After the slight travel difficulties of the previous day but revived by an excellent meal and a great night’s sleep I decided it was time to see Macon. I knew it was a bit of a trek back into the centre but I didn’t mind as I had nothing specific to do and all day to do it. Situation normal for Fergy really.
I mentioned in the previous entry that my hotel was stuck in the middle of an industrial estate right on the Southern outskits of town and hopefully at least one of the images shows that. However, that rather dreary scenery soon disappeared as I made it to the beginnings of the residential suburbs of the city.
One of the first things I “discovered” was a memorial to the Maquis (resistance fighters) of the Second World War which was located adjacent to a very busy roundabout. Regular readers of my contributions here and elsewhere will know that I have a great interest in military history and that extends to war memorials and war graves and so I naturally stopped for look. Headgear (my trusty bandanna) duly removed as I always do, I set about trying to translate the various plaques there and reckon I got the gist of it pretty well. As best I can understand it, after the liberation of Frnce following D-Day the local Maquis (French Resistance fighters) formed themselves into a commando unit, designated the 4th Battalion of Cluny and went on to fight until the end of the war, assisting in the advance into Germany. That was a good start to my day.
I then passed a pub / resturant which was closed but I didn’t think much about it as it was a Monday lunchtime and maybe they only opened in the evening. Almost opposite that was the rather grand looking Church of St. Clement you can see in some of the images. Regrettably it, like the bar, was shut but I did notice a sign speaking about an archaeological site which had been discovered under the Church. Great stuff. Wrong. Also shut and only open to organised groups with a minimum of 48 hours notice. Not so good. Nothing to do but keep walking which is what I did. I knew I was getting close to the centre of town and the bars were becoming more frequent. Every last one of them was shut. Basically Macon does not open on a Monday. Never mind the bars, most of the shops were shut and the rather large police station was not even open for business! It was unreal.
You cannot move in this part of the world without finding memorials to the obscenity of what happened to the French people at the hands of the Germans only one generation ago. If I have the translation correct, this particular example which I passed and which, as you can see, was beautifully tended including obviously recent flowers, relates to the shooting in the street of some Frenchmen although I am unsure if it was a public murder (I willnot dignify it by calling it an execution which indicares some form of judicial process) or whether it was a shootout between Maquis and Nazis. Either way, it was disgusting and apparently not forgotten here even if it appears to have been by M. Macron and Frau Merkel as they try to rule a continent.
Eventually I did find a place that was open in a charming square with the back of the town hall on my left and the rather spectacular Church of St. Peter on my right. I certainly needed no urging and in I went to the Brasserie de l’Hotel de Ville.
In my usual way, I got chatting to the friendly barman and he told me that, yes indeed, Macon fairly effectively closed down on a Monday. Still, I had found this place and so a couple of very welcome (if pretty expensive) beers went down pretty well.
Suitably refreshed I wandered over to the Church, frankly more in hope than expectation but no, it was about the only building in town that was open and it proved to be even more impressive inside than it was externally. I do hope my images give some impression. As always I did not want to use flash in a place of worship so some of the images are not of the quality they might be.
I was particularly taken with the stained glass which is an artform I do rather like. As an atheist I am certainly no expert on the Roman Catholic Church although I have visited many of their places of worship but I was struck by the sheer number of confessionals here. If memory serves I think there were twelve which is more than I think I have ever seen anywhere.
The three entrances at the front of the building are also worthy of mention, with some exquisite stone carving on display and all in a very decent state of repair. Having had a good look round and taken a few images, I replaced my headgear and took off of whatever else might possibly be open on a Monday.
Whilst it was not actually open, the wooden house which houses a bar / restaurant on the ground floor is certainly worth a look. It is the oldest building in Macon and was begun in 1490, completed in 1510. As today, the ground floor was stone and the rest of the building wood and it was almost inevitable that it would burn down sooner or later which is what happened. Apart from the stone portion the rest of the fantastic structure pictured dates from the early 16th century which still makes it pretty impressively ancient.
All along the side of the square that the wooden house sits at the corner of was the rather depressing although by now not unexpected sight of a complete row of bars and restaurants all shut. Nothing to do but keep walking.
The previous evening from the taxi I had caught a brief glimpse of what looked like quite a large river, the Soane, and thought that a walk down that way might be a pleasant way to kill a bit of time. It is indeed a very pleasant river and I do rather like rivers, canals, in fact just about any body of water. The old bridge spanning it, the Pont St. Laurent or more prosaically the D1079 (I prefer the former designation) is actually part of the Route Centre Europe Atlantique which traverses France East to West and connects it with various other countries. Apparently, it is one of the most dangerous roads in Europe. Good to know.
Whilst enjoying the view of the river and wandering along beside it, joy of all joys, a bar which was open. Not only that but it was a music bar called the Blue Note. Well the outcome was never in doubt and I was in there like a rat up a drain! A very decent bar indeed and, as the name suggests, very music orientated. There was some pretty decent classic rock music being played at a not eardrum splitting volume but loud enough to be appreciated and on a quick ramble round I found a couple of pool tables and a table football game upstairs. Table football semms to be very popular in these parts.
Dragging myself away, I continued my perambulation back along the river as I was fairly well orientated by this point, passing a statue of a chap called Lamartine who I have subsequently discovered was a son of the city and variously a writer and politician who lived between 1790 – 1869. I had never heard of him but he appears to be well-regarded here and his statue is impressive.
Pausing on the way to take an image of a lovely little Peugeot moped I happened upon yet another open brasserie with a rather curious tag line on it’s sign – “Le rendez-vous des amatuers de viandes. I know my French is poor but I make that as “the meeting place for meat amateurs” or does it mean lovers as in the word amour? I suspect it must be the latter.
A few more night images (which turned out pleasingly well even without a tripod) and it was a slow amble back home for an evening meal which was in stark contrast to the previous night’s feast. Having eaten the day before I had not been hungry all day so supper consisted of a packet of madelaines (which I adore), a chocolate bar and a bottle of water. Still, it satisfied me and then it was off to the comfy if unusually configured bed for another excellent night’s sleep.
There is much more to come so stay tuned and spread the word.