Hello again! Here’s a little glimpse of what I got up to during the first bit of my European vacation, in southwest France.

Headquarters, near Aubeterre-sur-Dronne:

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Me, outstanding in the field (of sunflowers next door):

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Essential equipment (granted the water only came up to my chest, but combined with a very tall Campari and soda, it was the refreshingest thing around). And it was HOT — 37C or so, humid as heck, and no appreciable decrease in night-time temperatures. A couple of nights I considered sleeping in the pool, but was concerned about meeting up with the resident viper. (As my Dad pointed out, when it’s warm enough for them to move, they’ll get out of the way, but when it’s dark and cool, not so much.)

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Aubeterre, tiny, but chock-full of interesting sights:

Looking across to the Chateau (privé, alas, so not visitable)

Looking across to the Château (privé, alas, so not visitable)

The charming Dutchman who ran the rent-a-vintage-Citroen operation.

The charming Dutchman who ran the rent-a-vintage-Citroën operation

 

Detail of a capitol, Church of St. Jacques (Romanesque)

Detail of a capital, Church of Saint-Jacques (12th c.)

Street scene near St. Jacques

Street view near Saint-Jacques

The underground church of St. Jean (12 c.).

The underground church of Saint-Jean (12 c.).

Some of our day trips in the area:

Barbezieux, 19th C. commercial propaganda still visible -- the ground floor still houses a clothing store.

Barbezieux, 19th c. commercial propaganda still visible — the ground floor still houses a clothing store.

 

Shelling beans on the stoop, Barbezieux

Shelling beans on the stoop, Barbezieux

Blanzac-Porcheresse

Blanzac-Porcheresse

 

Fresco (detail) in Saint-Arthémy  (12th c.), Blanzac-Porcheresse.

Fresco (detail) in Saint-Arthémy (12th c.), Blanzac-Porcheresse.

Sainte Jeanne d'Arc, Saint-Arthémy church, Blanzac-Porcheresse

Sainte Jeanne d’Arc, Saint-Arthémy church, Blanzac-Porcheresse

 

Cressac, Templar Chapel (12th c.)

Cressac, Templar Chapel (12th c.)

Cressac, fresco (detail) in the Templar Chapel (12th c.)

Cressac, fresco (detail) in the Templar Chapel (12th c.)

Condéon, windmill (restored, 19th c.)

Condéon, windmill (restored, 19th c.)

Chillac, Saint-Sulpice fortified church

Chillac, Saint-Sulpice fortified church (12th c.)

Château de Chillac (private, and guarded by a large but not that fierce-looking toutou)

Château de Chillac (private, and guarded by a large but not that fierce-looking toutou), 15th c.

 

Berneuil, Notre-Dame

Berneuil, Notre-Dame (12th c.)

The sweetest toutou ever! En Berneuil

The sweetest toutou ever! En Berneuil

Passirac, Saint-Pierre church (11th c.)

Passirac, Saint-Pierre church (11th c.)

Gravestone, Saint-Pierre church, Passirac

Gravestone, Saint-Pierre church, Passirac

Cognac, Château François 1er

Cognac, Château François 1er

Cognac, on the banks of the Charente. The Porte Saint-Jacques is on the right.

Cognac, on the banks of the Charente. The Porte Saint-Jacques is on the right.

Cognac, 18th c. graffiti, left by Irish prisoners taken during the Seven Years' (French and Indian) War. They were held in the Chateau where Francis I was born, in a hall designed by Leonardo da Vinci.

Cognac, 18th c. graffiti, left by Irish prisoners taken during the Seven Years’ (French and Indian) War. They were held in the Château where François Ier was born, in a gallery designed by Leonardo da Vinci.

 

Voeuil-et-Giget, Romanesque church w/ 19th c. excrescence

Voeuil-et-Giget, Romanesque church w/ 19th c. excrescence (see Périgueux, below, for more details on the origin of this carbuncle)

Minou en Voeuil-et-Giget

Minou en Voeuil-et-Giget

 

Dad's candidate for the ugliest church in France (Saint-Pierre-aux-Liens), Allemans

Dad’s candidate for the ugliest church in France (the Romanesque, Gothic, 19th c. excrescence-laden Saint-Pierre-aux-Liens), Allemans

Périgueux, Cathedral of St Front. The 19th c. towers are the work of Paul Abadie, who was the architect of Sacre Coeur de Montmartre, Paris. These onion-dome doodads were stuck onto perfectly good Romanesque churches throughout the Périgord and Charente.

Périgueux, Cathedral of St Front. The 19th c. towers are the work of Paul Abadie, who was the architect of Sacre Coeur de Montmartre, Paris. These onion-dome doodads were stuck onto perfectly good Romanesque churches throughout the Périgord, Dordogne, and Charente. It was a genuine fad.

 

Périgueux, Vesunna Tower (Roman, 1-2 c.)

Périgueux, Vesunna Tower (Roman, 1-2 c.)

Périgueux, Place de Navarre

Périgueux, street view near Place de Navarre

 

Minettes en Périgueux

Minettes en Périgueux

 

Brantôme, Benedictine abbey

Brantôme, Benedictine abbey, founded by Charlemagne in the 8th c. Current building dates from the 15th c. It sits next to a canal that the monks dug to keep themselves apart from the townspeople! (Interesting to note that the original monastery was sacked by Vikings who had managed to sail up the Dronne from the Atlantic. They were everywhere!)

Water jousting, Brantôme

Water jousting, Brantôme

Escargot in the garden after a rainstorm -- too beautiful to eat. (Plus you can't make a meal out of just one.)

Escargot in the garden after a rainstorm — too beautiful to eat. (Plus you can’t make a meal out of just one.)

Another escargot who was much too pretty to eat.

Another escargot who was much too pretty to eat.

 

Next up: Bordeaux (hic)