My Last Vacation
My summer was tranquil, spent mainly working around our house in Burgundy. But we did take a short driving trip to Spain.
Leaving Burgundy in the east of France, the first stop was in the Herault region in the southwest to see my wife’s cousin. I had never driven on this stretch of the A75 so to come upon the Millau Viaduct, the tallest bridge in the world, was a wonderful surprise. It was designed by the British architect Norman Foster. I don’t like his famous building designs at all, but this viaduct is spectacular.
The spectacular Millau Viaduct with its towers taller than the Eiffel Tower.
The village of Salasc is a lovely oasis of stone buildings and vineyards in the larger setting of dry rugged terrain reminiscent of what you see in a spaghetti western. Driving across France, it is amazing to see the tremendous change in terrain and climate over short distances. For example, on another trip years ago we drove through the Camargue (the delta of the Rhone river), a flat, hot, marshy region with pink flamingos; i.e., Florida to Salasc, i.e., the foothills of the Rockies in Colorado. The trip within the US would take at least two days by car. The journey from the Camargue to the Herault takes about two hours depending on the traffic around Montpellier. France is situated between three major bodies of water, La Manche (the English Channel), the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, and two mountain ranges, the Alps and the Pyrenees (with several other smaller ranges of hills). Major weather patterns include air masses arriving from the Atlantic (all winter it is rainy), from Scandinavia, or from Africa. I never get tired of the French countryside. All of this greatly affects everything about France including the economy, culture, politics, even the language (see Fernand Braudel: The Identity of France:Volume One: History and Environment This book will be a great treat for anyone who has, or would like to, travel around France.).
In lovely Salasc the cousin lives with his wife and daughter in an old village house formerly owned by a family of vignerons (wine makers). He is an extremely well cultured man, who loves his fine objects, everyone chosen with care for its quality and beauty, including the house itself and its small garden. It was a pleasure to spend time with him as he explained his knowledge on all of these things.
The next day we continued south and west into Spain where the A9 turns into the AP-7 and continues down to Barcelona. I described our uneventful crossing of the border in my last post for LRC.
The AP-7 in Catalonia, Spain; from the French border to Barcelona. The zoom on the right is of the Cap de Creus Peninsula near Figueres.
Barcelona includes an old Gothic city built on faith, a modern city built on capitalism, and a resort city based on wonderful beaches. Also of note, it is the capital city of Catalonia. But it is perhaps best known as the city of the architect Antonio Gaudi.
The Gothic quarter consists of narrow, winding passages now full of boutiques and restaurants. The modern (1880-1920) core of Barcelona has wide avenues and the art nouveau jewels of Gaudi and his contemporaries. We did not enter any of his buildings (it is expensive at 30€/person) but could enjoy the facade of Casa Batlló from outside. We stayed near the Arc de Triomf, the main access gate for the 1888 Barcelona World Fair. The arch crosses over the wide central promenade of the Passeig de Lluís Companys, leading to the Ciutadella Park that now occupies the site of the world fair. The architectural tradition of Barcelona continues to grow; outside the city center there are several ultramodern tall buildings that I saw on a previous professional trip to Barcelona. Within easy walking distance of all of this culture is a beach resort. We spent one warm afternoon in and out of the sea.
Everything outside of the Gothic quarter was in spirit an homage to capitalism. Gaudi’s houses were designed for rich merchants. His Park
Article from LewRockwell