Road Trip, Day 1

The green hills of the Aveyron.

We left Bize this morning just as the sun was starting its day, found pockets of rain and traffic, and arrived in Rodez shortly after 10:00. Maryse and Claude wanted to see an exhibit at the Musée Fenaille, and we thought we’d also explore the town a bit and have lunch before heading to our hotel in Saint-Geniez-d’Olt.

Our hotel for the first two nights of the trip is in Saint-Geniez-d’Olt, near the eastern edge of the Aveyron.
The exhibit, done in collaboration with the Louvre, is titled “Idoles,” the art of the Cyclades and Anatolia in the Bronze Age. It was worth the drive. Here, left, a statue of a seated woman, from the Cyclades in Greece, and dating to 5000-4000 BC. Note the crossed legs and the detailed hands. Right, a modern comparison is found in Brancusi’s “The Sleeping Muse II,” from about 1917.

The exhibit was fantastic, but the wonders didn’t stop there. The museum is located in a set of houses that are connected around a central courtyard, which is now roofed in glass and used as part of the museum’s permanent exhibit. The houses were constructed between the 13th and 17th centuries, and have a wealth of architectural details spanning that time period, most of them in remarkable condition.

Left, the Musée Fenaille has a fine collection of carved menhirs, or standing stones, from the region. This one dates to between 3300 and 2200 BC, and stands about three feet tall. Right, a painted glass panel, about 10 inches tall, in a window in one of the houses that forms the Musée Fenaille. It dates to the 16th century.
Rodez was founded by the Celts in the 5th century BC, then the Romans were in power here for a long time. Here is a lovely Roman mosaic that’s about two feet square.

The Auvergne is famous for its Lauze roofs. I had to do some digging to understand the difference between Lauze and Ardoise, which we see more of near where I live. It turns out that they’re both slate; Ardoise is finer and thinner, while Lauze pieces are thicker and a little irregular.

We enjoyed exploring the old center of Rodez, which has a rich mélange of architectural history. Then we returned to our cars and made the beautiful drive past ruined castles and grazing cattle, to our stay for two nights, Saint-Geniez-d’Olt.

Saint-Geniez-d’Olt in the eastern Auvergne.

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