Tag Archives: France

11-12 June 2019:
Honfleur, France:
Impressions of Normandy and a Tapestry in Bayeux

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Honfleur is a medieval gem, hidden in plain sight, between the major French port of Le Havre across the Seine to the east and the D-Day beaches of Normandy to the west.

The town sits on the southern bank of the estuary of the River Seine, which winds its way inland past Rouen to Paris.

To the east is Normandy, the site of the D-day landings of June 6, 1944. We just missed the international commemoration of the 75th anniversary. Speaking for myself, I felt better about my visit–perhaps my tenth– without the distraction of bloviating politicians.

Here are some scenes from 11 June at Omaha Beach, the American cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer, and at Arromanches.

THE D-DAY BEACHES AT NORMANDY

Omaha Beach. Photo by Corey Sandler
The American Cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer. Photo by Corey Sandler
Remains of the Mulberry landing docks at Arromanches. Photo by Corey Sandler

BAYEUX

Also along the Normandy coast is the handsome city of Bayeux, home to one of the cultural treasures of humankind: The Bayeux Tapestry. It depicts  the events leading up to the Norman conquest of England culminating in the Battle of hastings in 1066, from the point of view of the Normans. 

A portion of the Bayeux Tapestry. Photo by Corey Sandler
Notre-dame-de-Bayeux. Photo by Corey Sandler

HONFLEUR

Honfleur was the birthplace of the artist Eugène Boudin and the composer and artist Erik Satie. And it was a favored place to visit for French painters Claude Monet and Gustave Courbet, English landscape artist William Turner, and writer and critic Charles Baudelaire.

While much of Le Havre on the other side of the river, and Normandy were pounded by the Allies in the lead-up to the D-Day landing or by the Germans in defending it, Honfleur survived the war relatively untouched.

During German occupation, authorities in Honfleur allowed the River Seine to silt up the harbor, making it of little military value. After the war, the harbor was dredged and was once again useful.

As a result, Honfleur is among the best preserved towns in Europe.

Honfleur dates back at least to the 11th century. From the start it was an important port for the transit of goods from Rouen to England. With the outbreak of the Hundred Years’ War, though, the tide ran the other way: Honfleur was occupied by the English in 1357 and again from 1419 to 1450.

Back under French control, it was used as the staging area for attacks on the English coast: Sandwich was assaulted and severely damaged in 1450s.

After the end of the Hundred Years War, the port was used for both trade and as the embarkation point for exploration: Local shipowner Binot Paulmier de Gonneville departed Honfleur in 1503 looking for a trade route to India. His ship “L’Espoir” (Hope) made it all the way to Brazil, the first French ship to touch its shores.

Three years later, native son Jean Denis went to Newfoundland island and the mouth of the Saint Lawrence in what is now Canada. That’s the course we’ll be following two months from now, when Silver Wind crosses over from London to Iceland and to the New World.

All photos and text Copyright 2019 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved. See more photos on my website at http://www.coreysandler.com

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE ANY PHOTO OR AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

————-

Now available, the revised Second Edition of “Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession” by Corey Sandler, for the Amazon Kindle. You can read the book on a Kindle device, or in a Kindle App on your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

Here’s where to order an electronic copy for immediate delivery:

Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession: The Tragic Legacy of the New World’s Least Understood Explorer (Kindle Edition)

21 June 2018:
Honfleur, France:
Cradle of Impressionism, Gateway to Normandy

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Honfleur is a medieval gem, hidden in plain sight between the major French port of Le Havre across the Seine to the east and the D-Day beaches of Normandy to the west.

While much of Normandy was pounded by the Allies in the D-Day landing or by the Germans in defending it,

During German occupation, authorities in Honfleur allowed the River Seine to silt up the harbor, making it of little military value.

Honfleur survived the war relatively untouched. After the war, the harbor was dredged and was once again useful.

As a result, Honfleur is among the best preserved towns in Europe.

Between Honfleur and Cherbourg are the beaches of Normandy.

More or less directly north, across La Manche (The Sleeve)—what the Brits call the English Channel—is Southampton.

NORMANDY

On this cruise I went with guests to the beautiful city of Rouen, where Joan of Arc met her end.

ROUEN

All photos and text Copyright 2018 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

————-

Now available, the revised Second Edition of “Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession” by Corey Sandler, for the Amazon Kindle. You can read the book on a Kindle device, or in a Kindle App on your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

If you would like to purchase an autographed copy, please see the tab on this page, “HOW TO ORDER A PHOTO OR AUTOGRAPHED BOOK”

Here’s where to order an electronic copy for immediate delivery:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IA9QTBM

Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession: The Tragic Legacy of the New World’s Least Understood Explorer (Kindle Edition)

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

19-20 June 2018:
Saint-Malo, France:
The Old World to the New World

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

This little place has a story of its own, as well as a firm hold on pieces of European, North American, and South American history.

Jacques Cartier was born in Saint-Malo in 1491, and sailed up what is now the Saint Lawrence River in Canada to the eventual sites of Quebec City and Montreal in 1534 and on two later voyages.

We arrived late yesterday afternoon under glorious blue skies. This morning , though, the fog was there to greet us and stayed most of the day.

But we had the time to stroll the ramparts of the old city and the fog helped reinforce the feeling of history, especially the connection between this place and New France. Much of Saint-Malo looks and feels like Quebec City on the other side of the pond, which makes complete sense.

All photos by Corey Sandler, 2018. All rights reserved.

Also from Saint Malo were the first colonists to settle the Falkland Islands off of Argentine.

French explorer Louis-Antoine de Bougainville founded the islands’ first settlement in 1764, naming them after the port of Saint-Malo which had been the point of departure for his ships.

And so the French called the islands, “Les Îles Malouines.”

The name “Falkland” was applied to the channel between the two main islands by John Strong, captain of an English expedition which landed on the islands in 1690.  Strong named the strait in honor of the financier of his voyage, Anthony Cary, 5th Viscount of Falkland, the Treasurer of the Navy.

The British stay with the name Falklands. The Argentinians use their version of Îles Malouines, in Spanish, “Islas Malvinas.”

The Cathedral at Saint-Malo, and the sepulchre of Jacques Cartier. All photos by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

About 45 minutes away is the beautifully-preserved walled town of Dinan, mostly undamaged by war and time.

The medieval town on the hilltop has many fine old buildings, some of which date from the 13th century. The town retains a large section of the city walls, part of which can be walked.

The Romanesque 12th-century Basilica Saint Sauveur, which contains a crypt with the heart of Bertrand de Guesclin, a locally-revered, 14th-century knight.

Dinan. All photos by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

One of the iconic sights of the world is Le Mont-Saint-Michel, an island commune in Normandy, about an hour’s drive from Saint-Malo.

Mont-Saint-Michel, less than a kilometer or half a mile off the coast, cut off from the mainland by high tide (although a modern causeway sits just above the water level.)

The town of Mont-Saint-Michel embodies feudal society: on top, God and the abbey and monastery. Below, the great halls of the nobility. And at the bottom, outside the walls: homes for fishermen and farmers.

Today, though, it is open to assault by tourists.

All photos and text Copyright 2018 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

————-

Now available, the revised Second Edition of “Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession” by Corey Sandler, for the Amazon Kindle. You can read the book on a Kindle device, or in a Kindle App on your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

If you would like to purchase an autographed copy, please see the tab on this page, “HOW TO ORDER A PHOTO OR AUTOGRAPHED BOOK”

Here’s where to order an electronic copy for immediate delivery:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IA9QTBM

Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession: The Tragic Legacy of the New World’s Least Understood Explorer (Kindle Edition)

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

18 June 2018:
Belle-Ile, France:
A Beautiful Island, Indeed

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Belle-Ile-en-Mer.

Beautiful Island in the Sea.

And that it is.

“La bien nommée”, aptly named.

At the island’s main town of Le Palais, the first thing you’ll notice is the star-shaped Citadelle Vauban, which was built by the famous French military engineer Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban in the 18th century.

It was called by some, “The Battleship of the Atlantic.”

The fort now houses a luxury hotel-restaurant, a peaceable repurposing.

On this trip I went with guests to the spectacular Port Coton, a geological formation that was an inspiration for Claude Monet and many other great impressionist painters. Here’s what we saw in the afternoon light:

We also made a visit to the private garden of an accomplished landscaper and botanist on the island. He has made a paradise on the earth of Belle-Ile-en-Mer:

All photos by Corey Sandler, 2018. All rights reserved,

THE DIVINE SARAH

It is said that within an hour after first setting foot on Belle-Ile-en-Mer in August 1894, Sarah Bernhardt purchased an abandoned fort on the cliff top at La Pointe des Poulins.

Bernhardt was 50 years old at the time, still active in her career. She would spend parts of her last thirty years there.

Bernhardt ended up creating a compound for friends and family, which she called her “menagerie.”

Scenes from Bell-Ile, including part of Sarah Bernhardt’s home. All photos by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

Belle-Ile, Brittany’s largest island, lies about 9 miles or 15 kilometers off the coast of Morbihan.

It is a place of beautiful beaches—about 60 of them, spectacular craggy coastline, and a lovely pastoral interior.

About 5,000 people live there year-round; over the course of a summer about 50,000 come to visit.

A menagerie, indeed.

All photos and text Copyright 2018 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

————-

Now available, the revised Second Edition of “Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession” by Corey Sandler, for the Amazon Kindle. You can read the book on a Kindle device, or in a Kindle App on your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

If you would like to purchase an autographed copy, please see the tab on this page, “HOW TO ORDER A PHOTO OR AUTOGRAPHED BOOK”

Here’s where to order an electronic copy for immediate delivery:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IA9QTBM

Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession: The Tragic Legacy of the New World’s Least Understood Explorer (Kindle Edition)

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

17 June 2018:
La Rochelle, France:
At the Nexus of History

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

La Rochelle is not the first city of France, nor the second or even third or fourth.

But the city, population 80,000 today, has seen more than its share of history over time.

Ancient Celtic and Gallic peoples, the Romans, the Franks, the French, the Germans, the Americans.

Today it includes some lovely sights and interesting places to visit, and it is one of the most visited cities for tourists in the country.

This ancient area was the home of Eleanor of Aquitaine, as well as at the center of the Wars of Religion that pitted Catholics against Protestants of various stripes, including the Huegenots.

Much of the city’s trading economy was devastated in the Wars of Religion.

After the wars, though, La Rochelle became a base for trade with the New World, this time to Nouvelle France in Canada—today’s Quebec and the Maritime provinces, as well as the Antilles in the Caribbean.

On this visit, Silver Wind docked at the nearby commercial port of La Pallice. I went with guests on a tour first to the beautiful Ile de Ré, a barrier island just offshore, connected to Europe by a 2-kilometer causeway bridge.

It was a quiet Sunday on the resort island, but the grand market was open. The oysters, fish, and vegetables were displayed with typical French style.

ILE DE RÉ

LA ROCHELLE

We then continued to the city of La Rochelle, a nearly intact Middle Ages port. The inner harbor is closed off by a set of towers; at various times in history a chain was stretched across the narrow mouth to block invaders and pirates.

I also visited the Saint-Saveur church in town, admiring several centuries-old ex votos left there by sailors, many of whom departed from here for New France, now Canada.

All photos and text Copyright 2018 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

————-

Now available, the revised Second Edition of “Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession” by Corey Sandler, for the Amazon Kindle. You can read the book on a Kindle device, or in a Kindle App on your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

If you would like to purchase an autographed copy, please see the tab on this page, “HOW TO ORDER A PHOTO OR AUTOGRAPHED BOOK”

Here’s where to order an electronic copy for immediate delivery:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IA9QTBM

Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession: The Tragic Legacy of the New World’s Least Understood Explorer (Kindle Edition)

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

15-16 June 2018:
Bordeaux, France:
Les Grand Voiliers for a Two-day Taste

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Victor Hugo said, “Take Versailles, add Antwerp, and you have Bordeaux.”

That’s a pretty good lineage, especially when you mix in Bordeaux wine, Bordelaise sauce, and a handsome mix of architecture and culture.

Even better, we are here overnight. Party on!

LES GRAND VOILIERS

It was a gray and gloomy Friday in glorious Bordeaux, but not to mind: we arrived in the heart of the Bordeaux-Fête-le-Vin, the wine festival of wine country in a wine-obsessed country. Wine tastings, gourmet food carts, fireworks, and a collection of about 20 Grand Voiliers, Tall Ships.

All photos by Corey Sandler 2018, all rights reserved.

I spend the day exploring with my camera, concentrating on a pair of beauties: first the Kruzenshtern, the second-largest tall ship afloat. It was built in 1926 by the Germans a s a cargo vessel and was taken by the Soviet Union in war reparations in 1946.

She is a four-masted barque of 114 meters length (or 374 feet) now operated by the Russian Navy from a base in Kaliningrad, a Russian exclave carved out of a piece of Baltic coastline. The ship has a black hull with a broad white stripe down its length that is broken by black rectangles; from a distance they look like gun ports, but they are just for show. Which says something about something.

And the second object of my attention was INS Tarangi, the pearl of the Indian Navy. She is a more modern vessel, built in 1997 as a sail training vessel. Square-rigged on the fore and main masts and fore-and-aft rigged on the mizzen mast.

Her name means “waves” in Hindi, and she is almost constantly in service in training or races around the world. She left India in April and will be in Norway in July, where those of us on Silver Wind just may have the opportunity to see her again. I hope so.

SLEEPING BEAUTY

Bordeaux’s nicknames include “La perle d’Aquitaine” (The Pearl of Aquitaine), and “La Belle Endormie” (Sleeping Beauty).

That second name referred to the pollution-blackened walls of the old town center; the walls have now been cleaned and the pearl shines most everywhere.

All photos by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

I will leave the fine points of oenology to the wine experts and our sommeliers aboard ship. Not that I don’t enjoy an occasional glass of wine. But it’s not my specialty.

I’ll just say that this region produces what some say are the best cabernet sauvignon and merlot grapes and wine, as well as some other varieties.

Grapes were introduced to the region by the Romans, probably in the 1st century. They liked what they got, and it has been a constant ever since.

Bordeaux now has about 116,160 hectares (287,000 acres) of vineyards. There are about 10,000 wine-producing chateaux, and 13,000 grape growers and amongst them they produce about 960 million bottles per year.

Bordeaux produces large quantities of vin ordinaire or table wine, as well as some of the most expensive wines in the world.

The fancy stuff mostly come from the region’s five premier cru  (first growth) red wines (four from Médoc and one, Château Haut-Brion, from Graves.

We shall conduct tastings and report back, if we can read our notes in the morning.

All photos and text Copyright 2018 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

————-

Now available, the revised Second Edition of “Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession” by Corey Sandler, for the Amazon Kindle. You can read the book on a Kindle device, or in a Kindle App on your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

If you would like to purchase an autographed copy, please see the tab on this page, “HOW TO ORDER A PHOTO OR AUTOGRAPHED BOOK”

Here’s where to order an electronic copy for immediate delivery:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IA9QTBM

Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession: The Tragic Legacy of the New World’s Least Understood Explorer (Kindle Edition)

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

11 May 2018:
Marseille, France:
The Land of Aix

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Marseille is the oldest city in France, and the country’s second-largest city population behind only Paris, and very much a working city, the country’s largest commercial port.

Until fairly recently, Marseille was a rather rough place. But in the past two decades it has seen a renaissance, reborn as a very attractive port and city. We arrived this morning to a spectacular blue sky and a lively place.

Along with all of its other regular attractions, the circus was in town. In fact, it was installed right alongside our ship at our dock on the edge of the old city.

MARSEILLE TODAY

All photos by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

The city of Marseille was founded about 600 BC as a Greek trading port; it was named Massalia. 

Facing an opposing alliance of Etruscans, Carthaginians and the Celts, the Greek colony allied itself with the expanding Roman Republic. That helped defend the city, but even more importantly it expanded trade.

Massalia became a link between inland Gaul and Rome, importing wine and other goods and exporting agricultural items and slaves to Rome.

Further out in the Bay of Marseille is the Frioul archipelago of four islands. One of those, L’ile d’If, is the location of Château d’If, made famous by the Alexandre Dumas novel “The Count of Monte Cristo.”

All photos copyright 2018 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

10 May 2018:
Cannes, France:
Rolling Out the Red Carpet

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

It requires more than a little bit of suspension of disbelief, but Cannes was once a small and humble fishing village.

It is no longer small, by no means humble, and today’s fishing is aimed at the wallets of visitors.

It is, though, a very interesting place with grand architecture, high-end shops and restaurants,

and a back story of movie stars, high fashion, and romance, fabulous festivals, and jewel heists.

Oh, and a beach, and a film festival.

And we are right in the middle of things, surrounded by glitz, papparazzi, and celebrity.

The 2018 Cannes Film Festival runs from May 8 to 19, and afternoon and evening screenings and parties are just getting underway.

Here is some of what we saw today:

Alas, we depart at 9 in the evening, and I expect that will be too early for me to take the stage to pick up my Palme d’Or for blog production and lecturing.

All photos and text Copyright 2018 by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

————-

Now available, the revised Second Edition of “Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession” by Corey Sandler, for the Amazon Kindle. You can read the book on a Kindle device, or in a Kindle App on your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

If you would like to purchase an autographed copy, please see the tab on this page, “HOW TO ORDER A PHOTO OR AUTOGRAPHED BOOK”

Here’s where to order an electronic copy for immediate delivery:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IA9QTBM

Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession: The Tragic Legacy of the New World’s Least Understood Explorer (Kindle Edition)

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS,  PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

7 May 2018:
Porto-Vecchio, Corsica:
Napoleon, Nelson, and the Vendetta

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Napoleon was born here.

Nelson left behind a body part.

Everybody claims Columbus.

And we are here, in Porto-Vecchio, an Italian word meaning “Old Port” except that Corsica is officially part of France. They speak French, often with a Corsican grudge; in the dark interior, they speak Corsican with a bit of a French sneer.

Corsica, at least in the private wishes of its people, has always been a place unto its own.

It is an island of jagged granite mountains and dense, dark forests.

It even has its own odor, a scent of the maquis: fields of aromatic herbs and shrubs.

Deep in the woods, bandits once roamed. And generations of Corsicans maintained blood feuds: vendettas.

Today this not-quite-autonomous fortress island has opened the gates to invaders from around the world: tourists bearing Euros.

I took this photo today in near noontime, when the overhead sun highlighted the layers of the island of Corsica: sea, sand, rock, hill, the calanques, the maquis, the mountains, and the threatening sky:

Photo by Corey Sandler, All rights reserved.

And this photo was on a different visit to Corsica, to the town of Calvi:

————-

Now available, the revised Second Edition of “Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession” by Corey Sandler, for the Amazon Kindle. You can read the book on a Kindle device, or in a Kindle App on your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

If you would like to purchase an autographed copy, please see the tab on this page, “HOW TO ORDER A PHOTO OR AUTOGRAPHED BOOK”

Here’s where to order an electronic copy for immediate delivery:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IA9QTBM

Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession: The Tragic Legacy of the New World’s Least Understood Explorer (Kindle Edition)

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS,  PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

30 May 2017:
Honfleur, France:
Hidden in Plain Sight

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Honfleur is a medieval gem, hidden in plain sight, between the major French port of Le Havre across the Seine to the east, and the D-Day beaches of Normandy to the west.

It’s a lovely place, with a certain je ne sais quoi, not at all like much of the rest of coastal France.

And so it seems no surprise that this was one of the sources of impressionism in art and a musical genius of evocative impressions.

Honfleur was the birthplace of the artist Eugène Boudin and the composer and artist Erik Satie.

And it was a favored place to visit for French painters Claude Monet and Gustave Courbet, English landscape artist William Turner, and writer and critic Charles Baudelaire.

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While much of Normandy, about 50 miles or 32 kilometers way, was pounded by the Allies in the D-Day landing or by the Germans in defending it, Honfleur survived the war relatively untouched.

During German occupation, authorities in Honfleur allowed the River Seine to silt up the harbor, making it of little military value.

What remains is of great cultural value to us now.

A RETURN TO NORMANDY

Seventy-two years ago, Southampton was one of the ports of embarkation for the invasion forces of D-Day, along with Portsmouth and other places.

Today I went again to the beaches and the villages of Normandy, something that should be mandatory for historians, politicians, and anyone else of consequence.

Among the men and boys who landed at Normandy was my father,  and I take advantage of every opportunity to visit there.

A Normandy Album

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We begin at Omaha Beach,  one of the two principal American landing sites,  then went up on the bluff to the vast cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer, the final resting place of about 13,000 Americans,  two thirds of them given benefit of a gravestone with their name,  the remainder–as the notation reads–known only to God.

At Arromanches the British constructed a massive artificial harbor that allows the full push to Germany to begin.

No one with a soul can visit these places and come away unmoved.

Text and images copyright 2017 by Corey Sandler. All rights reserved. If you would like to purchase a high-resolution image, please contact me.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

————-

Now available, the revised Second Edition of “Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession” by Corey Sandler, for the Amazon Kindle. You can read the book on a Kindle device, or in a Kindle App on your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

If you would like to purchase an autographed copy, please see the tab on this page, “HOW TO ORDER A PHOTO OR AUTOGRAPHED BOOK”

Here’s where to order an electronic copy for immediate delivery:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IA9QTBM

Henry Hudson Dreams cover

Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession: The Tragic Legacy of the New World’s Least Understood Explorer (Kindle Edition)

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS,  PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

29 May 2017:
Saint-Malo, France:
Time Travel

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

This little piece of Brittany has a story of its own as well as a firm hold on pieces of European, North American, and South American history.

It’s all about location: offshore islands at the mouth of an important river.

Before the arrival of the Romans, a promontory fort had been erected at Aleth, south of the Saint-Servan district, commanding the approaches to the Rance River.

A monastic settlement founded by Saint Aaron and Saint Brendan in the early sixth century included a follower of Brendan, Saint Malo or Maclou.

The settlement has a long history of setting itself apart.

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Walking through the cobblestone streets of Saint-Malo feels like time travel, little changed from the 1500s, when the explorer Jacques Cartier set out from here for the New World.

But, in full disclosure, almost everything you see has been rebuilt from the rubble of World War II.

This beautiful little place, a fortified town on what was once an island, was a German holdout after the Normandy landings to the north. Allied forces wanted to open up additional ports to bring ashore men and supplies, and Saint-Malo was one of the places chosen.

In late August and early September 1944, the historic walled city of Saint-Malo was almost totally destroyed by American shelling and bombing as well as British naval gunfire.

We anchored offshore today under gray skies and drizzle, which was displeasing to some but seemed very appropriate for the ancient (rebuilt) fortifications and cobbled streets.

I went through the walls into the Cathedral, lovingly reconstructed after World War II. To the right side of the altar, I paid a visit to the tomb of Jacques Cartier.

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And outside the cathedral, a shop displayed a map of Saint-Malo and some modern furnishings, with the store windows reflecting the old city.

All photos by Corey Sandler, all rights reserved.

On previous visits,  I went about an hour inland in Brittany to the beautiful,  mostly untouched Medieval town of Dinan on the Rance River.

We inspected the half-timbered shops and the simply elegant Saint-Saveur church.  I also made a visit to the Chateau of Dunan.

A DINAN ALBUM

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Text and images copyright 2017 by Corey Sandler. All rights reserved. If you would like to purchase a high-resolution image, please contact me.

18 May 2017:
Bandol, France:
La Ville Tranquille

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Bandol is a commune in the Var department of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region of southeastern France.

It is a lovely but less-known part of the French Riviera, between Toulon and Marseille.

Bandol features a sheltered bay cradled by hills and protected from the wind.

They call it the “ville tranquille”, the tranquil village.

The sheltering hills help block the Mistral, a strong wind coming from the Rhone Valley that can reach near gale force or higher for 115 days per year not far away in Sanary-sur-Mer.

The south-facing sheltering hills around Bandol have another benefit, providing excellent conditions for the growing of grapes. There is evidence of vineyards in the area going back to about 600 B.C.

There are five appellations in the region, and Bandol is known for its white and rosé wines produced on the coast, and stronger-bodied red wines on the inland terraces.

The soil and the warm, coastal climate are ideally suited for the late ripening Mourvèdre grape.

We sampled some for you. Santé!

A CASTELLET ALBUM

On this visit I went with a group of guests up and over the seafront hills to the pretty perched village of Castellet.

It was early enough in the season that this old town was not yet over run with invaders taking selfies.

Photos copyright 2017 by Corey Sandler

Text and images copyright 2017 by Corey Sandler. All rights reserved. If you would like to purchase a high-resolution image, please contact me.

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————-

Now available, the revised Second Edition of “Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession” by Corey Sandler, for the Amazon Kindle. You can read the book on a Kindle device, or in a Kindle App on your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

Hudson Book Cover

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29 Sep 2016
Calvi, Corsica, France:
Nelson and Paoli, Yes. Columbus, Probably Not.

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Napoleon was born here. Nelson left behind a body part. Pasquale di Paoli fought the heavy hand of Genoa and then France. Those are facts.

Like Ibiza, and Spain, and four or five other places including Genoa, there is a monument here that celebrates the birthplace of Christopher Columbus. Probably not.

But back to the facts on the ground. This island flies a French flag, has an Italian heritage, and maintains a defiantly independent Corsican culture.

It is an island of jagged granite mountains and dense, dark forests.

It even has its own odor, a scent of the maquis: fields of aromatic herbs and shrubs.

Today I went with guests on a trip through the maquis to Iles-Rousse, the lovely little port town that was a stronghold of the 18th century independence leader Pasquale di Paoli.

ILES-ROUSSE

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A CALVI ALBUM

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Text and images copyright 2016 by Corey Sandler. All rights reserved. If you would like to purchase a high-resolution image, please contact me.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

————-

Now available, the revised Second Edition of “Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession” by Corey Sandler, for the Amazon Kindle. You can read the book on a Kindle device, or in a Kindle App on your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

Hudson Book Cover

If you would like to purchase an autographed copy, please see the tab on this page, “HOW TO ORDER A PHOTO OR AUTOGRAPHED BOOK”

Here’s where to order an electronic copy for immediate delivery:

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19 Sep 2016
Sète, France:
The Venice of Languedoc


By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Sète is a commune in the Hérault department of the Languedoc-Roussillon region of southern France.

So it is French, of sorts, although its ancient origins are as part of Occitania, a region of the Roman Empire also known as Aquitania.

Occitan is a Romance language, and still spoken in places here and there in the Languedoc region that includes parts of southern France, the Occitan Valleys of Italy, Spain’s Val d’Aran, and a few tiny corners of Monaco.

It is the southern terminus of the Canal du Midi, begun in 1666, which cuts the corner between the Atlantic and the Mediterranean with a connection to the Garonne River near Bordeaux. The canal is much too shallow and narrow for use by large ships, but  Sète retains its canalized harbor and center city.

A SÈTE ALBUM

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On this visit,  we made a pilgrimage to the Cimitiere Marins, the Sailor’s Cemetery,  which sits on a hillside above the Mediterranean Sea.  It is a resting place with a view to die for.

And it is here that poet Paul Valery is buried.  One of his best-known poems celebrates the cemetery.

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Valery was a cynical romantic, responsible for writing like this:

“War is a massacre of people who don’t know each other for the profit of people who know each other but don’t massacre each other. ”

And a riff on Rene Descarte: “Sometimes I think,  and sometimes I am.”

A PLACE OF EXODUS

On July 11, 1947, the creaky packet steamer SS President Warfield departed from Sète. (The ship was named after a president of the ship’s original owner.)

On board were more than 4,500 Jews who had left displaced persons camps throughout Europe and were willing to take their chances on an unauthorized attempt to reach Palestine.

Five days into the journey, the President Warfield took on a new name: Exodus 1947. Ultimately, the journey was unsuccessful, but later attempts had more success and this was one of the bases for the book and move “Exodus” and an important event in the establishment of the modern state of Israel.

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Incredibly, there was an earlier exodus that also had its start here.

In May 1939, in the tremendous tumult that led up to World War II, the Sinaia set sail from the port, carrying 1,599 Republicans, opponents of Francisco Franco and thus on the losing side of the Spanish Civil War.

They had been detained in camps in France but were finally permitted to sail away to Mexico, which was the only country at the time that recognized a Spanish Republic in exile.

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Text and images copyright 2016 by Corey Sandler. All rights reserved. If you would like to purchase a high-resolution image, please contact me.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

————-

Now available, the revised Second Edition of “Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession” by Corey Sandler, for the Amazon Kindle. You can read the book on a Kindle device, or in a Kindle App on your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

If you would like to purchase an autographed copy, please see the tab on this page, “HOW TO ORDER A PHOTO OR AUTOGRAPHED BOOK”

Here’s where to order an electronic copy for immediate delivery:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IA9QTBM

 

18 Sep 2016
Marseille, France:
The Second City

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Marseille is the oldest city in France, with the country’s second-largest population behind only Paris.

In 1792, Marseille sent 500 volunteers to Paris to support the French Revolution. The song they sung on their march from Marseille to Paris, a call to arms that became known as La Marseillaise, now the national anthem of France.

A MARSEILLE ALBUM

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The Basilica Notre Dame de la Garde stands watch over Marseille, offering a great vantage point from its perch at the highest point in the city to the south of the Old Port, and some striking architecture.

Ornamented with an ornate Neo-Byzantine design, it was begun in 1853 and completed in 1864. Locals commonly call the church la bonne mère (“the good mother.”)

The church was built on the site of a 13th century chapel, also dedicated to Notre-Dame de la Garde: Our Lady of the Watch, the traditional guardian of seafarers.

The 200-foot-tall belfry and statue can be seen across much of the city and for miles out at sea.

The interior is decorated with inlaid marble, mosaics and murals. Many of the walls are covered with ex-votos, including paintings, plaques, model boats, war medals and even football shirts given by players and supporters of Olympique de Marseille, the local football team.

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Along the lively waterfront, a grand mirror designed by architect Norman Foster brings sea, land, and people together in a new dimension.

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Text and images copyright 2016 by Corey Sandler. All rights reserved. If you would like to purchase a high-resolution image, please contact me.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

————-

Now available, the revised Second Edition of “Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession” by Corey Sandler, for the Amazon Kindle. You can read the book on a Kindle device, or in a Kindle App on your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

If you would like to purchase an autographed copy, please see the tab on this page, “HOW TO ORDER A PHOTO OR AUTOGRAPHED BOOK”

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17 Sep 2016
Toulon, France:
A Change in the Winds

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

The winds were against us this morning, and so we were unable to put down our ship’s anchor offshore of St-Tropez and come to shore by ship’s tenders.

Instead we sailed on by, and came into the port of Toulon, on a lively Saturday under a bright blue sky…and a bit of breeze.

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This is a place of great antiquity in this part of the world. Archeological studies, including those at the famed Cosquer Cave near Marseille, show evidence of human inhabitation as far back as the Paleolithic era. It went on to become an important Greek and then Roman colony.

Today Toulon is a major naval base, home port to the French Navy’s aircraft carrier Charles deGaulle and her supporting fleet.

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Toulon still bears the remnants of the fortifications put into place by the great French military engineer Sébastien Le Prestre de Vauban.

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And fans of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables know Toulon as an important character in its own stead. It was here, in the bagne of Toulon–still standing to the right of the entrance to the harbor–that Jean Valjean spent 19 years at hard labor. And it was also the birthplace of the novel’s protagonist, Javert.

Do you hear the people sing?

SAINT TROPEZ

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Text and images copyright 2016 by Corey Sandler. All rights reserved. If you would like to purchase a high-resolution image, please contact me.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

————-

15 Sep 2016
Cannes, France:
Suspend Your Disbelief

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

It requires more than a little bit of suspension of disbelief*, but Cannes was once a small and humble fishing village.

It is no longer small, by no means humble, and today’s fishing is aimed at the wallets of visitors.

It is, though, a very interesting place with grand architecture, high-end shops and restaurants, and a back story of movie stars, high fashion, and romance, fabulous festivals, and jewel heists.

Oh, and a beach.

A CANNES ALBUM

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* The term suspension of disbelief was brought to us by the poet and aesthetic philosopher Samuel Taylor Coleridge in 1817. He said that if a writer could infuse a “human interest and a semblance of truth” into an otherwise unbelievable fantastic story, the reader would suspend judgment on the implausibility of the tale.

Text and images copyright 2016 by Corey Sandler. All rights reserved. If you would like to purchase a high-resolution image, please contact me.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

————-

Now available, the revised Second Edition of “Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession” by Corey Sandler, for the Amazon Kindle. You can read the book on a Kindle device, or in a Kindle App on your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

If you would like to purchase an autographed copy, please see the tab on this page, “HOW TO ORDER A PHOTO OR AUTOGRAPHED BOOK”

Here’s where to order an electronic copy for immediate delivery:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IA9QTBM

25 April 2016
Cannes, France: Stars in Our Eyes

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

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The Splendid is one of a dozen luxe hotels along La Croisette, the seaside promenade of Cannes

The Grande Dame of Cannes, along the La Croisette promenade facing the beach, is the InterContinental Carlton Cannes. The 343-room luxury hotel was built in 1911.

Which brings us to Agustina Otero Iglesias, born in Galicia, Spain in 1868.

As a young woman, she became a celebrated dancer, adopting her character La Belle Otero, a version of an Andalusian gypsy.

She became a star of Les Folies Bèrgere in Paris. And along the way she became one of the most popular—and celebrated—courtesans of France.

She was said to be close friends with the likes of Prince Albert I of Monaco, King Edward VII of the United Kingdom, several Kings of Serbia and Spain, the Russian Grand Dukes Peter and Nicholas, and others.

She did quite well, accumulating a fortune of about $25 million dollars. But she was said to have gambled away nearly all of it, dying in 1965 in a modest one-room apartment at the Hotel Novelty in Nice.

Which brings us back to the, uh, cupolas of the Carlton.

According to some, the Carlton’s distinctive domes were designed to resemble the upper architecture of La Belle Otero.

Which is kind of frightening, except that La Belle Otero often wore conical, pointed devices.

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The Carlton Hotel in Cannes

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Le Suquet, the Old Town

Out in the bay are two interesting specks of lands, Les Îles de Lérins.

The smaller island is Saint Honorat, which has a monastery and ruined castle.

Monks have inhabited the island since 410 and, at the height of their powers, owned Cannes, Mougins and Vallauris.

Medieval vestiges remain in the stark church, which is open to the public, and in the ruins of the 11th-century monastery on the sea’s edge.

The Cistercian monks sell their own wine and a strong liqueur called Lérina.

The larger island is Sainte Marguerite which also has a castle, shops, bars, and restaurants, and some beaches.

And on Sainte Marguerite is a prison said to have been one of several places that held the “Man in the Iron Mask” in the 17th century.

The prisoner may have been the illegitimate older brother of Louis XIV, or in the writer Alexandre Dumas’ version, the king’s identical twin.

Either way, 34 years a captive, and from about 1687 to 1698, on the island half a mile offshore of Cannes.

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Le Tour du Masque

On Le Suquet hill,  the old town of Cannes,  the Tour du Masque, the Mask Tower, is the ancient watchtower.  A plaque there notes how the valiant militia of Le Suquet defended the place across the centuries against Barbary pirates and others.

And then it goes on to reference the Man in the Iron Mask, and it says in florid French: “Passers-by,  suspend your race and meditate on the suffering of the tortured, whose ghosts haunt these places. ”

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We were also here most recently on April 4; you can read my blog entry for that visit for more pointed commentary.

Text and images copyright 2016 by Corey Sandler. All rights reserved. If you would like to purchase a high-resolution image, please contact me.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

————-

Now available, the revised Second Edition of “Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession” by Corey Sandler, for the Amazon Kindle. You can read the book on a Kindle device, or in a Kindle App on your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

If you would like to purchase an autographed copy, please see the tab on this page, “HOW TO ORDER A PHOTO OR AUTOGRAPHED BOOK”

Here’s where to order an electronic copy for immediate delivery:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IA9QTBM

Hudson Book Cover

Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession: The Tragic Legacy of the New World’s Least Understood Explorer (Kindle Edition)

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS,  PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

18 April 2016
Sète, France: Joust, Not Kidding

By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Sète is a place of poetry, mystical if not indecipherable love songs, mussels, and oysters.

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The Royal Canal of Sète, and Silver Cloud at the dock today

Sète is also the claimant as the world capital of the obscure sport of water-jousting.

And in 1947 it became the embarkation place for 4,500 Holocaust survivors on a barely seaworthy former cruise ship that on its way to Palestine changed its name to Exodus 47.

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A marker commemorates the point of departure for the S.S. President Warfield in 1947. Once it had skipped away,  it changed its name to Exodus 47

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Sète had earlier been the place of another difficult exodus, that of the Sinaïa, which set sail in 1939 carrying survivors of the Spanish Civil War. The ship headed to Mexico, the only country that recognized a Spanish Republic state in exile

The town of about 43,000 is situated on the south-eastern side of the Bassin de Thau, an enclosed salt water lake that is today used for oyster and mussel farming.

The lagoon connects to the Canal du Rhône à Sète, which reaches the river Rhône, and also by the Canal du Midi across the nation of France to Bordeaux via Toulouse.

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PÉZENAS

Up in the hills is the former fortified Roman city of Pézenas. Its old town center is made up of winding narrow streets lined by townhouses from the 16th through 18th centuries.

Among those who enjoyed the scene was the French playwright  Moliere, who was a frequent visitor on his own and with his theater company in the mid-17th century.

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Another interesting sight is the Abbey of Valmagne, which at its peak in the 12th and 13th centuries was one of the richest Cistercian Abbeys in the South of France, home to as many as 3,200 monks.

The Cistercians planted vineyards.

Under the French Revolution, monasteries in France were confiscated by the state and either sold or destroyed. Valmagne escaped demolition and was sold in 1791 to a winemaker who converted it into a wine cave for the maturing of wine in large barrels.

Today it is once again a small vineyard and winery, with an ancient monastery as backdrop.

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Text and images copyright 2016 by Corey Sandler. All rights reserved. If you would like to purchase a high-resolution image, please contact me.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

————-

Now available, the revised Second Edition of “Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession” by Corey Sandler, for the Amazon Kindle. You can read the book on a Kindle device, or in a Kindle App on your computer, laptop, tablet, or smartphone.

If you would like to purchase an autographed copy, please see the tab on this page, “HOW TO ORDER A PHOTO OR AUTOGRAPHED BOOK”

Here’s where to order an electronic copy for immediate delivery:

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IA9QTBM

Hudson Book Cover

Henry Hudson Dreams and Obsession: The Tragic Legacy of the New World’s Least Understood Explorer (Kindle Edition)

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS,  PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS

17 April 2016
Marseille, France: The Second City


By Corey Sandler, Destination Consultant Silversea Cruises

Marseille is the oldest city in France, and the country’s second-largest city population behind only Paris.

Very much a working city, Marseille is France’s largest commercial port.

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Silver Cloud at the dock near the Vieux-Port of Marseille today

The city’s name is the latest version of several, reaching back to the Occitan name of Marselha, and before that the Greek name Marsiho. There’s also a not-much-used local dialect, which calls the place something like Mocx-sey-oh.

To the east, starting in the small fishing village of Callelongue on the outskirts of Marseille and stretching as far as Cassis, are the Calanques, a rugged coastal area interspersed with small fjord-like inlets.

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Recent additions to the old port include a dramatic ferris wheel and a handsome mirror canopy by British architect Norman Foster

Two large forts flank the entrance to the Old Port: Fort Saint-Nicolas on the south side and Fort Saint-Jean on the north.

Further out in the Bay of Marseille is the Frioul archipelago of four islands.

One of those, L’ile d’If, is the location of Château d’If, made famous by the Alexandre Dumas novel The Count of Monte Cristo.

There have been settlements in this area for almost 30,000 years. In 1985, diver Henri Cosquer discovered an underwater cave near the calanque of Morgiou southeast of Marseille.

Within what is now known as the Grotte Cosquer, or Cosquer Cave, were hundreds of paintings and outlines of hands. Scientists believe they date back to between 27,000 and 19,000 BC.

The city of Marseille was founded about 600 BC as a Greek trading port; it was named Massalia.

Facing an opposing alliance of Etruscans, Carthaginians and the Celts, the Greek colony allied itself with the expanding Roman Republic.


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The beautiful Notre-Dame de la Garde cathedral looms over the city, visible from almost everywhere

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The interior of the cathedral includes spectacular art and ex-votos left by parishioners, including ship models by hopeful or thankful sailors

Massalia became a link between inland Gaul and Rome, importing wine and other goods and exporting agricultural items and slaves to Rome.

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The Four des Navettes claims to be the oldest bakery in Marseille, dating from 1781

Massalia lost its independence in 49BC, when it backed the wrong side in a civil war against Julius Caesar. Now a Roman port, Christianity first appeared in Marseille; we know this because of catacombs found above the harbour and records of Christian martyrs.

According to Provencal tradition, Mary Magdalen evangelized Marseille with her brother Lazarus.

In 1792, Marseille sent 500 volunteers to Paris to support the French Revolution. The song they sung on their march from Marseille to Paris, a call to arms that became known as La Marseillaise, now the national anthem of France.

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The Palace Longchamps celebrates the arrival of fresh water to the old city

Text and images copyright 2016 by Corey Sandler. All rights reserved. If you would like to purchase a high-resolution image, please contact me.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PURCHASE AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF ONE OF MY BOOKS, PLEASE CONTACT ME.

SEE THE “How to Order a Photo or Autographed Book” TAB ON THIS PAGE FOR INSTRUCTIONS