn from the area I love most, the “deep heart” of central France. (And yes, I do know that there are many other houses of worship, including mosques, temples, and Protestant halls, even here in France. But they are rarely the […]
One of the principle pleasures of writing this blog is meeting readers and other bloggers all around the world who share a passion for the culture, history, and remarkable destinations of France. I’ve heard from people in England, Australia, the U.S., and diverse regions of Europe, and even though these “meetings” are all virtual, I’ve come to have a real appreciation for the great writing and rich ideas so many people contribute to the global conversation about what for many of is is a “second home” in France. Of all these, I’ve been especially grateful to hear from Alison. Her blog, View from the Teapot – Life in a Small French Village , regularly captures the spirit of everything I […]
In August – while everyone (including me!) is away on vacation –’m posting a shorter article each week with a look at a specific destination or aspect of life in the deep heart of France. This week: a visit to the Chateau de Panloup. Regular “feature-length” posts will resume in September. You’ll see images of roosters almost everywhere you go in France – the coq is one of the country’s most enduring symbols. So it’s only mildly surprising to find a unique little museum dedicated to the subject in a little chateau in the Allier. And this Gallinotheque (“Rooster Museum”) is not the only interesting thing about the Chateau de Panloup, in the town of Yzeure; this is a working […]
One of the greatest pleasures of living in the center of France, for us, was the Romanesque architecture we found everywhere in the region. This week’s picture features the Eglise Saint-Austremoine in Issoire — one of the five “major” basilicas in this style in the Auvergne. (The others are Notre Dame du Port in Clermont-Ferrand, the basilica of Notre Dame in Orcines, the beautiful little church in the “high” section of St Nectaire, and the church in St Saturnin.) Built around 1130 C.E., it’s named for the man who was Clermont’s first bishop back in the 3rd century C.E. And like all of these exquisite structures, the Eglise Saint-Austremoine is beautiful for the incredibly perfect order in the way the rows of […]
I’m a dedicated user of Flipboard for a lot of my daily news and entertainment. Starting now, you can find everything from this blog — plus other great photographs and articles from other people about central France — in our Deep Heart of France magazine. Please check it out at Flipboard.com and let me know what you think!