Saturday, 4 June 2011

Ici mon bus pass

Hooray!! Hourra!!! We have arrived!! Nous avons arrive!!!
After months of saving, planning, researching and preparing - we're in France. This blog post starts on day three of the 'grande' tour.
We are comfortably pitched at L'Orangerie de Lanniron, Quimper (pronounced Compere allegedly), Brittany. The travel lag is wearing off and we're starting to relax into our wonderful surroundings. This idyllic spot was once the home of the Bishops of Cornwall - they certainly knew where and how to live. The site is on the side of the River Odet with the Chateau (formerly the Bishops Palace) positioned with terraced gardens stepping down to the river bank.
River Odet @ Quimper
We strolled into Quimper (2km) yesterday and found a lovely town built along one bank of the river Odet, the other side being tree covered cliffs. The Curious Fish noticed that the local Gallery of Arts was holding a Turner and Monet exhibition. We arrived their a little late in the day due to mingling in the Cathedral Square with the locals enjoying folk singing and eating crepes and were told it would be better for us to return another day (autre jour) as we would not have enough time to enjoy the exhibition before the gallery closed.

As advised we ventured back today and amidst lots of very good (but very common theme religious paintings) saw three excellent small Monets and two Turners. The larger Turner of  The Harbour of Brest (painted 1827) was very beautiful and frankly breathtaking. It is on loan from The Tate Gallery in London.

The French Language continues to be a problem in the sense that we are very poor at hearing and comprehension. In a nutshell we can ask a question but 'Oh My Lord' what did the answer mean??There have been quite a few gobsmacked moments. Fotunately (and embarassingly) the vast majority of the population of Brittany have a good command of the English Language even although they don't use it on a day to day basis.
The Curious Fish and I are determined to master this appalling lack of ability and are now considering private tuition with a fluent (preferably native) French speaker if we can locate such a person at home.
Returning to the Turner and Monet exhibition the Curious Fish was determined to find out if we could get a reduced entrance fee due to our age. After some considerable laughter we thought her initial preparation of the sentence Ici mon bus pass was a little lacking in substance.
She thought further and practiced Est-ce-que en offre speciale pour les personnes du troisième âge? This enquiry which was beautifully delivered received one reply we did understand ...."Non" from the smiling ticket seller.
As we stroll into town we pass a memorial which was recently erected (10/5/2010) in the grounds of L'Orangerie (see photo). This memorial is to the memory of the prisoners of the second World War who were interned in the grounds at Lanniron Stalag 135. My understanding of a Stalag is that it is a Prison Camp for non commissioned officers and privates.

If my translation of the plaque is correct the camp held 2000 French soldiers and 7746 soldiers from the French Colonies in Africa and Asia until liberation on 8th August 1944. At this point the fortunes of war turned and 3853 German prisoners were interned until the camp was closed in June 1946.

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