Peck's personal Web site
breaks from poring over the newspapers as the Bushies implode
may not find this tangibly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a
good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught
up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.
and the Citadelle
ancient fortress with the birds and lions
the capital of the region of Franche-Comté, a town of 120,000 (50,000 more
in the 'burbs) not far to the north of us along the TGV train line from Lausanne
to Paris. The old town, "le Boucle", is planted on any oxbowy loop in
the mighty river Doubs, which must be one of the
world's more meandery rivers, popping out of the Jura mountains in Mouthe, just
near us here in the Jura, heading northeast for a long ways nearly to Basel, and
then turning west without a care in the world, then north for a while, then southwest
again until it joins the Sâone out near Dijon and bolts off southward. Almost
completing a circle.
was called Vesontio when Julius Caesar saw it, with
a nice wooden fence around it in the middle of the oxbow -- that evolved into
Besontion not long after the town became a bishopric
evidently as early as the 2nd century (and the locals are still called "Bisontins";
not to be confused with "Byzantines"). The town married into the Habsburgs
in the 16th century, and in 1668 the Spanish Habsburgs began constructing the
Citadel (at the bottom-right of the aerial photo above, which we found up on the
wall near a bus stop) following a design by the famous French military architect
and siege engineer Vauban. Louis XIV's French troops
took the city in 1674 and needed someone to upgrade the fortress, and handed the
job to Vauban (it was completed in 1711).
here on a grey Sunday in late October 2005, so things are blessedly pretty empty
-- everyone's probably off to the NASCAR races outside of town. Which made our
time in the exceptional Musée des Beaux-Arts more like a private showing.
the Eglise St-Pierre, which the narrator will remember always because it's located
just next to a tiny café that places significant emphasis on the massive
local specialty of cheese and sausage, something to die for. Or at least go lie
down for the rest of Sunday afternoon.
unsuccessfully to walk off the local lunchtime specialties, we turn up the drizzly
high street in search of the famous Citadelle de Vauban
on top of the hill above the neck of the Doubs oxbow.
the cheese or the sausage would have been fine by itself, but together they are
withstanding gravity badly. Here is the main gate of the Citadelle, looking much
as it did 20 years ago when her Fond Papa brought Young Marlowe here . . . to
see the lions!
is from the tourist brochure -- LOOK at this great hilltop
fortress. Aside from four restaurants and "sandwicheries", it's
got an aquarium, an insectarium, a climatorium, and a "noctarium" featuring
animals that only come out at night. And it's got a local museum of the region,
and a little something on Vauban, and, second best of all, an extraordinary museum
of the French WWII Resistance movement and the Deportations that's located in
the long barracks in the centre. Best of all, it's got a ZOO,
nicely tucked into the ramparts neatly blocking off the city from attack from
the south (i.e., Switzerland).
big parade ground in the centre, with the Resistance museum on the right.
zoo in the ramparts
forced to choose between the lions (left), the birds (ahead), and the monkeys
(right), not an easy decision for anyone
down there behind that wall-sort of thing, but hard to see in this picture. Trust
me, they looked like normal lions, just fine, very sleepy but otherwise okay.
birds and what not, nestled into the fortications
space unused. These are the monkeys!! Some of them kind of disgusting.
that's Kristin, gazing at strange sheep or goats in the moat.
and its fortress are definitely worth a visit.
The sites http://www.besancon-tourisme.com/
and http://www.besancon.fr/ are okay, but http://www.citadelle.com
is a great Web site. With video clips of the lions, too. And "Goodies"
(not originally a French word) like desktop wallpaper and e-cards.
and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, .
All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 27 January 2006, revised 6 February