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Posts tagged ‘Bourges’

No. 234: Grins and Wisdom from the Marais

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morning spiders (bring) sorrow...evening spider (bring) hope...white butterfly, sign of spring...circled moon, rain ensured

morning spiders (bring) sorrow…evening spider (bring) hope…white butterfly, sign of spring…circled moon, rain ensured

a magpie in the spring signifies dreadful weather...when the rooster crows at night watch, his tail is already wet...if the peacock screams, we stay at home...

a magpie in the spring signifies dreadful weather…when the rooster crows at night watch, his tail is already wet…if the peacock screams, we stay at home…

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Warning! Vicious carrots, carnivorous radishes and crazy parsley…

Vocabulaire

marais: marshland, swamp

No. 231-233: Marshland, Potager, and Groovy Scarecrows

 

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While I enjoyed the medieval houses and formidable cathedral in Bourges, what I really loved was the secret world of the marais. Strolling through les Marias de Bourges is a must for anyone missing green space or the earthy comfort of their vegetable garden or potager.

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Just a stone’s skip away from Sainte-Etienne Cathedral, the marshlands surrounding Bourges at one time assured the defense of the city, but now serve as lovingly cultivated family gardens, supplying the city with fresh fruit and vegetables. The marais spans more than 330 acres—enough space for over 1,000 garden plots neatly carved out of the calm waters and green and flowering foliage and provides a unique space for nature and relaxation for residents and visitors alike.

source: Office de Tourisme de Bourges

source: Office de Tourisme de Bourges

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It was heaven for Superman and Taz, and Button and I were reminded how great it feels to breathe fresh air and wander through a friendly and welcoming place and smile at the locals as they traversed the canals on foot bridges and boats. Each pint-sized plot had some sort of maisonnette (some more appealing than others), a sweet sign announcing what is theirs, and for the creative jardiniers among them, a groovy scarecrow or two to keep the birds at bay.

I was completely hooked. France continues to surprise me with her quaint and quiet charm. I will miss the Fête des Marais this August, but it is the newest item on my bucket list for 2015. If you are in France the end of August, make your reservations now. It is sure to be magical.

 

Vocabulaire

jardiniers: gardeners

maisonnette: small house

marais: marshland

potager: vegetable garden

 

No. 230: Bourges: France’s Heartland

map_france-Bourges.jpgWe are a couple of days back from faire(ing) le pont in Bourges.

This was one of those completely unexpected, point-to-a-place-on-the-map-where-we-can-afford-the-train-tickets type of getaway. It turned out to be an excellent choice.

Bourges lies almost exactly in the center of France, so now if/when I have to leave France, I can say, both that I left my heart in France, and that I have been to the heart of France.

Bourges is a classic French town housing one of the great Gothic cathedrals of Europe, Sainte-Etienne, a UNESCO world heritage site, known for its stunning stained-glass windows, some dating back as far as the 13th century, an amazingly accurate astronomical clock, and its arched-entrance, chiseled with eerie carvings illustrating a grim Judgment Day.

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According to our bed and breakfast host, guests tend to use Bourges as an overnight stop when traveling north-to-south or vice versa. But I would say Bourges is worthy of a long weekend, to allow you the time to get to know the picturesque town surrounded by rivers, listen to the pealing church bells, soak up the rich history, and experience the relaxed and friendly locals.

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Southeast of Orléans, this hilly city, where Joan of Arc wintered before she was burned at the stake, rises up at the intersection of the Yèvre and Auron rivers in the Department of Cher and will charm the pants right off you with its half-timbered medieval houses, cobbled lanes, sculpted gardens and marshy marais—more on that tomorrow.

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May is the perfect time to visit, as the town hosts Les Printemps de Bourges Contemporary Music Festival, (we were one weekend too late), and les Nuits Lumière (Illuminated Nights), an impressive light, sound and architectural show highlighting the city’s heritage (screened across the ancient buildings) on offer every Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings, rain or moon-glow.

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Summer may be an even better time to visit Bourges, as there were loads of signs heralding Été à Bourges and an impressive line-up of free, outdoor musical performances, of all shapes and sizes.

When all is said and done, Bourges is a super cool place to visit either on whim or as a planned stop on your itinerary. If you want to hear and feel what makes this complicated country tick, venture au coeur, to the heart of France.

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Vocabulaire

au coeur: in the center, at the heart

Été à Bourges: Summer in Bourges

faire le pont: to take a long weekend, literally to make the bridge

Les Printemps de Bourges: Bourges’ Springtime