Anna Belleforte

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Bourges and the Loire

Posted by Anna Belleforte on June 14, 2017 at 1:50 PM

France has a number of dead straight roads between, I would guess, once important trading cities. It’s thrilling to come to the top of a road like this and suddenly see before you something of perfect symmetry: the road stretching for miles over several hills, greens fading into blues and then the dip in the forest at the end which is the road slicing through. (Painting idea logged.)

Bourges was a surprise, in that its name is non-descript and recalls nothing of note (in my art history brain), and yet what an impressive cathedral. Very sculptural with flying buttresses and an intricate, story-full tympanum which, judging by the clean stonework has been restored – even to the extent that Christ’s arms and hands (usually lopped off during the Iconoclasm) have reappeared in an oddly veiny, muscular way (perhaps it was just the marbling). Next to the cathedral was this worthy French phenomenon found in many cities: the Musee des Meilleurs Ouvriers de France – a museum for showcasing superb local craftsmanship, from metalworking and carpentry to pastry-making and Plexiglas art. Fantastic to see the skill needed to clad all the curves in typically French roofs and dormers, and see it up close.

And yet, some villages in France are a drab mass of cracked concrete rendering. I find seeing the stones that make up the building so much more pleasing. Smooth rendering can be beautiful too, but it loses its appeal quickly when it’s no longer crisp and clean. Passing into the Loiret region I noticed there were suddenly a lot more brick buildings. Makes sense, since bricks are made from river clays and I was approaching the Loire. I’m now camped right on the Loire. It’s another superhot day and, maddeningly, the swimming pool doesn’t open until July (!!). That’s a kind of torture for me. I can’t see myself going for a dip in the Loire since there are fish bigger than me in it.

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