Saturday 30 July 2011


Having just returned from a fantastic, educational and relaxing vacation in the Aquitaine and Medoc regions of southern France's Atlantic Coast, I wanted to take the opportunity to round-up a few photographs that did not make the travel blog and a few pensรฉes (after Blaise Pascal's random collected thoughts and enigmas, like, the parrot wipes his beak even though it is clean). 
The area was just incredible--the port of La Rochelle along with this other hidden cove of Meschers-sur-Gironde with troglodyte dwellings pounded by the surf into the cliff was like a pirate theme-park. The caves there actually saw some piratery and were once host to French protestants who had to practice their religion in secret.
A sort of regional mascot too was a donkey in pajama bottoms, and later I learned that these pants were worn to protect them from mosquitos while working in the salt-flats that brought these cities great prominience.
The city of Bordeaux has a crest that resembles a bio-hazard or toxic-spill clean-up symbol, though I am sure there is no relation.  The coast was also dotted with these colossal and exemplary (really just like the perfect dreamscape of what one would imagine a fort or a castle to be with winding causeways, endless stairs, turrets, towers, loopholes and murder-holes) bastions from the handiwork of the Marquis de Vauban to protect trade and the rich harbours from foreign navies, but there was one inland garrison town that fell victim to the environment that created this wealth.
The mud-flats that are part of the oyster culture and the salt-flats which gave Aquitaine a monopoly are nourished by sediment washing in from the mouth of the Gironde colliding with the silt of the ocean.  Eventually, and probably rather sooner than anyone expected, the sediment choked this fortress off from the port by a good ten kilometers. 

Not useful for fending off invading ships, the town--which was also the birthplace of promogenitor Canadien Samuel de Champlain, the fort and billeting has been well-preserved.  There was a lot of neat stuff going on here and I have a lot of homework to do.