Peck's personal Web site
2007 -- Alison's
visit in September
of France: Château de Joux
may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a
good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught
up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.
Château de Joux sits on a bluff overlooking the "Cluse de Pontarlier",
and the road beneath is one of the few really good ways through the Jura mountains,
from all of northern Europe through the Franche-Comté region out onto the Swiss Plateau and the Lake Geneva region, eventually
to northern Italy. For serious fans of the military architecture of Marshal
Vauban (portrait right), this place is a kind of Mecca as it were.
Here we go.
Alison's here from Santiago, Chile, for a month of meetings at her European Southern
Observatory headquarters near Munich and at conferences in Madrid
and Manchester, and has scrounged a week free to visit to the Old
Dad in Switzerland.
a rainy and non-hikey day, so we're looking for a high-yield sightseeing attraction
somewhere nearby and the Château de Joux, first built in A.D. 1034, is a reliable destination, 18 September 2007. The scaffolding on the right,
just beneath the medieval stairway up into the keep, is called a "ha ha",
because that's what you would say when attackers would dash up the stairway to
hurt you and you would collapse the stair at that point. Ha ha. Demonically Wolfowitzian.
courtyard just inside the 17th century Vauban fortifications, we're making our way
up into the medieval portions of the old pile.
guide just outside the medieval keep -- a lovely local student
who seemed so afraid of losing the thread of her spiel that she fairly
shouted out the same amusing historical stories quasi ad verbum that we
heard earlier in the summer when Marlowe was
here a few months ago.
and a busload of French older persons and very older persons (it's mid-September,
all the working-age people are chiseling away at the mineface.)
amongst the preceding couple of generations
the medieval keep, Alison passing the cistern and wandering up towards Mirabeau's
poised at the door to Mirabeau's cell, snapping wildly away at her
The garrison's kitchen
cell of Berthe de Joux, the poor
lady whose husband returned from the Crusades at a very bad moment and locked
her up in this cell for a large number of years to encourage repentant thoughts,
and who ended up in a nearby convent gibbering many years after the old testosteronie's
overnight in there we could consider an adventure, and maybe laugh it off. Twenty-odd
years would get really get to us. Poor Berthe.
the medieval keep, the Old Vaubanistas drilled straight down through the mountain
along the hole of the original well, once the deepest in Europe, to place prison
cells and other bureaucratic necessities all over the interior of the mountain.
Alison is photographing the older folks descending a hundred meters or more down
into the innards of the mountain.
they all made it down, no first responders needed on this trip.
cell of Toussaint
Louverture (1743-1803), the former slave and guerilla leader who led
the blacks to victory over the Spanish, English, and French authorities in Haiti
in the late 1790s, moved on to Santo Domingo to free the slaves there, made a
deal with the USA not to invade the South in return for arms, and established
a constitution, with himself in charge of it, over the whole island of Hispaniola
in 1801. Napoleon didn't fall for that one, and the heroic gentleman perished
right here of pneumonia.
in free fall again towards the old well
trying to photograph the bottom of the well, 120 metres down. Everything turned
and Alison at the ancient prison cell, with bricks made of styrofoam. It was got
up in 1995 for the film Les Misérables with Belmondo.
archway: Dad on the way out, as usual
Château de Joux from near the entrance, and the 19th century fort at Larmont
on the far side of the ravine (or "cluse") of Pontarlier.
on the fort across the ravine
with her camera
with his camera back again
last look at the Château de Joux for September 2007
with Alison: Mont Pelé, Mont Tendre
and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative,
All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 24 October 2007, revised 20 June 2008, 28 September 2014.