Sunday, July 25, 2010

A Quiet Sunday in Bordeaux

This morning we took the short way into the City Center of Bordeaux with no traffic problems; once off of the speedway we drove along the broad river of La Garonne, once a major seaport for France and used by the Germans as a base for their submarines during the war. Now it’s used mainly for pleasure, we were walking alongside the river for a good distance yesterday as the race started from this area. The first monument that we spotted was the towering bell tower of St. Michel; it is the second tallest in France at 114 meters and makes the church next to it seem very small when in actuality it is quite large. This was the only one of the three churches in Bordeaux that has been designated as pilgrimage churches for the Santiago de Compostela trail that we didn’t visit today.

We drove around for a good fifteen minutes attempting to find street parking; there are very few spots near St. Andre’s Cathedral as it has been made a pedestrian area and iron posts keep the cars from parking on the sidewalks of the very narrow streets. We finally gave up and pulled into an underground parking structure. We spiraled down three levels before finding the parking. When we returned after mass we had to put our parking ticket in the elevator in order to gain access to the garage; nice safely feature.

Walked into the St. Andre’s Cathedral for 10:30 am Mass. The large organ was playing beautiful music; unusual as we’ve almost always have a smaller organ in the sanctuary providing the music for services. Also notice in the photos that they had five rows of chairs with the short kneelers that look like children’s chairs….after the fifth row people stood or knelt on the floor during the Mass. Very nice service. By the way….it was very cool this morning and we put on our jackets.

After Mass we walked over to the Bell Tower; checked it out and decided that we really didn’t want to walk up all several hundred steps for the view and visited the little Sunday Market outside of the church instead. It looked like rain so we got the car out of the parking garage and drove over to where we knew we’d find street parking near the Museum of Fine Arts. Surprise…it’s the last Sunday of the month and the Museum was free today. A lovely museum….Musee des beaux arts of Bordeaux…that was originated under the direction of none than Napoleon Bonaparte in 1801; so it has lots of history and some very fine paintings. It was decreed that nationally owned art was to be distributed to fifteen of the largest cities in the country…Bordeaux being one of the benefactors. There were paintings by many famous artists including Matiesee and Picasso; a very interesting one was of the Port of Bordeaux …we recognized the buildings along the port as the same ones that boarder the river today.

You’ll notice some photos of the park behind the Hotel de Ville where the entrance to the Musee is also located. Couldn’t resist the photos of the cows….one is pink and holding a glass of wine…wonder why? a wine barrel…another is on a motor scooter. A brochure in the Museum mentioned the fact that the “parade of cows” was visiting Bordeaux this summer. I’m beginning to wonder if they ever leave France!

We then walked over to the large building that puzzled us for the last two days. There are two very old round structures connected by a very old wall next to a very modern building that seems to enclosure seven huge wooden cone shaped structures. We found the name of the architect Richard Rogers and after researching it on the Internet have found out that the seven wooden cones actually house seven courtrooms and this is their main courthouse. Richard Rogers also helped to design the very modern Pompidou Center in Paris…not surprising.

Back to the car…it was sprinkling now and then…and another drive in and out of many little streets to located the church of St. Seurin, another of the Jacques de Compostella churches in Bordeaux. This was built on the site of the ancient necropolis where Charlemagne laid Roland’s horn on this return from Spain in 778, before becoming the legendary Compostellan pilgrim of the Western Empire. It was closed until 2 pm so we walked around and then headed back to the hotel as it was nearly 1 pm and we both were ready for a picnic lunch.

We’ve been watching the Tour de France on their entry into Paris on the television this afternoon. We didn’t understand the issue with Team RadioShack’s jerseys until we called my sister on Skype in Florida and she explained it to us. We knew from Twitter that the team had planned to ride new bikes and wear new uniforms today honoring the 28 million people suffering from cancer. The TdF officials decided that they had to wear their official uniforms and numbers and stopped the race while they changed. It will be interesting to see the comments on Twitter tonight after the race is completed.

Right now the team is in Paris and riding the Champs Elysses circling the Arc de Triomphe several times. So glad we are still here in Bordeaux instead of sitting on a curb in Paris after driving all night….been there….done that….tomorrow we drive to Sarlat.

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