West Virginia University in Vendée, France
Just the facts, ma'am...
June 17, 1999
Another regular class day today, our time spent working on the Time Table that is in the first pages of our Michelin guide to Vendée. Beginning with pre-history, the table orients the visitor to the place in time as well as the place on the map. This is especially important in France, and never more so than on the eve of tomorrow's visit to Le Puy du Fou. Le Puy is one of Europe's most visited parks, and it is in fact a living timetable, with live exhibits running from the Dark Ages to the dawn of the nineteenth century. Each area of the park recreates a particular period in the history of France and of Vendée. The park is located on the site of a castle that was ruined during the Vendée wars of the 1790's, a time when this region rose up in defense of King and Church against the new Republic established by the French Revolution. The history and legends surrounding these events are the core of the identity of today's Vendée.
Around town this week is the celebration of the works of Georges Simenon, one of France's greatest authors of detective novels. Born in Belgium, Simenon nevertheless set several of his works in and around Les Sables d'Olonne. Many shops and businesses around town are active in this week's activities. A few photos below:
One of the many posters in shop windows:
In the lobby of les Atlantes (where we hold class), a 1956 Renault 4-CV, the standard police car in the time of Simenon's great Inspector Maigret.
In other news here that may be of interest in the States: All cans of Coca Cola were withdrawn from the market yesterday (as I write the ban has been lifted). In a scandal rising from the past, the Commandant Jacques Cousteau is revealed to have held anti-Semitic views during WW II (his sons are already known to be sympathetic to such prejudices). Mass graves are being discovered daily in Kosovo, and France is worried about the role of the Russian units already in place. France has also over the last years taken a very strong stance against doping in sports and scandals arise every day concerning racers and teams hoping to run in the quickly approaching Tour de France (to begin here in Vendée in early July).
Tomorrow is a big day. After a day-long visit of the park of Le Puy du Fou, we will see the nighttime re-creation of one of the battles of Vendée, returning to Les Sables around 3:00 Saturday morning. I hope to have a page up for you by your Saturday evening, but my computer has been giving me problems. If the problems continue, I should still be able to post before evening Sunday.
Stay tuned to WVU-V!
Go on to June 18, 1999
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