Dwight Peck's personal website

Kristin's visit: Southwest of France 2009

Maddening months at work, trying to migrate a very large Web site to a different technology, and no end in sight. It's time to take a break and, as luck would have it, Kristin's coming for a visit. We'll go to France for a while.


You 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.

Sadly -- in fact, very sadly -- we need to start wending eastward again, workward again with a profound reluctance. Leaving St Céré tearfully, we're retracing our way out past Bretenoux, and this is Beaulieu in the Corrèze, whence we shall follow the navigable Dordogne northeastward to Argentat, where it turns into a dashing mountain stream out of the Massif Central and we clamber onto the highway for home.

Beaulieu has got lots of charm and is quite famous in its own right, not least because of the 12th-13th century Benedictine abbey church of St Pierre -- fairly solid looking bell tower, but celebrated for its elaborate tympanum full of weird insomnia-inducements in white stone.

If you were a hungover 13th century Benedictine monk fellow who'd just sludged out of bed and staggered to the front door of your abbey church to see what the day holds for you, here's your view: a souvenir shop just across the way. Called "Temptation". Life isn't fair.

Here's the world famous tympanum of the St Pierre church in Beaulieu, "stylistically similar to the work of the School of Toulouse in Moissac or Soulliac", but you can't really see the Jesus part of it very well ("with his arms outstretched in triumph") because I was more interested in viewing Kristin at the time.

A peek across the street from the front door, with its genuinely goofy centre post just here on the right.

The Christian imagination run riot. Such violence, such anger! As Montaigne said, "There is no hostility so fine as a Christian hostility" (Defense of Raymond Sebond).

The St Pierre centre post, holding up the front door frame and the lintel, poor chap. Someone famous said that the poor wretch is "flowing upward like a flame of prayer". Missed that one. He's trying to hold the church up and running out of any reason to. Very painful looking (but "School of Toulouse").

Nonetheless, this is one of the most enticing souvenir opportunities I've seen since passing by Sudbury, with its World's Largest Nickel. "Rare is the highway traveller who passes the city of Sudbury in northern Ontario and fails to notice that nickel has significance for this community." Now isn't that a Tentation?

Back streets in Old Beaulieu. The town's name means, of course, 'Nice Place', and it is.

Kristin coursing through the old streets for another medieval fix before we get back on the road northeastward.

Fans of half-timbered medieval and Tudor housing arrangements, Honk! I most like jettied floors all the way up (till they bounce up against the jettied floors across the road, and don't let any sunlight down onto the street). Gardy-loo!! With maybe a pulley arrangement at the top floor to lift heavy stuff up the front of the house, as in Amsterdam, rather than using the stairs.

After a touristic circuit through the Old Town, we're back at the Temptations souvenir shop, and the St Pierre church as well, and you still can't see the famous tympanum over the door very well, that's a pity.

We've forgotten where we left the car.

Found the car, and back on the road along the Dordogne towards Argentat. A brilliant holiday nearing its end before too long. Just one volcano left to see this afternoon, and then that's the end of it.

1. Salers
2. Conques
3. Château d'Anjony
4. Bourdeilles
5. Brantôme & Castles
6. Oradour-sur-Glane
7. Périgueux
8. St Céré, Montal
9. Rocamadour
10. Château de Castelnau
11. Beaulieu
12. Puy-de-Dôme

Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, . All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 12 September 2009, revised 2 September 2013.

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