Thursday, July 29, 2010

Chateau d'Urfé, near Champoly France

Chateau d'Urfé lies at about 950 meters and dominates the countryside of Rhone-Alpes and Auvergne France. The dungeon was built about 1100 and enlarged in the 1300's, as a fortress to buttress the feudal power of the d'Urfé family. By the 1600's, actual conflict between feudal lords had died down and it was made more habitable by the installation of windows, ovens, and other comforts. By the 1700's the fortunes of the family had waned. After the Revolution in 1790 the Chateau was dismantled by people who took the stones for building - it had become in effect, a quarry. Renovation efforts started in the 1970's.
The photo above shows both the remarkable stonework, and also a type of 'biological warfare:' an opening in the wall is a toilet which could rain down on any attackers!

The top of the tower has a 350 degree vista and dominates the countryside. On a clear day, one can see from Puy de Dome (near Clermont-Ferrand in the west) to the Alps in the east.

There are literally thousands of chateaux dotting the countryside of France. They must have been the symbol and means of power in the early Middle Ages. Early chateaux like d'Urfé were fortresses. Later chateaux were more grand palaces.

Alan working at Chateau d'Urfé, near Champoly France

Alan's first project was rebuilding stone steps, above. Below, he sets out a framework for an outbuilding.
Alan works with Arnaud, below, and Alexandre.

Hanging Out, Chateau d'Urfé

With a new group of volunteers and a lot of organisational details, there is a lot of waiting around.

Remparts Work Group of Chateau d'Urfé, Champoly France

Rieg, Leader of the Worksite

Rieg, above closest to the camera, leads by humor and by working harder than anyone else.

Rieg also has a million and one stories.

The Russians are Coming

It is the first time that Dacha and Kathy, above, have visited outside of Russia. How they manage to look so stylish, even at the construction site, this American does not know!

Waiting, below, eagerly for lunch at the work site. Every day volunteers make a hot meal and bring it to the work site.


Arnaud is an architecture student - a useful person to have on a renovation team! Above, Arnaud in orange draws the chateau and explains perspective.

Champoly, Rhone-Alpes, France; Loire Dept.

Champoly is a small village of about 350 people. It lies on the eastern side of the volcanic Massif Central of France, east of Clermont-Ferrand and west of Lyon.

People Near Champoly

One can walk daily to the Post Office to buy bread...

The twins, above.
A vendor of old post cards and knives at a flea market. The area around Thiers specialized in producing knives.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Paris Views from July 2010

Montparnasse Cemetary, on the southeast side of Paris, contains graves of many artists and intellectuals. See the list on Wikipedia at
One of our most beloved is Jacques Demy, the film director of 'Umbrellas of Cherbourg' and 'Les Demoiselles de Rochefourt.' See description at
The French man below likes to talk to people who come visit the cemetary.

Grafiti above is stylish.
Ladies even dress up to go to cinema, below.

Image above is taken around 10 pm (22:00) in front of the Cinematheque, the state-funded film society that archives movies and shows them to the public.

After Marshfield Inn. Before Europe.

Cyane and Alan are happy to have worked hard at the Marshfield Inn and Motel in Vermont. We had not yet started preparations for upcoming trip to Europe.
It took many weeks of preparations for a July to October trip to France, Switzerland & Italy.
Here is the concept itinerary for the Europe trip of 2010:

15 July: Depart JFK on Icelandair
16 - 20 July: Paris, staying at the apartment of Cyane's cousin. Alan: see movies.
21 July - 3 August: Volunteer at a historic preservation site in southern France
Organized by a French organization Rempart
at Chateau d'Urfé
Chateau d'Urfé is near Thiers; between Clermont-Ferrand and Lyons
It is right near the border of the Auvergne region and Rhône-Alpes
Map of site at,5.910645&spn=6.768311,16.907959&z=7&msid=113669876022825790630.00048bcf2ab289d62258a

August: Bike east over Loire and Rhône rivers, past Lyons, Grenoble, Albertville
Go around Mt Blanc into the Rhône valley of Switzerland
Hike in Switzerland and visit friends`
September: Aim to do the circular loop hike around Mt Blanc, Tour de Mt Blanc
Bike down the Rhône valley to the Marseille region
October: film festival in northeastern Italy; Pordenone
Return to Paris and the United States