Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Travel on to Avallon

One of the resource books that we used to find our way around, mentioned a municipal camp site at Avallon, France, which we decided to check out. After numerous gyrations around town we finally tracked it down only to find it closed because the entry road had fallen into the river. We ended up abandoning the town and finally found a rest area 10 or fifteen miles further on. However, in the morning, being in a better humor, we decided to go back check it out a little more.
Avallon, like so many other ancient towns all across Europe, is built on a rock, expressly to provide some defense against the numerous marauders that happened by over the last two thousand years or so. Apparently, this scheme was less than foolproof since the place changed hands frequently, being controlled at various times by Celts, Romans, local Kings, Goths, regional Dukes, national Monarchies and so on. Finally, it seems, the locals decided to simply go with the flow and concentrated on making biscuits and gingerbread instead of fighting invaders and thus the town is still more or less intact and reasonably peaceful.
As usual, we parked outside of town and walked in, climbing up through steep terraces criss-crossed by walkways and peppered with tiny vegetable gardens. Many of the houses we passed had canine security guards, and no two houses were alike.
The town itself is unremarkable for the region - the central church, St Lazare, dates from the 12th century while the clock-tower over the gated entry is eleventh century.

Strangely, although we observed very few French people wearing hats, most towns that we visited had one or more hat stores of a caliber that would only be found in the largest of cities in the US. I wonder if closet hat-wearing is a popular diversion in France?
Try getting this one by city hall planners. The little sliver of sloping ground between these two roads has been completely consumed by a custom structure maximizing the use of the space.
Finally, here is a snap of the terraced homes, outbuilding, walkways and garden allotments crammed into every square foot of usable land.

No comments: