Tuesday 19 August 2008

La Retirada

Fort Bellegarde (P.O.)
Sat 9 Aug

A very affecting account in music, song and dance of the withdrawal across the frontier of tens of thousands of refugees during the last weeks of the Spanish Civil War (Jan - Mar 1939). Sandra Díaz has based the show on the experiences of her grandmother, Manolica - the poster they unravel at the end is something Sandra remembers her grandmother saying:

"No lloraremos, cantaremos"
(We shall not weep, we shall sing)

There are many reminders of this period in the area, from the paths the refugees took across the border, to the concentration camp at Rivesaltes and the grave of Antonio Machado at Collioure. This show is one of several manifestations of the drive for the "recovery of historical memory" that has been gathering strength in both France and Spain in recent years.

[links and more pics to come]

The rain in Prades

Tue 2 Aug

. . . falls mainly very hard! A 15-minute hailstorm, best experienced from under cover.

Quartets at Molitg-les-Bains

Molitg-les-Bains (Pyrénées Orientales)
Mon 4 Aug

Well, duos, trios and quartets, part of the Casals Festival of Chamber Music, based at Prades. Haydn, Mozart and a Beethoven cello sonata - gorgeous!

[links to come]

Llibre Vermell de Montserrat

Abbaye de Fontfroide (nr Narbonne)
Fri 1 Aug

Jordi Savall and Hesperion XXI playing one of the masterpieces of medieval Spanish music - the Llibre Vermell is the Catalan equivalent of the Cantigas de Santa María.

Does the photo look a bit indistinct, fuzzy, out-of-focus? Well I'm afraid that's how the music sounded to me, from our seats at the back of this huge abbey - a very striking setting, but awful acoustics. I'll have to listen to their CD, and visualise them performing.

[links to come]


Bardou (Hérault)
Fri 1 Aug

Once a deserted, ruined village at the end of 5km of narrow, winding, unkept mountain road, it has been restored gradually since the early 80s - Jan was one of the original volunteers - and is now a small, thriving community.

[pictures and links to come]

Espace Brassens

Fri 1 Aug

An audio tour, with commentary in Brassens' own words and often in his own voice (so no chance of an English version!), wonderful pictures from his childhood through to his final years, and lots of clips from his songs. Well worth a visit - but be sure you get there at least an hour before closing time, or they won't let you in.

[links to come]

Friday 8 August 2008

Bombes 2 Bal @ Sète

Île de Thau, Sète
Thu 31 Jul

Bombes 2 Bal get everyone dancing. Songs included À la claire fontaine, so I was able to sing along to the chorus. I'll have to re-learn the verses though!

[links and more pics to come]

Kaloomé @ Sète

Île de Thau, Sète
Thu 31 Jul

Kaloomé melding Perpignan flamenco and North African Arabic - and it works!

[links and more pics to come]

Mozart magic @ Mosset

Mosset (Pyrenees Orientales)
Tue 29 Jul

Opéra Mosset's summer show - La Flûte Enchantée - beautifully done - well sung and enchantingly staged.

[links and more pics to come]

Blowzabella @ Embraud

Embraud (Allier)
Sun 27 Jul

Jon Swayne, Paul James and Jo Freya take to the floor and give it some wellie.

[links and more pics to come]

La Chavannée at Embraud

Embraud (Allier)
Sun 27 Jul

La Chavannée's second Spectacle of the weekend - a bourrée feast!

[links and more pics to come]

Tour de France

Isle et Bardais (Cher)
Sat 26 Jul

Carlos Sastre defends his yellow jersey in the penultimate stage, a time-trial through the Forêt de Tronçais, just 30 km from where we were staying for the Fête des Chavans. Google Maps have done a Street View of the whole of this year's Tour, but they've got the route wrong here - they've got it turning left at the entry to the village, in fact it went straight through the centre and out the other side, which is where we were standing. So unfortunately you can't compare Google's View with our photos, which is a pity, but then ours have got cyclists in them.

The official website has all you ever wanted to know about the Tour, and a whole lot more, including route details for this stage. For the result, you'll have to go here, and do:

Sélectionnez une étape > ÉTAPE 20: Cérilly - Saint-Amand-Montrond, samedi 26 juillet

You can then browse through various videos
(let me know if you spot me) and blogs before you move on to the Classements page, where you can switch between the Classement Général and the Classement de lÉtape. More than you need to know.

What I have not yet been able to do is create a link from here to the Google Earth placemark - it would be nice if you could click on a link here and open up Google Earth (if you've got it installed) at this location.

Labyrinth at Chartres Cathedral

Fri 25 Jul

You can walk the medieval labyrinth inside the cathedral on Fridays in July. It takes about 20 minutes, maybe half an hour if you do the traditional 3 steps forwards, one step back (which I didn't); you can then stand for a while in the centre and contemplate the wonder of life, the cathedral, and everything.

See Erwin Reißmann's site about labyrinths, including this one at Chartres.