Friday, March 19, 2010

Mount Bart and Baume les Dames

After the GRS competition was over, we realized we had an open afternoon and we were in a new part of France.  So, being us, we had one of our adventures.Le fort du Mont-Bart

Resized_DSC03836 First we headed up to the fort at Mount Bart.  It was yet another snow and ice covered road that Mr. Liberty handled with alacrity.  This fort is big but was only completed in 1877 as a protection for Belfort.  You can see great views of Montbeliard from there.  It’s kind of funny how falling apart it was – even though it is much newer than the Citadelle – guess that Vauban knew how to build them to last. The fort also was interesting since it was the sight of some major battles during WWI.  There was a monument there commemorating the Moroccan forces that had died there.  We had fun walking around and checking everything out.

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Since we had been at the GRS competition, I was a bit overdressed for hiking, particularly my shoes.  André gave  me his arm while I slipped and slid down the mountain side.  At one point there was a sheer drop off at the end of a steep downward scramble.  This crevasse was only blocked off by a strip of plastic – I’m thinking that wouldn’t even be sufficient to stop a sliding Griffin, let alone an adult.   We fearlessly continued on, exploring a few neat powder magazines as well. Griffin and I were stomping around on the top of one of them and Callie and Zander couldn’t even hear our footsteps.

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While we were walking, we noticed several people in the woods.  I thought, perhaps, they were mushroom hunters since it seemed like they were picking something.  When we got closer, however, I realized they were picking snowdrops.  Lots of snowdrops.  While we were driving down the mountain, we passed 3 or 4 other groups of people also clutching giant bouquets of snowdrops, most of them not yet fully blooming.  I am left to wonder if this is a French spring tradition.  Do they eat them?  Put them in a vase?  Don’t they worry if everyone picks so much there won’t be enough left to propagate?   Haven’t they heard of “Take only photographs. Leave only footprints.”?  Anyhow, that’s what we did….  

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We headed back to the car and drove for home.  Since we forgot to bring enough cash to pay for the entrance fee and tolls two ways we took some back roads home.  It took us about twice as long but we got to see lots of beautiful sights along the way.  We couldn’t resist stopping for a few minutes in Baume Les Dames.  This little town is only about half an hour away from Besancon and is famous for its hiking and climbing, the Rhone-Rhine canal and the 9th century St. Martin Church and Benedictine abbey.

There is a famous miracle associated with the abbey – I can’t really understand the French version of it very well and here is how it automatically translates: “there was a miracle that contributed to the reputation of the Abbey. It was actually the daughter of the Duke of Alsace, Odile was blind and as his father wanted to kill her, because being blind, it does not deserved life, her mother managed to hide it in this Abbey. The abbesses occupied it. And at the age of 13, she baptized. The Bishop had called it Odile because it meant "daughter of light". And when he said to him "in the name of Jesus Christ, is now informed eye eye of the soul and the body", it finds the view. This miracle therefore attracted many people to Baume there.”  Hmm… so I think that Odile, the daughter of the duke was blind.  She was saved by her mother who hid her in the abbey.  The abbess raised her and she was baptized at the age of 13.  When this happened, her sight was miraculously restored and many people made pilgrimages to Baume after this.    Of course, that’s still a guess.  Translating is very tricky – at another point in the article it tells me that there are two swimming pools in one of the 15th century churches.  Somehow, I don’t think that is right….

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We were lucky that one of the churches was still open since it was past 4 pm on a Sunday.  In fact, we were the only ones in the entire building whiResized_DSC03873ch made for a change.  It was very quiet and beautiful.  Smaller than many of the churches we have visited but with graceful arches and perfectly preserved Resized_DSC03870stained glass. 

André found a camera in a field while playing paint ball with co-workers recently and we got a new battery for it.  This is our first try with using it instead of our other camera.  It is a bit tricky but we think it will work out well.

I kind of like having 2 cameras since he and I are always thinking to take such different photographs.  And, of course, it is always nice to have a backup in case one breaks.  Since they are both old, that might be any time!

  Resized_DSC03874  The last thing we saw before hopping back in the car and heading home was this ancient building.  It is known as The Turret House and was completed in 1574.  The bench I was sitting on is almost 500 years old.  Pretty awesome, right?   Also, the turret features Latin Inscriptions around its base.  TheResized_DSC03875y had the French translation of the Latin on the sign near the door (photo right).

A rough English translation

  • May peace be on this house

May it remain standing until an ant drinks up the waters of the sea and a turtle walks around the earth

  • The times change and we change with them

Well – so far they have been right.  The house still stands, 500 years later, and heaven knows, times have changed – and us with them.  But we can still enjoy sitting on a bench, and learning something new.  So some things never change.

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