OBSERVATIONS from the SADDLE of a BIKE
Lyon to Nevers France
After five days in Lyon we decided to move on and the simplest thing to do was to take a train to Paray-le-Monial back on the Eurovelo 6 route. Continuing our ride from there meant we missed a short section of the Velo 6 between Chalon-sur-Saone and Paray-le-Monial but that didn’t worry us to any extent.
On this journey we paid more attention to the weather than we have previously as two years ago when riding the Eurovelo 6 we rode in the rain and if it could be avoided this trip we attempted to do so. However rain cannot be avoided and in light of me forgetting my waterproof pants in Lyon we decided we should buy another pair. Stefan, the custodian of the camping area, told us where to find a sports shop. I thought the town centre where the ancient church was located was the extent of the village but there was a huge commercial centre on top of a hill where there was a sports store.
Immediately after manager Stefan took the above photograph he turned my camera on himself and took a self portrait, not an easy thing to do when using a bulky SLR camera with an 18 to 200mm zoom lens.
Why the left window shows the perfect image of the pallets and the right window shows a distorted image relates to the flatness or curvature of the glass.
Waterproof pants purchased we continued along a canal to the riverside town of Digoin. It is not often you can go to the local café and order drinks and the owner gives you a takeaway tray. I wanted to sit in the sun in front of the Notre Dame de la Providence Church and admire the perfect setting. This was living!
I coined the term modernist style. The more exact term is rich and stylised which was typical of the Romanesque Byzantine era (1000 to 1150 AD approximately). I don’t know if the sculptures are original or whether they were done when restoration of the church took place.
The bas-relief shows Jesus possibly curing cripples, loaves and fishes, a bottle of wine and a man with a dog on a leash. There is something very significant about this sculpture…Jesus has an ever so slight smile on his face.
In the religious world there is a lot of discussion as to whether Jesus actually ever smiled. In all our travels I have not seen an old master’s painting of Jesus smiling. There are modern depictions of him smiling but to me they just do not seem right.
It’s hard to get my head around an image of Jesus smiling. All the images that have been pressed on to me during my Sunday school days and images I now see as we wander depict Jesus as a dour man. There is a lot of discussion on the Internet as to wether Jesus actually smiled. One reference says Jesus was a preacher who told funny stories to make a point, a leader who gave his disciples nicknames and enjoyed a good joke. Of course we can speculate, but we will never know. There is not one single text in the Bible that explicitly says Jesus laughed.
The answer as to why statues, paintings and mosaics portray him as a solemn man is a reflection of the historical emphasis of his passion and death.
On the right is a family showing an old man with a walking stick. The sculpture on the left exhibits birth and death, a woman holding a baby and a dying man obviously on his deathbed.
Digoin was an amazing place….we had sun, take-away coffee and, best of all, a sculpture of Jesus with an ever-so-slight smile on his face.
It is impossible to be negative when sitting in such a wonderful location. However not all has been so peaceful in the Church of Our Lady of Providence. Some time ago two migrant youths reportedly entered the church shortly before mass and began yelling “Allah Akbar’. The phrase ‘Allah Akbar’ is used by Muslims to remind themselves that God is greater than the beauty and ugliness of the world.
Having spent time in the sun and being enthralled by the sculptures of the church we decided to stay in Digoin, we stayed at Hotel Lily overlooking the River Loire. Our walk in the late afternoon took us to the canal aqueduct. Canal builders in France are to be commended for their engineering skills. No challenge, such as taking a canal across a river, through a mountain or across a valley, was too great. Go to Archives December 2015 to read about their canal building expertise.
Whilst out walking we passed by a town house where a woman on the balcony encouraged me to photograph her and her dog. The word anthropomorphism comes into play here and it means in this case the treating of animals as if they are human in appearance, character or behaviour.
During this stage of our ride to Bourbon-Lancy we heard there was a bomb detonation in Lyon in the area we were in only the day before. An official report stated no one was killed but thirteen people were injured. The French authorities treated the incident as a terror attack although no person or organisation claimed responsibility. Three days after the attack a 24-year-old man and his family were detained. The suspect was said to be an Algerian national and a computer science student who was arrested as he stepped off a bus.
At this point I must say during our travels, and that includes in a number of Islamic countries, we have never been threatened, in fact to the contrary. In 1972 Bev and I were in Syria looking for a place to camp and we experienced an incredible act of friendliness by a young boy of the Muslim faith. We were sitting in our VW Beetle in a pine grove surrounded by deep-ripped ploughed fields and our thoughts wandered to: how safe was it and were we likely to be set upon during the night.
The sun was setting and as we sat contemplating our fate a silhouetted figure came staggering towards us over the ploughed field. It was a small boy carrying a tray on which there were two glasses of hot milk and a bowl of sugar. The boy in broken English said ‘my father said you are visitors from Allah and you are welcome’.
Prior to when this photograph was taken we had bought a tin of mixed beans and I was going to cook them with vegies that night but I left them behind here on the seat. I will always remember that can of beans!
Following are some images of Bourbon-Lancy, a walled medieval town on a hill. It has an authentic medieval belfry, wooden frame houses and fortifications, which date from 1495.
There were some interesting details to be found in Bourbon-Lancy. Some of the woodcarvings are incredibly old and we got a little carried away with taking photographs. Amazingly there were not many people about. Not even tourists?
One of our regular readers made a comment to the effect that she also took photographs of doors, Here is one for you, Wendy.
One can only speculate as to how this narrow lane got its name. Regardless, in days gone by wolves were responsible for many human deaths. Wolves were hunted to extinction in the 1930s but in 1992 a mating pair crossed into France from Italy and since then they have spread across the Rhone valley to the Jura Mountains. It is estimated that there are around five hundred wolves in France today, they are listed as an endangered species and therefore killing them is illegal.
Decize was our next night’s stop then Nevers. The ride on these two days was pleasant, much of the first day was on paths away from the river then from Decize we were back on the River Loire.
Our midday meal was in the village of Cronat at the Hotel des Voyageurs. Apart from the desire for a hot lunch in a warm room we wanted to test the reaction of the hotel owner when I asked to top up the charge of our batteries. The most efficient way to charge batteries as we travel is to carry an appropriate conversion plug with a double adaptor, useful if there is only a single power point available. The batteries are good for around seventy kilometres before recharging is necessary. It costs around twenty Australian cents to charge the batteries and takes around four hours from zero to full charge. The hotel owner was amenable and I gave him a Euro (Aus $1-60) for which he was thankful.
The word dunny is a common Australian term for toilet even though its origins are Scottish where dunnakin (lavatory) is the term used.
Nevers was an interesting city with wonderful old buildings and narrow alleyways and being the resting place of St Bernadette of Lourdes it is a popular pilgrimage site on the way to Santiago de Compostela in Spain. One of the impressive buildings was the Cathedral of Saint Cyr and Sainte Juliette and even though the exterior was striking the stained glass windows inside were really stunning. They impressed me because I have dabbled in the making of leaded glass windows for our own house so I know the effort involved in creating such beautiful windows.
The above image may relate to the Pilgrims Way, the Camino de Santiago, which runs from northern Europe to southern Spain. The scallop shell in the top right corner of the window is the clue. To read about the Pilgrims Way go to Archives October 2014 and scroll down to the Pilgrims Way map and read on.
There is sometimes confusion between the terms stained glass, lead light and leaded glass. Stained glass involves painting clear glass with metallic salts such as selenium, sulphur, titanium and uranium. Leadlight and leaded glass involves cutting glass sections and joining them with lead came, an extruded section that is soldered and puttied.
No matter which technique is employed, all are an art form and the reason churches and cathedrals have coloured glass windows was to illustrate the narratives of the Bible to a largely illiterate populace at the time.
Of course the exterior of the cathedral is as impressive as the interior and following are a few random images.
The question here is how the gargoyle is attached. I think it is part of a long piece of stone that extends back into the wall.
Opposite to the hotel where we were staying was a retreat for those who were walking the Pilgrims Way, the Camino de Santiago. The St Gildard convent was once a Sisters of Charity convent and it was where Bernadette Soubirous entered to become a nun. In 1848 at the age of 14 she received a vision of the Virgin Mary in a cave near Lourdes. Pope Pius Xl canonized her in 1933. Her intact body lies in the chapel and the convent has become her shrine. The biography of Sister Bernadette is a narrative worth reading.
Marble is a metamorphic rock and is formed when limestone is subject to the heat associated with the pressure of metamorphism. Marble is believed to provide clarity, self-control and stability (both physically and emotionally), purity and immortality. Maybe these factors were considered when the sculptor fashioned the above statue. The statue felt cool and the reason was the difference between the temperature of my hand and the ambient temperature, I was losing heat to the marble.
Finally, a building that Bev was impressed with, the Ducal Palace.
The end of another post has arrived. Bev and I hope you enjoyed reading about this portion of our ride along the Eurovelo 6. If so, send us a comment. The next post takes us further west towards the Atlantic Ocean, our ultimate objective.