History always repeats itself…

So Dominic Cummings has left No.10 (and I rejoice with the news!). Well, it is always the case, isn’t it? The tail gets too big for the head and as a result, it’s get casted off.

The angry-faced land turtle’s fall from the grace reminds me about another such man, Jacques Cœur. A famous self-made man in the 15th Century Bourges France.

Mum and I visited Bourges during our road trip in 2018 and had an opportunity to visit Jacques Cœurs Palace which was one of the tourist attractions.

Jacques Cœurs Palace on the left!

As the name suggests, the place was built by Jacques Cœurs, who was born as a son of a marchant around the end of the 14th Century. Despite his humble origin, he amassed his wealth through hard work and his knack for successful business dealings.

French château style

Because of his outstanding financial acumen, Charles VII made him master of mint in 1436. The king’s instruction to Cœur was to reform the present coinage system and he must have impressed the king with the end result so much because the king decided to promote him as steward of the royal expenditure three years later.

A huge fireplace!
Simple but beautiful masonry work
All the rooms were huge!
Beautiful decor!

His rise to a position of influence was symbolised by the ennoblement of him and his family in 1441. The king sent him to numerous important foreign missions as ambassador.

Another ornate fireplace…
Overdoor sculpture…
Another reference to Cœur’s wealth through trading overseas…
More intimate gallery with a model of the palace…

With his amassed fortune through his various offices of states, he built more than a few palatial properties and the Bourges’ one was most luxurious amongst them.

Family chapel was most richly decorated…
Beautiful ceiling!
A tour coming almost to the end…

Jacques Coœur’s fall from the grace came in 1451 when the king ordered his arrest.

Is this Cœur himself?

Because of Cœur’s monopoly over banking and trading caused lots of resentment amongst his contemporaries, even the king himself. Around his arrest, the king was planning a campaign for Guienne and the seizure of the accused’s assets was convenient addition to his war chest.

Out of door, out of pocket…

Those people, who ousted from the power, never learn from history, do they? The reality is, nobody is indispensable and if you make too many enemies, you will be pushed out in the cold sooner or later.

The place was confiscated by the king…

In the 19th Century, the place was used as a courthouse and underwent a careful restoration work in the 20th Century.

‘Shall we move on, Mum?’ we decided to head towards the town centre for late lunch.

Bourges

In spite of our hotel being right next to a large church, their bell stayed silent and therefore it didn’t wake us up in the morning. ‘No Sunday survive, today?’, we wondered as we got ready to check out from the hotel.

A quiet Sunday morning…

I left mum and some of our luggage on a side street and went to the car park and retrieve our car. That morning, we were heading to Bourges, 342km away from Lyon.

Lyon to Bourges!
Bourges, here we come!

After 4 hours on the road, we arrived at Bourges in early afternoon. The streets were virtually empty and the whole place seemed to be having a nap after a Sunday lunch.

Where is everybody?

I left mum in a hotel lobby and moved our car to a cobbled side street. The inside of the hotel was as quiet as the outside. And it took for a while until a receptionist to notice our arrival. ‘So sorry. I didn’t realise that you are here!’, she apologised and handed us card keys.

Our room was on the second floor and it had a large window facing a courtyard.

Sumptuous beds to stretch out!

After unpacking some of the luggage, we decided to explore Bourges’ old town centre.

Only a few people on the streets

Originally, Bourges was inhabited by the Gauls until Julius Caesar’s forces captured and destroyed it in 52 BC. The Romans reconstructed the town in the Roman style with aqueducts, Roman baths and an amphitheatre. Julius Caesar himself was fond of the place and as a result, the place was substantially equipped and fortified as a stronghold.

In the 12th century, Bourges became a royal city. It was because Eudes Arpin, the Viscount of Bourges, sold his possessions to Philip I, the king of France, in order to finance his crusade. In 1137, his second son, Louis VII, was crowned in the old Cathedral of Bourges while his young wife, Eleanor of Aquitaine, presided. If you are into history of medieval Europe like me, the name like Eleanor of Aquitaine really excite you, doesn’t it? She ran away from her religious husband and into the arms of Henry II of Plantagenet! And this Henry, his feud with Thomas Becket, aka Saint Thomas of Canterbury! It’s so enticing…

After negotiating a few cobbled streets on foot, we reached at the perimeter of the old town centre.

Over the stair into the town centre

Beyond the stone stairs, there was Palais Jacques Coeur, a palatial house of a (very) wealthy French man. And I am going to write about our visit in my next entry!:)

Dinner at Lyon

What an extraordinary period we are experiencing! The BLM movement which is happening globally is, for me, a very positive event and I love it to continue growing until racial discrimination is eradicated. Yes, we are still in amidst of the coronavirus crisis. But something as important as this can’t wait because it will be inconvenient for someone else. The tide is taking over all of us…

Now, let’s go back to one evening in Lyon two years ago.

In the past, I visited more than a few largish French cities such as Rennes, Strasbourg, Aix-en-Provence and Avignon, and they never failed to impress me. Unlike their largest counterpart, Paris, their streets were litter-less and beautifully maintained, and I loved their relaxed atmosphere. And if I were pressed to choose one French city I found the most charming, my answer would have to be Avignon. The city was packed with charm – their pedestrian friendly streets, leafy squares with cafes and restaurants, private boutiques with unique offerings, etc. I loved the place because they had everything I expected from a historic French city in one handy package.

A mellow early evening in Lyon

Having said that, I still recall good vibes which I picked in the late afternoon air of Lyon’s city centre. Lively but civilised, sophisticated yet not snobby, I liked the place very much.

‘So what do you fancy for dinner, mum?’ I asked her as we left our hotel room. ‘Anything. I don’t mind as long as it is not too herby or spicy.’, came her usual reply. ‘Well, it’s very helpful, mum.‘, I sighed.

Can I tell you how my mom can be a real pain when it comes to food? she has so many foods she dislikes, and choosing a restaurant in an unfamiliar place can be very tricky. Her most pet hate is Asian herbs and spices in general therefore Thai or Vietnamese or Indonesian are big no-no. With her, there won’t be any culinary adventure. How sad…

‘Let’s check out rue Mercière. It looks like there are lots of restaurants, according to Google!’

The street was lined with many eateries and some restaurants’ alfresco dining areas were already snapped up by early diners.

Too many places to choose from!

Mum started to say that she wanted Moules-Frites with beer and we sat for a while at one of the outdoor tables of A Belgium restaurant. However, they seemed to be not quite open for business yet and we didn’t see much activities in the inside of the eatery. After sitting around 15 minutes, we gave up and started looking for somewhere else.

‘How about Italian, mum?’ We found anItalian bar/restaurant on rue Thomassin which looked inviting.

Lively but not too raucous…

We were swiftly ushered to a table next the open window by a smiley staff and we eagerly ordered well-earned cold beer…

Ahhh, we missed you!

For dinner, we opted for a platter of antipasto and a plate of multigrain and roasted vegetable salad…

Voilà! Bon appétit 🙂

Mum seemed to enjoy her beer and food. ‘Italian is the safest bet if we are not sure what to eat.’, she smiled as she munched on.

After dinner, we made a detour to a mini supermarket before heading back to a hotel.

La Basilique Notre Dame de Fourvière in the distance

‘Look at these apples!‘

We would have bought a couple of them if the season was right…

Light traveller

This morning, I saw a traffic warden on our street for the first time since the lockdown has started.

They were standing a lot closer…

While the warden was issuing a ticket, a few construction workers came out from a building site nearby and approached him, protesting about the penalty. At one stage, the distance between them was less than 1m even though the confrontation lasted nearly 5 minutes. ‘Gee, is it really necessary? Where is the social-distancing rule?’ I was biting my lips while I was watching the exchange.

Issuing parking fines to construction workers, who weren’t banned from working but also were discouraged to use public transports, was one thing but also sending out those traffic wardens to the street without appropriate protections was another thing I really wanted to question Hackney Council. Sure, they would want to recoup some revenue they lost during the lockdown. But they must also remember that they had their duty to protect everyone from the virus.

Ok, it’s enough for my corona moaning.

As I mentioned in the previous post that mum and I were not light travellers even though we wished to be one. We would love to travel with a minimum luggage like a small carry-on each, instead of being laden with multiple bags of all sizes and makes like Samwise “Sam” Gamgee in The Lords of the Rings and trudging on down the street.

Sam, you travel in style…

When I fantasise about being an light traveller, one image pops up in my mind is a TV advert I watched when I was a teenager. In it, a guy in a pair of faded Levi’s 501 slipped his passport in to the rear pocket and casually walked towards a departure. Needless to say, he had no luggage to hamper his style. Oh, how we would love to be unshackled like him but sadly it would not gonna happen. Do you know why? Let me explain.

We stayed at Le Boulvardier and this was their reception / bar area.

Funky decor, huh?

We didn’t see the staffs when we arrived because the bar was closed then.

A view towards the bar entrance from the street.

During our road trip, we discovered that the majority of the hotels we stayed didn’t have a coffee maker or a hairdryer in the room. We, especially mum, loved drinking coffee and having no facility to make one in our room was a big headache. I imagined that the hotels expected us to go out and have our caffeine fix at cafes nearby. But mum didn’t like French style coffee (she preferred American style) and also she wanted to drink it and relax in the privacy of our own room. ‘I don’t want to go out for coffee first thing in the morning!’, mum would moan.

So, my solution was storing everything we imagined we would need during the holiday, such as a kettle, a hairdryer and a yoga mat(!) in the boot, and bring it (or them) to our room when necessary.

Le Boulvardier’s room was one of those minimalist kinds with very basic amenities – no coffee maker and no hairdryer.

‘Good job that we decided to bring a kettle and a hairdryer from the car then!’

If the car park was near the hotel, I wouldn’t have minded doing a few trips to transport our necessities to our room. However, the parking at Lyon was more than a few streets away from our hotel and therefore I decided to bring everything, a kettle, a hairdryer, cups, etc.

Shame, we didn’t drink at the bar!

One day, we should try to be light travellers by setting a baggage allowance, like one carry-on each. I bet it won’t be easy but we probably can learn to live with a little bit of inconvenience and even enjoy it as an out of ordinary experience…

Exploring Lyon

We alighted the metro at Hôtel de Ville and came out to Place des Terreau. As we approached the square, we saw some white tents and an event was underway.

What is this all about?

It turned out that the event was promoting Paris 2024 Olympics game, letting kids ride stationary bikes and doing some ball games on a makeshift turf.

How could anyone in the square ever imagine Tokyo 2020 would have to be postponed? I sincerely hope we all can cheer the Olympians and Paralympians in 2021 without the fear of COVID-19.

Musée des Beaux-Arts
Fontaine Bartholdi
Hôtel de Ville

‘Shall we walk around the south side of the square as they recommended it?’

One of the shop assistants, who helped mum to choose a pair of sandals after our unsuccessful visit to Monoprix, suggested that the area would have more private shops than Rue de la République area.

Looks promising!

True to her recommendation, we saw more than a few interesting shops along Rue Romaine and Rue Saint-Polycarpe. I bought a canvas tote bag and mum bought some beautiful cards.

Vintage and handmade gems!

After satisfying our pleasure shopping urge, we strolled down Rue Désirée and came out to Place Louis Pradel…

Warm Saturday afternoon
Lovely weather!

As we headed towards a metro station, we encountered a crowd coming out of Opéra National de Lyon and much to our delight, they started singing and dancing!

Carefree joy of pre-coronavirus…

I will most definitely dance in the street when the world is free from this nasty virus, COVID-19!!

Blog at WordPress.com.