I was wondering if there is anyone out there who might be able to shed some light on the history behind this serving dish/tureen. It was given to us as a present but we didn’t pay much attention to the makers mark at the time. We are doing a bit of spring cleaning and de-cluttering and I happened to look at the base which has the following mark. My curiosity was piqued as we spent two weeks on holiday in the Limoges region last year.
I spent a bit of time trawling the web but could not find much information. The best I managed was to find out that this mark was in use between 1906 (or 1929) – 1940. It would be nice to know a bit more about the maker.
Day 9 turned out to be a bit of a mixed bag. One of our happy band of travellers wanted to send an email a family member based in the US. The email had been written but, due to the fact that the gite was pretty much a dead zone for wifi and mobile technology, we decided to take a trip to MacDonalds. Normally you couldn’t get me to within a mile of one of their establishments. Leastways not without a lot of wailing, gnashing of teeth and not an insignificant amount of kicking and screaming.It’s not that i don’t like burgers, it’s more that I don’t like the way they are served to you. Wrapped or boxed and slowly going soggy in their own steam. Best commercial burger I ever had was from Fuddruckers in Austin, Texas. Anyway, I digress.
So we trundled off to our nearest McDonalds as they have free WiFi and so that we didn’t feel guilty we actually sat inside and purchased coffee. However, the coffee was as awful as I remember and so was the WiFi coverage. The laptop containing the email could not even see the McDonalds WiFi and would not connect. My Blackberry could see the “see” McDonalds WiFi but also would not connect. My wife had her iPad with her and that could “see” and connect to McDonalds WiFi. Isn’t technology wonderful. Three devices but no way to get the data onto the device that could talk to the outside world. In the end, after nearly an hour, it was decided that when we returned to the gite, the email would be transcribed to the iPad and then we would make another foray to McDonalds.
So our slightly subdued band of travellers headed off for their second visit to Limoges. There are lots of things to see in Limoges. One of the things I like about France in general is that they don’t just leave blank walls on buildings. They don’t leave them to crumble or fall foul to the vandal graffiti artist. I don’t have anything against graffiti in general, just the mindless desecration perpetrated by those who just leave their name or a pretty poor caricature of a penis. In fact I see some graffiti as a perfectly valid and useful art form. In France they turn blank walls into huge canvasses to provide street scenes, country views or truly humorous cartoons.
Here in Limoges, with the Église Saint Michel Des Lions as a back drop, the end of a building has been painted not only to extend the street view but also to provide one with a voyeuristic insight on what may be going on behind closed, or in this case open, shutters.
Everywhere you walk in Limoges there are reminders of the past.
With differing architectural styles jostling for attention.
It is with that in mind that we have chosen to explore one of the most famous areas of Limoges, the Quartier de la Boucherie, the Butchers Quarter. In the 14th century this district was inhabited by families belonging to the brotherhood of the butchers and many of the original half-timbered buildings remain. Although few, if any, have the same purpose as you can see in the next picture….
The old doorways give evidence to our ancestors diminutive height and at times the old buildings seem to resemble a jumbled stack of packing cases …
Every now and then as we explored we would stumble across a real gem.
On almost every street there is something to draw your attention…
Be it old, ancient ……
….. or modern …
Walking the lanes of the “Quartier de la Boucherie” made us a tad peckish so we took lunch on a terrace overlooking the Central Market building.
The market, built-in the 19th century, was designed using a mix of materials, including iron, glass and ceramics. The result is this beautiful building with Eiffel-inspired architecture (or so I read somewhere). Just round the corner from here is Place Saint Michel, a pleasant square adjacent to the church.
Place Saint Michel as well as providing access to the church has a number of shops and cafe’s. Of immediate interest was the Belgian chocolate shop.
However, we all agreed that we could each of spent several hundreds of Euros in “Comptoir Famille”. This establishment sells some very stylish items for the home. It is a good job that our vehicle was stuffed to the gunnels on our journey into France and wasn’t getting any lighter during our stay and i was rather taken with a rustic wooden storage / display unit.
So we dragged ourselves away from the delights of Place Saint Michel and headed over to Limoges Cathedral (Cathédrale Saint-Étienne de Limoges), an impressive gothic building started in 1273 and only finished in 1888 when the nave was connected to the bell tower.
Makes you wonder why the bell tower was not built as an integral part of the main building. There is much to see inside the cathedral. The following photo shows an ornate gallery. Sadly all of the statues have been damaged, their heads are missing.
There are some beautiful gardens in the cathedral grounds….
Limoges is also home to the Musee de la Resistance which is just a short walk from the cathedral. As with Oradour, I found walking through this museum quite moving. The exhibits set the part played by the people of Limoges into the proper war-time context. Great focus is always given to the capital cities such as Paris .This museum puts the records straight. And again, as with Oradour, I found myself leaving the museum with an underlying feeling of anger towards the politicians who took all of europe and most of the world to war.
By the time we left the museum it was time to look for a place to eat. Our day was completed by a really nice meal provided by Restaurant “La Maison des Saveurs”
It’s Monday morning and I’ve made the run to Massaret for fresh bread.
French bread is wonderful but it doesn’t stay fresh for long. But that’s OK because I get to meet all these friendly people. Everyone says “Bonjour” when they meet you in the street or inside the boulangerie. Then “Au Revoir” when either they or you leave the shop. It is such a refreshing change from the sullen brits who just stand there avoiding eye contact.
So this morning I request a baguette, and a boule, in my rather fractured franglais and make it known that I would like the boule sliced. Madame returns with the loaf in a bag and promptly drops it on the floor with the individual slices all trying to make a run for the space under the counter. With many typically gallic shrugs and embarrassed smiles a second boule makes its way through the slicer, into a bag and safely into my arms and back to the gite.
Today we have decided to go into Limoges for a bit of a reconnaissance. Surprisingly we make into the centre, park up and find the tourist information office all in one smooth move. We discover that there is one of those “tourist train” things due to leave from just outside the tourist office in a short while. The consensus was that this would be a quick way to orientate ourselves to the Limoges sights. Then we can cherry pick those that we want to do in detail. So into a cafe we go for a quick coffee and cake and not long after we are sat aboard in anticipation.
To describe the journey as the ride from hell would be extreme but it was anything but pleasant. The coaches shuddered back and forth like the folds of an accordion and the cobble streets jarred our spines through the virtually non existent suspension and thin padding on the seats. I should also point out that there is an audio commentary available with translations. We were all issued with earphones but the translated commentary was fragmented possibly breaking up in harmony with the reverberations radiating through the chassis of the coaches. The translated commentary was pretty much drowned out by the volume of the native commentary blasting out over the speakers. Thankfully, after an hour it was over.
After the trauma of the train ride we decided that what we all needed was a quiet walk by the river. This turned out to be a good decision.
The walk by the river led us to the saint-Etienne Bridge ….
The following description I have plagiarized from one of the many info plaques ….
The St Etienne bridge was built in the 13th C to divert some of the traffic away from St Martial bridge, aboy 1km downstream. It was on the “via Lemovicensis”, a main route to Santiago de Compostella and is used by pilgrims to this day. It linked the right bank quarter of washerwomen, who until the middle of the 20th C washed the towns bourgeoisie’s linen in the river, to the “Clos Ste Marie”, nowadays a village in the city centre, on the left bank.
The bridge also marked the end of the stretch of river used to float lumber from the mountain to the construction sites and industries of Limoges.
It was very peaceful here, away from the noise of the city traffic. So much so that there was a bit of billing and cooing going on ….
Consisted of an early start, 06:00, to drive up to the “chunnel” terminal at Folkestone. We made good time, with none of the anticipated delays on the M25. So much so that we were placed on an earlier crossing.
So, very soon we were underway, across the channel and plugging down the French autoroutes, heading for the B & B which was to be our bed for the night. Apart from a couple faux pas on my part, minor deviations, caused by my misinterpretation of the satnav instructions, the journey passed without incident. After approximately five hours motoring time punctuated by coffee, cake & pee breaks we arrived at Le Petit Nancay in Thenioux which is near Vierzon. Here we were given a warm welcome by Clement who greeted us with a big smile and showed us to our rooms.
This being our first evening in France, we asked Clement to recommend an eatery. He gave us several choices but pushed us to try a local establishment in the village.
From the outside this establishment is not very inviting. With it’s tired plastic patio furniture scattered under the trees and grouped under an equally tired pergola, of the type that looks like an old frame tent with the sides removed. All were deserted.
Dubiously, we stepped forward and studied the menu board. Not a large number of choices, but interesting ones. Starters included Goats Cheese Salad, Veal Kidneys with Black Pudding and Poached Egg with Foie Gras in a creamy sauce. Mains included Pave of Rump Steak, Duck Breast, Cod in a white wine and tomato sauce and Chicken (coqulet).
While we were studying the board we were approached by, as it transpired, the owner. He informed us that they didn’t open for another forty minutes. However, he offered us drinks so we sat and the drinks duly arrived. Our host also talked us through the menu and the local nuances then left us to talk amongst ourselves while we enjoyed the warm evening and listened to the birds in an adjacent stand of bamboo.
An unexpected bonus was the arrival of a hot bowl of mussels to share. They were presented in a white sauce and were delicious.
After an apparently short time, during which our wine, beer, and the mussels, had all miraculously disappeared, we were invited into the restaurant and duly seated.
As usual, no matter how many times a menu is read nobody is ever ready to order. However, with some guidance from the owners wife, we managed to order our meal.
Three of our group ordered the poached egg with foie gras while I had the kidneys which were very tender with a beautiful flavour.
For the mains we had all selected different dishes. Cod, Duck, Veal and Beef, all agreed our selections were beautifully cooked. All the dishes were accompanied by green beans and a gratin of potatoes. One of our group has an intolerance to cooked cheese so the chef created a separate, cheese free, version. Good service.
This was followed, for me, by a selection of local cheeses. Most of these were covered in a black mould which was not, visually, very appetising but they were, nonetheless, very tasty.
When it came time to settle the bill, the bottom line was so reasonable I actually enquired if they had included our pre-drinks and mussels. We were assured that all was in order and so we headed back to our B&B and on to bed. A fitting end to a long day.
After a light breakfast, which included a kind of potatoe based pizza with ham and the usual selection of breads and croissants, we set out to continue our journey south.
We were making such good time it was decided to make a detour for lunch. And so it was that we found ourselves in the centre of La Souterraine. After a brief meander we settled in a fairly busy restaurant for a relaxed lunch.
On our return to the car we plumbed the address of the gite into the satnav which showed we were just one hour away from our destination. I then phoned Mrs. Santoni, the owner of the gites local agent. She suggested that we were four hours away. I argued that we would be just one hour and we agreed that we would call when we arrived in La Porcherie.
And so we set off and were almost immediately caught up in a diversion due to roadworks which then meant we were heading north. The opposite direction to which we needed to travel. Worse still we ended up stationary on the autoroute with no exit in sight. This less than delightful interlude added an hour to our journey and we began to think that Mrs. Santoni knew more than she was letting on. Eventually we were able to get clear of the traffic jam and made good time to the gite where we called Mrs. Santoni and advised her of our arrival. She duly arrived and soon earned herself the title of “The Crazy French Lady”. With much bowing and hand shaking we were led into the gite and shown around. She seemed to obtain much humour from introducing the toilet as the “water closet”. Further delight was derived from pointing out, belatedly, that we, or rather I, should watch out for the low beams and door lintels throughout the building.
Chortling away to herself she wrote out the locations of the nearest supermarkets, boulangeries and boucherie. Also she advised us of a brocante at which she herself would be running a stall.
And then she was gone, we being left to move in and get a brew on.
Why do the french not have kettles ? Water boiled in a saucepan does not taste the same. At least this gite had a teapot, but only big enough for two. Our last gite had neither kettle or teapot.
After a cup of tea we decided this being Saturday, we had better obtain supplies. So we headed into Magnac-bourg where we had been assured we would find an Intermarche.
It was shut.
Thank god for modern day satnavs. We were soon heading back up the autoroute towards Limoges where we found a Carrefors. Suitably stocked up with provisions, beer, wine and, oh yes, some food, we were back on the road to La Porcherie. To rest after two pretty full on days.