Sep 16, 2008

A week around Brittany

1st day: Paris-St Malo via Chartres for its cathedral and some of the most beautiful stained glass.
We stayed at the San Pedro hotel, a great two star with view on the ocean and an amazing host. Thank you Mireille for your infinite kindness. Dinner at Coquille d'Oeuf (20 Rue Corne de Cerf, 35400 Saint Malo - was very enjoyable.

2nd day: the Mont Saint-Michel. Dinner in Cancale at le Pied d'Cheval (10 Quai Gambetta, 35260 Cancale -‎), a great seafood restaurant.

3rd day: St Malo - Ploumanch via the Côte d'Emeraude (Dinard, Cap Fréhel). Dinner at le Mao, Ploumanach, for a delicious and unbeatably cheap seafood platter. Stayed at the Castel Beau Site Hotel and wished i had never seen that white stain on the curtain. I found the best Kouign Amann ever. It is in Ploumanach at the Fournil St Guirec (148 rue St Guirec, 22700 Ploumanach - If fleur de sel caramel were a pastry it would be Ploumanach's Kouign Amann. I also tried the apple Kouign Amann and it was as if Mrs Tatin and Mr Kouign Amann had a child. The apple was a perfect compliment to the decadently sweet and buttery Breton pastry. If I didn't eat another Kouign Amann until the end of my life, it would be alright because I have tried what could possibly be the best.

4th day: Ploumanach - Morgat
We stayed at the Grand Hotel de la Mer, a Belle Epoque building with a very kitschy interior. The beautiful view from the terrasse overlooking the ocean and the deserted pebbled beach to the right compensated for the shitty cold stinky rooms. The lack of any outstanding restaurants in the vicinities and the really bad instant coffee served in the morning were quickly forgotten when we hit the road to get to the very end of the continent: the Pointe de Penhir. A magnificent sight.

5th day: Morgat - Douarnenez
On our way to Douarnenez/Tréboul we stopped by what is probably one of the most beautiful village in Brittany: Locronan, where I ate the best galette ever. Aside from its very common name, nothing about Ty Coz (Place de l'Eglise 29180 Locronan - is average. The crêperie is extremely charming, the service is great, the cider delicious and the galettes made me think that since nothing else will ever compare, it would be fine if I didn't eat another galette for the rest of my life.
We spent the night at the lovely Hotel Ty Mad, a place I highly recommend both for its wonderful restaurant (the dinner and breakfast were equally delectable) as well as for its tasteful interior design, cozy atmosphere and warm welcome.
I loved Tréboul's cemetery overlooking the ocean.

6th: Douarnenez - Vannes
Our last night in Brittany was spent in a lovely place, away from everything, in the middle of nowhere near Vannes (it took quite a bit of driving back to where we came from and missing the right exit over and over) in a place called le Clos du Gusquel. Charming hostess with a gift for fixing an exquisite breakfast.

Sep 11, 2008

Bloggingheads—the oral fixation

John McWhorter, left, of the Manhattan Institute and Glenn Loury of Brown University debate whether we can believe in Barack Obama.

Heather Hurlburt of the National Security Network and Eli Lake of The New York Sun examine the media's conflict with the conservative base over Sarah Palin.

Political scientists Daniel Drezner, left, of Tufts and Elvin Lim of Wesleyan explore the appeal of politicians who shun intellectualism.

Jane Hamsher, left, of the blog Firedoglake and Ann Althouse of the University of Wisconsin debate whether Sarah Palin can attract disaffected Clinton supporters.

Robert Wright, left, of and Ann Althouse of the University of Wisconsin debate the candidates' understanding of evil.

Peter Beinart of The New Republic, left, and Jonah Goldberg of National Review debate whether racism explains why Barack Obama isn't dominating in the polls.

Sep 8, 2008

Annie Leibovitz: A photographer's Life, 1990-2005

Imagine this picture: "Donald Trump, seen as the proud possessor of a fancy car, a private jet and a beautiful young wife also heavy with child. Wearing little more than a golden bikini, Melania Trump stands on a stairway leading to the underbelly of the jet" and right across the hallway, facing that picture, one of Queen Elizabeth II, posing in her usual formal manner. Priceless.

A few more days left before the end of the show at the Maison Européene de la Photographie.

Sep 2, 2008

Fontfroide Abbey

"To the south-west of Narbonne, in a rocky vale of the Corbières, this glorious Cistercian construction is hidden in the hollow of a valley. The abbey quietly shelters in a typical Mediterranean landscape, surrounded by trees such as cypress, box tree and pine.
The Abbey's origins go back to the end of the 11th century. Having originally followed Benedictine rule, Fontfroide finally adopted the Cistercian order in the middle of the 12th century. The monastery rapidly came to hold an immense estate which spread as far as Catalonia. As early as the beginning of the 13th century, Fontfroide had set up eight subsidiary abbeys.
During the Crusade against the Albigensians, Fontfroide rose as a powerful stronghold of Catholic orthodoxy confronting the Cathar religion which it fought against virulently. Two monks of Fronfroide stand out particularly at that time: Pierre de Castelnau and Raoul, who were appointed Papal Legates by Innocent III.
Of all the famous abbots, it is also necessary to mention Jacques Fournier who became Pope under the name of Benoît XII (1334-1342).
After a slow decline, Fontfroide fell under commendam from 1476 to 1764, when it finally lost its abbatial title and thus its subsequent income.
During the 18th century the conventual priors carried out many adjustments before the monastery's adjudication in 1791. The buildings were relatively untouched by the French Revolution, and were occupied once again by the Cistercians of the Immaculate Conception from 1858 to 1901."
A law of 1901 put an end to monastic communities, and the last of the monks fled to Spain. The abbey remained uninhabited until 1908 when the property was sold at auction to Gustave Fayet. He undertook an extensive restoration: stained-glass windows were fitted, decorative wrought iron filled the window openings, and statues and reliefs were added to the walls and gardens. In 1990, a rose garden of more than 3000 rosebushes was planted. He was an aesthete and an all-round artist who owned paintings by, and to name a few, Degas, Manet, Pissarro; he was Gauguin's main client. The stained glass artiste he hired was one of the greatest of its time: René Billa, also known as Richard Burgsthal. His work is beautiful and particularly stands out for the quality of the colors he uses.
Fontfroide abbey has been the property of his family ever since and visits are by guided tour only.

Sep 1, 2008

The towel that grabbed my attention

I was sipping my coffee staring at the neighbor's laundry drying in my dad's backyard until my brain made sense of the green and red shapes on the towel. I was suddenly taken out of my morning torpor.

I know you're tilting your head to the right.