Archive for the ‘France’ Category

In case you’re interested, this is roughly the route we took on our 2 week trip along the Loire river. A very rough estimate is 410 miles all in over a 10 day period.

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Here are some odd leftovers. To see the whole gallery, click here to go to my flickr set.

1. I’m not sure what this funnel building was in the back or even what town this was, but I thought it looked cool and weird.

2. A gargoyle in Tours.

3. Bicycle and wheat.

4. Goat on a haystack.

5. Cat on a hot tin roof in Tours.

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This is a great little wine town in France. Look out for it on your next wine list. For some reason the photos of Sancerre turned out great. We climbed the town tower and were able to get the views you see below. I can’t believe we cycled up those hills. I was dog-tired when we finally got to the town.

Sancerre had some of the best food in France, and our best accomodation of the trip came from a wonderfully stylish and friendly Frenchwoman who owned a bed and breakfast called La Belle Epoque. If you ever go, you should stay there.

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Foie Gras Burger

On our recent trip to France, foie gras was ubiquitous. I doubt there was one menu where it didn’t make an appearance. Asking the French to give up foie gras is like asking Americans to stop driving. While it may be the right thing to do, it’s not going to happen.

Jake ordered this foie gras burger in Nevers. You can’t really eat it like a burger. Every bite would be way to rich. It was delicious and decadent though.

As an aside, I should have my France pictures to post any day now. Editing them is taking a lot longer than I thought.

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Yesterday we returned from our Loire River cycling holiday in France. To even begin to tackle all of the photos I took and decide which ones to post is overwhelming, so I decided for my first post to focus on the Loire River itself. I hope you enjoy them.

1. One of the many Loire signs on bridges to be found.

2. The Loire River is sometimes called the last untamed river in Europe. The currents are unpredictable and sand dredging up until the 19th Century was a huge project. When trains came along the river was left to her own devices. As you can see it is indeed wild.

3. A fisherman.

4. These signs helped us navigate the trail. The bicycle trail is called the La loire à vélo.

5. Here’s a sample of what the trail looked like when it was actually a trail. We did go off the trail many a time and found little difficulty sharing the road with cars.

6. The Bridge at Beaugency. Built by the devil in one day.

7. Amboise.

8. Pique Nique on the Loire.

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“I knew that the day Rafa wasn’t in the final I would be there and I would win,” said world number two Federer.

Here is a touching moment from Roger Federer that quite frankly surprises me. So many sports figures are afraid to show their vulnerability. Roger is no different. Usually. But here he admits that if he just kept trying one of these days Nadal wouldn’t make the final and then it would be his. He admits he couldn’t win against Nadal. It’s a great moment of triumph and determination.

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…showing the decreasing size of the Grande Armée as it marches to Moscow and back with the size of the army equal to the width of the line. Temperature is plotted on the lower graph for the return journey (Multiply Réaumur temperatures by 1¼ to get Celsius, e.g. −30°R = −37.5 °C)

I thought Jake might like this. Click on the link for the larger image. Information on the march at Wikipedia.

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I have to say I’m really enjoying watching Jean Gabin movies. Thus far, we haven’t seen a bad film. Sure there are some we like more than others but they’re all pretty good. The exception might be Golgotha which we found out was dubbed and promptly ejected it.

Here he is in La Bandera. You know, movies were so much more topically varied back then (1935.) I mean can you imagine a writer pitching this story to a studio executive today: “This is going to be a great movie. It’s about this guy who has to leave France because of a dark secret and he ends up in Spain and he joins the Spanish Foreign Legion. He later goes to a bar called ‘Flat Chests.’ The people will love it.”

I nonetheless enjoyed this film.

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Bill Maher on France

This video is a little old, but still funny.

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La Bete Humaine

Jake and I are currently on a Jean Gabin kick. Of the films that we’ve seen are Pepe Le Moko, Port of Shadows, La Grande Illusion and La Bete Humaine.

Here is a clip from the beginning of La Bete Humaine. With virtually no dialogue it’s a great peak into the lives of rail engineers. Watch until 4:52.

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I have this story of the time I went to Paris and I tried to find the Bastille only I was actually expecting to find the Bastille itself. I felt very stupid, but I have a friend who did the same thing so clearly it’s not that unusual. The confusion comes from the fact that the Bastille is a location on the map and that there is a monument. But there isn’t a Bastille.

July 14th is Bastille Day. Here’s a video describing the historical events.

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Captain Ahab, a prequel to Moby Dick, premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2004, but somehow it hasn’t yet been distributed in the U.S. It’s truly a beautiful film full of atmosphere. The film is in French as you’ll see in the following clip and contains numerous images framed as a portrait.

The music is out of this world. I think I recognized a bit of Mazzy Star, but all the music in the film is fabulous. I wish it were available as a soundtrack.

Perhaps my favorite film thus far at SIFF.

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Here’s an interesting article about the similarity with the Prime Minister of the U.K. and our own Hillary Clinton:

They are tacticians, not strategists. Neither seems able to focus on the longer-term or the bigger picture. Neither is blessed with an appealing personality, neither seems to appreciate that these days candour wins more points than trying to play both sides of an issue in an effort to appeal to as many interests as possible. In a cynical age, admitting error is more likely to impress than pretending, robot-style, that everything is always under control.

These are not comfortable times for incumbents (and in the Democratic context Clinton should be considered the incumbent). Nicolas Sarkozy achieved the striking feat of appearing to offer change and glamour despite representing the incumbent party; Silvio Berlusconi’s triumph in Italy is another indication that voters are attracted to candidates that, however flawed, offer something like flair and excitement. A victory for Boris Johnson in the London Mayoral race will strengthen the sense that glamour and idiosyncracy are back in fashion.

Indeed, turbulent economic times may demand politicians who offer cheer as well as diligence; inspiration as well as perspiration…

What is Hillary Clinton for beyond the advancement and greater glory of Hillary Clinton? What is her campaign about? She has never given a satisfactory answer. Similarly, what is Gordon Brown’s ministry for? What does he want to achieve that his party could not achieve in its first ten years in power? Again, the answer is hard to discern. As with Mrs Clinton there is an unfortunate whiff of entitlement about Brown. He doesn’t deserve to be Prime Minister because he has a compelling, sweeping vision for the future but because, well, because he’s waited a jolly long time and it’s his turn to be Prime Minister. But that’s not enough. Is there anything actually there? It’s hard to say.

Via Andrew Sullivan.

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Ah yes, the U.S. is planning on blowing up a satellite.

The Pentagon is considering whether to shoot down a failed spy satellite that could come crashing back to Earth by March, senior U.S. military officials said Thursday.

But wasn’t it just one year ago that we condemned China for doing the same thing?

China’s action drew sharp protests from other nations with satellite programs — a predictable response that experts said dramatically illustrates Chinese willingness to face broad international criticism when it comes to space, which Beijing considers a key part of the push to modernize its military and increase its ability to compete in high-tech warfare.

“The U.S. believes China’s development and testing of such weapons is inconsistent with the spirit of cooperation that both countries aspire to in the civil space area,” National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe said yesterday. “We and other countries have expressed our concern regarding this action to the Chinese.”

I guess we were peeved because that whole billion dollar plus Missile Defense System proposed by Bush would kind of be a waste of money if anyone could just use a missile to blow up one of the key satellites. I mean look at how grand it was supposed to be.

President Bush’s act to deploy a national, and eventually a global, missile defense system is the final step toward achieving a dream announced nearly two decades ago by President Reagan. Reagan’s dream of an America safe from missile attack will soon become reality.

You’ve got to admire the Chinese for their audacity. It’s kind of like the Germans crossing through neutral Belgium in World War II on their way to France thus completely ignoring the impressive front on the French side. Which makes us about as gullible as the French were, creating a billion dollar protection system that relies on our enemies playing by the rules.

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Australian Open finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga lost to Croatia’s Mario Ancic in straight sets in the first round of the Marseille Open on Wednesday.The seventh seed suffered a 7-5 7-6 defeat with Ancic, the former world number seven, in scintillating form.

Ouch, not only is the tournament in France, but it’s in ethnically diverse Marseille. I still have hope. He’s young.

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