|The keys of the town of Figeac
||[Mar. 11th, 2016|06:03 pm]
And now for something completely different: a holiday post to cheer me up, featuring sunshine, a town which values its historic buildings (including at least one really successful integration of new and old), old buildings which it is not my responsibility to maintain...
From the balcony of our hotel room in Figeac we watched the morning light strike the further bank of the river Célé.
A fine morning for a walk around the town. We started by visiting the Tourist Office, and not only because it occupies part of the spectacular medieval building known as the Hôtel de la Monnaie:
The lady behind the counter was very polite about our Michelin Green Guide (1986 vintage), but persuaded us to buy - it was only a euro or so - a new guide to a walking tour of the old town, waymarked with pictures of keys.
I don't think there had been many changes since our guide was published, and in any case we could have followed any route and still found plenty to admire, but it was good to be guided, to have decisions made for us, to loiter, to admire well-maintained streets with elegant arcades:
or to savour picturesque decay - though there are clearly plenty of things going on in town, to jusge from all the posters! And the door stands invitingly open.
I lingered over details. What decoration would I place above my door? A bird?
or a discarded pair of boots?
The scallop shell identifies this as the sign of a pilgrim hostel: once again, we are on the pilgrim way to Compostella, although this time it's the route I know. It was a walking holiday along the GR65, the footpath that follows the Chemin de Saint Jacques, that first brought us to Figeac, long ago. Was it on that visit that we visited the Musée Champollion? The museum has now rebranded itself, shifting its emphasis from the life of the decipherer of Egyptian hieroglyphics to a history of written scripts worldwide. But it is still located in the house where Jean-François Champollion was born, and the wonderful Place des Ecritures still nestles at its heart:
We sat for a while in this peaceful space, an outsize copy of the Rosetta stone covering its entire floor, its walls serving as a temporary art gallery:
Then out into the Place Champollion, one of the town's two main squares, for a coffee outside the Hôtel Champollion, eavesdropping on the conversation of fellow customers:
First man: Is this the café's newspaper? Which is how I always feel when the only paper available turns out to be L'Équipe.
Second man man: No. it's mine. But you can read it if you like.
It's L'Équipe (the sports daily).
First man: Oh. No thanks.
One more picture, and it's time to move on.