Friday, August 05, 2005

Europe 2005 - Northern France

Our trip is almost at an end, we have re-entered France.
Bayeux- L. had to study the Bayeux tapestry for the art history class she took so she wanted to see it. It is a 70 meter long embroidered piece of cloth from the year 1139. Its amazing something so fragile exists that is so big from that time. The tapestry tells the story (sometimes very detailed- like what they had for dinner) of what happened in 1139. (basically the Norman duke crosses the English channel, kills the king and takes over.) the funny thing is that you really get the impression that France really wanted to drive home the fact that someone from there had conquered England and they were the last ones to do it. First they have an Artsy interpretive slide show complete with 80's style synthesizer sounds. Second they have a 70m long cloth that explains all the important parts (such as the invading, and the killing of the king.)Third they built scale models of the castles destroyed, the knights armor and such. Forth you watch a movie that again explains the tapestry. Now each of these different things causes a crowd of people to form so they really feel like separate exhibits. Finally after 1 more line- the tapestry. It looks really cool and they have it in a "U" shape to fit in the room. Since it is embroidered all the color is still there and you get the story one more time.
Normandy Beaches- we drove along the beach for a while and saw Utah, and Omaha beach along with the British and Canadian grave sites for W.W.II. There are still concrete barriers in the water and some bunkers left but the very beautiful beaches hide really well how many people died there.
Rouen- We wanted to come here to see where Joan of Arc was put on trial and burned and that was cool since they built a modern looking church over the spot. But Rouen is also where the cathedral is that Monet painted the cathedral so many times as impressionism examples. (very good series of examples showing fleeting light plays a bigger role then the object being painted.) At night they projected Monet's paintings onto the cathedral itself. It is one of the most beautiful things we have seen. The lines of the church melt away and it really looks like a giant painting that fills your entire view. They then project modern art interpretations onto the church only stressing certain lines complete with showing the shadows of flying birds and trees swaying in the wind. Your field of view is full of this church as it changes color and it is very overwhelming. I am happy that this is something that looks so good but also does not exploit what made the thing famous to begin with. I think Monet would be proud since this does the same thing he was trying to display with his paintings.

Driving- the crucifixes are back. They are only when you crest a hill or something though so it appears that the farmers are using them as double duty for scarecrows over the corn fields too.

Food- if anyone is wondering, snails have the exact same texture as clams without the occasional sandy crunch. They were also served like mussels where the only thing you taste is the garlic and butter. Quite tasty, and I recommend them to anyone.

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