Besançon…the district of Battant

Hi everyone. Today I’m taking you into the town center of Besançon, to the quartier Battant, the Battant district. It’s only a small part of the center, but it’s a very important part, one of the oldest and most distinctive streets of the city. And you will see that Besançon is a town of great variety. We start at the train station, near the ramparts that I showed you last week. By the way, you can read about Besançon here. And here.

This is the central train station, the Gare Viotte

1_Gare Viotte

…from which we can take the city’s new tramway to go downtown…

2_Tram

…this tram car is named after Louis Pasteur, a local boy:

3_Tram Pasteur

(Of couse, a few other towns in the region have claims on Pasteur too).

 

But I’m not going to take the tram, I’m going on foot. Here, I’m walking through the ramparts:

4_Ramparts

(You may remember seeing this scene in the previous entry, but from the other direction.)

 

I soon turn onto the Rue Battant and head towards the town center…

5_Battant 1

…and we soon come to the Place Battant with its fountain:

6_Battant 2 7_Battant 3 - fountain

 

Battant is a district of ethnic diversity, as we see in this North African pastry shop, La Rose de Tunis:

8_Rose of Tunis 1

In the back of the shop you can see the owner.

He kindly let me take pictures inside his shop…

9_Tunis 2

…but he didn’t want to pose.

10_Tunis 3

 

On we go down the street…

11_On we go down the street

…past numerous shops, such as this small grocery store. Battant is an everyday district, where everyday people live, work and shop…

11bis_grocery store

…this kebab shop, not quite open yet…

10_kebabs, not quite open yet

…a hardware shop…

12_hardware store

…a variety store…

13_bazar

…a music store…

14_Battant musique

…and Italian specialties, where you can eat outside…

16_Italian specialties

…or inside…

16b_or in

…from this appetizing menu…

16c_appetizing menu

…or maybe take it home with you…

16d_or take it home

…along with something to drink:

16e_

 

Here is shop where I’ve bought many gifts over the years…

15_a shop where I've bought...

…table cloths, napkins, dish towels, small utensiles. This store is famous in town.

 

This shop, Kausia, Par tous les Temps (For all types of weather) , is aptly named. Besançon has a cool-to-cold and rainy climate (though summer heat waves can be torrid) and this shop is designed for it:

15b_Kausia...

 

And the Horlogerie de Battant, a watch and clock shop. Besançon has always been the watch capital of France, ever since the first watches were invented. One of the city’s most renowned museums is the Musée du Temps (the Time Museum). You can read about it in French here.

15c_horloges

 

And here is a chocolate lover’s paradise named Hors les sentiers battus... (Off the beaten paths)…

17_Chocolate 1

It’s a cacao bar…

18_Chocolate 2

… with chocolate in all its states.

The shop window has a very Christmasy look at the moment…

18b_a Christmasy window display

…there’s a welcoming chocolate-floral arrangement just inside…

18c_welcoming chocolate...

…and as I’ve said, this shop is a chocloate lover’s paradise:

18d_as I said...

 

We finally arrive at the river, The Doubs, where we meet up with the tramway once again…

19_we arrive along the Doubs River to meet up with...

…a look back up the rue Battant

19b_looking back up the street

…with the Church of La Madeleine behind us:

20_la Madeleine

…the Pont Battant (the Battant Bridge) is ahead of us now…

20_b_Battant bridge

 

Onto the bridge we go, and look to the right…

21_on the bridge-right

…and to the left…

22_bridge-left

 

Once across the bridge we look straight ahead up the Grande Rue, the town’s main street…

…on a Saturday afternoon…

23_across the bridge, straight ahead

…and on a Sunday morning:

25_crossing the bridge, looking up...

I’ll take you up there one day soon, but we’ve seen enough for today. And I have something else to show you first.

Besançon…the ramparts

Hi everyone,

The Olsen Road will be starting up again soon for my Christmastime travels to Dublin to see my daughter and her family. In the meantime I hope to find time to take some pictures and write a few posts about Besançon, the town I live in here in France. While I was travelling in the States these last few months several people asked me about this town that I’ve now lived in for more than forty years, so I thought I’d introduce you. And Besançon is a worthy travel destination in its own right, not just because I live here.

 

November 11, 2014

Armistice Day

Here’s a view from my kitchen window one recent rainy morning:

2_rainbow bis

Besançon is a relatively rainy town, known as the greenest city in France.

I quickly run downstairs to get a picture of the other half of the rainbow:

3_rainbow ter

This will give you a better view of my neighborhood.

 

Later in the day I take a walk down to the ramparts, the few remaining vestiges of the old city wall and fortifications. Here we see some autumn colors  along with the Tour Carrée, the square tower.

4_autumn colors and tower

The Tour Carrée a little closer…

5_tower

…and closer still:

6_tower closer

 

The ramparts are a good place to go at the moment to see autumn colors:

7_autumn colors2

 

The promenade leading down to the Doubs River:

8_autumn colors and trail down to river

 

The Promenade des Glacis along the top of the ramparts:

9_autum colors remparts

 

The ramparts are crisscrossed by some major traffic arteries…

10_autumn colors street through remparts

…modernity oblige.

10bis_street in remparts

This is a good way to see how the new and the old live together in Besançon. Of course, the afternoon of a major national holiday is not the time to see how busy these streets can be.

 

The ramparts are a also good place to take pictures of the town center. Here we see the Citadel de Vauban on the hills opposite. The Citadel is a UNESCO World Heritage site now. You can read more about it here.

11_view of city center

And with the zoom:

13_citadel bis

I’ll take you up into the citadel some day soon. It’s a very interesting place.

 

The roofs and chimineys of Besançon are well known.

14_citadel ter

 

The ramparts are full of monuments and since the commemoration ceremony for the First World War took place this morning, wreaths have been placed at the foot of these statues…

16_monuments aux morts 17_wreaths were deposed this morning

…such as this one from a group known as the Gueules Cassées, the broken faces. These were soldiers who came home from the war extremely disfigured.

18_such as this one from...

 

This monument is dedicated to all those who gave their lives for France and who are buried abroad:

19_monument to those buried overseas

Statues of soldiers…

20_monument to the soldiers 21_another monument

…and La Mère Patrie.

22_monument to la mère patrie

 

Sculptures are also to be found here and there  in the Promenade des Glacis. This one, by Jorge Soler, is dedicated to foreigners who fought in the resistance during the Second World War…

23_numerous sculptures inhabit the promenade

…and this one by the Senegalese sculptor Ousmane Sow…

24_such as this one

…with a child hidden under the robe:

25_by Ousmane Sow

The form of the child is hard to make out, but the feet are very clear:

26_with a child hidden under the man's robe

 

There is much more to see in and around Besançon. Little by little I’ll try to show you as much as possible.

 

 

 

San Francisco

As I said in my previous post, I’m back home in France now. And here’s a picture of the sunrise over Besançon, seen from my balcony:

0_Sunrise over Besançon

But I have one last blog entry from my roadtrip.

 

Thursday, October 30th

I take Van home today, to the agency in San Francisco where I rented him. I’m sad to be at the end of my trip and to see Van go, but when I see him at home among his siblings I tell myself that he’ll go on to other adventures, as I will.

I take the tramway up to Market Street and get out at Embarcadero Station.  Then I take a long walk along the water front up to Fisherman’s Wharf, taking a few pictures along the way:

1_Coit Tower from a distance, one of the...

 

Coit tower is one of the main landmarks of these northeastern districts of the city:

2_A closer view...

 

I go all the way to Pier 39 where I have lunch:

3_I walk all the way to Pier 39 where...

Pier 39 is gaudy and touristic, as is much of Fisherman’s Wharf, but I like it.

 

After lunch I take the ritual cable car ride:

4_After lunch I tak the ritual cable car ride...

 

Cable cars are an iconic San Francisco institution:

5_Cable car from inside... 6_Cable car inside bis...

 

Up Taylor Street we go…

7_We head up the street...

…passing many cross streets…

8_Passing many cross streets...

…and some well-known landmarks…

10_...well-known features bis...

…through the northern sections of Chinatown:

14_We make our way through the northern sections of Chinatown...

 

We pass by some houses that are…

12_Passing some houses along the way that are...

très San Francisco…

13_...très San Francisco.

…and go all the way to Market Street, to the Powell Street Station:

11_All the way to Market Street

 

This, then, is the last entry for my retirement-gift-to-myself road trip. I think that San Francisco is a fitting place to stop. But this is only a pause in the Olsen Road. I’ll be back in the not-too-distant future with other travels, photos and comments. Thank you all for following along. I hope you’ve enjoyed it.

My hat…

Hi everyone. I’m home in France now, trying to get over my jet lag. Re-reading some of my early posts, I realize that I’d promised you a post about how I organize things while travelling. One aspect of organization is keeping track of the more important items that I need to have on hand.

 

October 28th-29th, and all along these three months

 

You may have noticed my hat in some of my photos:

1_You may have noticed my hat.

 

Some of you probably recognize it as the hat I bought in the south of France last June:

2_Some of you will recognize it as...

 

Throughout my trip it has hardly left me, though here it is lying on the bed at Larry’s house:

3_My hat has hardly left me during these...

 

But it plays an important role in addition to keeping the sun off my face. It helps me to keep track of some very important items, such as the all-important key to Van:

6_including the all important key to Van...

 

My hat is where I stock a lot of important items when I’m camping somewhere…

4_But it plays an important role...

…or when I’ve checked into a motel:

5_...as you can see here

So I always know where they are.

 

I’ve lost a few items on this trip. My bike chain and lock, the table that came with Van (I took it out and forgot to put it back, only to remember it a few hundred miles down the road), a mouse (I left it on the table in a Starbucks), and so on. But nothing really important. I dare to say that now that I’m safely home.

Now, where’s my hat?