Saturday, March 30, 2013

Teatro Y Museu Dali In Figueres

So after more final provisioning in France, we drove unmolested into Spain, all the way to Figueres and our probably favorite one-person museum, the Dali in Figueres. We parked, as in 2010, at the Esclat hipermercat and made our first stop the Dali museo, arriving close to the opening time on Good Friday, Vicki's birthday. Most everything else in Spain is closed, but the Dali was of course open. On Easter Sunday too. I promised not to take all the same pix again nor to post them. You can see the earlier ones from February, 2010.
En route to the museum...the contagion spreads

And there we are

And there we are, in the courtyard, before the 1938 Paris taxi with the
world's largest hood ornament

Taxi interior

Portrait of Vermeer in an enigmatic landscape

The Abe Lincoln room more mobbed than usual

Over a doorway: a self-parody of the Mae West installation?

Ceiling of the Hall of Winds, Ascent of Salvador and Gala into Heaven; vastly
improved from my photo of 2010

Dali shoe tree I had missed before

Throughout the collection, many old friends, a few new ones, some old friends
apparently moved elsewhere...

"When it falls down, it falls down"

"Bed and two nightstands attacking a cello"

Satisfied with 3 or 4 hours of this, we left and took a stroll
through the shoppes of old Figueres and then returned at 1PM
to find the line to get to the ticket office more than a block
long; evidently you don't have to be crazy to like Dali; but it

Montsegur and Rennes Le Chateau: Our Cathar Set Is Complete!

Principal sights for the next couple days included Montsegur and Rennes le Chateau, two important stops on the Route de Cathars. So I was told. A couple years ago Vicki read a novel (author, title now forgotten) about the Cathars, and so we have spent much of our time in this region--starting with Peyrepertuse and Queribus in 2010--going to and even climbing up to many if not most of the Cathar sites. But with Montsegur and Rennes le Chateau our Cathar set is now complete. We're heading on to Spain!
Montsegur, the last of the Cathar strong-holds (look up the
Albigensian Heresy if you're so inclined); cold, high-up,
snowy and icy, late in the day, we decided this was close

View from the village below; nice juxtaposition of Mother
Church and the heretics above...

After several sieges, the Cathars finally gave in, some 250
burned in the notch there beneath the keep (so I was told) 

River emerging from hill, en route to Quillen, where we spent
the night

At the aire by the gare

Next day, up at Rennes le Chateau

And its little but very affluent-looking parish church

Some of the lavish interior

Famous devil holding the collection plate

Well, the story goes the parish priest built
and decorated lavishly, lived openly with a
mistress, and never could explain where all
the money came from; legend is he was the
one who found the Cathar treasure (aka
treasure of Solomon, Holy Grail, Seven Cities
of Cibola); the bishop who confessed him
went mad; so I was told

Anyhow, our Cathar set is now complete

Grotto of Niaux

The next morning we learned that a) the parc historique was closed until March 31st, and b) that if it was the Grotto of Niaux we wanted to see (it was), that could be arranged at the Grotto, up the valley, then up the canyon, then up the mountain. And so we proceeded on, up the valley, etc., to the Grotto, which is perched way high up over the canyon, with a clear view of the snow-clad Pyrenees. What were our ancestors, 15,000 years ago, thinking?

We enrolled in the 1:30 tour, en Francais, led by the same petite young woman we had met back at the parc prehistorique. Readers of this blog will know that we really enjoy prehistoric cave art and that southern France and Spain are sort of the epicenter of such things. So Niaux was high on our list. No photography is allowed in the cave, so all the pix here are either pix of pix or off the web. It was an 1800 meter trek in the cave—a huge ancient underground river-bed—round-trip, but not that bad really. The presentation of the paintings was done with all the flair and drama one would expect of French guides!
Snow-clad Pyrenees, indeed

Entrance to the Grotto of Niaux...500-600 feet above the
canyon; "discovered" in 1602; the paintings of
Magdalenian era, that is, fairly recent for this stuff, circa
15,000 years old

While we waited for the 1:30 tour, a bus load of young
scolaires got the tour as well as instruction on how to make
fire without a Bic, use of the atl-atl, etc.

And so, without further ado, the art...mostly bison
at Niaux




Lugdunum Convenarum

Comminges stands on top of the Gallo-Roman village of Lugdunum Convenarum, said to have been founded by Pompey in 72 BCE on his way back to Rome from the conquest of Spain. The village grew for some centuries, reaching 30,000 in the 5th century, but then was sacked by the Burgundians in the late 7th century. Much of the foundation work has been unearthed. And much of the Roman village persists no doubt in the homes and other buildings of the modern day village of Comminges. Thus everywhere and always. Recycling! After lunch at a nearby church aire, we drove on, stopping at a Super U for birthday shopping (Armagnac and Cahors Noire), and then stopping for the night at the carpark outside the Niaux parc prehistorique. Or so we thought.
From the hill, looking down on the foundations of the 4th
century Christian church

Remains of the amphitheatre


Sits just below the hill and cathedral




Comminges and cathedral, from Lugdunum Convenarum

St. Bertrand Des Comminges, Interior

More of the cathedral St. Bertrand des Comminges...
Interior, nave, ceiling, part of screen

The organ; we enjoyed a bit of a rehearsal
before being hustled out for noon closing

Stuffed crocodile on the wall, one of nine in
France (many more in Spain); remnant of
Crusades, pilgrimages; it's a long story

Choir exterior

In the Gothic part, assorted bays and chapels

Altar, above it the tomb of St. Bertrand (Bernard)

Tomb of St. Bernard; OK, I am presently not clear on which
St. B this was...the one with the dog, the one with the pass,
the one who preached the Crusades, the one whose niece
was Heloise...; ANSWER: none of the above

Interesting graffiti in the passage-way for us pilgrims to
admire St. B

Inside the choir, looking east toward the bow

Looking west toward the stern

Up closer of the nice locally-done carving