Miscellaneous Thoughts

At left is a doggie crypt, which resides in the Musée Lorraine in Nancy. The crypt is for Ninette, a young dog of financier Jacques-Onésyme Bergeret de Grancourt in the 18th Century. I thought it touching he would have such an elaborate mausoleum made for his dog. It made me think of my family's first two labs (Happy and Happy Too) and the Bubbling Well Pet Cemetery in Napa, where my parents have them interred.

Nancy, like Metz, is in the Lorraine region, however, unlike Metz, it is in the Meurthe-et-Moselle department. Like the Musées de la Cour D'or in Metz, the Lorraine Museum has artifacts and descriptions of the ancient history of the region. In my Nancy Photo album, you will see a big golden porte, which is one of the entries to la Place Stanislas. Stanislas Leszczynski was an exiled Polish king who was given the Duchy of Lorraine as compensation when he abdicated.

Macarons, specifically, the macarons of Maison des Soeurs, a confection of egg white, almonds and sugar, are a culinary specialty of Nancy. These are nothing like the macaroons we think of in the US. They are more akin to a soft meringue in density and texture, and not as cloyingly sweet. The recipe for these macarons was developed by two sisters of the convent of Dames du Saint Sacrament, who sold them to earn a living when they took refuge with a local doctor after religious congregations were dissolved during the French revolution. The recipe has been passed on to the successors to their shop, outside of which I lined up with a horde of other tourists so I could send some to my father, sister and niece and bring some home with me, as well.

Information on Nancy...

Wikipedia has an English entry on Nancy: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nancy.

The Nancy tourist board: http://www.ot-nancy.fr/uk/centre_historique/index.php.

I jogged to Parc de la Seille today, and saw two men on the basketball court, so I asked if I could shoot with them for a bit. I have not played basketball in 20 years (and it showed), and am not really a basketball person, but it felt so good to do something athletic again. It is difficult to explain, but there is something more satisfying about moving around on the sports field for me than being stuffed in a fitness center.

The two people turned out to be a director for an after school program for troubled teens, and one of his charges. The kid seemed to like the idea of playing basketball, but like most teens, not really keen on listening to what the instructor was saying, so he was doing layups off the wrong foot. The instructor would explain and demonstrate, and the kid would stand there looking like he was paying attention, and then just do whatever he wanted. Oddly enough, watching them made me miss coaching, and working with that age group (yes, I have worked with athletes younger than college age, I coached a team for underprivileged youth back in the day ... way back). It is not an easy age group to work with, but when you make a breakthrough with them, the rewards are much greater. A few of my friends know these kinds of programs are near and dear to my heart. I am contemplating going back and asking if they need a short-term volunteer. Maybe their bookkeeper wants to take a vacation.

I am picking up a little French from Mickaël. As it turns out, he went to school to teach Spanish. He is a good teacher and takes the time to explain grammatical points when I mess up (which is often). And Liz, if you happen to read this, he knows French, English, Spanish, Sign Language, Arabic and Russian. You have three languages in common (although I guess French Sign Language has some differences from ASL)!

I spent the evening fixing my internet connection. AGAIN! The cellular broadband modem stopped working with my Mac last week, and with my PC today. I did a reinstall on the PC, which worked, but it did not solve the issue with the Mac. I am guessing there is a protocol somewhere that needs to be trashed that I am missing. What a pain. Now that I think about it, I seem to remember this happening with my UK mobile broadband modem last year, and they are both made by Huawei. I wonder if it is a Huawei issue, or if I am the only person in the world this has happened to...


Of Racewalkers and Dogs

Today Metz hosted the European racewalking championships. I passed by the course early in the day, and there were spectators, coaches, and a cadre of volunteers lined up along the sides to offer moral support. As the racers came by, names were announced, and people cheered.

I continued on my way to find Fort de Queuleu, with a quick stop to stare at the construction site of the Centre Pompidou, and a side trip to a Park I happened upon on the way (entry and photos on those to come later, I hope). I also passed a basketball court, and something in me really wanted to play, even though I have not played in over 20 years. I think the competitive urge dies slowly. Maybe it never does.

The walk was a little longer than I anticipated, and I contemplated taking a shorter route home, but wanted to swing by the racecourse again, so I went back. The spectators and the announcer were long gone. Most of the people remaining were volunteers, and even they were silent and looking a little impatient. But there was one volunteer out there, still cheering on every racer that came by with the same enthusiasm I'd seen him display several hours earlier. His name is Henri (blue shirt in photo), and I felt thankful that he was there.

I admit I am not much of a racewalking fan, but back in the day, I ran 10,000 meters on a 400 meter oval (25 laps). The 10,000 was when everyone else went to lunch! Not many people stayed to cheer on the 10k runners, and even fewer hung around long enough to see in the stragglers. I have done my share of straggling, and have always appreciated the few empathetic souls who are there shouting encouragement to the bitter end. This small mention may not be much, but it is my tribute to Henri and others like him.

I went for another short walk after dinner to work out some of the kinks in my legs. On the way home, I passed the bleachers that had been set up for the race, oblivious to much of the hubbub of cleanup going on around me. And then a dog barked and growled, startling me so much I jumped and let out a yelp! There was a shepherd guarding equiment behind a set of barriers, and I had walked too close to his area! I laughed and noticed his handlers sitting nearby. They seemed amused by my reaction, and friendly, so I ran home, grabbed my camera and ran back to ask if I could take a photo of their dog (right - there is another photo of him in my Lorraine Fauna album). He is a beautiful shepherd, lean, with long, lanky legs. His handler had an iphone, and I entered the url for this blog directly into it, and saw yesterday's entry clear as a bell on his screen ... wow!


Made it Through the Holiday

This a quick entry, mainly so I can make available photos I took of someone today...

Luckily, it seems only Didier had both Thursday and Friday off, because all the stores were open again Friday. I complained to a friend that the French take every holiday they possibly can and are therefore lazy (not to Didier), and he pointed out that I was being lazy for not planning ahead and figuring out the holiday schedule. Touché.

No surprise, I was up wandering the stands of the market this morning. I saw Mickaël, who I bought cologne from a few weeks ago. You met him in my Porte des Allemands entry. Since I am being bolder about asking people if I can plaster their photos on the internet for the world (or at least my friends) to see, I asked to take his. That's Mickaël on the right, and there are two more photos of him in my Marché Couvert album.

Pour Mickaël, si vous lisez ce blog: vous pouvez télécharger vos photos dans mon album Marché Couvert. Vous avez trois photos dans cet album.

So far, no one I have asked has dissented, so I am going back to a tiny little hardware store I visited early on to buy replacement handles for my kitchen cabinet sometime soon. I hope the same lady is there!

Just down the street from my apartment, the European Cup of Racewalking starts at 8:00 tomorrow morning, and goes until evening.  I am debating whether I want to check it out.  It is a major event, and will probably be good publicity for the town, and possibly generate revenues.  Racewalking is also governed by the same bodies as Athletics (track & field), so if there is any chance that I will run into someone I know here, this will be it.  I have been out of it so long, though, that there are not many involved in the sport who would remember me at all, and the chances any of them would be at this event would be pretty slim.  I also have to admit that racewalking looks awkward to me.  Maybe I'll just take a quick peek in the morning and then hunt for Fort Queuleu.

By the way, having internet access problems again.  This time they are specific to my Mac, so at least I still have access from my work laptop.  Unfortunately, I cannot download my bank and credit card transactions and auto-reconcile them (I know, I'm high maintenance).  Good thing I will be home in a few weeks for a few weeks.



I am a creature of habit. Nothing is quite a comforting as consistency for me, and though my routine is usually centered around work, I have other little comforts. Everywhere I have lived, there has been some sort of garden, even if tiny, but this building is completely surrounded by concrete. To satisfy my need for greenery, and my urge for fresh herbs when I cook, I bought herb pots at the marché couvert to put on my widow sill. They are tiny compared to my gigantic plants back home, and I find myself having to wait for them to fill in enough so I can use them, as opposed to having an overabundance, but they are sufficient for me. This photo is from my Lorraine Flora album.

The Marché Couvert has also become part of my routine here. Most Saturday mornings, I can be found there with a horde of other tourists and some locals. I furnished my apartment from the vendors there. Granted, with the ugliest sheet set I have ever laid eyes on, but it covers me at night when my eyes are closed, anyway. I have not taken a photo of the ugly sheets, nor will I. I also buy produce there. The photo at right shows the indoor portion, which houses about half the food vendors. The other half are in the U formed by this building. This past weekend, two women selling mushrooms had the most beautiful purple ones! They were so pretty, I bought a bag. Unfortunately, they had a somewhat bland, grassy, hay-like taste. You can see a photo of them in my Marché Couvert photo album. The rest of Saturday I goof off and take photos.

Because everything is closed on Sundays, it is my official cleaning day. Unfortunately for me, it takes less than an hour to clean 25 square meters! I would also make it laundry day, but it's expensive, at least 8€ to wash and dry, and the washing machines are dinky! I hand wash as much as I can at home, and every 1.5 to 2 weeks tote everything else to the laundromat and cram it all into one load (luckily, I don't have many white things that really need to be white). If I end up staying in Metz longer than my current lease, the next place must have a washing machine, and preferably an oven, too. The rest of Sunday I goof off and take photos.

I was on the phone with an old friend, Didier, last night, who mentioned he had a 4-day weekend, because of the holiday, which means all of France has a 4-day weekend! I again did not plan ahead, and spent this morning wandering, looking for an open grocer. No luck. I am surviving today on lettuce, pasta and an apple. I will probably have a sandwich at Mus and Ceto's at some point (Pamukkale, 26 rue Clovis, 57000 Metz, +33 (0)387 56 95 52). You met them on my Porte des Allemands entry, when Ceto caught me sneaking a photo of his menu. They're good people. They make me laugh, put up with my crappy French and make a real effort to converse with me (and correct my French). I respect them a lot. They work their asses off. Mus is taking a vacation for the first time in 3 years this August. He plans to lie in the sun in Turkey and do nothing!

I also try to go to Maison Petry (photo left, rue Gambetta across from Metz Gare) once a week or so for coffee and a pastry. The ladies who run it are very sweet, although I do not know their names! And the pastries are wonderful, flaky crusts, not cloyingly sweet like a lot of American sweets can be, light but moist cakes. Too bad it is too late in the day to go there...

The work routine? Still accruing a salary. Whether it will be paid is another thing, but as long as my boss is still working (or at least is telling me he is) to secure funding, I'll continue to put in the effort for him. Not quite as doggedly as I was before, but then, I was putting in way more effort than my position and compensation called for.

I scan employment ads daily, and though there aren't many options for an American without a work permit, I apply on the off chance I might have something they need and are willing to go through the rigmarole for me. I am also trying to learn about the economic and business environment here to see if I can find some unfilled niche for consulting. No luck, yet. We'll see...

New News: beginning Tuesday, I am trading English conversation for lessons in French (Alsace/Lorraine) cooking with Arnaud, an Engineering instructor I found through Dominique, who runs Atout Lire Bookshop, and teaches English. He was born in Metz and has lived most of his life in Lorraine, and is knowledgeable of the local dishes. He knew most of the dishes I had on my list, except crème brulée (which was my mom's favorite dessert), but volunteered his girlfriend to teach that to me. Maybe she will want to trade for conversation, too?


L'auberge Espagnole

In the last two weeks, I have been to Nancy and wandered about Metz more. I am still slogging through photos to find ones to post, and gathering my thoughts to relate something that would be either informational or somewhat interesting. That could take awhile.

I finally visited the interior of the St Étienne Cathedral today. Unfortunately, the photos I took were a bust. It is tall, and has an incredible collection of stained glass windows. I sat on the floor at the back of the cathedral, behind the organ pipes, trying to take a photo, and noticed the echoes of all the sounds -- babies crying, murmurs, even the wind -- all at the other end! Everything can be heard, and yet, nothing seemed to overpower, although perhaps the latter is because people tend to be a little quieter in churches. It is an incredible space, and although I am not Christian, I was deeply moved by its sheer presence.

This weekend, a series of events were held in honor of the opening of the Centre Pompidou in Metz (which I believe is not fully operational yet. The unaware person I am, I did not know about the festivities until sometime last night, when I happened to see a pamphlet lying under the mailboxes in my apartment building. So today I did a quick tour of a few of the art exhibits, some of which will remain until October, although everything this weekend was free.

There was a giant red half-sphere (dish?) by Anish Kapoor. The plaque on the door describes it as simple yet imposing ... made of a material that both attracts and intimidates. The viewer's image is both reflected and lost... What struck me about this piece, was not the work itself, but the juxtaposition of the symmetric modern piece installed in a symmetric classical room that had been constructed by skilled craftsmen. I do not know if it was meant to be displayed in such a manner, but it stirred, at least in me, both fascination and repulsion.

FRAC (Fonds Regional d'Art Contemporain) Lorraine hosted À Contre-Corps/Countering the Body, a collection of works centered around a devouring theme. There is black string over everything, including the entry courtyard. At first, I hesitated to walk on it, but it was the only way in, and then I saw others tromping all over it and figured that was expected... and it was! The string theme leads through the museum to different exhibits, a collection of photos with blindfolded participants "devouring" food laid out on a man's abdomen, a video of mouths. Again, fascinating but disturbing. The photo shows the end (or is it the beginning) of the strands of string, with lonely (bored?) docent slouching in the corner.

At the Musées de la Cour d'Or, an Alexander Calder retrospective, a timeline of his life and achievements, a series of mobiles, films of him and his works. There was one film in which the expressionless Calder made mechanical toys of circus animals of his making go through a miniature circus act, life-size scaled down to tiny. Again, something a little creepy about it, reminding me of a Stankmeyer film, but interesting. It also reminded me of a project my housemate, Steven, developed with one of his partners. They did the opposite of Calder, scaling up the tiny, by making the game, Mousetrap, life-size. Steven has moved on, but his partner still travels with that manifestation.

Across from FRAC, a sound display. A film of a cellist (whose name slips my mind) playing next to a canyon, the sounds melding, as the echos rebound to join the new sounds emanating from her instrument. When I arrived, Veronique (in the photo), who was greeting people at the door, offered to show me through the display, since she could speak English. Veronique translated what the other docents were saying for me. She has applied for a position at the new Centre Pompidou-Metz, and if anyone there happens to see this, she is a wonderful person and extremely helpful.

From the museums, I headed to Place Saint-Louis, where I was to see the highlight of my day. A band was mechanically playing the standard pop/oldies/dance pieces, like they were reading from sheet music. There were three "cannons" shooting out soap bubble "snow" over the dance area, where adults and children alike were jumping around, having a good time. The band played some Latin beats, but I have to say that no one dances to Latin beats like Latinos -- tall, proud, shoulders level, yet relaxed, smooth, and well, the hip thing! In the words of Liz Guerrini (née Zaragoza), the French (she actually said Europeans, I think) cannot move their hips. The theme of the dance was L'auberge Espagnole (Spanish inn), although I have to say that other than those few songs, I did not notice anything else that was Spanish, and really, those rhythms belong to Latin America and Africa rather than Spain.

And then I saw them. A couple who had certainly danced together for some time, was gliding across the floor. They moved, smoothly, assuredly, using the whole floor, with a grace that far outpaced anything else moving out there. They were relaxed and obviously enjoying themselves, and indeed a joy to watch as well. My camera batteries were running low, plus, my eye is also not quite as good, nor my shutter as quick as it used to be, but I hope I have captured some of their joyfulness.

Et je les ai vu. Un couple ce qui a bien sûr dansé ensemble pour un long temps, ils ont glissé à travers la piste de danse. Ils avancèrent, doucement, sûrement, employèrent toute la piste de danse. Ils ont été relâché et manifestement ils sont s'amusés, et vraiment une joie pour regarder. Les piles pour mon camera ont diminué, mon oeil n'est pas très bien, et mon obturateur n'est pas très vite, mais j'éspère que j'aie saisi leur joie de vivre un peu.

At some point, I remembered how much I actually enjoy photographing people. There is something about the human character that adds life to an image.

Pendant le séance, je me souvins que j'aime prendre les photos des gens. Il y a quelque chose sur le caractère humain ce que faire la vie dans un image.

I did not catch their names, but I did obtain their permission to use their photos in this blog, and left the url for them. I hope they have the chance to visit and download their photos!

Je ne sais pas ses noms, mais ils me permettent d'utiliser leur photos dans cet blog. J'éspère qu'ils puissent visiter et télécharger leur photos.

Photos for this entry are in my Metz Events album (there are other photos there as well).

Les photos pour cette note sont dans mon album Metz Events (il y a les autres photos, aussi).


Fort de Bellecroix

Sunday, the 10th of May dawned, you guessed it, grey and threatening rain! I think I can count on one hand the number of clear, sunny days since I arrived in early April. I donned my rain jacket, and headed out toward rue La Fayette to make my way to Forte de Bellecroix, the last leg in my exploration of the Circuit des Remparts

From what I can tell, Forte de Bellecroix was conceived by military engineer Vauban in the 17th century, and implemented by his succesor, Louis de Cormontaigne, in the 18th century (and strengthened by Napoleon at the end of the 19th century) to reinforce the East side of Metz. Portions of the barracks were destroyed in 2008, considered to have decayed too much to be safe, and what is left is being renovated for living, retail and office spaces.

Since I actually sort of planned my destination ahead of time, I actually had an idea in mind of where I was going, and noticed little markers that pointed to the path. Still, I managed to miss the boundaries of where the fort began! I just sort of guessed that when I was surrounded by stone walls that I was there.

Not knowing anything about military terminology, I can only say the Fort is a double crown, with an alley down the middle. The foot path takes you down the middle, and there are little side paths to explore as well. I started exploring a couple of side paths, then thought better of it, because they are fairly densely wooded, and I was alone. However, I did see my usual amount of garbage, and this time, something as large as an abandoned motorcycle, which you can see in my Circuit des Remparts photo album.

I have read about underground galleries at the fort, although I did not see any while I was there (maybe they are on the side paths?). I did, however, see a low, covered passage, which you can see in the album. There are plaques along the walls that show you what you are viewing (you can see one in the album, too), but I have to be honest and say I had no idea what some of them meant! I saw quite a few mention gathering places for troops, and wasn't sure whether they meant between the walls, or at the top.

I know I complain about the weather a lot, but I do have to admit that everything is lush and green, right now. This photo is of a flower I took on the grounds, and if you look carefully, you might be able to tell that the dot on it is a bug!

The walk home was relatively uneventful, with a stop at a bakery in centre ville (the only ones open on Sundays) for bread, and another at an ice cream truck by the Moselle. However, not ten minutes after I walked in the door of the aparment, I heard LOUD pattering outside. I looked out the window, and buckets of rain were pouring out of the sky! It went on for a good five or ten minutes, and then stopped just as suddenly as it started. This has happened once or twice a day since then. Strange weather for the gal from California, where rain is more like a light, but steady sprinkle on occasion (we have a lot of droughts).

Side note: underlined blue text and photos on this page are clickable links to other pages and larger versions of the photos. Also, I found on the Merriam-Webster dictionary website, an illustration of different battlements!


Porte des Allemands

Last Sunday was a bit drizzly, but I wanted to get out for my walk, so I headed to the Porte des Allemands, the last of the medieval fortifications, built around 1230. The Porte des Allemands gets its name from a hospital, Notre Dame des Allemands, founded by Teutonic knights, although I have no clue as to WHY they would name a fortification after a hospital. Again, Wikipedia seems to have the most information on it, and it is in French. The photos in this entry are from my Circuit des Remparts album on Picasa, and there are photos there I don't mention or post here, as well.
I approached the Porte from across the street, and it looked promising, with its four towers. I crossed the street, walked through the arched entrance, turned toward one of the towers to find the entrance into it... and it was blocked! I walked around to see if I had missed it somehow on the street, but no. There was no going up into the tower. Same for the other three. Actually, there was no going into any of the interior spaces other than the courtyard area, because everything had either been walled or gated off. Arrgh! I did notice that the floor tiles were patterned, which had to have been a laborious process when they were made, so I walked up to the gate to take a photo, and saw garbage thrown into the room, just as I had the previous day along the ramparts. And then, it hit me - the scent of urine that pervaded everything! In a town where trash is collected three days a week (four, if you count recycling), I am amazed at how much of it there is strewn about everywhere. Theoretically, you could leave a bag of rubbish in front of someone's house - it would certainly be picked up! As for restrooms, Metz has two McDonald's and several street toilets (which, granted, cost money, but not that much). People can be disgusting. Trying not to get any part of me to touch any part of the building other than the soles of my shoes on the ground, I crouched down to take the photo of the tiles.

[edit: Thank you, Caroline, for letting me know that the ancient monuments, such as the Porte, are maintained entirely by volunteers. This would explain why access is restricted and the difficulty in keeping up with litter that collects. Please, when you visit, be sure to clean up after yourself.]

On my way home, I passed a sandwich restaurant advertising Américain Frites. As I was taking the photo of the sign, I looked up into the window, and saw the owner staring at me in confusion. I wasn't sure if he was going to laugh or run me out of his town, so I gave him my best cheesy smile and waved. Luckily, he waved back. Feeling very much like a teenager caught thumbing through her parent's porn collection, I ran off down the street!

I felt a little guilty about not buying something there (I also feel compelled to buy something from places that let me use their restrooms), so after I cleaned off some of the ick of my day, I headed back to order the Américain. By this time, both owners were there, and curious as to why I would take a photo of their menu. And one of them wanted me to take his photo. His name is Mus (pronounced like moose), and he is in my Lorraine Fauna album striking a glamorous pose. Ceto, the one who caught me in the first place is also there, seated in an orange shirt.
I forgot to mention before that at the Market last Saturday, I bought a knock-off perfume for the first time ever. I actually don't know what brand of perfume it was supposed to smell like, but I needed something for the apartment to mask the cigarette smoke from my neighbors. I bought it from Mikael, who is young enough to be my son, and seems to like to flirt. As I was leaving, Mikael gave me his phone number, and said "I like women, not girls, if you know what I mean." Which I think means he wants a cougar. I am keeping it as my prize for still being able to have young men give me their numbers!


Chemin des Corporations

I spend a lot of free time walking in Metz, partly due to neither having a car nor taking the time to figure out the bus system, and partly due to the fact that there is a lot within walking distance that is interesting. Last Saturday, I trudged along the Moselle again, where it joins the Seille, to explore the Chemin des Corporations, a rampart dating from the Middle Ages, which at its longest in the 15th century, stretched for 7 km.  Today, a short stretch of walls and towers remains along the banks of the Seille.

The Chemin des Corporations is so named because corporations (which I think are actually trade associations) maintain them in times of peace (and theoretically, protect them during war).  It is part of the Circuit des Remparts, which also includes the Porte des Allemandes and Forte Bellecroix.  Everyone else does the circuit in one shot, but I have to be different and cover each on different days and separate entries, because I am slow!

I discovered the ramparts accidentally! I was walking down the Moselle (Northward, but downriver) and saw a huge wall with a drainspout filled with grass and flowers, and thought it was pretty, so I took a photo of it. A sign on the grass below described the walls and towers, so I decided to see what it was about.

I walked through an entry on a path that wound by a series of towers behind a wall overlooking the river.  Entrances to the towers themselves were blocked, so passers-by can only look through the windows, which is a disappointing sight, as garbage is strewn about everywhere!

The wall overlooking the river has arrow slits along it. Considering the narrow vantage afforded by the slits, I am amazed that these things were effective for defense, and yet, they were standard in Medieval castles, so they must have been!

Coming out of the walled area, I was on the bank of the Seille, and headed upriver. In my photo of the river in the album, there is a man fishing under the tree on the right, which should give you some perspective as to its size.

I turned back in toward Centre Ville, heading across the narrow streets. I passed a yard with a group of people relaxing at a table, and saw a gawky brown tabby kitten walking across. The cat saw me stop at the fence and pick up my camera, became curious, walked over, and propped itself up on the wall to get a better look. Unfortunately, I had focused the camera before the cat made it into the viewfinder, so kitty is fuzzy and the background is sharp, but you can still see how cute she was! She reminded me of my own group of quadripedal fuzzies back home, and how much I miss them, especially my little Mini cat -- the others will accept food and attention from anyone, but Mini is bonded to me. I feel especially guilty, because I let Piglet sleep with me my last few nights at home. Mini is terrified of Piglet, and would not go near my room. Okay, confession over.

I walked all the way back to the Moselle side (not much of a feat, it's a narrow town), watched some kayakers, took photos of interesting graffiti on some planters, which I'll hopefully have in an album soon, and on one of the bridges, passed a family making their way on little push scooters! I thought they looked cute, and … took a photo!

As an aside, there are now two other people living on my floor (I was the only one at first).  I was fawning over my herb plants yesterday, when Dimitry walked up to my window and introduced himself.  He is an engineer and lives in the apartment in front of mine.  This morning, Farida knocked on my door to introduce herself.  She is in the front apartment on the other side, so there is another apartment separating hers from mine.  I still see the other three neighbors I met earlier ... and still do not know their names!  The one man stops on occasion and attempts conversation.  I decided it is better to respond with more than "oui," "non" and "pourriez vous répéter, s'il vous plaît?" (could you repeat, please?), so I have taken to responding to him in Franglish.  I admire his patience.  Sometimes we chatter for several minutes, and I have no idea what either of us has said!

The photos in this entry are from my Circuit des Remparts album:

Circuit des Remparts

More about The Circuit des Remparts can be found on the Parks and Gardens Promenades du Centre and the Circuit des Remparts pages of the Ville de Metz websites, however, there is not much there, and it's all in French. If anyone finds anything with more detail, in any language, please let me know!


Musées de la Cour d'Or

For photos mentioned in this entry, please view my Musées de la Cour d'Or album on Picasa.

Saturday, the 25th of April began the same way most mornings have started since I arrived in Metz, cool, overcast, threatening rain.  I decided an indoor activity was the best plan for the day, and headed to Musées de la Cour d'Or (Golden Court museums).  There are three main sectors, each a collection of local artifacts:  Musée archéologique; Musée d'architecture; and Musée des Beaux-Arts.

The museum's curators created a set path for viewing, so you see everything in the order in which they want you to see them.  I appreciate the structure, but I can see how others would prefer a more freeform manner of meandering through (there are a few points where you can hop from one area to another and review or skip portions).

The archaeological collection begins in the Gall-Roman era, and an unearthed section of Roman baths.  The collection includes artifacts of worship (see Autel à Bachus photo), objects used in daily life (medical implements photo), and funeraria (photos: cremation urn; reconstructed tomb).  The era ends with an Autel à Mithra (pictured here).  According to the museum signage, Mithraism is Iranian in origin, although that is debated by David Ulansey.  Quite a mystery!

I stopped taking many photos and started rushing through when I reached the Middle Ages and Architecture.  I had arrived in the afternoon, after combing the Marché Couvert for housewares and interesting foods, wasn't sure what time the museum closed, and it was getting awfully quiet!  I move through museums more slowly than everyone, because I read everything (though I don't necessarily retain all I read).  Anyway, I seem to remember more tomb recreations (from a Necropolis south of Metz), examples of coinage, a timeline, and a map depicting who was where and when, which I did try (unsuccessfully) to photograph.

Metz architecture has Roman and Gothic influences, and the civil (as opposed to military) 13th century buildings have an Italian influence:  towers that mimic dungeons; low roofs set back from the walls, creased in their upper parts to act as rain gutters.

One of the first paintings I noticed in the art section was St Christopher carrying the infant Jesus, by Peter Huys (pictured).  At first glance, I thought it was something by Heironymous Bosch, because of all the weird background activities.  It is not something I would want in my house, but it was like a train wreck ... I had to stare!

Leaving the museum, I walked around the building to get a feel for where I had been, and found myself at Place Jeanne d'Arc (she is from Lorraine, a little town called Domremy, and her parents' home is now a museum), in front of Eglise Saint-Ségolène.  I am amazed at the number of churches here, given the size of the city!  This one dates from the 13th century, and like many Metz buildings, is built from a honey-coloured stone known as Jaumont.

The museums are in old-town Metz, where streets are narrow, and likewise, walking areas are narrow.  It can be quite scary when cars zoom by!  The photo in the album shows a street with (relatively) wide pavement.

I dragged my tired legs back to the studio, where I sprinkled thyme from a plant I bought at the marché (I have that, rosemary, sage and basil, all perched in a row on my windowsill) onto a chicken breast and cooked it and an eggplant in my single sauté pan (I have two pans, but I use one to boil water for tea) on one of two electric burners, which have all the responsiveness of a snail!