Fiona Alderman: Quiet times in rural France

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I was walking in the village, and thinking how unusually quiet it was? Particularly so, as all the businesses seemed to have taken their annual holidays at the same time. The butcher, the corner shop, the two cafés and even the doctor were all closed. . Life goes on though. I had spotted a huge cardboard box in one corner of the square but thought nothing of it. However it has remained there for over a month now. When opened it revealed an ultra modern electric car charger. Strange for somewhere like here?  Yes there are electric cars but it seemed in an odd place. There are signs and barriers all around it but it is still not actually working. In contrast, I love to find old street signs, or advertising banners, so typically French but unfortunately are gradually disappearing. At the moment I am photographing  derelict barns that have a huge history behind them. They are sometimes taken over and rebuilt for housing purposes but this is rare. They are fascinating in their shapes and their contents including old farm implements, machinery and old cars. I once saw a very battered old Citroen 2CV that obviously was very well used on the farm. These are expensive de luxe cars now!

The Giant Puppets

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The Royale de Luxe Company is a French street theatre company that originated in Aix en Provence in 1979. Formed by the incredible storyteller Jean- Luc Courcoult, it is now an organisation that aims to reach to a much wider audience and is a worldwide success. It consists of 30 foot tall puppets that are made of poplar and lime wood, steel and realistic horse hair – all made up with ropes, pulleys and motors to create a magical impression.They are engineered by a troupe of operators called “Lilliputians” the name taken from Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift. They depict characters like The Deep Sea Diver, his niece The Little Giant Girl, her dog Xolo, Grannie, a giant spider and an incredible elephant

Stories and titles are taken from everyday objects like “The shoe parking” “Urban bidet “ and “The tree house “, where the audience were invited to come to a certain place in Toulouse at the same time every day,  to be involved in the unusual event of a couple moving into a tree. The company “takes over” an entire city in telling a story that adapts to a particular environment.

It was last seen in 2014 when Liverpool was the chosen city for a massive spectacle, using 20 cranes and hundreds of operators. This was  a love story based around the sinking of the Titanic. They seem to have an affinity with this city as they have been back several times. Catch them whenever and wherever they appear, it is worth it.

The Man from Sarlat

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Jean Nouvel is a famous French architect who was born in this area of the Dordogne and who still has a house in Sarlat (20 minutes from us ) The church there, La Sainte- Marie, was redeveloped by him in 2000 into a massive open food hall with its gigantic doors opening majestically onto the square. Very imposing. In 2012 he erected a glass covered outdoor lift on the side of the church to take people up to the very top, where they can appreciate the spectacular panoramic view over the city.

As a young architect he began his work in the area in a children’s school at Trélissac. Unusually for the 70s it had a domed roof and huge windows letting in the light. He has also designed a museum in Perigueux,a former Roman site at Lascaux 3 in Korea. His latest work has been the new Louvre in Abu Dhabi. Different from the one in Paris, this is in keeping with the landscape around it ie the desert. A huge building that is completely covered by an oval shaped dome, consisting of layers of metal triangles intricately interwoven so that the light makes patterns on the walls. It changes all the time as the light, the time and the seasons do. It houses collections of paintings and sculptures that have never been seen before.

Nouvel himself uses tradesmen and women from Montignac (another neighbour and the site of the original Lascaux ), who build furniture which is then transported all over the world for his projects and buildings.

That’s all for now, see you next time for another episode of “Fifi’s story from rural France “ November 2017. Dance and film courses in SW France.

Fiona Alderman's blog: The French Elvis
Fiona Alderman blogging from Rural France: Round and around the villages

This section: Fiona Alderman blogging from The Salignac Foundation France

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Avatar of PatByrne Publisher of Pat's Guide to Glasgow West End; the community guide to the West End of Glasgow. Fiction and non-fiction writer.

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